Little Black Box

In my small, borrowed, box bedroom, I recently took a small step and made space for a small box of art supplies. After taking note of lots of little moments that resonated with me as messages from the universe, including unexpectedly stepping into my dream bedroom in the house we're buying (decked out as a working artist's studio), or overhearing a conversation about painting while sat deliberating in a cafe, I went and bought new stock of some of my old favourites. WH Smith's art section was my Mecca about twelve years ago (second only to the Mothership that is B&Q), so picking up a fat permanent marker, a tin of drawing pencils and a putty eraser was like becoming reacquainted with old friends.

I keep the box by my short-term single bed now, and even if I don't draw in my new, grey, spiral bound sketchbook often (if you know, you know), just having it there feels better. It feels familiar. It feels like me.

So far I've only done a couple of quick sketches after girls in magazines, but it's funny how quickly the feelings of frustration and impatience came through. Why don't my fingers translate what my eyes can see exactly the way I want them to? I already remember why I turned to working with Photoshop and a graphics tablet; there's so much more control that way. Maybe I should spend some time playing with ink again to help myself let go - that stuff just does what it wants and that's half the beauty of it.

In the same way drawing again is throwing up apprehensive feelings, writing on here is already starting to feel problematic. I've only written one post in six months (I know, calm down), but whenever I write anything on here I always want to take it straight back down again. There's obviously part of me that wants to keep the option of this creative outlet open, otherwise why would I keep paying to keep the same domain name I've had for over a decade?

That part of me is the same part that wants to keep a sketchbook next to my bed, and the part that's held onto my old box of paints and brushes through countless house moves, even though I haven't needed them since I left sixth form. It's the same part that still has paintings I made when I was in primary school and the part that still counts my A-Level portfolio as one of my prized possessions.

But the part that makes me feel silly is still there too. That's the part that makes me want to delete blog posts and take down Instagram posts of drawings I've made in the past. I feel silly for writing. I feel silly for writing about drawing. I feel silly talking about feeling silly. So for now I'll just stop.



She used to be my muse. Between her and Kate Moss, I had found a face that I loved to draw. I'd tear out pictures of her from magazines, or trawl online for 'Jessica Stam editorial photos' until I'd found the perfect, pouty shot, then scratch a sketchy, impatient portrait onto an oversized sheet of paper.

I've been thinking a lot lately about why I stopped drawing. My mum recently described my 'wasted talent' to a stranger she was meeting for the first time. I don't think she realised that her throw-away comment had the effect of throwing a hand grenade at my sense of purpose and identity; one that has been smoothed out into a comfortable shape throughout my twenties.

She probably doesn't know how much drawing has been an extension of how I'm feeling inside, or maybe she does and she was actually just making conversation. Ten years ago, I used drawing as a way to make friends. These days, I don't care anywhere near as much about trying to get other people to like me. I like me now, which I definitely didn't at the start of the last decade of my life.

I've sometimes joked to my husband about what would have happened if I had decided to go and do my Art Foundation instead of going straight into my undergraduate degree; we prod each other with notions of him ending up with a sporty, light-hearted blonde, me with a tall, dark and moody photographer-type, but the joke always ends with the not-so-laughable punchline from me: "I'd probably have ended up dead."

I really think that the struggle I went through with my mental health at university would have been so much harder if at the age of nineteen I had dived into a world filled with like-minded, emotionally intense, 'alternative' art students instead. I have found personally that misery really does love company, and it's mostly thanks to my completely non-miserable sports science-type husband that I've managed to drag myself out of some of the darkest spaces I've been in over the last ten years.

There were no people 'like me' where I studied; it wasn't a university set up for creatives. We looked at art. We read about art. We wrote about art, but we didn't make any. Over time, drawing turned into designing posters, first for student parties and then for my part-time job. My part time job became an internship, became a copywriting job, a marketing job, an agency job, then before I knew it, a whole decade had passed since drawing and making art was what I wanted to be known for. Impressing the people around me these days comes in the form of working long hours, delivering projects on time and on budget, or keeping clients happy. My skills with a stick of charcoal now have nothing to do with what I'm known for.

I'm turning thirty years old towards the end of the year, so as well as unintentionally crushing comments from my mother, perhaps that's why I'm wondering if drawing could become part of what I'm known for again. It's time to find a new muse.


Sunday Escapes

Sundays are fast becoming my favourite days of the week. Slow mornings, spending time together and exploring the villages on our not-so-new doorstep makes me happy. Today we ticked off Temple Guiting, although you could barely call it a village. More like a tiny hamlet with not much to see apart from a lovely shop and tearoom. We were still craving some fresh air after our scones, so took a pit-stop in Winchcombe on the way home. He insists he doesn't like it there much, but I think it's pretty sweet. I think it will look perfect at Christmas; lots of great wooden doors crying out for thick wreaths, which is the sign of a good-looking place if you ask me.