Meet The Shoreditch Sketcher - Phil Dean

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Over the past four years, I have filled 27 sketchbooks that act as an illustrated diary of my life. These sketchbooks document my experiences and form a personal memoir that reflects the good the bad and the ugly of my London life. Everywhere I go, my sketchbook and pens come with me, so I can capture the moments.

I have a theory that when you take the time to look at something, and then interpret that scene onto paper by drawing, it slips into a storage vault in the brain that logs all the information at the time of the drawing: mood, weather, the music I was listening to and how I was feeling, along with all manner of extraneous detail.

Recently I read Ruby Wax's excellent book 'A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled' and it's really making me think about how I think (if you know what I mean). I'm sure that's what Ruby is hoping for and she wouldn't really be doing its job if she didn't get my grey matter quivering I guess. She paints a picture of a society on full tilt 24/7 and our minds struggling to keep pace with the sheer volume of our lives.

It's certainly something I can relate to, packing everything into a super busy London life with very little segregation between home and work life (I will confess I do like it that way). But I do recognise that this constant noise can get too much.

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I've heard about mindfulness before and the more I read about it, the more I think that the sketching I do is active mindfulness. It's really about being in the moment and doing one thing thoughtfully and being very much in the present. In truth, it’s very difficult to do anything else other than draw and focus on the interpretation of what I'm looking at onto paper via pen.

The sketching is also helping me to take more notice of everything around me and this translates nicely into work. I now find that I take more notice of detail in meetings (not one of my strong points) and I'm definitely listening more. The act of slowing down to focus on one thing is helping to train my brain to do the thing I want it to do. 

I ran a sketching workshop recently on the roof terrace of a pub in the London, against the stunning backdrop of the City skyline. As the group of mixed ability sketchers got stuck into the challenge, you could have heard a pin drop and after 2 hours of solid sketching, the results were truly amazing. 

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One of the most satisfying things one of the attendees said to me was ‘I haven’t looked at my phone for two hours…and I can’t remember the last time that happened’. That’s what I love about sketching — it allows you to be in the moment, ignoring the clutter, focusing on one thing. That doesn’t happen often enough, but when you draw, it happens every time.

We're so happy Phil has joined Blank White Space, take a look at his prints, and originals in our collection. 

Phil can even come and sketch your house. Prices start at £750. Contact us for more information.