Drawing At The Mansion

Rachel turned her salt shaker into a girl she called Barbara.

“Today we’re going to draw,” I said to the women sitting around the big round wooden table.

“You can draw anything, anytime,” I said, “Just for the enjoyment of it. Draw what’s in front of you.”

Then I read them Pablo Neruda’s poem “Ode To Things”

“…I love
all things,
not just
the grandest,

In my basket I had some “small” things from home.  A red and gray striped stuffed rabbit, a big white scallop shell, a green glass pony, a salt shaker, a steel donkey, a cup with a heart on a stick sticking out of it, a ceramic frog planter, a felted boy holding a balloon, a paper cat.

I pulled them out one by one and when someone made any kind of positive comment about it, I gave it to them to draw.

Except for Nancy, I brought the colorful ceramic frog just for her.  She has a hard time gripping with her hands, so her drawing would be abstract and about color.

Then I handed out paper and asked what each person wanted to draw with.  Some chose pencil, others marker and Claudia used a crayon.

Nancy and her drawing

I told everyone this wasn’t about drawing the way you’ve seen someone else draw, or about making the object look exactly as it is.  I asked them to focus on one part of the object, to interpret it through their eyes, to feel it.


Ellen focused on the stripes of the stuffed bunny.  She  captured the organic feel of its floppy ears, arms and legs.

Mary chose the green pony. But she was having a hard time starting.

So we talked about horses a bit (her father had horses) then I suggested she focus on the curve of the horses neck.  She said the green  horse didn’t have a tail which was true.  I drew some dots on the paper for her to connect thinking it might get her interested.

But Mary just told me that I was doing a good job and that I should draw the horse.

She was right.  I was obviously  more into it than she was.  So I suggested she draw the heart that was sticking out of the cup.  When that didn’t inspire I told her it was fine if she didn’t want to draw she didn’t have to.

Drawing isn’t for everyone.

Betty and her donkey drawing

“It looks like Eeyore.”  I said to Betty when I saw her drawing of the donkey.

Everyone agreed. They could see and  the hang-dog donkey.  Betty wasn’t impressed and told me her son could draw anything in front of him, but she could never draw.  I pulled up an image of Picasso’s Don Quixote and showed it to her.

Her eyes sparkled a little, she though it was lovely.  I think she made the same connection that I did.

Claudia and her cat drawing

All I had to do to get Claudia drawing was to tell her to focus on the head of the cat.  She was working from a three dimensional paper “Zip”-cat that Kathy sent Jon in the mail.

“I love to draw,” Claudia said to me.  “I can do this anytime I want.” She said it as if the idea never occurred to her before.  And I don’t think it had.  It’s not generally what we are taught.  That drawing can be enjoyable, stimulating and fulfilling.

Susan and her drawing of the scallop shell.

Susan shows up to my class sometimes, but she never draws.  She doesn’t do any kind of art.  She claims she doesn’t like to, and isn’t good at it.

But today Susan sat down at the table.  And when I pulled out the big white scallop shell she said “ooh”. So I handed it to her and with a little encouragement she drew it.

When she was done she didn’t think it looked like the shell.  But she sat through the class and worked on her drawing and I think she liked being there.

Even if she wasn’t impressed, I was.

Jane’s drawing

Jane needed no encouragement.

She loves to draw and paint, something she only started doing since she came to live at The Mansion. I put the felted boy with the balloon in front of her. I pointed to the swirly design on his shirt.

That’s all it took.

Jane’s drawings all tell a story.  Her marks are purposeful and confident. She works from a place inside of herself.

Her art makes me wonder, which makes me want to keep looking at them.


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Full Moon Fiber Art