I've bought a book called 'The Creative License' by Danny Gregory, and I am using it to start to draw again. I used to draw all the time. I used to be a graphic artist, dammit! Somewhere along the line, I started writing and forgot to draw. Or got frustrated every time I did draw because what came out on the page didn't look like it did in my head. What I forgot is that when I drew as a child, when I was good at drawing, I was doing it every day. As with anything, you don't get good at it unless you practise. I practise my writing. Every day. So why not drawing too? Why not use the same techniques for fitting in a drawing exercise as I do for fitting in a writing exercise?
My father was an excellent artist. His work was delicate, beautiful, etched. But he never drew. I only have one drawing of his left, from a whole lifetime. I've often berated him for wasting his talent. But for the last 20 years I have been doing the same. Somehow, it got left behind.
I know that I am a writer, in the same way that I know I am female. Its something you are born with. But when I dream of what I want to be, often I want to be an artist as well. Artists fascinate me. I read about their lives. Frida Kahlo, Dora Carrington, Mark Rothko, Wassily Kandinsky, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Ben Nicholson, Patrick Heron, and of course, Picasso. My favorite artists. If I picture myself in my wildest dreams, I have a studio. I've always wanted to write a film about Vanessa Bell. I want to write a book about an artist who is dying in the midst of his coterie on a Greek island. One day, I will. Its a strong urge in me. I want to create beautiful things. So why not be a writer AND an artist?
With Gregory's hints, I am learning to draw again, but in a new way to the way I was taught at school, with definite lines, with commitment, without rubbing things out. By observing, deeply. By seeing what is there. There have been so many holidays where I have spent so much time fiddling with the camera, taking pictures, that I haven't actually looked at the beauty in front of me. Pat remarked to me how struck he was by the beauty of the sketches his friend Martin was making at Thiepval while they were away - Martin is an artist. Other people take pictures. He draws. That way, he sees. I take photos with the intention of copying them as drawings later, which I never do, so I never really see what I am looking at.
And surely, looking more closely, more mindfully, will feed my writing too.