Part of what I like so much about drawing is that it focuses my attention on the present moment. Few things other than sketching from life force me to slow down and really look at the form and detail of everyday things – stuff I’d probably take for granted otherwise. It’s a little like meditation, of being an observer, a witness, engaging the reality in my vicinity. I also like the fact that, unlike “normal” observation, it requires a learned discipline: does this sketch actually resemble the thing I’m looking at? If not, why? How did I screw it up? The sketch is bound by the common rules of communication. Yet, accurately depicting observable reality is only half the equation at best, otherwise just taking a photograph would do the trick. The fact that eye and hand interpret information from eye and mind in a sketch, selecting interesting from uninteresting, necessarily simplifying the limitless multitude of visual data down to a few strokes of a pencil makes the whole endeavor a bit of a risky challenge. Why would an artist choose to draw this and not that? Why include these details and not those? What is it about this subject or this moment that was worthy of taking the time to try and put on paper? Why compose the objects this way on the paper and not that way? Sometimes the question has a logical answer and sometimes it doesn’t. The fact that the question can’t be answered doesn’t illegitimate or negate the value of a drawing, but may in fact point directly to the wiggly, non-verbal aspect of consciousness. There’s a strong understanding in Buddhist and Taoist circles that the non-verbal, non-rational and experiential is closer to the real. “The Tao that can be spoken of is not the true Tao.” Or in more western terms, “The name of the thing is not the same as the thing itself,” which sounds ridiculous and stupidly obvious except for the fact that most of us fritter away our conscious hours imagining, manipulating and replaying names, symbols and ideas completely oblivious to the nameless direct experience happening right under our noses. For me, even if the sketch I’m doing stinks, the experience of doing it slaps me back to this realm of the real. And it’s fun.