by Elaine Clayton
Stream-of-consciousness drawing (I call it “stream drawing”) expresses the unconscious, the quiet knowing we all have within, onto paper, the way dreams bring up images and emotions for us on a mental screen. To get into this stream-of-consciousness flow all you have to do is relax with a pencil or pen and a blank piece of paper, which will serve as your tools for opening intuitive awareness.
Usually when we talk about drawing, we only think of rendering — an action of visually recording a person, object or place with exactitude — this is a difficult task that artists spend hours perfecting, but it is not the only way to draw. Stream drawing is not an artistic skill to develop, it is a psychic-intuitive skill to develop. Practicing stream drawing, is not at all about rendering or being a great artist, but rather it is to draw out the emotional, subconscious intelligence that is whirling around inside of us and giving it a visual expression that we can learn from. So you don’t have to worry about being “good at drawing” or “bad at drawing”. With stream drawing, you are the expert creator of your own visual-intuitive landscape, you are the meditative seeker making something unique that will often blow your mind.
There are four easy steps to this process. First, you draw with your eyes closed, and you use your non-dominant hand. The reason for this is because in all the years I have taught variations of this drawing technique to kids and adults, I have seen that we stop ourselves cold while drawing if we don’t escape the rational, logical mind that seeks to control and label a drawing as good or bad or relevant. That inner critic wants to sabotage us for some reason, so take charge and ignore that ego! Now that you’ve banished the over-emphasized logical mind, get ready to close your eyes and use your non-dominant hand to draw lines that loop, zig-zag and swoop in all kinds of ways without your seeing it happen while you draw it. You want to simply relax as you create one long continual line all over the page in a process not unlike ice skating on a large pond.
As you draw, you will sense what it feels like to be doing it — you will feel extremely present and awake, and you may hear the sound of the pen or pencil on the paper which will zoom you into another galaxy within yourself. Letting the pencil roam all over the paper for a while, you will open to your empathic, psychic stream of consciousness. At first you may just feel whatever emotions are surfacing. We carry so many emotions throughout the day that we repress. This is normal, we are usually busy, but stream drawing allows you to process all that emotion in a healthy and empowering way. You may also have some thoughts surface, but they will ease like a fog lifting over that frozen pond you are skating on, and before you know it, you will feel enthralled. And that is because when we are open-hearted and creating, without blocking ourselves, we are at our most powerful. We were born to do this! To create, to receive knowing and to express ourselves. You’ll open your eyes only when you feel finished drawing. How will you know? You will just feel like stopping. And you are the boss.
Once you open your eyes, it may be surprising what you find there. First off, the stream drawings I create never look at all the way I imagined as I felt myself draw with eyes closed. Next comes the gazing part.
Gazing is not the same as looking. We are conditioned to look at the teacher for the right answer, usually under the pressure of risking humiliation if we are wrong. Hopefully education systems are evolving so that learners all, we can enjoy the process of discovery as one where the wrong answers lead us to the right ones. Gazing is not looking with a task-oriented compulsion. It is to day dream.
When I look at stream drawings I have created, which I do in meditation for all kinds of reasons (for clients who ask me to create one while holding the best intentions for them in my heart and mind, or for myself when meditating and seeking answers) I see such surprises! I make notes of what I am seeing along the open space on the paper, usually around the margins. Often insights arrive that I just can’t believe. How could this knowing appear on paper where I have just “scribbled” or “doodled”. Because drawing, stream drawing in particular makes us more psychic.
The other day I had a client and had prepared a stream drawing dedicated to him, though I knew nothing about him. I drew for his best well-being and promised I’d share with him what I saw in the drawing. There are a zillion ways to see a drawing (or a dream) but I usually focus on the most strong impression I receive from any visual area of the stream drawing. I saw in one area that for me signifies a past experience, what appeared to be a woman’s breasts. It made me instantly think of childhood and being nursed or nurtured in particular by a parental figure — mother or father. But then gradually the breasts looked like the hair on a stereotypical grandmother from a stage production or old cartoon — you’ve seen it, the gray hair parted in the middle and pulled back on the granny? This image made me think of the grandmother perhaps being the one who nurtured the child — my client — -like this grandmother was important and prominent in the client’s upbringing. When I described this image to the client, it turned out to be not only true but cathartic because I was telling him I saw something that I could never have guessed at or known otherwise. That alone is astonishing! Then, it was very true — his mother kept her distance in his early years, while his grandmother truly embraced and even raised him essentially. There were other images in the drawing conveying other aspects of his relationship with his grandmother.
Stream drawings truly are a portal into our own deeper feelings and knowledge, we can stream draw for ourselves to get into the creative mode, which alone is worthy and bountiful. We can stream draw about questions we have, or for the intention to help someone else if they ask us to. It is important to practice it for a good while on yourself, your own meditation/creation undertaking, to gain a visual language all your own, and an intuitive personal vocabulary before you do one for someone else.
Enter the stream-of-consciousness flow as often as you can, through stream drawing. It will give you a chance to relax, to get creative (otherwise known as empowered) and it will open you to new ways of perceiving, and of connecting to your world. There aren’t secrets being kept from you really, it is just that we don’t pay attention or allow that intuitive knowledge to surface. Now is the time to start letting your knowing arrive to you, to start empowering that other sensing we humans have that guides and supports us as we are on our way creating the life we would most like to live.
MAKING MARKS: Discover the Art of Intuitive Drawing- Recent Intuitive Stream Drawing; The Grandmother Raised Him
Artist and author/illustrator of several books for children and books for adults on intuitive intelligence: MAKING MARKS: Discover the Art of Intuitive Drawing and ILLUMINARA INTUITIVE JOURNAL with CARDS and others, A LITTLE BIT of ANGELS, A LITTLE BIT of FAIRIES and A Pug’s Guide to Happiness. Intuitive reader, Reiki Master and teacher on intuitive empathic development. Teaches in independent schools in Atlanta and Boston, and in public schools as artist in residence or visiting author/illustrator, worked in community aid organization and at a Cesar Chavez migrant camp. Studied at School of Visual Arts in NYC, Master of Fine Arts in Visual Essay. Studio commissions include intuitive reading sessions, paintings, murals and portraits.
Look for my daily art posts on my on-line open sketchbook, www.elaineclayton.com, a site dedicated to dreams, intuition, inspiration and spirituality as well as on FB, Twitter and Instagram.