Cabin Fever (2)
I’m gradually connecting to my inner hermit and discovering that there are benefits in not tearing around all day trying to fit 48 hours worth of living and doing into every 24. Was it only three weeks ago that it was normal to choose whether to have supper or a shower before going out because there wasn’t time to do both? Or getting up at 6am to finish a commission which was due to be submitted the previous day? The boatyard is silent, apart from the cry of curlew and oystercatcher and the weather has been too cold for all but the hardiest of my friends to wander down for their daily walk, clamber over the flood gates which are shut for the duration, and chat from a safe distance.
The turning point for me was to impose a gentle structure on each day, to focus on specific projects rather than faff around dipping into everything and achieving nothing. It also helped me to gather myself together that I ignored my phone for a while, and I apologise to my friends for my rudeness in not replying to messages for a while or getting in touch as often as I should. I am fortunate to live in a place with a great community spirit and we’re all keeping in close touch, helping each other out.
I have no television and I’ve not had the radio on, not to put my head in the sand but to get the news once a day from a couple of sensible websites, at a time of my choosing. (When did it become normal that news is repeated on the hour every hour? Does no-one every question it? What does it do to us?) My work days have now regained a degree of purpose (providing I can work out what day of the week it is, of course) and I try to spend my solitary evenings productively, reading, writing, practising my harp… oh all right, you’re more like to find me with a laptop on my knee and bottle of wine by my side, binge-watching my old boxed set of Blackadder DVDs. But I’m trying!
One way or another, work is progressing on my various projects, and this week I’ve been working on chapter two of my book on how to draw. Here’s the latest draft for you to download free if you’d like to give it a try:
If you’ve got time on your hands (I suspect some of you might!), give some of the exercises a go and do give me your honest feedback so that I can make the book as clear and helpful as possible.
If you missed Chapter One, hop back to last week’s blog post and you can download it there.
I also have a question for all of you who draw or paint at whatever level. My book is not just about how to draw, but why it’s good for us, regardless of the outcome. This idea is not new, but it has recently resurfaced in our age of over-consumption where we are starting to rediscover a basic truth – it’s doing things that engage us fully with life that makes us happy rather than acquiring more and more ‘stuff’. I thoroughly recommend Andrew Marr’s wonderful book ‘A Short Book about Drawing’, as it’s about why we create rather than how to. Marr exposes the myth that ‘to live well means to devour’, and he looks at why creating something for ourselves, however amateur, is important to us. ‘To make is to have a sense of yourself, a personal dignity which you can’t get from consuming….’
Anyway, what I’m trying to ask is this – why do you draw? Why is it satisfying, what keeps you going even if you don’t like the results? And when you give up, is it from frustration at your lack of skill? Let me know what keeps you wanting to try, what keeps you coming back to art workshops and classes. Do you get so worried about the end product that you forget to enjoy the process, the pleasure to be gained by sitting still and observing something wholeheartedly? I know (I think!) why I draw, and why I find inspiration in teaching others to do it, but I’d be interested in your views.
Thanks everyone who responded to the last chapter, all your suggestions have been a great help.
Keep on scribbling, making, doing, playing!