AN ILLUSTRATED LIFE
Quentin Blake’s words form the opening sentencein the third book I’ve picked up from the illustrator so far this year – If you’ve ever read one of Roald Dahl’s tales, then you’ll know Blake’s work. “Something drawn by hand” feels like a very healthy thing to do, Proffering a joining of our inside and outside worlds when the rush and noise of 21st century life refuses us rest and reflection.
I’d also picked up a copy of Kate Sutton’s Drawing on Anxiety, a journal in which Sutton encourages drawing in a mindful way:
Drawing calls for us to be more present,it allows the flow state, and to fully focus on the task at hand, which can be ever so soothing.**
Here are some of her examples: draw
the things you find yourself doing whenunhappy and anxious, and the things that make you feel calm, draw the things you hold tightly on to, and the things you would do if you weren’t afraid. Draw nature taking on a city, the things that help you sleep better, the things that help you in the morning, draw your inner critic, and some things your body has told you.
This assumes thateveryone can draw – And we can – It’s just that many of us gave up at a very early age; Lynda Barry asks:
How old do you have to beto make a bad drawing?^
How old were you?We wrongly think that some can draw whilst most cannot, but drawing is more about seeing than drawing, Being present, paying attention, being led into a larger world. Don’t draw complicated, Draw simple (I call it doodling) – I love Blake’s images because they are uncomplicated, yet full of life.
Here are a couple of things to be playful with:
Take a number of objects out of your cutlery drawer anddraw them as simply as possible; Search for “images of Quentin Blake” on your browser, Choose some images you really like and simply copy them. Now to find some words:
Before writing and drawing were separatedthey were conjoined.^
I enjoy illustrating life with doodles and words –Even taking unhelpful thoughts and feelings, and doing something different with them, something more, so here’s a third thing to try: Re-member an unhelpful thought –
This’ll never work,You’re rubbish at this, What a mess you’ve made, You don’t belong here;
The internal critic is trying to protect us, but in a really unhelpful way, So, we’re going to provide some help by inserting a word (or replacing negative words like “never” and “don’t”) from the following list:^^
(Self) Awarely Bravely Confidently Determinedly Energetically Fearlessly Gratefully Helpfully Imaginatively Joyfully Kindly Limitlessly Motivationally Nobly Perseveringly Quirkily Respectfully Strongly Thoughtfully Uniquely Vibrantly Worthily eXeptionally Youthfully Zealously.
When we play with our sample thoughts, they become: This’ll work vibrantly, You’re fearlessly rubbish at this, What a thoughtful mess you’ve made, You bravely belong here.
Create a picture to go with your sentence – perhapssomething a la Blake, and maybe add a little colour, too. Notice what happens as you do this, as you playfully and imaginatively illustrate your life.
*Quentin Blake’s Beyond the Page;