Mind, Body, Portrait

The best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment.

~Thich Nhat Hanh

We have forgotten to live in the present. Not just me and my peers, but generations that have gone before us and the ones that will follow. Our mind works incessantly like a complex machine, forever in a constant state of activity and turmoil. We forget to pause and take a break and cannot commit to being fully present in the moment, and this is exactly what the Visual and Spatial Representation sessions have helped me achieve- mindfulness in the present moment.

Having never had sketched portraits before, I was undoubtedly skeptical about the outcome initially. However, after putting pencil to paper and inviting myself to be present in full awareness, I witnessed a gradual improvement in my work, which is most evident in my self-portraits. The first sketch itself seemed like a herculean feat. Surrounded by unknown people in a new environment, I felt really out of place in the first instance. My mind was unable to cope with this drastic shift of working from home to being present on campus, and it was difficult for me to center myself. This was reflected in my first self-portrait. However, over time, it became easier for me to tune out the distractions and focus only on my work. I improved on the proportions, textures and details and sharpened my eye for observation, and this improved the two other self-portraits that followed.

Self Portrait: My first attempt at making a self portrait. Medium: graphite pencils.
Self Portrait: In my second attempt at a self portrait, I was able to sketch the proportions and details of my face better as compared to the previous one. Medium: graphite pencils.
Self Portrait: A coloured sketch of the side profile of my face. Medium: watercolour and colour pencils.

Making portraits of people around me was relatively simpler, for that channeled uninterrupted concentration while looking at the subject’s face, unlike a self-portrait where I’d have to break my flow to observe myself. This exercise helped me understand and draw out a diversity of facial features, textures and overall form of one’s face.

Portrait: Medium: graphite pencils.
Portrait: Medium: watercolour and colour pencils.

During body studies, I examined the postures of the people around me while performing daily activities. This exercise helped me understand the proportion of different parts of the body in different postures, and also how the interaction of the body with a space creates an activity routine for the user.

Body Studies: Medium: graphite pencils.
Body Studies: Medium: graphite pencils.

The Visual and Spatial Representation sessions taught me how to draw faces, bodies and postures and sketch to the best of my abilities. Through this practice of keen observation to capture the little details, I witnessed the integration of mind and body. Not only was I able to overcome my fear of sketching portraits, but was also able to tune out distractions and increase my speed of sketching. I also inferred that our body is connected with the surrounding space beyond merely the aspect of anthropometry, and that the experiences created by the nature of inhabitation in the space create certain memories and develop emotions in our self.

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