I have wielded the cudgel of self punishment to such effect that my spirit cowers as a stricken animal, waiting in terror for the next blow.
How to recover from such an assault? How to be gentle with oneself?
It is difficult to undertake the endeavour of beginning to make drawings again, when, owing to lack of practise, the first results will, almost certainly, fall far short of my hopes and desires. Because of this, I am liable to punish myself in such a manner, that approaching the task will be made yet more difficult. I must find a way of allowing myself to make mistakes, and , most importantly, to recover from them; not to perceive myself as an unmitigated failure just because one, two, or several drawings fail. It is unrealistic to suppose that the first drawing attempted after three years of abstinence, will be successful, and it is, I realise, inappropriate to punish myself as cruelly as is my wont on the occasion of failure. I need instead to understand and accept that failure is a necessary and inevitable factor in one's learning. I have to learn how to draw all over again. After all, when I first began to make drawings of clouds, some nine years ago, I had to learn how to tease the graphite powder into the shape I envisioned before smoothing it carefully into the surface of the paper, allowing for the play of chance, and adapting my methods accordingly. In the course of my work, many drawings were discarded, or later destroyed; I seem to have to produce much dross for one good piece. But I did not punish myself for my mistakes; self punishment is a feature of my behaviour that I have acquired since falling prey to depression and anxiety, and which I recognise as a pattern recurring with each episode of illness.
Beginning to draw again, with the weight of unsuccessful drawings hanging heavy on my mind, and the likelihood of failure in the future, is almost impossible. It appears to me to be a part of my being, of my personality, to be scouringly self critical, under which regime of condemmnation, experimentation, discovery and pleasure, all inseparable components of the practice of making art, will remain unobtainable until I find a way to be at peace with myself.