Wednesday, 27 November 2019

The process...

I walked today and took a brand new sketchbook. To counteract any preciousness about it I quickly muddied it and made a mess of a few pages.
When I started out I felt bold. Full of energy and inspiration. I was going to draw and not mind what it looked like. I was just going to 'do it'.
As I stood taking down the scene before me, frantically mark making and smudging the mud around, dipping in puddles to dissolve the graphite stick, I began to unravel. It looked awful. I couldn't feel any pleasure from what I'd drawn at all.
I moved on to another and another, all in different spots. All the same. Awful. Why? Was the book too small, too restrictive? Was it because I was standing up, uncomfortably? Was I too unrelaxed because we couldn't get to the quiet, secluded places I really like because there were cows in the field? Was I trying too hard to 'make a drawing' rather than just sketch: I know I did have a thought about how valid abstract marks are against making an image and why this still bothers me after so long....
I don't know.
I just wanted to share the experience though because it affected my whole mood. It dropped me down into a bit of a spiral of doubt (quickly batted away, luckily, but it was close) about my whole career and my self worth. And this is the most interesting thing about drawing for me at the moment, how I can possibly use it to understand myself and utilise it as a tool for dealing with emotions, difficult habits of thought and self esteem.
As I was walking back I went and stood in a bird hide and looked out at the view. It was remarkable. The leaves of the woods covering the hill were bright in yellows and oranges. The water on the marshland was glassy. I was taking it in with my eyes and they were drawing. There was no reason to commit it to paper. I couldn't have captured adequately what I saw. It was too ephemeral, magical, momentary. I have the dodgy sketches to remind me of the main drawing in my mind. And that's enough to make me like them a little.

And the lesson? Keep going? Maybe. Feel that vulnerability and accept it.
Keep drawing through it all, whether on paper or not and notice how it feels to let go but not give up. 

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

The Zen of Seeing

The pleasure of drawing for the sake of drawing has returned. I'm grateful.
I thought I had killed my 'artist within' (as Frederick Franck describes it). But by gently taking up a sketchbook and slowly making some marks I loosened my senses and began to experience again. Seeing. Franck reminds me to listen to what I have been desperately trying ignore: 'the choking by schooling, training, conditioning... shrivels up the artist-within. ....The professionally trained "creative's" unspoiled core shrivels up in the rush toward a "personal style" in the heat of competition to be "in".' All these truths. I lost my faith. My way. But I'm home again, I hope for a while.

Thursday, 26 September 2019


This is an honest and revealing post about my mental health.
For a long time I have struggled with depression and anxiety. For over 35 years or more, probably.
Sometimes it strays into very difficult-out-of-control-madness and sometimes (very, very occasionally) it's not there at all.

I am always aware of a 'paradox of art' running alongside a constant negotiation of my renogade mind.  Drawing saves me, it cures me, calms me. I am re-embodied and restored when I draw. However I become ill if I am unable to make or draw or express. When I get a crisis of confidence, a creative block, not enough time or I am putting other things first I fall out of touch with myself. I disconnect with my art and I disconnect with my soul. Lack of art makes me ill and being ill makes a lack of art.

I'm not the first. It's common. A lot of people are open about it.
I am not normally able to talk about it publicly.
I have tried to hide my illness. The stigma. The shame. The self indulgence. The wrong attention. Whatever.
Now it's time to stop.

I have had to pause my studies.

I couldn't write.

I certainly couldn't make.

I was ill.

Now I am facing the shame of giving up. Of fielding the agonising thoughts that maybe I'm not good enough for this academic world. Or any world.

But I know I needed to just stop. I wasn't functioning. I was becoming sick to my being of constantly judging myself and my output and condemning us both as rubbish.
I waited so long to do this project. I want to go back to it when I'm in the right space to enjoy it. To live it and love it. Not feel constantly in battle with fear and lack of


And although it's hard, I'm digging deep to say I still like myself.

Self care.

So if you read this and it feels familiar I hope it helps. Be kind to yourself. You're doing really well. x

Thursday, 22 August 2019


I haven't documented much about my research lately.  I am currently refining a proposal for approval and it's a difficult, insular process.

I'm hoping to shake that up a bit and begin working in the studio on some intuitive experiments that shift things from my head to an embodied sense.  Reset the practice research by connecting with my practice..  Feel like the door has been bolted for a while but I've worked out how to open it. Drawing. It cures all.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Punctuation of progress

On the 31st March I turned 50.
I also installed a little test show in Totnes. God Bless Birdwood House!
It was also the night before I officially started an M/phil/Phd.
I had also just given up a job I have had for about 6 years.
There were also other events that are not for your ears......or eyes...

It was a weekend of transitions.

Sitting with the work (for it was required for me to sit all week in the gallery) for a long time changed my relationship with it. 

I'm currently blogging over on It's a repository for my developing PhD research The Graphic M...