The Gift of Touch Drawing: A Personal Journey – Lori Sweet

It was about 25 years ago when I first discovered Deborah’s deck of cards based on her Touch Drawings. I was mesmerized by the deep dream-like images. A few years later, my son would ask me to take him to a retreat at Omega for his high school graduation gift. I decided to find my own retreat to attend while at Omega and discovered Deborah was teaching Touch Drawing that weekend. It was the best creative workshop I ever attended.

Later, I attended the Annual Touch Drawing Gathering and was captivated by the deepening of the process within me. For many years I kept Touch Drawing as a personal practice, sharing it only occasionally with others. It felt personal and private. Although I taught art classes on a regular basis using art for self-expression, healing, wellness, and spiritual formation, I kept Touch Drawing close to the chest. 

My favorite thing to do for a long time has been to focus on an aspect of myself and allow it to be expressed in the drawings. I usually work with my eyes closed at first and then add details with my eyes open. It is downright mystical how the process works. I also love looking back at old drawings and seeing new meaning in them that I didn’t see before. I love to color them with tissue paper and pastels and mount the ones I really resonate with. 

Over the years, I felt a tug now and then to dig deeper and share Touch Drawing. Still, I resisted. Then, during the Covid shutdown, I pulled out the Touch Drawing Facilitator Workbook and reread it – twice. If I was going to share it, I wanted to honor the Spirit of Touch Drawing with great attention. I also discovered updated material for the manual on the Touch Drawing site and began to compile it and attend Deborah’s touch drawing sessions online.  

Then one day, like a bolt of lightning, it struck me in an inspired way just how universal and relevant Touch Drawing is on so many levels. Why wasn’t I sharing it? Why was I holding back? Deborah so generously makes sharing easy! I felt like a veil was lifted or a dam broke and the waters of Touch Drawing were flowing in me. Whatever happened, my days of “closet Touch Drawing” came to an end.  

Touch Drawing has an innate simplicity and yet it is so profound. It is a very basic process and yet its applications are vast and diverse. Using our hands to draw can be simply playful, relaxing, and fun. At the same time, it can unlock something very ancient and wise within us, access liminal time and space, and transform us. 

I ended up debuting my public use of Touch Drawing at a lecture where two people talked about hate crimes and how families and communities can heal from such violence. It was a hard topic, but I sat up my table in the back of the room and for two hours created Touch Drawings (see photo of several images) in response to what I heard the speakers say.  I think I created around 30-35 drawings that night and I placed them in order on the floor in the back of the room.  I was amazed by the people who took time to look at them and respond to them. It was a great way to listen, deepen the experience, and share in community.  

Recently, I offered some Touch Drawing classes to the public. The depth and creative expression that took place in only 4 hours was breath-taking. Participants shared about divorces, illnesses, life transitions, death, and creative breakthroughs during the sessions.  (see photo of women in class) One participant shared that she didn’t think very much was happening, but when she did her review of the images, she witnessed time slow down before her eyes and realized the drawings were like snapshots of time in her thinking process. A whole story unfolded before her eyes.  Another woman talked about her late husband and how she felt him with her while she was drawing. Another said she released anger she had been carrying around for a long time. 

Just two weeks ago, my hospice counselor, who I met after a close relative of mine passed away, called me. I had previously shared with her about how I was using art for expressing my grief after my loved one died. Now, she was calling to see if I might be interested in sharing art with others who had lost a loved one. I asked what she had in mind and she said, “What was that thing you told me about that you do with your fingers?” I said, “Touch Drawing?” She said, “Yes, that’s it. Can you do that?” How can I say no?  Touch Drawing is a gift and I feel blessed to be called to share it and, finally and gratefully, I am embracing the opportunities to do so!  

In addition to being a visual artist all of my life, I have served as a medical social worker, teacher of the arts, programs director, wellness coach, and foot reflexologist. I have used art and taught art to all ages for stress reduction, healing, and spiritual formation for over 30 years. Touch Drawing has been part of my journey. Find out about my work at www.lorisweetstudios.com.

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