I need to test myself. And drawing at the circus seemed a good idea at the time. It was hard. Harder than I thought I would be. I remember circuses as a child being lit up inside the big top. This one was dark. I’d spread out my crayons, felt tips, pens and wash brushes on the bench in front of me but when the time came to make marks I couldn’t see what colour I was reaching for. It was alarming but also very exhilarating. Black became purple, blue was green. It didn’t seem to matter at the time.
Everything was happening so fast. There were jugglers, acrobats, men standing on each others’ shoulders, showgirls on horseback, trapeze artists, a tightrope walker and a clown. I just let my hand move, this way and that. I was drawing blind.
You find yourself drawing from memory almost. And any desire to make subtle marks, or to describe feature or gesture is eschewed. I think of Degas’ or Seurat’s drawings and I cannot for the life of me fathom how they did it. Was it all studio work post the experience? I wanted the immediacy of the action – to try and commit it to the page.
The interval offered some respite but the audience milled around incessantly, stirred up no doubt by the spectacle and anxious to fill their bellies with burgers and popcorn or take their little ones for pony rides in the ring or to be photographed with the clown. The music, though pounding and in itself exhausting helped to keep my momentum going.
That beautiful horse ‘dancing’ to La Paloma Blanca was so kitsch but also so stunning, I heard myself crying out with wonder. Agh, the child is ever present. I drew like one possessed. Am I happy with the results? No, but I am happy I went, faced my fears and did it. Sometimes that is all one can ask of oneself.