Imogene Raymond May 4, 2021 Dot to Dot
Since its humble beginnings seven years ago, Dot To Dot Festival has gone from strength to strength and has served up sets from bands that have gone on to see incredible success. In the past, this has meant shows from the likes of Mumford & Sons, Florence & the Machine and The XX - but this month it focused back on some lesser-known acts hoping to break through in the same way. Taking place across three cities - Bristol, Nottingham and Manchester - the event has a pretty ambitious mission statement. In Manchester alone, it uses seven different stages at venues like The Ritz, Sound Control, The Deaf Institute, Zoo and Joshua Brooks, but while this is probably something of a challenge for the organisers in terms of business liability insurance, the backing of sponsors Fred Perry probably provides some small comfort.
I quickly put away the jar, vinegar, and baking soda and moved on to another exercise and another and another. At the end of each mindfulness class, I conclude with the same exercise: lying on your stomach and drawing your happy place. As soon as I announce that we are going to be doing the mindful drawing, they excitedly drop to their tummies and wiggle with the anticipation of a kid on Christmas morning. I pass out the fresh white paper and a can containing shards of crayons. The second their crayons hit the paper, you can hear a pin drop. There is no goofing around, there is no talking, but there is complete mindfulness. For fifteen minutes, they will draw, colour, and become immersed in their creation. Of course the real magic is not what is happening on the paper but rather what is happening in their mind. They are thinking about their happy place and then making it happen on paper - perfect mindfulness. It is the same as when we use guided visualization to enter into meditation.
Everyone is an artist, and drawing is a universal precursor to writing. It is very easy to introduce your little artist to the world of graphic arts, writing a story, and early literacy, by early drawing. A self-portrait is one of the first drawings. First- Buy a large 12x24 or larger, newsprint drawing pad. You can also buy a craft paper roll and cut it to size. Also, purchase a set of wide (fat) pre-school crayons. The small regular crayons will not be easy to use for a toddler, since the small muscles in the hand are developing. You should work in a large format with a child. Place a hand held mirror nearby for reference. Second- Sit down on the floor with your child, and have him or her choose a color, and place the large (fat) crayon in his or her hand. Help your child hold the crayon like a pencil. If they have trouble, then they can hold it in their fist.
The great part about mindful drawing is that it is not just for kids! In fact, my wife is a Certified Zentangle Teacher and regularly sees the amazing benefits in adults who practice this form of mindful drawing. Just like meditation, mindfulness with a pen can also reduce blood pressure, reduce heart rate, and have long-term benefits with depression and anxiety. Have you ever found yourself just doodling on a scrap piece of paper. There is a good chance that when you are making lines or dots or shading with your pen or pencil, you are focused on present moment. Perhaps if the idea of meditation seems to be not your cup of tea but you could use to manage your stress; why not consider mindful drawing, doodling, or zentangle. The goal is not to make art to hang on your fridge but rather to give your restless mind a much need break from the endless chatter.
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Are you a parent interested in helping your child build on their drawing talent? You may have even been surfing the net looking for step-by-step projects they will enjoy. Once you find a project, then what? How do you present that information for your child to draw? YouTube offers many great drawing ideas with step-by-step instructions. Once you have found an artist that offers an instructional drawing video that you find fun and easy, do the project first yourself. Once you have your head around the basic principles, then you can prepare to pass this lesson on to your children. Show the children the completed project first. Next, take your students through each step of the lesson. You draw each element of shape, or line, first and have the children copy what you do. Take your time to ensure every child has completed each instruction before moving on. With very young children you may need to take them through each step with dot-to-dot. This way they will not feel discouraged at not meeting the level of the older students work.