in between the lines

I Tried It: An Online Mindful Drawing Course (On Facebook, To Be Exact) That Really, Really Worked

I learned to draw AND relax in one fell (okay, two-week) swoop.

We all come across those social posts that we can’t help but share; for me, those posts are the Buddha Doodles that have been popping up on my Facebook feed for the past couple of years. Molly Hahn’s drawings are simple but incredibly sweet, and the affirmations that accompany each drawing are heartfelt and thought-provoking. In fact, I was so taken with Molly’s images that I commissioned her to create three Buddha Doodles for my own home. Imagine, then, my excitement when I saw that she offered “Mindful Drawing with Molly”, a short Facebook(!) course promising “a journey of discovering your creative superpowers through drawing, no matter what level you’re at”. Sign me up.

One of Molly Hahn’s Buddha Doodles

You see, since beginning my mindfulness journey, I’ve come to learn that, for me, being creative is incredibly conducive to relieving stress and just being (which, in turn, is incredibly conducive to being mindful). And although I love the idea of standing in front of an easel and creating original art, the reality was that I just couldn’t ever get it right and my pencils and drawing pads soon got shut away in a cupboard.

So, after seeing Molly’s mindful drawing course advertised, I decided to take the plunge and have a go. The course was an hour-long session “held” in the safe, judgement-free environment of a closed Facebook group over the course of three weeks (including a bonus week!). I wasn’t quite sure how Molly was going to teach us art online, but she did—and it worked beautifully.

Once you’ve signed up for the course, you are granted access to an online portal, where each day waits a lesson of ritual-encouraging creativity called, aptly, “Taking my pencil for a walk”. This lesson is coupled with a short meditation time, and an opportunity to listen to your favorite instrumental pieces of music while you work. (I will admit to cheating one day and listening Disturbed! Hey, whatever works, right?) I opted to do my lessons first thing in the morning; it was a great way to start my day, as I found the exercises incredibly calming and therapeutic. I found that “taking my pencil for a walk” was exactly that: By just allowing my pencil to move over the page and create shapes, what initially looked like scribble soon revealed birds, monsters, balloons, hearts. I highlighted the various shapes, and added color, and, soon, the closed Facebook was a gallery to the efforts and proud achievements of the class.

These daily creative rituals are supported by the actual live online “classes”, each of which is recorded so you can watch again or catch up if you weren’t able to attend the live session. I was amazed at how many people there were from all over the world, most of us juggling different time zones. The atmosphere in this online “classroom” was buzzing, with Molly like a bubbly bottle of fizz and the hour’s lessons flying by.

The first week focused on upside-down drawing exercises, a proven technique that tricks your brain into launching into creative mode. We were given an image which we had to turn upside down and then draw it. The results were incredible. The second week’s session leveraged tools and techniques learned from the previous week in a series of personally tailored drawing exercises. The bonus week featured a podcast interview with an industry professional, as well as a demonstration from Molly in regards to the making of a Buddha Doodle.

Throughout the course, we were made aware of our inner critic, and, each time it raised its voice (which it did often!), we were to answer: “Is that true? Is it the ultimate truth?” Soon, I think most of us managed to silence that voice for a while and share our achievements with the rest of the group.

The cost of the course is $75, and I found the workshop to be worth every penny. By the end of the second week, I had paintings and drawings that I was proud to show off—not only in the closed group, but also on my own Facebook page. Molly is a great teacher: She comes across as incredibly knowledgeable, but also a little vulnerable, which, for me, made her real and relatable. I am amazed how much I learned in such a short space of time.

If you want to learn a lovely way to practice mindfulness, then I would definitely give this course a go. It is perfect for existing artists, or complete beginners like myself, or, as Molly says, “people who are afraid to draw”. Go on, sign up and create your own doodle masterpiece!!

Molly runs these courses every quarter; learn more here.

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