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The Drawing Cure


Drawing down a green lane in Much Wenlock

I realise looking back over the last few months that there were signs that things were going awry and that all the pressures of the last couple of years had begun to take their toll.


Art had always been my place of comfort, but somehow the solace it had given me had slipped away. So rather than trying to push through, I decided to take a break, reassess and wait, hoping that the spark would return. And slowly it did.


I spent weeks away from it, uncertain what to do next. I knew I loved drawing in the landscape, focusing on what was in front of me, absorbed in trying to capture a sense of where I was and what I saw. I had relished the encounters with wildlife sitting out on the field margins, and by hedgerows, as I sat on my stool sketching, absorbed in drawing and so still that creatures seemed to ignore my presence.


But in recent months, I had begun to feel uncomfortable showing this new process. I had experienced a growing sense of pressure in producing work for social media almost daily and realised that this was beginning to impact on how I felt about the process. I took fewer risks with materials, very often having my eye on the result that I would post, rather than focusing on trying something new or simply enjoying the experience of drawing.


However, taking a break from social media, albeit an unintended one, helped me review my process of drawing. I looked back over my old sketchbooks, pre-social media and the internet, where I would play and try out ideas in a private space. I would experiment with different media and subjects, and if it failed, I would simply turn the page and start again. These pages were a place of both thrilling discoveries in trying new media and there too was the comfort of drawing the familiar.


An old farm building in Magpie Green, Suffolk

And so I knew I had to recapture my love of drawing in this way. I was very rusty at first, but I told myself that making bad drawings was better than making none at all, and that the fluidity would return.


Focus was also difficult and I had to retrain my mind to concentrate on the process and not worry about what the outcome might be. It is a wonderful way to cultivate mindfulness: you have to look and retain that focus, bringing the mind back to the present if it wanders. A sure sign of a drawing going awry is when I realise I have stopped looking and have begun to ‘make it up’. “The likeness is in the looking”, as the painter Patrick George said.


Sketchbook page of wild blackberries

I also looked back at some of my older sketchbooks. Viewing each page, I was taken immediately back to the feelings and circumstances in which they were made. You can forget the instance a photograph was taken, but never a drawing. They become embedded in your consciousness and really make you see, notice and attend to what is in front of you.


A sketchbook pages of moths and grasses


The outcome really doesn’t matter, it is the experience of making the drawing that counts.

Thank you for bearing with me here, your support and messages are hugely appreciated. I have new projects on the horizon and look forward to sharing them with you in the coming months.


A short sketchbook tour of almost 30 years of sketchbooks


Finally, I wanted to share with you a talk by Danny Gregory of Sketchbook Skool, a wonderful advocate of the importance of keeping a sketchbook and how it can enrich your life.





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6 comentarios


Susan Mee
Susan Mee
08 jun 2022

Beautiful, beautiful drawings Deborah. Thank you for sharing.

I am privileged to own one of your cushions so am able to look at your lovely work daily.

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Dear Susan, Thank you very much for your message, and for taking the time to read this piece and I am very glad that you enjoy your cushion! xx

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Carol Bryner
Carol Bryner
08 jun 2022

I have been thinking about you lately and wondering how you were doing. So glad to see this blog post, and delighted to have a look at your lovely sketchbooks. Thank you for keeping at it and for sharing the process of making art. I always love your drawings and paintings and sketches and prints. Welcome back!!

Carol

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Dear Carol,

Thank you very much! I am slowly working my way back and it is such a relief to be making drawings and paintings again. I was beginning to wonder whether I would ever be able to again! Thankfully, things are getting better and I will be back on Instagram soon. Thank you for taking the time to read it xx

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susibhall
susibhall
08 jun 2022

Ahh Deborah I wondered what had happened to you and how you were or was it Instagram just not sending me your posts. I’m glad you took a break, social media is a devouring beast sometimes. I enjoyed seeing your sketchbooks, what a wealth of treasure you have there. Thanks for the link to the Sketch Book Skool too, what a nice voice he has and so encouraging. I hope you can continue to rest and recover,

best wishes, Sue 🌼🌻🌼

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Contestando a

Thank you so much, it is lovely to hear from you and thank you too for taking the time to read it. I hadn't intended a break, but once I had stopped I realised that a pause from daily posting was much needed. I shall be returning very soon and hopefully it will be less devouring!

I am so glad you liked Danny Gregory, I love his enthusiasm.

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