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Drawing Your Own Path

Drawing Your Own Path is an account of how multi–media artist John Simon’s daily drawing discipline became a meditation practice, and how that meditation illuminated his creative source. A practical guidebook full of Simon’s own art, Drawing Your Own Path offers meditators an alternative path to ‘just sitting’ and offers artists a way to mindfully examine and deepen the source of their creative ideas. Readers are guided through thirty–three meditation and drawing exercises, exploring concentrated looking, mindful sketching, and improvisational awareness, all designed to help practitioners discover the vast creativity within themselves and in their daily lives.
What Others Are Saying

"Drawing Your Own Path is a smart, subtle, sophisticated, compassionate, radically eye-opening and mind-altering guide to creative and artistic liberation. Thank you, John Simon!"  - Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being


"The mysteries of the mind and universe are coupled with a very practical guide to drawing. It is an unlikely but wonderfully fruitful combination, a step by step approach to awareness and art." - Larry Rinder,  Director, UC Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive​​

"John’s marvelous artwork emerges from a deeply inspired and intuitive unfolding.  His gift of finding one’s own creative process is beautifully transmitted in this delightful guide." - Jon Bernie, Author of Ordinary Freedom

"Drawing Your Own Path is an invitation to those who have never drawn before and a warm, informative, intelligent and lovely book to read. It offers refreshing, new ways to look at and experience the steps to make drawings today."  - Sharon Louden, Artist and Editor of Living and Sustaining a Creative Life 

"In this engaging volume, artist John F. Simon, Jr., widely recognized as an early pioneer in the use of computer-generated imagery in contemporary art, has turned his attention to the act of drawing and mark-making as a doorway into self-awareness and the essential touchstone of visual creativity.  'Gaze at your subject with attention on your sense of sight. What do you notice? Is there a difference between seeing a thing and noting that you are seeing?'  With questions like these, Simon leads us through a sequence of meditative drawing exercises, all the while moving his lessons forward with the help of insightful, often touching anecdotes of his many years of experience as a practicing artist." - Peter Halley, Artist

Chapter 1: Wrong Question, Right Answer (Book Excerpt)

With the crowd at my art opening thinning, heading to the after–party, hors d’oeuvres finished, compliments paid, big sales closed, the staff starting to unwind, a visitor to the gallery approached and began to tell me about how strongly he reacted to the work. A was a software engineer with a flair for graphics who always wanted to pursue art, he loved visiting art galleries and museums, but couldn’t decide if he was an artist. He had no desire to switch careers since he was in high demand and well–paid as a programmer. Knowing there would never be enough time to devote to making art, he disparaged initiating his own creative projects since he was sure his beginner’s flailing would be a waste of time. He was looking for me to give him a reason to justify spending more time on a growing passion that could yield no predictable professional results. 

Maybe he thought I had a secret because at some point he stopped and asked me directly, "If I want to make a good drawing, do you have any tips for how I should go about it?" 

Ego–inflated from my opening night, flattered by his question and slightly tipsy from the wine, I began to pontificate. I gave him my views on how one would make a good drawing only to hear all my theories second–guessed in my mind as quickly as they were spoken. The generalizations I made to him about color and composition kept missing the point. I flailed, sputtered, and eventually realized, but not until almost ten years later, that the answer to his question was in the question itself.

Table of Contents


Wrong Question, Right Answer

Practice One.  Getting right into it

Practice Two.  Watching our hand

Practice Three.  Marking practice



Realistic Drawing

Practice Four.  Picking an object to draw

Practice Five.  Attentive looking

Practice Six.  Noticing awareness

Practice Seven.  Marking from the sense of sight

Practice Eight.  Simple rendering

Practice Nine.  Try persepctive

Practice Ten.  Working inward



Systematic Drawing

Practice Eleven.  The circular arrow - a casual mantra

Practice Twelve.  Improvising between two points and finding the world in between

Practice Thirteen.  Thought as art

Practice Fourteen.  All four pixel images

Practice Fifteen.  Book of Compositions



Improvisational Drawing

Practice Sixteen.  Going outside the box

Practice Seventeen.  Not-breath awareness

Practice Eighteen.  Growing improvisation

Practice Nineteen.  Chasing the Coultrane Effect

Practice Twenty.  Drawing to reveal inner conditions

Practice Twenty-One.  Noticing intuition

Practice Twenty-Two.  You are the universe drawing



Reading the Drawings

Practice Twenty-Three.  An exact physical description

Practice Twenty-Four.  Feeling the meaning

Practice Twenty-Five.  The story we tell ourselves

Practice Twenty-Six.  Connecting our story to a larger story



The search for the Source of Creativity

Practice Twenty-Seven.  Priming the source

Practice Twenty-Eight.  Embedded sources

Practice Twenty-Nine.  Sitting still at the origin

Practice Thirty.  Mindful of the path




Practice Thirty-One.  Sharing with yourself

Practice Thirty-Two.  Sharing with a trusted friend

Practice Thirty-Three.  Sharing with the world

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