It's a nerve-wracking business, rarely enjoyable, and only satisfactory when I feel that the drawing is going well: when the shapes, shadows and textures are exactly as I imagined them.
This isn't often. And really, it's no reflection on my talent, because I rarely complement myself on a job well done. Whether the job was a success or not. Sometimes there'll be a spark that pleases me – if I hold the pen with exceptional lightness or control through a particular passage, or if I make the correct choice between pointilism and cross-hatching - but invariably they'll be one or two bumps in the road before the thing is finished. And the enthusiasm over that spark gets smothered.
But then again, I might be wrong.
Anyway, what is exciting is to be casting about for a new subject. Your focus becomes clear and creative, as you comb through your surroundings to find something that attracts you. This is not a bad way to pass your time, by the way. I suspect that it's the same if you look inward for your subject matter.
Now, I know of a literary magazine which has food as its exclusive topic of choice. Essays, poems, reviews, art – all relating to food. So I'm in the process of putting together a selection of things to send. But I have to draw them first.
So, as Monday was market day I figured it was the perfect opportunity to pick up some subject matter. Stallking the produce section, I ignored the scales and weighed my options. Apples, pears, citrus…too spherical, too much implied symmetry. I needed something uneven, with a grizzled, interesting texture…something to get my teeth into. (I kill me – though I'll be cutting in line, I believe).
And then I saw them…huddled into and spilling out of their dear little baskets: STRAWBERRIES. With shapes bumped and squeezed, seeds imbedded in their skins, leaves uneven and twisted: they were beautiful.
They were also $4.99 per basket. Apples: $1.29 per pound.
What to do? What do do? Think! Use your tiny mind, Aubrey, and think! Stop looking at shiny objects and think!
I bought the strawberries.
And now as work has begun, only time will tell.
Oh, and the berries – out of gratitude perhaps – were yummy. And there's more for tonight.