The Creative Diary in Quarantine 21 – zen drawing

Zen drawing

“Zen drawing is a way of drawing and meditating at the same time. It makes use of the drawing reflex: an automaticity of the hands to move with the eyes. Drawing goes without saying. In addition, zen drawing increases your concentration, creating inner silence and peace . “

– Michelle Dujardin, The Zen Drawing Book –



  1. Take your diary and a drawing pencil with you into nature.
  2. Walk around until you see a piece of nature, an element that you would like to make deeper contact with. That can be a tree, a plant, a flower, a plant, a leaf …
  3. Make a close-up drawing of that one subject that you will be examining intensively. For this exercise, look at the frame of the subject. You draw the contour line of your element without looking at the paper. YES, your drawing isn’t going to be perfect, that’s just the idea. Try to interrupt drawing as little as possible and take your time! Don’t draw too fast. The thin line created will closely match the contour line of the subject. While drawing, the eyes act as a kind of scanning or copying machine that accurately records the outline of the subject. The hands meanwhile move automatically on paper with the eyes. Every conscious observation is thus written down on the paper.
  4. Next to your drawing, write a sentence that starts with “If I was a … then …”. Add some color to your pencil drawing. Keep it simple, keep it zen.


“Draw for the love of drawing. You don’t need a reason.”


What if … you cannot / should not go outside? You can also draw zen with an object from your home environment.


Exercise inspired by exercises from Michelle Dujardin’s book.


TIP: Zen Drawing is NOT about the result. Concentration and focus are the most important. Any distraction will interfere with drawing. If you’re distracted, that’s okay. Accept it. It is especially important that you continue.

Would you like to get in touch with others? In Facebook you find a page where participants connect.


Important to know:

Working in a Creative Diary is NOT about results, it’s about expressing you inner self. It is NOT about techniques, techniques only help you to express yourself in more different ways. The exercises I give are an INVITATION, not an obligation. You can do the exercise, or not, you can do it differently, it’s at your choosing. The most important thing to remember is that you’re putting yourself and your (inner) world on paper, you are NOT making art. So feel inspired by images, but don’t compare yourself ! Fun and self-expression come first.

What do you need?

  • markers
  • coloured pencils
  • writing materials
  • scissors
  • glue
  • watercolour
  • soft pastels
  • oil pastels
  • some magazines

And of course: a journal/diary. I recommend an 8,3 inches x 11,7 inches notebook (A4 format) with blank paper, but take whatever you find in your house. Blank papier is good too.

More information:

The exercises used in this Creative Diary are based on a method described by Lucia Capacchione, American art-therapist and author of the book The Creative Journal, by Anne-Marie Jobin, Canadian art-therapist and author of the soon to be coming book The New Creative Journal, and myself, Sarah Timmermans, Belgian art-therapist and psychologist (Dutch book: Het Creatieve Dagboek). The method blends knowledge from writing therapy, art-therapy, psychology and basic creativity. It’s a simple method that doesn’t requires any artistic skills and has been used with many ages, many individuals and many groups of people. More questions? Please write me.

Who am I?

I’m Sarah Timmermans, Belgian art-therapist, naturopath and psychologist. I’m trained by Jungian art-therapist/psychologist Csilla Kemenzcei. I work with individuals and with groups. I’m specialised in using diaries, tarot (archetypes) and dreams.