Daily Meditative Art Practice: Pen, Paper, and Patterns | Neha Modi | Skillshare

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Daily Meditative Art Practice: Pen, Paper, and Patterns

teacher avatar Neha Modi, Mindful Artist & Educator

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Class Project


    • 3.

      Material. Mood. Movement


    • 4.

      No Pressure Pebbles


    • 5.

      Zen With Tree Rings


    • 6.

      Slowdown Arcs


    • 7.

      Compassion With Leaves


    • 8.

      Affirmative Petals


    • 9.

      Closing Thoughts


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About This Class

  • Are you looking for a simple and effective self care routine?
  • Do you have a hard time quieting your thoughts?
  • Are you always judgmental about your work and find it hard to let go?
  • Do you need ideas to fill up your sketchbook?

If you answered yes to any of the above then this is the class for you!

I am Neha Modi, artist and illustrator based in Amsterdam. In this personal and very warm class, I will share with you my experience of how I use art to clear the mental chatter and take care of my mental health. What started as an escape has turned into a beautiful, awareness filled, self care ritual

By the end of the class you'll be able to -

  • Make unique repeat patterns through basic marks
  • Get a therapeutic tool which you can return to time and again
  • Experience a state of calm and strengthen your awareness about present moment
  • Cultivate a playful and non-judgmental attitude towards art

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced artist, you could all benefit from this ‘meditative practice’. We will just  let the pen and patterns take us to a quitter and calmer place. 

 I look forward to seeing you in class!

Meet Your Teacher

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Neha Modi

Mindful Artist & Educator

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Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction: We live in a world filled with too much noise, hurry, and uncertainty. Our minds are flowing with everything from todo list, to ideas for the next Instagram post, what to cook for dinner, bills to clear, something someone said to us, what is about the future, mistakes you have made, and etc. More than ever, it's important to have a practice or a ritual to disconnect yourself, slow down, and embrace silence. Hi, I'm Neha Modi, an artist and illustrator based in Amsterdam. As a full-time working artist, I dabbled in both digital as well as traditional mediums of art. As someone who's very up in the head, when I started making simple repeat patterns without any pressure on the outcome, I started experiencing flow. I was able to absorb every minute of the moment and slow down. This practice has now become a part of my daily ritual. It's the way I take care of my mental health. In this class, with the help of five repeat patterns, I will share with you the way I mix action and awareness and convert a drawing technique into a meditative practice. In the first exercise, we will indulge in a simple activity without worrying about the imperfections and the outcome. In the tree rings pattern, we will see how the repetition of circle can take us to a Zen state. The third exercise is about slowing down and enjoying silence. The fourth exercise focuses on letting go of mistakes and embracing self-compassion. In the fifth pattern, we will see the way to incorporate formations in our drawing practice. It's a beginner-friendly class, suitable for anyone and everyone. Are you ready to escape the mental shadow, have some fun, and create something special? Let's get started. 2. Class Project : The goal of this class is to inspire you to embrace drawing as a meditative practice and to relax. So from the five patterns that I'll be doing in the class, you can do as many as you want. You can follow along and do the ones that I'm doing, or you can create your own version. You can do a single pattern at one sitting or you can do them over few days. You don't have to rush, take your own time, and whenever you do it, please do share it in the project gallery. I would love to see it. If you're comfortable, do share your experience and your thoughts regarding the meditative aspect of the process. Now let's get started. 3. Material. Mood. Movement : Before we dive into the exercises, let's talk about the three Ms of this class. First up, material. Now, the material for this class is very basic, just a pen and a paper. I usually use a 200 GSM or a 300 GSM hot-pressed watercolor paper, as it is smooth and thus easier to do intricate drawings, but you can use any of the following papers. Now, coming to pens, I draw with fine liners as they are good for consistent and a detailed line work. Here are some of the brands that I like and use. Here is a pattern that I made using regular quality printer paper and a ballpoint pen. This is to show you that you don't have to wait for the right material. When it comes to drawing for meditation purpose, any paper, any pen is good. Now let's move to the next M, mood. With mood I mean, the ambiance, the little things you can add to make this drawing activity into a self-care ritual. You don't have to do anything complicated, all you need is a clean, nice space, which could be your table, your favorite corner in the house, or even a bench in the park. Just make sure that no one interrupts you and in that comes your phone too. Now some good extras, tool note essentials are. You got the idea, right? Just anything and everything that brings a smile to your face, and adds the calm vibes into your environment. Now let's move to the last M, movement. Most of the times when we are stressed or anxious, our body responds to those emotions by tightening up. One of the ways to release that tension is through progressive muscle relaxation. It's a technique that involves tightening and relaxing each of your muscle groups in a specific pattern to release tension and feel relaxed. Here is how you do it. Close your eyes, inhale deeply and slowly tense the muscles in your right foot as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10 seconds. Then exhale and release the tension from the right foot. Give yourself 10 seconds to 20 seconds to relax. Move on to the left foot and follow the same sequence. Move slowly up through your body, contracting and relaxing different muscle groups. Try not to tense muscles other than those intended. Now you can use this technique when you want to feel relaxed and not just during art sessions. Now with all the three Ms done, let's move on to the first exercise, the no pressure pebbles. 4. No Pressure Pebbles : Welcome to this first exercise. In this one, we are going to take a pen on a mindful stroll on a pebble walkway. During this session, we will focus all our attention in drawing the pebbles and because they're so simple to draw, it'll be easy to move without the extra baggage of perfection. Take a few deep breaths, smile and start making pebbles of different sizes connected with each other all across the beach. The only thing that you have to keep in mind while making this is to always close the pebble. Keep your eyes focused on the tip of the pen. Just see how it is moving as you're closing a pebble, deliberately think about the place for the next one. All these little things are important because as you start paying attention to them, you will automatically start distancing yourself from the noises in your mind. Keep filling up the page with one pebble at a time. Don't think about how it's going to look when you finish or what others will see when they see it. This is not a test of your drawing skill. Rather it's about how much awareness, how much focus you can bring onto the speech onto this pattern. Please don't allow yourself criticism and expectation to kill the joy of creation. While I'm making these pebbles, my only aim is to immerse myself in this activity and to remind myself that I don't always have to push hard and to do more in order to be more. It's a reminder to myself that spending time doing activities which look easy, which come without any pressure, are good too. Once you're done and happy with the pebbles, go through the little gaps between them and fill them up, it's a simple process. Enjoy it and try to only think about the pattern and nothing else. With this, we are done with the first pattern. Now you can take this pattern further by making some lines or dots in each pebble, or you can even color them in. As we end this exercise, I just want to emphasize that when it comes to meditative repeat patterns, what you draw and the style you draw is not as important as your state of being while you draw. Creating doesn't always have to be complicated. Simple is good too. I hope you enjoyed this activity. Now let's move to the next one. 5. Zen With Tree Rings: This exercise is about using the powerful circle with little bit of lines thrown in to increase our awareness and calmness quotient. We will be using tree rings as a reference as the other set of consecutive circles which represent growth, movement, and resilience. Before you start drawing, do remember to release any tension you're feeling in your body, and once you do that, you can dive right into this fun and relaxing pattern. Let's start by making a very rough sketch as to where we will place the rings. I try not to think much about the placement, just rough markings, and we are good to go. Once done, we will start out with a small, tiny, wiggly circle and work our way up from there. Try to vary the distance between each circle. Focus to bring some variation and also try not to touch the circles just like we did in the pebbles activity. Remember that you have to always connect the start and end line of the circle. Every time you finish a circle, you complete something, and that sense of wholeness, that full intention, that circular balance, is what brings calm. Once you're happy with the weight of the ring, you can start making really close lines. It's fun and simple, so just go with the flow of your pen and don't worry about making it perfect. Now, we are going to repeat the same process throughout the page. The basic marks we made at the beginning are going to help us as to where to start the next ring. Do if you divert intentionally or by mistake, it's okay. By focusing on the repetitive rhythms of creating these tree rings, circle by circle, you will consciously slow your breathing rate and enter a state of Zen where you will lose track of time, avoiding thoughts and of the world around you. I'm saying it from my own experience, that it is very healing and relaxing to not have to think of anything else at least for some time. I feel there is more negative space in some of the areas, so I will just increase the length of the outside lines wherever I feel it's possible. I think this happened because I drifted from my original layout plan and did a mistake. But in this class, we don't dwell on mistakes, rather, we work around them and make them part of our pattern. Once you are done with all the rings, it's time to give them a little extra touch. We will make lines of different sizes and width, just like the way it is on an actual tree ring. Keep paying attention to every little detail, enjoy the flow and you will experience calm during the process. I'm almost done. I don't want anything to be overworked, and it's a wrap. Once you get comfortable with this, you can work to lengthen your focus sessions a little by filling up a page, full of one circle, or making a circle out of close lines, or even making small lines in each of these circles. The possibilities are endless. I hope you make this pattern yours, explore it further, and experience calm whenever you do it. Now let's move to the next exercise, which is one of my favorites. 6. Slowdown Arcs: We are going to enter this exercise without any preconceived notions as to how it is going to look in the end. What may look like just making arcs on the paper is actually you focusing only on the present movement, taking it slow, and just embracing silence. Sounds good? Let's start. I'm going to use circle, my favorite shape, as my base. You can use any shape or draw directly on the paper. Just make sure that you are sitting comfortably and start moving your pen across the page. Try not to lift your hand, and notice the way it is moving on the paper. Don't control the next move, the next shape, rather be open to see where your pen will take you and how will it appear in the end. Just stop whenever you feel it is done. Now, we will start drawing curved and connected lines as slowly as we can in each of these columns. Now the little things that will help us slow down while drawing the arcs are; number 1, is to always make sure that the end of every arc that we make should be connected with the one before it, and number 2, is to keep the distance between them consistent. Now you can make the arcs as close or apart depending on your mood, as well as, the time you have. Just try to maintain the uniformity as that helps in being focused. Now, keep going through the various organic columns on the paper and make marks wherever you want to. I keep randomly moving throughout the paper. I focus on the main elements, but other than that, I don't follow the sequence. I move wherever my pen takes me and it feels very freeing. Drawing mindfully is all about presence. So if you find your mind wondering to the thoughts about the past, things you should have said, worries about the futures, to do list, and etc and etc. Just gently nudge yourself to the present and return to the rhythmic movements of these lines and category. My pattern is done, and I'm sure yours is going to look the same, yet completely different from mine. You can do the same process by using another big shape for the free hand movement. This exercise takes quite some time, but in the end, you will feel the change. Whenever you do this activity, just remember to embrace the slow pace and be in the present moment. Remind yourself that you don't always have to rush, and it's only when you pause you can enjoy the scenery on the way. Now, let's move to the next exercise. 7. Compassion With Leaves: Welcome back. In this exercise, with every little line we're making our leaves, we will try to reduce the volume of our mental chatter and encourage our self-compassion to come to the forefront. I understand that self-compassion is hard to adapt by, but by incorporating it in my meditative pattern practice, I have seen my inner critic take a backseat quite some times. Let me show you how I do it and I hope you get some insights as well. We will start by making some straight lines on the page. I'm using my pencil to mark the distance I want to keep between each line. I have made 11 lines, you can make as many as you want. Once done, we will fill up the page with leaves, just the basic shape, and that to freehand without taking much time. The lines we made in the beginning will act as the center line for each leaf. You can bring your own variation to this base design by making same-sized leaves across the page or really long ones, short ones. You can make them more curvy. Do whatever feels right to you. In step 3 of this pattern, we will fill up each leaf with small curved lines. Just make sure that you join the start of each line with the one before it. Make these lines close and also pay attention to the space you're leaving between each line. The more attention you will pay to each line, the more you will get lost in the process, and that'll help in blocking the mental chatter. As we are not using pencil and eraser, things will not always go the way we want them to. There will be mistakes, there will be lines which we would like to undo. The inner critic will try to bring you down. So instead of paying attention to it, try to be gentle, kind, and understanding with yourself. Just like in life, things on this page can't always be perfect, but how you view the mistake, how you adjust to them, make them a part of your pattern, is what really matters. The more you open your heart to this reality instead of fighting against it, the more you will be able to feel compassion for yourself. Once done with the lines, fill up the negative space on top, and we are done with our leaf pattern. The road to self-compassion is quite long, but by little shifts in mindset during your art meditation, you can slowly start walking into that direction. Now let's move to the last exercise. 8. Affirmative Petals: Now positive affirmations can be repeated anytime during the day. But when you do it in a relaxed and a calm state of mind, it's easier for your subconscious mind to absorb it. So let me show you how I incorporate positive affirmations with line drawing, and I hope you find some value in it too. We will begin this pattern with the template. We'll just make some lines, which will eventually give us an equal-sized squares. Now once the template is ready, all we have to do is fill each of these squares with lines. I'll be making diagonal and curved lines, but you can make your lines in whichever direction you want. All that matters is that you join the ends of the line, make them close, and not touch the lines with each other. These few things matter because they help us in getting focused, and slowly get absorbed in the pattern. But once you start feeling relaxed and more in tune with your feelings, you can start repeating an affirmation with each line. You can say them silently or loudly, whatever you find comfortable. Though I feel it's more effective if you say it out loud, because that way you're also engaging your sense of hearing, and the more senses you can stimulate during the process, the easier it will be to distract your monkey mind. Now during this type of art meditation, it's best to keep the affirmations short. This way it will be easy to remember, and you can keep it in sync with your lines. Also keep the affirmations in the present tense. Keep going through each block and enjoy the rhythm of repetitive lines. Take a break if you want. Be gentle with yourself, and don't force the affirmations beyond a certain time. As you get comfortable with this practice, you can work for longer duration. But as with any meditation practice, short bursts can feel more comfortable at first. Remember that with each box of pattern you're finishing, not only are you making a pattern, but you're also unfolding the power of affirmations. Just like that, line after line, our patterns have unfolded and we have a pretty pattern in front of us. Templates are easy when you start your meditative drawing practice, because it is less daunting to draw something in them, rather than an entire bit. Some of the ways to use templates and make patterns are by making circles in them, or straight lines, or just repeating the shape of each block. I hope you try and use positive affirmations in your drawing practice. I believe the more you do it, the more your mind will accept it, and the more positive changes you will experience. 9. Closing Thoughts: Congratulations, you have made it to the end of the class. I hope you enjoyed it and would consider making these patterns a part of your daily self-care routine. I have experienced a lot of positive changes because of this meditative practice, and I hope you find some value in it too. Once you approach this practice without any judgment, without any pressure on the outcome, you will notice that how a simple pen, a paper, and few lines can take you to a calmer and a relaxed place. Please don't forget to share your patterns as well as your experience in the project gallery. I can't wait to see it. Thank you once again, it was a pleasure sharing this personal and precious daily practice with all of you.