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The Power Of Drawing #1

When I learnt to draw, I used a book, “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards. To my surprise, it didn’t really teach me about drawing but more about seeing. It taught me that drawing isn’t a talent that people just happen to be born with or without - drawing is the ability to see what is really there - not what you think is there.

As I was writing this, I received this email from my Mum:

“This video (5mins. long) of Leon Kossoff talking about drawing and painting with some of his finished works at an exhibition in 2013 is truly INSPIRING. I hope you have time to watch it. He was the painter I modelled for from 1972-1976. Mostly at his studio in Dalston Junction above the rag trade, sometimes at his home in Cricklewood off the Kilburn High Road.”

What I’m really excited about doing in June during the #30drawingsin30dayschallenge, is learning how to see again, and every time it being different:

“Every time you look you see something different; you experience something different…In the end all the differences amount to a sort or presence” Leon Kossoff, 2013

I came across these sketches below when I was looking for paper to make my sketch book for the challenge. I drew them 25 years ago, using a biro. I was immediately taken back to the memories of drawing my Granny, aged 14 with such unexpectedly moving clarity. Even though she’s now no longer with us, and her home, The Mill, has long been sold, looking at these images takes me right back there:

It's teatime and she’s sitting opposite me in the sun room writing her gardening diary after a beautiful, hot day spent in the garden. There are faint smells of cut grass and something savoury and delicious simmering in the pressure cooker on the Aga; I'm drinking weak, milky tea in the large mug with the faded red cheques; the wood pigeons are cooing gently outside. As I look and draw, I notice the delicate folds of skin that hang from her jaw bone so uniquely and softly around her neck; the way she holds her head with her hands, as if it might fall off if she didn’t hold onto it. I can see her short, pure-white hair swept over her head in it's particular way; I'm remembering how she sometimes let me brush it and rearrange it into a punk hair style. Her soft giggle. I notice for the first time that she has quite large earlobes.

Each time I looked I did see something different; I did experience something different and all the differences did amount to a sort of presence. And I’m so grateful I took that time to look.

​ ​​  ​Granny writing her gardening diary, The Mill, 2003

Granny, having a rest after a day in the garden, The Mill, 2003

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