Drawing conclusions            

July 2006

When I worked in an advertising agency in London, almost twenty years ago (gulp!) I drew cartoons of my co workers, bosses and clients when a funny situation arose, which was quite often. They were pinned up on the wall for all to see, especially the victim. I loved to rock people's pedestals to keep their feet on the ground.

I still have a folio full of them somewhere in a box in our barn.

As the computer became more and more a tool for the art director, I slowly abandoned the magic markers and took up the mouse. Clients became used to seeing almost finished artwork instead of sketches for their concept presentations. In the end we seemed to spend more time on the presentation than coming up with ideas. 'Polishing dog shit', as my old copywriter used to say.

ink men under tree

I use the mouse to earn my daily bread. I manipulate my own digital photography with Photoshop, create press ready artwork with Quark Express and produce several websites with Dreamweaver. When I first began in the business, we counted the number of letters in a piece of text, worked out the point size and ordered our type from a type house who would deliver it the next day on a roll of paper. Type corrections were done with a knife and restuck with wax. Nowadays it just takes a few ticks on the keyboard and the possibilities seem endless.

The drawback is that although we win an enormous amount of time, it has been stolen and swallowed up in the decision process. The sweat to meet the deadline feels tighter than ever. I don't do have to do the all night sessions any more, but then again, I am my own boss now.

The moment I decide to paint or draw, all notion of time disappears. I become oblivious to all around me and dive deep into the white space. It is always hard at first. The subtle strokes required to achieve the perfect line I can see in my mind's eye are sometimes beyond me. It depends very much on my mood, my state of mind. If I am troubled, it takes me longer to find my peace, but when I find it, I grab it and dive deeper, creating some surprising and often rewarding results. Being trained as a designer, I find it hard to let go and forget proportion, perspective and geometry. Abstract imagery is impossible. But a few free strokes of a brush or pen can always beat a tight, finely detailed piece for capturing the moment.


I have a sense of humour failure when I am woken from my trance by a request, a visit or having to stop to eat. Mister Grumpy. Caroline understands this and leaves me to it. In fact sometimes she encourages me to down tools and be creative for myself.

I have been asked to illustrate a few books this last year and have enjoyed the challenge, the invention and above all, the freedom. Perhaps my dream of making a living as an artist is not that far fetched. But for now, the only painting I will be doing is on fresh plaster in our kitchen-to-be.

I don't comprehend how people can exist without being creative. Or is it deemed as a waste of valuable time? Or are they scared to be judged on their untrained strokes? Shame, they don't know what they are missing. It's all about the experience, the result is secondary.

A bientôt,



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