This charcoal life drawing and monoprint were both done on Tuesday using a continuous line with no break allowed. Have you ever drawn something in one continuous line? It’s incredibly liberating. To draw uninterrupted stops moments of hesitation. To draw never taking pen from paper allows such a lot of freedom at the same time as it constrains. The question of ‘how do I get from here to there’ when one line ends is, surprisingly, never a problem. We move our eyes from ‘here’ to ‘there’ all the time, not worrying what we take in during the gaps. When drawing with a continuous line the journey to the next starting point creates an important and beautiful element of the drawing even creating volume sometimes.
Drawing continuously also facilitates flow, both literally in the line and mentally during the activity. Nothing else matters but moving the line from A to B and possibly back again at some point, rollercoaster style. Flow, according to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (I name I’d love to drop in during lectures but daren’t of course!) is when we lose ourselves in a task and lose track of time. Flow aids creativity and, most importantly, it facilitates pleasure – that golden nugget we all chase.
Flow requires uninterrupted activity and this may seem hard to achieve sometimes given the many sources of distraction, particularly the distractions of the internet. I remember reading many years ago about the conceptual notion that people would pay to go offline in the future (imagine…). A colleague of mine recently stated that he wanted to make his workspace a web-free zone, cut off from the wireless in his house. Blocking software that cuts off access to the web and social networks is increasingly popular. I’m not sure we need all this though. If you’re involved enough in any activity and achieve the flow status it might just be powerful enough to stem the never ending barrage of distractions. Let’s not blame the web of distraction. Let’s blame what we’re choosing to do right now that the web pulls us from. The mantra then must be ‘find the thing that helps facilitate flow in you’. If you’re pulled around the web without purpose maybe it’s because what you’re doing right now just isn’t flowing for you. Instead we could pick up that pen, that charcoal, that guitar, that baking tray, that bicycle, that petition etc. and draw our own uninterrupted line.