Chris Padilla/Blog / Art

Automatic Drawing

Something I'm still learning is to keep more play in all of my creative practices.

Maybe that's surprising to anyone looking in from what I share! But it's true — it's still a challenge to turn off the critical brain when I'm playing an instrument or drawing.

With drawing, I was just doodling and messing with shape at the start. Lately, I've caught myself leaning more towards filling all of my drawing time with exercises and course. If I'm aiming for the 50% rule, I'm really only hitting 25% play. Not entirely a bad thing, but it leaves little room for experimentation and just enjoying the act of drawing.

An experiment I'm trying out to really loosen up is automatic drawing, as demonstrated by Tim Gula here:

Watch on Youtube

The end result is beautiful, but the result isn't really the point. Its meditation for the mind, playing purely with shape, line, and values.

The irony is that, in messing around, a lot of growth happens at the same time: Line quality improves, control over shape develops, and a relaxed brain allows for those periods of focus to be more energized.

Most exciting for me, though, is that when I'm just doodling outside of any coursework, I can shrug off the pressure of it having to be impressive. There's room for experimentation and simply enjoying putting pencil to paper!

I'm trying this out with music too. Lately, I've been spending all my piano and guitar time playing out of books, leaving no time to write or improvise. So now I have a notebook for jotting down improvised chords, melodies, and mini-tunes. Not with the goal of making another album. Just for the space to enjoy sound unto itself.

At the end of the day, sound and line are purpose enough.