Drawing and the art of curiosity

The river comes alive in April and May. Boatyards fill with the smell of fresh paint, boats are launched and spread their wings, owners are heard in pubs saying things that would be unacceptable a few miles inland – ‘Going to get the yard to have a look at my stern gland’ and ‘what are you putting on your bottom this year?’

robertsons in progress
Boatyard days…. a work in progress that will get finished eventually!

I’ve been stealing as much time off from the studio as I dare to give my own little boat some attention, starting with the bits I can get at: wheelhouse, coachroof and deck. For every job I do, I discover ten more than need doing The trouble with lists is that each item breaks down into dozens more when you zoom in. I could have just one thing on my list – ‘Paint boat’ – but that would probably be unhelpful!

painting else
Time off from painting boats to paint the boat….

At this time of year life feels particularly fragmented; I feel I’m doing too many things and not spending enough time on any of them. There’s teaching my art class (which is intense but very enjoyable), there’s boat maintenance, there are a few regular commissions (but not quite enough to pay the bills), there’s trying to get the studio/shop ready for the summer with Emma at the boatyard, there are always endless emails to deal with, most of them starred to be dealt with ‘later’ and of course I’d love to have the time to work on more books. I still haven’t finished the ‘how to’ book on watercolour, and I also have the bones (and quite a bit of flesh) of a book about how to draw.

boat basics

In a life where I have dozens of things in progress but nothing ever seems to get finished, it was a relief when my Sketchbook Diary finally arrived from the printers. Hooray, I’ve achieved one small thing! Thank you to everyone who pre-ordered and I had an enjoyable morning stuffing envelopes yesterday. I hope you find this little book encouraging. The more people I teach, the more I find their lack of confidence the biggest barrier to creativity. ‘I wish I had your talent, then I’d sketch!’, they say. I want to say that you don’t need talent. Do I have it? Possibly, but I suspect not much. The ability to draw certainly didn’t come naturally. All I have is years of practice, the desire to create and the persistent curiosity to find out how it works in order to do it better. As any creative person knows, real success is being able to live with failure on a daily basis and use it as a motivation not a barrier. Sometimes it drives me nuts and I wonder if it’s too late to get a proper job.

SD arrival

I’m not complaining, honest – just saying that miles on paper and a bit of determination will take you further than you think. It worked for me.

I’m one of the lucky ones. Author Julia Jones, whose creative output is astonishing given the demands on her time and emotions of a mother with dementia, helped me to get Sketchbook Diary into print by taking it under the wing of her own publishing company, Golden Duck. (http://golden-duck.co.uk/) Julia is an occasional blogger at Authors Electric and has offered her own thoughtful perceptions about an artist’s way of seeing:


It’s worth mentioning here that Julia and Nicci Gerrard founded John’s Campaign, which will resonate with everyone who has a connection with dementia care – more info here: http://johnscampaign.org.uk

So, from boats’ bottoms to dementia via creativity and a Sketchbook Diary – I’ll stop there. I think I have a list of Things To Do Today somewhere…..

2 thoughts on “Drawing and the art of curiosity”

  1. Colin UKAA says:

    To us ex-liveaboards Claudia, you are living the dream . Enjoy x

  2. Lesley Walker says:

    I am reading this on Arusha at anchor in Cavus Limani on the southwest corner of Antalya Bay in Turkey and the wifi from the cafe ashore a few hundred metres away works – what’s not to like?!! Your work on Else makes me feel guilty but I have been sketching! But what to do when the little Turkish fishing boat moored a small distance away ups anchor and leaves and I haven’t finished the sketch!!

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