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Maybe I was always going to be a songwriter, but it took me 50 years to actually get round to it?

And maybe I was always going to be a lyricist? I love words, the way they feel in my mouth as well as how they sound. The words Lemon Meringue Pie or Chocolate Chip Cheesecake to me taste as delicious as the dessert. Those close lipped sounds together, and alliteration… yummy!

(I also have a talent for “tasting” a menu… almost synaesthetic (oh what a word!))

I can remember being read to as a small child, especially Winnie the Pooh… and the poems from Now We are Six. My mum must have loved them too because she read with a delightful rhythm and lilt that sang the words to me. Impeccable timing. I remember singing Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud, and I also remember her teaching it to my eldest son on the arm of her chair when he was aged about three.

“Hold that note!”

“Muuuuuuuuuuuuud!”

This week I find myself obsessed with finding pairs of words with particular rhythms… that don’t at the moment make much sense, but could eventually end up in a song or two…

Unnecessarily blue

Coincidentally choose

Predictability groove

Totalitarian fool

And this is sometimes how it starts… not always… but the words that feel nice, and the themes I think about… there’s a soup in my head that gets stirred up together and eventually out pops something that says what I want to say, in a way that feels good.


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And there it is…

Big Red Shiny Button pressed.

Except it is none of those things.

I’m thinking of suggesting to Arts Council England that they make it so.

It always feels momentous.

The immediate feeling is one of relief after weeks of work to get it done and off. I can ‘forget’ about it for a while – six weeks.

I’ve done a few of these now and it’s never got any better.

I’ve been moderately successful… but the ‘No’ still smarts.

At this point, although I think I’ve done my best and I’ve had people read it with me, and for me, and had people edit bits for me here and there too, I never know. This is in fact a re-write of one I submitted at the end of last year. Simplified and clearer. I’m good at spotting over-complication in other people’s applications, but not so good with my own it seems! Of course, when it was rejected, and I read the letter, it was obvious.

But at this very moment, this one is Schrödinger’s Application. Both dead and alive.

Crossing fingers etc.

… … …

Meanwhile…

Back in the rest of my head are these drawings. Here I have been thinking it’s a new thing, then while searching through my photos I came across a digital image I had made in 2013. Oh. Not new then? No. The image showed lines/veins/branches… in very similar formation to the rivulets of watercolour that my drawings are built upon and through. 

I suppose I should take comfort in the fact that at least I am plagiarising my own work, not someone else’s. But it is rather irritating that I didn’t even recognise what I was doing. 


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I’ve run out of the big beautiful paper, and can’t at the moment afford to get any more.

But that’s ok, I think… it gives a natural break in order to assess if that is in fact what I need.

In order to do this I’ve returned to some pieces…

I’ve returned to some larger pieces deemed unsuccessful, chopped them up a bit and then returned to the pieces as new. This has been moderately successful. I’ve learned some interesting things about composition by doing this, as some of the drawing falls off the edge of the paper. This prompts me to think about the unseen drawing in potentia… which sounds a bit pompous as I write it down. However, as my drawing is still concerned with touch, affect, relationship, it does have relevance, thinking about what might be, what could be… hmmm… to go back to…

I have also been doing some smaller, very small drawings. Four inch squares. These tend to also be on old chopped up paper, as trials of materials and techniques in the beginning… or as a sort of warm up exercise. Useful. They also have me thinking about composition.

I think (as in a previous post about my tendency to go at things a bit frantically, to always hit for the six) that I have neglected the negative space and the empty spaces on some of these drawings. When I look at the ones I really like, as opposed to the ones that are merely ok, there is an imbalance of sorts in the composition. There are areas of the paper, more than 50% I’d say, where not a lot is happening, and then where I have drawn, it is heavy, at one end, falling off the edge again…

There’s something in this, I’m sure.

Brinkmanship.

How close can I get before I fall off too?

Who can I dare?

Who shall I take with me?

Having worked on these smaller pieces at least I have decided one thing.

I do need more big paper.

By working on big paper, I commit. I know that I will be working on a piece for more than a couple of hours. Some of the big drawings gave been a couple of weeks in the making. There are times when they are right, go wrong, then become right again. I go away, then come back into the room two or three days later, and know what needs to be done, that I didn’t know when I left. That simply does not happen with a small drawing. This isn’t about having a nice thing to hang on the wall at the end (although I do have lots of nice things you can have on your wall if you like). It is about that commitment to the paper. I need to feel the size of it, stretch across it on my table. I need to swipe my arms across the lumps and bumps made by the paint before deciding how to use the pencils.


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