Thursday, 26 March 2015


I have put some of my art online. Dipping a toe into the critical waters, if you like. I made a conscious decision to start drawing again. I made this decision in January. I went out and bought a sketch pad. I bought pens and pencils. Nothing happened for a while though. The sketch pad sat on my coffee table and was ignored. 

At one stage, I made myself pick it up and I made myself draw. The results were contrived and banal. I dropped it back onto the table and left it there. But one night, when the house was too big, too empty, too quiet for one person, and just being in it felt oppressive, somewhere around midnight I found myself holding a biro and the rejected sketch-pad. The pen moved in the familiar anticlockwise oval that I’ve been sketching for years. Around and around and around – the lines not even, not clear, a blurry edge that becomes a face. I say ‘face’ but there are never any features – these are the old friends who exist in the margins and end-pages of my books. The people of my annotations.

A person’s art is as distinctive as their handwriting. Possibly your art says as much about personality as handwriting is said to do. I wonder what mine says about me. The leitmotifs occur with regularity:

The faceless people.

The classical drapery.

The arches and fan-vaults.


Poppy-like flowers and aspidistra-like greenery.

Swirls, spirals, scrolls, volutes, and swashes.

Spheres, cones, pyramids, and boxes.

All manner of strange craft.

Go ahead, analyse me. It’s probably all deeply significant. Or not.

Through the years I have decorated journals and notebooks with these images. As I grew older, they made their presence known in my work diary, on the edges of the minutes of meetings, and in the spaces in seminar handouts. Rarely, however, have they existed in a dedicated space. Neither have they been a focussed task, more a valve to release the pressure for a brain that was elsewhere engaged.

The sudden space and silence that has come into my life seem to have encouraged their renaissance. The florescence into colour has been enabled by the new digital dimension. A sketch becomes a photograph which transforms through applications. I have a pixelated paintbox and a whole range of effects. Finally, I can realise (if that is the word for digital art) the ideas in my head. The technology makes it possible for me to achieve the effects that I intend.

There’s a certain level of acceptance as well. A colour, selected unintentionally, is allowed to remain. A shadow caused by photography in the wrong light is turned into a feature of the piece. It’s my ‘imperfect stitch’ though not an intentionally introduced flaw, rather an uncorrected error.

It’s a new thing for me to be relaxed about imperfection. It’s a new thing for me to put my creations out there for other people to see. A couple of samples risked on Instagram brought the approval of actual artists. The virtual imprimatur was unexpected and thrilling.

I may do more of this.

Also, it has brought me back to this blog.