I must confess I’m writing this after having dipped in and out of Pharrell William’s Happy all morning. I’m infected. Catch what I’ve got here: http://24hoursofhappy.com
But if dancing in the street doesn’t do it for you (what’s wrong with you?), pick up your pencils. I dare you. Drawing is a more private expression of joy and you’re less likely to get arrested for disturbance of the peace. Although that could depend on what you draw.
Few people are naturally gifted at drawing. Well, fewer that you’d think. I won’t dispute that Leonardo da Vinci popped from la mamma‘s nether regions with plans for Vitruvian Man well under way, both hemispheres of the brain firing in synchronicity. But as a sketch teacher and eternal student I know that practice can push boulders up mountains.
I was told by a former teacher that my drawings weren’t worth the pencil shavings gathered into a petite tepee structure at the side of my desk. If she’s right then I want to be wrong, I decided, and drew on.
Drawing changes how you see the world. I didn’t want to see the world the way she saw it. Who would?
Sketchers peel away layers and explore life in a way that mere mortals checking off their To-do lists, scrolling through text messages, playing Candy Crush Saga can only ever hope to.
Someone who carries a set of pencils in his bag is privy to soaring vistas where others see everyday sights. A leaf becomes a jewel, a tree a kingdom, a hand the symbol of humanity. On her park bench, retreating from our sausage-dressed, Botoxed, Apple-smooth culture, a drawer finds joy in facial wrinkles; frolics among the folds of loose clothes like a child in an adventure playground; and views digital technology as something suspended outside her little drawing bubble. Anyone who has ever tried drawing on one of those drawing tablets can vouch for that, technical draughtsmen aside.
Drawing gives you a purpose in life; every step you take is motivated by the challenge to see, record, take note. It keeps you off the streets…unless, of course, you’re Banksy.
For the shy, tongue-tied, still-waters-run-deep types, drawing provides a voice and helps develop friendships. Calling across your easel in the art room is like waving to the fisherman on the next island.
Drawing doesn’t cost much; we use more or less the same materials as Da Vinci or Albrecht Durer. My parents had it so easy. All I ever wanted for my birthday was a jumbo packet of colored markers, the colors lined up more vibrant than the spectrum of a rainbow.
I enjoy meticulously recording the detail of people and things. Still lifes. It’s the opposite of what I do in the fashion industry where a stylized form of drawing, quite removed from realism and where much is communicated with few strokes, is favoured. In fashion, nothing is still. I like to be lost for several hours if not days. Don’t send out a search party. I have a flask of tea and I’ll come back when I’m ready, all the better for it.
If I haven’t convinced you to pick up that napkin and just scribble a stick man, or trace figures in the soap suds of the sink or drop to the ground and chalk some shapes at your feet, why don’t you pop into my newly opened Student Gallery and seek further inspiration. You’ll pass it on your way out and they’re serving pink champagne to celebrate its inauguration. Follow the fairly lights and balloons and don’t be intimidated by the beautiful people collecting at the door.
Come, walk this way: https://jackiemallon.com/student-gallery/.
My novel is now available; you can buy Silk for the Feed Dogs here.