Mindful Drawing Classes / by J B Wiskey

My enquiry into the question of how to make sacred art has led me to see that the preparation of one’s materials is secondary to the preparation of one’s self. I believe this actually holds true for any art.
These drawing exercises have been developed to address and explore this primary requirement of the artist.


After participating in an acting workshop in the 1990s given by Peter Brook, I returned to my studio to continue painting, alone. The profound experience of having worked directly with other people in the workshop inspired me to devise an on-going series of simple drawing & painting exercises that bring two or more people together to share the making of an image in a way that more traditional art education doesn't offer, and which also demands an attention of a different quality than is usually required by our practices, and which needs to be deliberately nurtured.

The making of sacred art, or any work of sincere depth, is not left to the laws of accident.

We do not rely on happenstance to bring together the tools and materials for making a painting, print or sculpture, and neither should we leave our inner state to chance, if our aim is to make something of any real value.

Traditional and sacred art are not purely external forms. We acknowledge that the artist or craftsman is himself a vehicle of communication and that his own energetic state while making his art is therefore crucial.

How can we attend to this fact through the act of drawing?

My drawing exercises are designed to increase awareness of both the external and the internal worlds, to concentrate the attention and quieten the mind of the participant. The overarching aim is to develop the faculty of bypassing the ego and opening the self to the influence of the force of Creativity that lies outside us, but which wishes always to manifest itself by flowing through us.


Classes begin with the continuous drawing of a circle for 10 or 20 minutes (or much longer, depending on the potential abilities and experience of the participants), focusing the attention, under the direction of the guide, on the grip of the pencil, the point of contact with the paper, the movement of the arm, the quietening of the mind.

Listening is the essence.

There are many variations & developments of the exercises, including using brush & ink, painting with colour, and working in pairs & larger groups. Workshops can last anywhere from 1 hour to a few days or even be made into an on-going course. Classes are therefore tailor-made to suit the requirements & abilities of each group.