Tuesday, 7 May 2013


It is of no use to compare oneself with the giants of visual art, or literature or, for that matter, one's parents, peers and siblings.  To do so invites despair at one's  shortcomings. I shall never be able to paint like J M W Turner, draw like Louise Bourgouise or Vija Celmins, still less write like Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf or WG Sebald. Neither shall I ever be as selfless as my father, as sensitively imaginative as my mother, nor as intelligent and articulate as my sisters.

However, I am beginning to recognise my own voice now, in the words that I commit to paper or screen; a modest, rather homely voice, narrow in compass, devoted to the personal, not given to brilliance or greatness, nor yet to exquisite lyricism, but possessed, at times, of a distinctively succinct turn of phrase. I would that I were, in the words of William Styron,"splendidly creative", but have come to understand that I shall never be described in those terms, I simply do not possess that level of ability, nor shall I ever, which realisation causes me considerable pain.

As far as drawing is concerned, I have yet to establish a consistent self. Over the last nine years I have produced  two distinct bodies of drawings, that of the cloud formation drawings, and the later drawings of tree, mountain and rainbow, which I group together because they sprang from the same imperative, and marked a departure from the drawings of clouds. I find it difficult to reconcile the two, and, for the present, impossible to move forward from the latter group; I find too, that I do need after all, to travel backwards in order to rediscover the forward path.

At present, although I had forsworn to indulge my habit of removing early drawings from the boxes in which they are stored in order to look upon them, I have extricated a drawing of a cloud formation  made in 2004, one of my earliest drawings of clouds, and at present the drawing lies on the floor of the back bedroom, where I can study it daily. Instead of becoming mired in fruitless retrospection, I find the exercise helpful; it can be useful and instructive to engage thus with an earlier work. It is reassuring, affirms that which I am unable to affirm myself; I could draw, and perhaps I shall be able to again.

The drawing is by no means equal in execution, concept or stature to a work by the consummate painters of clouds written of in a previous post, but it is quietly proficient; I feel no shame on regarding it, have no desire to destroy it, rather I seek to absorb the lessons it offers in the hope that I may be able to approach the making of cloud formation drawings once more.

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