|A couple of my notebooks - with home made covers - and Andrew Cowan's book|
Firstly, the inciting incidents:
I got Andrew Cowan’s new book, The Art of Writing Fiction, from the library last week, and it really is brilliant. Cowan came to give us a guest class when I was on the Diploma of Creative Writing course at the University of East Anglia (where he is now Director of the MA programme), and he was excellent. Most of what I remember from his class is in the chapter on observational journals, and reading has made me very reflective.
|Short story illustration 1986 - don't ask me what its about, I can't remember!|
I’ve also just started Alisa Burke’s new online class, Watercolour Bliss, which is just as its title suggests. Looking back over my old portfolio has made me realise just how much I am learning with her, but also allowed me to see the big holes in my art practice. My painting technique is so much better now, but I used to draw all the time – I used to illustrate my own stories, as the picture above shows. Doing full time Art ‘A’ levels, of course, gives you a lot of time to make art, but I can see how much better my drawing technique was then, compared with how it is now. Practicing every day really does make a difference.
When I was working on my writing diploma, I took my notebooking really seriously too. I worked hard on recording all those observational details and playing with language. And while I know my writing has improved so much in the intervening years, Cowan has helped me see how much I have let that practice go, and how much I could gain from reinstating it.
|Pages from my current notebook|
So I am considering reinvigorating my creative process by going ‘Back to Basics’. I think a good deal of this will be about what I choose to draw, as well as the details I choose to write about, because this is what motivates me. And that means allowing myself to fail a bit as I get back into the swing. Which takes courage. But I think the Habit of Art, as Auden called it, is worth taking a risk for, don’t you?