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.

No comments:

Post a comment