The Spirit of Touch Drawing: A Healing Companion – Heidi Morford

I first learned Touch Drawing at a workshop Deborah offered at the Women of Wisdom conference in Seattle in the early 2000’s. Since then I have attended many sessions and two of the annual gatherings. Concurrently in these two decades (and before), I have been engaged in a deep recovery process from sexual trauma I experienced as a toddler through my college years. I have been fortunate to find support and healing from many different sources on this long, hard road.

One source that persists for me now is the Touch Drawing community. It has always been a powerful space for me, but only recently have I been able to open my own inner self enough to affirm the spirit that has come through the practice of Touch Drawing, which Deborah calls “the Spirit of Touch Drawing.” From the start, I could not sustain a Touch Drawing practice on my own at home, but when in a Touch Drawing group, amazing images and mark-making flowed from my fingertips, and an internal process flowed for me as well. Now in my 60’s, and having dropped deeper into my own healing since the pandemic, I see that I could not draw on my own, just as I struggled to create my own work as an artist, because my level of dissociation has been so high.

Over the last two years, I put my attention even more intensely on healing trauma, and reclaiming my body as sovereign, because my work as a creative, as an artist, would not be able to move forward without all of me: my body, mind and soul. I joined the online Touch Drawing practice group (thanks to zoom). The drawings I made during this time reveal faces and figures that I see as the presence of one spirit after another. I gathered these drawings together recently and I could see that these spirit companions or guardians show me how safe I am now, how innocent and good I have always been, suggesting even that they have been there all along, helping to bring me forward. 

I believe the inherently somatic nature of Touch Drawing, the creative life force within our fingertips and hands, somehow inspires a healing field to be present–whether we are aware of it or not. This benign and deceptively simple practice of pressing one’s hands lightly on a smooth cool paper–allowing the hands, fingers, maybe forearms, to move intuitively, impulsively, randomly, rhythmically, however!–with no expectation except to touch–has been key to a physical, spiritual and emotional healing process I have experienced acutely this past year–and I am still in its unfolding. I can’t wait to revisit some of the drawings I made even 20 years ago, where I think I will find a deeper connection to myself than I was able to affirm and embrace at the time I drew them. And I am looking forward to continuing my journey as an artist with ever-greater opportunities for holistic creative expression and a new sense of self-efficacy. 

This anniversary arrives at a very auspicious time for me. As I find myself ever-more, I intend to be part of the elder sisterhood who passes along this very special practice to a younger generation to carry it forward.

I am an elder woman reclaiming my identity and work as an artist. My early love for art resulted in an Art History degree from Vassar College, for which I will be forever grateful, and a later MA in Drawing and Painting.

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