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The Mind-Clearing, Completely Free, Thirty-Five-Minute Staycation
If there’s one played-out idea I love anyway, it’s the staycation. Vacations are just so very much WORK, what with all the planning and the packing and the paying of the money. When really, we can get so much of the same lovely eye-ball-refreshing, the same much-needed brain-scrubbing, by just looking at our usual surroundings through a different lens. But it’s surprisingly hard to do: even as you set out for an aimless stroll through a part of town you don’t usually frequent, don’t you find yourself wandering, as if magnetized, toward the places you always go? Toward the park you know you like, or the building you’ve always admired, or even just the path you usually walk the dog?
Well, consider this prolific artist named James Gulliver Hancock, who has made it his mission to draw every building in New York City. His site is fascinating to click through, whether you’re an urbanite or a totally-not-that – the scratchy little lines, the loose sketches that suggest a boozy evening or else a quick stop on a crowded street, the more organized and tightly-constructed portraits that call out details you might have never noticed otherwise.
Here is his drawing of the Hearst Tower (Oprah.com headquarters!):
Hancock's virtual sketchbook makes me think, how might I see the structures around me a little more clearly? What would focus my vision and force me to look around rather than, let's admit it, at my phone?
Here then is an assignment for me, and anyone else interested in taking the world’s easiest staycation, practically guaranteed to make things seem fresh. You don’t even need to leave your neighborhood. All you need is a pen and notepad. It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw, that’s not the point. The point is to walk and look, really look. Go somewhere new (but stay safe!), or go somewhere you see all the time but never really SEE. Pick a building. A house. A rec center. A dog house. And draw it. Who knows what we will start to see?
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