Today's assignment is automatic drawing! Have you ever observed yourself draw stuff that you were not aware of or had not decided on before hand? It happens to some people a lot, and my own premise is that the so called 'creative' folk - the painters, musicians, dancers etc. probably have more such occurrences than the so called 'practical' folk.

What is this phenomenon all about? Visit the Pencil Jam blog or click around this very site and you are bound to find articles that focus on the activity of drawing. To Pencil Jammers the act of drawing is more important than the end result (the finished drawing!). In fact some of us believe that the moment the act of drawing is complete, what is left behind is a shell. A reminder of something amazing that occurred.

 

But why is the act of drawing so important? Blink and you'll miss it :).

 

The human brain is capable of processing millions of bits of data at each moment. Right now your brain is processing the pressure of your body on your seat, the temperature, ambient sound and much more. However what you are aware of is mostly what you're reading. This awareness window or bandwidth is roughly about 40 bits per second. Which means you can be aware of only a tiny fraction of what is being computed. This is for the sake of processing efficiency. One tends to process facts with the least bit of information. If a car rushed at you... model number, manufacturer, color etc. are irrelevant. The main thing is to get out of the way, right?

This is due to the self awareness or 'I' limitation of your system. The 'I' limitation is extremely important function because it creates the sense of individuality and I'ness, which is key to survival. However the awareness of self eats into your awareness bandwidth. You may have noticed how inattentive or inadequate extremely self-conscious people tend to be.

What if you're able to suspend the sense of self or 'I' for a little while. What sort of a drawing will emerge from the loss of control?

 

Today we're going to experiment with automatic drawing. The surrealists first experimented with automatic drawing as a way of expressing their inner selves (Psychotherapy was in then, remember?). Their rationale for the whole thing was based on the knowledge of their day, but they were certainly onto something! The drawings on top are by Andre Masson, one of the leading evangelists of automatic drawing back then.

 

Pick up some paper, say 20 sheets. Find a quiet place to draw, and give yourself plenty of time. Place the paper in front of you and lightly place the pen on top and begin to stare into space, and doodle as you drift. Don't attempt transferring any sort of visual onto the paper, but just observe the hand drawing. When thoughts occur don't follow them. Simply observe them as and when they occur and watch them disappear and new ones form.

 

You may need to go through some 5 - 8 pages of such doodling before you begin to draw automatically. When you're done, put your best pieces together and show it off here.

 

 

Here are some examples I found online...

 

 

 

Happy automatism y'all!

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Replies to This Discussion

I was tempted to try this right away. SO the next best thing on MS Paint. :) Does it qualify?
Why not? I'm liking it! Did you draw any more of these?
No George. I plan to try something similar with the spray can in MS Paint.
"What if you're able to suspend the sense of self or 'I' for a little while. "

Isn't that at the crux of it all? Can the 'I' suspend the 'I'? Won't 'I' still be remaining after it suspends 'itself'? I think this is a wonderful way to meditate (whatever that word really means) - even if we can't really suspend the 'I' (for that would be akin to reaching a state of choiceless consciousness) we can surely travel a distance into a state of objectivity - watching thoughts arise and fall, likes waves in the ocean. The subject (the see'r) to object (the seen) division would still remain, but it would definitely be a calming experience. It'd be like observing, as if standing apart, our emotions... without looking at the world through those emotions (hopefully). Great exercise, George! An interesting choice of color for the background, Anil. Again... the word 'choice', so how 'automatic' was that? :)
I remember (is that wrong? ;-) ) that that was the last thing I did. I kept on changing the colour and stopped when I felt I had to. I enjoyed the colouring of the other parts that was indeed automatic and still some discernible patterns emerged. That has a better chance than of a monkey with a keyboard typing a Shakespearian sonnet by accident, I am sure. :-)
You totally hit the nail on the head Prosenjit. How can I 'try' to do anything to 'I'. Pure automatism is largely unconcious, with some volitive activity seeping in. So it can never really be wu-wei, but it's a nice exercise!

I see a strange, yet lighthearted, butterfly-like creature...

But the more i look at this, the more i imagine!!

So, the question is, am i gettting a glimpse into Anil's hidden unconscious creative mind? or is it an insight into the depths of my own imagination...? :P

If you get the answer to either of your questions, please let me know. It takes two tango. Perhaps the answer is - Both!

One more with spray can on MS Paint
Child's play. The inner child playing with wild abandon!! :D
Very interesting..will try one .
Very curious. Waiting

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