The Element of Chance
Let me be the first to introduce you to the 8th element of art behind color, line, shape, value, texture, form, and space: the element of chance. The elements of art are the pieces and parts used to create compositions and works of art. The principles of design, such as pattern, unity, harmony, and balance, describe the arrangement.
To expand a little, I’d like you to think of this process of arranging the elements as an element of art. The element of chance finds a way to take the direct hand and conscious thoughts of the artist out of the equation. We can see what happens by chance by letting go and removing the artist as a decision-maker.
What happens in nature when things fall to the ground? We see a random, natural-looking placement that is more exciting and dynamic than if a human were to place the object on the ground. This is because our logical mind overthinks where to place things in relationship with each other. We tend to space things too evenly so as not to create awkward arrangements, overlapping shapes, or elements too close together. But that’s precisely what happens in nature and what makes a more dynamic arrangement of objects.
The act of arranging elements such as lines, shapes, or colors by dropping them on the art surface also can have a physiological effect on the artist. We tend to take stress about every aspect of our lives and worry about the consequences of our decisions. This worry can lead to procrastination and decision paralysis.
Think of how freeing it could be to learn how to let some of that control go. It may be a small thing, but by relinquishing control of the placement of objects in our art, we learn that we don’t always need ultimate control over what we make and do. Instead, we can learn to allow things to happen and work within the confines of the result of the element of chance.
By allowing the unknown to happen and working within those boundaries, we force ourselves to be more creative in solving artistic problems. One of the hardest things for an artist to face is the blank page, coupled with an unlimited choice of subject, medium, and technique, and you have a recipe for decision paralysis, otherwise known as an artistic block. Many artists also joke that they are ADD artists, but this is a real thing, and it’s hard to resist trying out every shiny object that comes in the form of a new technique, art medium, or subject. I write this fully aware that I’m offering you yet another “shiny object.” But I think it’s worth your time to explore this idea and think about how you can incorporate it into your artistic process.
I’ll explain how to do this a little later, but first, indulge me and let me throw another idea out there.
The Dynamic Duo
So what happens when we combine the element of chance with mindful drawing? Mindful drawing occurs when the difficulty level of a drawing is just right to keep your mind occupied by not totally focused on the drawing. It allows just enough room to be mindful of the present and appreciate the peaceful state that drawing brought about. Many find this happens as they doodle or make meaningless marks on the page.
Let’s explore the benefits of mindful drawing, how to practice it, and how to incorporate the element of chance into your drawing practice.
Benefits of Mindful Drawing
Mindful drawing can be a powerful tool for self-discovery, creative exploration, and relaxation. Here are some of the benefits of mindful drawing:
- Mindful drawing can help us to become more present in our day-to-day lives. We can better appreciate our lives and surroundings by focusing on the present moment.
- Mindful drawing can help us to relax and reduce stress. By focusing on the present moment, we can let go of our worries and anxieties and allow ourselves to be in the moment.
- Mindful drawing can help us to become more mindful of our thoughts and emotions.
Practice Mindfulness Exercises
Before you start drawing, it can be helpful to let go of expectations and focus on the present moment. Here are some mindfulness exercises that you can practice before or while drawing:
- Take a few deep breaths and focus on your breathing.
- Notice how your body feels and be aware of any sensations.
- Notice how your thoughts are impacting your feelings and your body. Don’t judge your feelings; just observe them.
- Observe any patterns in your thoughts and feelings.
- Notice how your body is responding to the present moment.
- Let go of any expectations and allow yourself to be surprised by the outcomes of your creative process.
You can make a mindful drawing by repeating the same line or shape repeatedly. The repeated lines might make a pattern, or you might just let the shapes overlap and fill up the page. The point is to make something you can draw easily without making many decisions about the drawing.
Exploring the Element of Chance
Exploring the element of chance is an exciting approach to mindful drawing. By embracing the element of chance and allowing ourselves to be surprised by the outcomes of our creative process, we can learn to let go of control and be more spontaneous. My approach is to use the element of chance to get your drawing started, then let a mindful drawing approach take over to finish the drawing.
One way to explore the element of chance is by dropping paper shapes into a sketchbook. To do this, you can draw various shapes on pieces of paper, cut them out, then drop them into the sketchbook and see how they land. Then, you can trace around the shapes to create an abstract drawing. Dropping and tracing shapes can be a fun way to explore randomness and create abstract art doodles.
To start the mindful drawing portion:
Add a repeated pattern to the abstract drawing you just created.
- First, look at the kinds of shapes you created by tracing the dropping shapes.
- Pick one shape and find an interesting way to fill that shape with lines. This is your pattern.
- Repeat that pattern throughout all the shapes on the page. The pattern can be as simple as using parallel straight lines or curved lines.
If you’d like some help getting started, you can download my free guide to using the element of chance to make a mindful drawing. This guide includes the following:
- Shapes to cut out.
- Pattern ideas with step-by-step instructions to draw the patterns.
- Step-by-step instructions to create a mindful drawing using the element of chance.
- A link to see a video of my drawing process on Youtube.
You can get the free guide with this link:
You can see the Youtube video of the drawing I made with this link:
Summing it Up
Mindful drawing is a powerful practice for self-discovery, creative exploration, and relaxation. By embracing the element of chance and using a sketchbook to capture the moment, we can unlock our hidden potential and explore our unique visual language. Mindful drawing can help us to become more present in our day-to-day lives and to explore our innate creativity. We can create beautiful and unexpected works of art using the element of chance and practicing mindfulness exercises. So, grab your sketchbook and explore the element of chance with mindful drawing!
Please leave a comment below, or head to my Facebook group to discuss the element of chance.
- How do you feel about the element of chance? Is it ok for the artist to leave the design up to chance, or is this a valid creative decision?
- Have you ever experimented with the element of chance? What did you do?
This FREE printable PDF includes the 3 shapes for making a drawing and the frame to trace in both color and black and white.
You will also get instructions and a link to watch the video again on how I made my mindful drawing. So, grab your sketchbook and pens, and prepare to draw a mindful drawing!
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