While we wait for the tough times to end, the world waits for us too. Meanwhile, Airbnb’s range of Online Experiences double up as windows to the world. We sign up for ‘Drawn from Within‘, a sketching exercise led by a visual artist based in New York City. Turns out, it’s more than just about the lines on paper. By Rashima Nagpal
A Saturday afternoon stands out from the pile of lookalike days that make up most of April. A pair of jeans (that still ﬁts!) breaks the monotony of pyjamas. The mood is groggy, as usual, until I sit down for a Zoom call. On the bottom-right corner of my screen reads: East 84th Street, New York. That’s where Benjamin Ponté, or Ben, lives.
Ben is a visual artist who hosts ‘sketching tours’ called Sketch and the City—leading a bunch of people through the Grand Central Terminal and onto the roads of Central Manhattan, as they walk, reﬂect, and draw amid all the hustle-bustle. It doesn’t matter if they get their lines straight. Ben doesn’t get into the technicalities of how to draw, but teaches you a thing or two about what to put on paper.
Since the outdoors are out of bounds, I sign up for the Airbnb Online Experience of Drawn from Within, a remodelled at-home version of Sketch and the City. “Take 30 seconds each to look at and draw three objects around you,” Ben says, as we begin the exercise. I make rough outlines of a palm tree seen through my window, a book, and a coffee mug. “The objects you chose are the ones you most recognise with right now,” Ben says. In the next step, he asks us to choose another object, observe it for 30 seconds, then draw without looking at it. Then, with my eyes glued to the object, I must not look at the paper and somehow draw it again. Surprisingly, my sketch of a pot turns out better in the second attempt, when my mind isn’t clouded by the memory of the object.
In the ﬁnal exercise, Ben gifts us back both, the time and the liberty of technique, to draw still life. But I must pick the one thing that matters the most to me. I can’t see anything better than the glass window that sees my days melt into nights. While I observe and draw, he recites a poem by David Whyte, “Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the conversation. The kettle is singing even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots have left their arrogant aloofness and seen the good in you at last. All the birds and creatures of the world are unutterably themselves. Everything is waiting for you.”
As I show Ben what I’ve drawn, I have a realisation: the things framed by the window are more important to me than the window itself.
The Draw from Within experience starts from INR1,574.