“Drawing” with My Eyes


I was pretty horrified when my phone reported to me that I had been spending about 4-5 hours on my phone daily.  Now I’m on a social media diet.  I removed a bunch of apps from my phone and have these specific rules for when I’m allowed to check stuff: Facebook once in the morning on my laptop, Instagram once in the morning.  I think the one rule that is saving me is that when I’m exercising on the treadmill, (which I do daily) I let myself shamelessly look at anything on my phone. (Hello Michael Fassbender!)

I’ve been noticing lately that 9 times out of 10, when I check my phone, nothing happens that can’t wait for later. If something truly is important, it will come in a phone call. Remember the olden days when you could just pick up the phone and call someone without any warning? Nowadays, I get so few phone calls out of the blue that when I do, my heart skips a beat and wonders who died.

Still, this social media diet has been a rocky one, and I still get moments where I want to pick up my phone. I tried carrying around a pocket sketchbook, telling myself that every time I felt the urge to check my phone without a legitimate reason, I would draw something instead. That strategy was a total bust.

New strategy: when I think about checking my phone,  I stop myself and look carefully at what’s around me, and try to find something special that I would normally walk by. Like the leaf on the concrete that had a luscious soft shadow. The half folded bandaid on my bedroom rug. Two tiny shreds of spinach next to a “tower”of eggs.

I always tell my students that the process of drawing begins with seeing. If you don’t take the initiative to see something, you won’t draw it. I notice things that I wouldn’t ordinarily notice when I draw. Although I’m not picking up a sketchbook to draw when I want to check my phone, I’m taking a moment to stop and see.  To me, that in itself is a form of drawing.

Artprof.org is a free website for learning visual arts which features video tutorials, art critiques, and more.

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