“kettle bitterness”

To take the boiling frog metaphor right to its end, at that moment a month or so back it was more like sitting scorching on the bottom of a boiled dry saucepan.

I really jinxed it the day of that last post, writing and telling people things were getting better. Tempting fate by buying some beers in preparation for a boys night to blow off some steam. The only reason we didn’t end up back in emergency that night was because the ambulance took too long to come…

About this drawing, I had wanted to do something different, work in black and white with flat colours like a print. I’d done a beautiful free biro thumbnail but my redrawn big pencil version was stiff and lacklustre. Plan B was to blow the thumbnail up to A4 and use it as a base to work over. Need to do more quick pen drawings, but I’m not at all convinced by the fake colour. Oh well.

“minimum viable product (drone #4)”

This was probably the lowest point of my mental state, coming at the end of the worst few weeks I’ve ever had. It’s much easier to deal with your own pain than that of others. I was out walking, feeling that there was nothing to be hoped for but swimming hard to even keep the surface in view, thinking that the only way to get through was to not feel anything.

Happily things turned out better than expected, the bleak tide receded to leave us catching our breath. Part of it for me was having some time to draw this week, getting it out on paper. It came together pretty easily, apart from a near disastrous attempt at a wash for the background which left it warped and dripping.

Maybe that’s some sort of metaphor, mopping up and pushing through.

“catch and release”

One of those odd drawings that springs forth almost fully formed, and without too much conscious meaning. I was thinking about the flower/faery happiness/growth avatar, and the fleetingness of happiness, when inspiration struck. It came together in a hot streak four mornings of drawing, and had me hanging out to get back to it, seeing it on my desk in the working week in between.

Something that has really helped these last couple of drawings has been not just finding reference images but bashing them together into a mockup. For this one I even cropped it to the frame which was amazingly helpful to place it on the paper. Still crushed it right to the edges though…

“totemic / systemic”

I really wanted that new job I didn’t get. It sounded interesting and challenging, but in the same way I imagine having an affair avoids any awkward self examination.

Is security enough to get out of bed in the morning for? Is waiting around until my long service leave comes through enough of a plan for the next year and a half? Does it feel like you’ve achieved enough at 50?

This piece is about again choosing a path in life. I love drawing, and these last few have really been hitting a great standard but what are they for? I’d love to show them in a gallery but they’re so personal I couldn’t bear to sell any! They’re physical links back in time to moments and emotions in my life.

The long straight shapes got me using the markers better, long strokes and using the brush nib very side on, so this was a win on a couple of fronts. Kinda wish I’d gone for a straight pine like those I see on the walks where this idea was hatched, would have made it super geometric!

“happy place”

I was making good progress on this one, getting started first thing in the morning like a day job on my days off. Then I got sidetracked by applying for an amazing job… interstate. Spent a day off writing up a letter and resume. It was a weird bit of escapism, like I could jet off interstate and prop up my ego being a big shot. Except I got an interview, and found another amazing job to apply for.

Spent a second day off in a row writing a different application. Then the third day off I had to move the first interview to book in a second! To cut a long story short, I didn’t get the one I wanted and withdrew from the other. You do have to think of what’s happening around the world and be grateful, but still, I had a day or so of moping.

Onto the drawing, about enjoying beers a bit too much, even just browsing a bottle shop or online store is my happy place. The drawing came together surprisingly easily and the only regret I have is that the hop green turned out a little dark, hiding the outline work. The final photo had some reflected light which added some extra contrast!

“armature”

Having a crack at a one-session-speed-drawing on my day off. A little rough but mostly successful, if a bit pinker than I expected.

All about my sore shoulder, healing slowly with some painful ministration by the physio. In the greater scheme of things, not so big to complain about…

“precursor”

This probably seems like a strange one to celebrate 10 years since my original diagnosis, 10 years cancer free.

Sometimes I have bleeding and it stresses me out, but as a drawing this was a dream to work on! The geometry of the shapes, the textures, even a couple of things that went wrong turned out for the best. About the only thing I’d do differently is the highlights on the sarcophagus, which took too much grain from the paper.

Now for a drawing about my sore shoulder!

“augury”

Back in the day I was a fairly depressed young man. Full of woe for my life at the time, but somehow never really doubting my reason to draw or its “success” in the future.

I wonder what that young man would think if he could look forward to now. To my life of security and stability with non-negotiable motivations. To a future of doubt and shades of grey.

With this drawing I was really trying to embrace the outline and flat colours… but I just couldn’t resist sneaking in some shading!

With another gloomy drawing showing through!

brute force

I tried something different on my day off today. Lacking inspiration I went for productivity over creativity. Busted out the big scanner and set up a production line to scan the last few old sketchbooks.

Back in the day I drew mostly in those books, tight and controlled pencil work. Then I moved on, set myself free to go big on coloured paper, go crazy with different mediums.

There’s a good analogy in there somewhere. Letting go. Colouring outside the square. I also tried brute force to help my mental health, with a big night out on the beers… worked for a few hours!

“unceremony”

Our big holiday to Japan was two years ago, and I need to let go.

It was a fantastic trip, to somewhere I’d been dreaming of going since my early teens. We were looking ahead, thinking of other big holidays we’d want to take. New York for my 50th. Venice for Karen, her dream destination. And back to Japan.

Then Covid-19 hit and travel was gone.

We had the photos from the trip as a screensaver, always scrolling past with memories. Two years later I’m still looking, fixating on that trip as a symbol of the world that was. Mourning for that world.

The girls are more focused on our trip to Mildura that’s coming up. The near future not the past. I need to do the same.