Watching you, son

Indulge me with this one, a personal post I began last month with a few thoughts on drawing. I’d planned to do much more throughout October (with The Big Draw in mind) but never quite got that far. And frankly, I blame the little fella…

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Cute? Don’t be fooled.  I’ve been watching him closely for three years (drawing has a wonderful way of enabling that) and simply put, the boy’s a little tea-leaf. Blink and he’ll have your time, your sleep, your car keys even. And then, as if actual bed space isn’t enough, before you realise, he’ll have you in his pocket too.

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But still, three years old today! (although he’ll tell you he’s eight). Happy Birthday Dougster!!! In the interests of birthday fairness (not that he’ll care) I thought I’d put some drawings of him together here.

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Drawing is a wonderful way to understand something deeply. Regardless of the outcome, there is no better way to study, to question, to feel your way to a deeper awareness. The examples above are mostly grabbed moments – five or ten minutes here and there – yet to me this time still adds up to something important. I’m fully aware I’m no expert and most bear little resemblance (not that inaccuracy is the defining factor in my lack of expertise, there are plenty of other flaws – overly laboured lines, for example). But occasionally a wonky mark falls into place – to align with a familiar contour or curl – and a certain ‘Dougieness’ will emerge, which is nice.

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I tend to sketch with a pen rather than pencil as it makes me more decisive in my marks. I’m also more reliant on line, even to suggest tone, with the direction of shading often giving my left-handedness away. I love that drawings can be so telling. Student work can easily be read like maps – an island of concentration here, a continent of distraction there. Incidentally, a dentist once looked in my mouth and told me I was left-handed, which I thought was cool. It seems they can read teeth brushing equally sensitively. Anyhow, a confident line – in flow, weight and simplicity – is what I’d most love to master.

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I’ve found working on lined paper – or scraps of card when using colour (salvaged backs of sketchbooks mostly) – can help me to loosen up, although I’ve a long way to go with that.  However, these assorted collections of Dougie – visual diaries of his growing up – have become quite precious, if only to me.

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That said, I’ve been doodling on my iPad much more this summer. I wanted to develop a more playful approach, working from my imagination – basically recalling daily mischief – and found it useful for this. I’ve tried numerous Apps and a variety of stylus, and whilst I’m still not convinced it is a great tool for drawing (although I’d like to try the new iPad /Apple Pencil) I’ve found Noteshelf and a basic Bamboo stylus the best fit for my needs.

 

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More recently, as with these #HallowDoodle examples below, I’ve been stretching the truth a bit. It’s funny to compare these with the first drawings, above, when he was just a baby. Three years on, I’m still trying to improve, grateful for how drawing has enriched my ability to observe and appreciate.

Happy Birthday, little monster.

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