Making Plans and Finding Focus

Thursday 14 May 2020 10.00pm

Since the idea popped into my head recently, of writing about how my garden became what it is today, I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and realising how much more of a story there is behind it; or to be more precise, how many stories.

I really hadn’t thought about it before, but much of the story of my life for the past 25 years or so is written in my garden. Highs and lows. Life and death. Love and loss. Friends and lovers. Successes and failures. Battles won and lost. They’re all there; all have formed the garden into the place it is now. 

The more I’ve let the idea percolate, the more stories keep coming to mind, and it’s paved the way to a new focus for my Patreon page.

The big picture of “seeing if I can make a living through writing and drawing” still applies, but just for now – while the world is in crisis and I for one am very much locked down – I want it to reflect the focus on one particular project.

So I’ve changed the description of my Patreon to “…creating a story about a tiny garden”, and altered what I’m offering for the different tiers, to reflect a new – albeit perhaps temporary – plan.

It’s still “using my writing and drawing skills” but now to create a book about my garden, that in turn tells a bit of the story of my life, and in particular highlights how good things can grow out of times that seem only bad.

First I’m going to create a timeline of all the changes that took this small outside space from just two plain strips of grass, open to the passing world, to the enclosed, semi private and secure garden full of beautiful, fragrant, colourful planting, with seating and working and storage areas, that it is today. I’ll be making notes as I go about the life events that prompted the changes – the wishes, the dreams, the hopes, and the fears. Digging out photos, and making drawings and design plans for each stage.

When all the planning is complete, I’m going to write the stories, chapters telling the life of the garden, with those bits of my life that influenced its growth woven in. I’ll turn the rough sketches into finished illustrations and use image editing programs and publishing programs on the computer to pull it all together and produce a book layout.

Finally I shall set about seeing if I can get the whole thing published.

For me it will be a journey of remembering and it won’t always be easy, but for the reader I intend for it to be something very different, full of creative solutions, practicalities and a fair sprinkling of triumph of hope over adversity! Something that’s needed now more than ever.

While this is is not going to be the answer to the “How do I make a living …?” problem – let’s be brutally honest, this is not going to be the next Harry Potter or make my fortune – it may however lead to other things. Who knows.

For now I’m writing it for my patrons. I can’t over state how much the support I receive over on Patreon is helpIng to motivate me and keep me accountable, and how immensely grateful I am for it.

I’m very excited about this little project – it feels as if this is the book I’ve been meant to write all along, I just didn’t know it until now.

Not Marching Forth (Or Even Fifth)

Thursday 5 March 2020 22:35

I’ve stalled.

I’m floundering in a bit of a depression at the moment. Not managing to do much of anything, just when I need to be ‘up and at ’em’.

Mostly I’m not getting around to drawing until late at night – when I’m tired and the tremor in my right hand is at its worst – like this cafetière that I drew last night. It’s completely wrong of course. My intention was to add watercolour, but having inked in the coffee I was so tired I just carried on with the big fat black pen… 🙄.

Despite the shiny bits being so completely wrong though, each time I’ve looked at it today, I find I’ve grown a little fonder of it. Through no fault of its own it doesn’t look like it should. Like me at the moment (the nasty shingly blistery bumpy painful rash thing is back with a vengeance).

In fact, looking at the drawing now I remember the handle was the bit that I thought would be impossible, and it’s the one bit that pretty much worked.

Sometimes the easy things are hard, and the things you think you’re going to struggle with, aren’t so bad at all.

I need to remember that.

Who’s Driving This Bus?

Monday 17 February 2020 21:35

I think I’m back. After over a fortnight in the grip of some horrible cold virus, today I have at last felt as if I’m on the road to recovery. So time to get back to this; and, er, that.

That, in this case, being the non-earning but important to do from a creative life sustaining kinda way idea of finding somewhere to set up a real life creative space. Or that’s what I thought it was. It seems this idea has bigger ideas for itself.

About a week ago (was it?), not being up to much, I did a bit of searching for a suitable website address, and came up with “Drawing 4 Health”. It wasn’t my first choice, but other domain names had already been taken in some form, and I’ve always followed the premise that it’s wisest not to just choose a different ending (the “.co.uk” etc bit), because you don’t want potential site visitors being sent to someone else’s site instead. So, drawing4health.org.uk it was. And drawingforhealth.org.uk on a redirect, just in case.

That bit was easy. Putting a site together wasn’t, not least because I didn’t really know what I was doing this for or why. It just seemed to want me to do it. Which brings me to a theory you may have heard before: that ideas aren’t ours at all.

The theory (which I fully subscribe to) is that ideas are out there, floating around, looking for someone who they feel might make a good job of turning them into reality. You’ve heard people say that an idea “came” to them; well that’s it exactly. You don’t “have” an idea; an idea “comes” to you, it chooses you. It’s up to you to do your best with it.

And so it is that I find myself listening to this idea (an idea I thought was mine, but I now realise isn’t at all), and doing my best to carry out the instructions it’s giving me.

Like the person sat behind the wheel of a driverless car – I have no idea and no control over where we’re going. It’s all as much a mystery to me as to everyone else what this is, and where it will end up; but I’m enjoying the ride.

Drawing4Health is still very much a work in progress. I wanted to have something out there to give an impression of what this idea is all about, before seeing the people with the lovely garden space, hopefully on Wednesday. In time the site will have proper graphics – for now there are coloured slabs with a bit of text glued on. But I think it’s starting to take shape.

See what you think. But don’t expect me to answer questions, I’m just following instructions…

http://www.drawing4health.org.uk

Surprised To Be Adding A New Category

Tuesday 11 February 2020 22:50

I awoke early this morning with my nose blocked and running (how can noses do both at the same time), sneezing and very fed up! I thought I was on the mend, and I felt worse than ever. Tomorrow my lovely boatyard bosses are taking everyone out for a night of ten-pin bowling and a meal, and it doesn’t look as if I’ll be going.

No! enough of the “Poor Me” post!

My head feeling all bunged up and woozy has meant that writing anything that makes any sense has been out of the question. Ditto doing any sort of planning, or setting stuff up. I just can’t think. I meant to stay in bed today, but the sun was shining, and I figured stretching out on the window seat with sun streaming through the window would be rather nice; so I got up.

Once up and dressed I needed to do something, and I remembered that I still hadn’t even started the shading on a copy of a drawing that I’d drawn the outline for back in December. It was one of my “Studying the Masters” series – a lovely little sketch by Edward Ardizzone, who uses a lot of very loose expressive hatching and crosshatching. It seemed the ideal task for today, slow and methodical.

I was pleased with the result – it’s a copy so not really my work at all, but very helpful in getting into the habit of looking really, really closely at what I’m trying to draw (more important when you’re copying even than drawing from real life), and very very helpful in giving me a lot of practice shading with pen and ink.

Having spent most of the day slowly working at the hatching – all black ink on white paper – I felt almost desperate for a bit of colour. I had a postcard of a puffin by my work table, with a beautiful red and yellow beak. “That’ll do!”

Now, I’m not a painter – don’t have any aspirations to be one; I love to draw. I don’t do painting. I like the idea of using watercolour just to add a bit of colour to a drawing, but that’s a different thing.

But this horrible head cold of mine seems to have done something good for all it’s bloomin’ annoyingness – I’ve drawn more in this last 10 days than I have in a very long time; and this evening, just now, in no time at all and without the slightest hesitation, I painted.

This may not seem at all noteworthy to you, dear reader, but I’m slightly punch drunk here. It’s far from being a masterpiece, but it’s the simple fact that I didn’t even THINK about it – I just got my little watercolour palette out, and I painted it. Like I’d been doing that all my life!

And in order to tell you about it, I’ve had to create a category I didn’t think I’d ever have a need for: “Painting”.

Hah! I can paint (a little bit). Who knew. 🙂

Opening Doors

Friday 31 January 2020 22:50

After playing with the anamorphic drawing yesterday I wanted to fit in just one quick drawing this morning. This little open door leading to a stairway was inspired by a clever folded paper visual trick on a YouTube video, but I adapted it to be a small sketch in the corner of a page in my sketchbook.

When I’d done it, I realised looking at it that I could ‘see’ other furniture in the room, and that there was a story waiting to be told about the room at the top of the stairs…

It was Catch Up Friday, so I had other things planned for the whole day, but I will return to this, hopefully tomorrow, and see if I can fill in the missing story.


I’d intended to do a roundup of the first three weeks, but I’ll keep that for tomorrow too. It’s been a busy day. Night night! 😴

You Can’t Find A Solution Until You Know What The Problem Is

Thursday 30 January 2020 21:35

I woke this morning with a light bulb moment of understanding of last night’s gloom (sorry about that folks). I’d been beating myself up for spending time on something that wasn’t concerned with making some income (looking for a space locally for a creative group) and I was forgetting that this ‘journey’ isn’t just about money, it’s also about creating a life that sustains me in all ways, not just financially.

I wasn’t feeling hopeless, I was berating myself for feeling hopeful about what I thought was the wrong thing.

Having cleared that up I went back to sleep, but just before I did, I decided on a name and a more precise aim of what I want to do; thus Drawing 4 Health was born. I even have a logo in mind.

The whole thinking behind “Drawing 4 Health” is encouraging people to discover the benefits to their mental wellbeing, of just picking up a pen or pencil and having a go. When I got up this morning I decided I really should take my own advice…

Hey, it works!

I stuck a virtual pin in a list of possible things to draw and came up with a video titled “Very Easy! [that caught my eye immediately – I felt today was the day for Very Easy] How To Draw a 3D Hole”. Not something I’d ever have thought of searching for, but oddly perfect. (Which my first attempts weren’t, but that was fine.)

It’s called “anamorphic drawing” I discovered, and I soon realised this is the stuff that those amazingly talented pavement artists do, where you see apparently vast gaping holes, and stranded people perched on the top of pillars of rock that descend into the underworld. I’ve always wondered how they do it! Wow.

Oh boy and it’s fun. As I was filling in the black bands on the first hole I could literally feel the stress and the gloom melting away. It did dawn on me, after I’d added the footprints and the prone body deep in the hole, that it could be misconstrued as being linked to last night’s mood, but it really was just coincidence.

The illusion of depth is all to do with the angles and the shading, and in these very first two attempts I haven’t quite got either of them right, but it’s fascinating, and even already, as you swivel the paper round or change the angle, the holes change. Double wow. I’m hooked.

Picking up my sketchbook today and just playing, made the biggest difference to my mood. I didn’t need to draw proper pictures, or get everything “right”, I just needed to play; and the magic happened.

That, is what it’s all about.