Times flies. I’ve written nothing on this blog since last March – nearly a year ago. If anyone is still listening, let me explain.
For most of 2022 I suffered from a chronic, non-life-threatening illness, one that has not only sapped my strength but also drained my creativity. I simply had no inspiration. My attempts at drawing and painting were scuppered by the tank being firmly on zero: something I’d never experienced before. I’ve been able to create even in the depths of grief, of loss, of stress – but not during this debilitating ill health.
I was going to post something a few weeks ago about if you want to get back into your creative stride, try an online challenge. Whether your thing is drawing, painting, music, or writing, there are projects on the internet to kick start your creativity. I did one – a delightful drawing challenge about folktales (my contributions are on Instagram) – which really kindled the flame: the research into folktales inspired by a simple key word, thinking through the scenario and the composition, doing the actual drawing – but once the challenge was over the inspiration seeped away once more.
The only thing that combats lack of inspiration caused by ill health is, in my experience, getting better.
However, returning to the art you love gives you a helpful nudge. I looked again at The Art of Richard Thomson – my hero on high, plucked from us so early – and luxuriated in his linework and his humour. I read books by the recently deceased German illustrator, Wolf Erlbruch, and marvelled at his invention in each new project. We visited the Tate Modern Cézanne exhibition with friends not seen since the start of Covid and once again I was thrilled at his way with the humble apple. “Even for Cézanne the apple would only matter if it called up a breast in the painter’s mind…art’s subject is always the human clay,” writes New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik in his wonderful book, At the Strangers‘ Gate.
Slowly, the flame started to sputter into life again. I drew a card for a friend’s significant birthday. A building in a nearby town. Then the Christmas card design above and the angels’ heads below. Pulling in influences and transforming them, feeling creativity flow again as my health improved.
In retrospect, I wish I’d performed some sort of daily drawing exercise, even during the most challenging months of my illness. Taking one object and drawing it every day – no pressure, no expectations, no need for inspiration, just flexing those drawing muscles. It would have kept the spirit buoyant, like the scent of a familiar room, a cocktail on a warm summer’s evening, a conversation with an old friend.
So that’s the story of my non-blogging ten months. Hopefully now that I’m drawing again I can also think of something to say about them. Fingers crossed!