Why I took up sketching again
Sometimes you stop doing things that you like, things that were a passion, for no particular reason at all.
While doodling was always on my list of favourite activities as a child (yes, the walls suffered too) I'm not sure I could pinpoint exactly when my love for sketching began. Maybe it had its roots in the beautifully illustrated Enid Blyton books I was lucky enough to have read in childhood.
From Mr Pink Whistle, Mr Meddle's Mischief, The Adventures of the Wishing Chair and the St Clare series to my all time favourite, The Enchanted Wood, illustrators like Dorothy M. Wheeler, Joyce Mercer, Rosalind M. Turvey and W. Lindsay Cable enchanted me with drawings that brought my favourite stories to life.
Even had they been without imagery, any Blyton book would have a tremendous impact on one's imagination - her words are all you need to paint a picture, and yet, vintage illustrations have a charm of their own, and added a magical quality to Blyton's books, especially as seen through the eyes of a child.
So it was that at some point of childhood I began drawing 'seriously', faces and eyes, fairies, flowy dresses, flowers and houses being my favourite subjects. I tried my hand at animal life, but when the lines between cat and fox and dog and cow began to blur and birds began to look like beady eyed aliens, I decided to focus on sketching what came naturally to me.
I don't know if there was a bit of a rebel in me even back then, but whenever a drawing assignment came up at school where I was instructed to do something specific, I'd go into it only half-heartedly, paying more attention to the pleasing forms emerging from doodles on the last pages of my notebooks. Once, an army of butterflies were discovered taking shelter in my maths book alongside calligraphic versions of my name, but instead of a reprimand I received words of praise ("it's pretty") from my mother, who always encouraged creativity of any sort.
Though I've never had any formal training in art, it's a pastime that has always brought me happiness. Up until my college years, I regularly filled up sketchbooks with my work; room-mates and friends even requested 'portraits' from time to time, and were sweet enough to say things like 'well yes, it does look a little bit like me!"
But sometimes, you stop doing things that you like, things that were a passion, for no particular reason at all. I don't know exactly when I gave up sketching but years passed, and I never made so much as a smiley face on a piece of paper. To be honest, it had been so long, that I forgot what drawing felt like. The peace of mind it brought, the joy one felt at seeing a creation that was all your own.
Recently, a friend gifted me a mini sketchbook. It sat for a few days on my bedside, bringing back memories, as I examined my new box of Staedtler pencils and tried to pluck up the courage to attempt a drawing. The difference between doing this as a child or teenager and doing it now was that unlike then, I was greatly intimidated by the blank paper I found myself facing. Was it because I didn't think I could do it anymore? Had self-doubt set in with age?
I realised the only way to tackle this fear was to just go ahead and draw something. So I attempted a 'Little Miss' character, from one of my favourite series of children's books by Roger Hargreaves. I felt self-critique rising up in my chest but squashed it; I exhaled, and laughed. The process of doing that simple drawing was therapeutic. I felt triumphant, confident. It's amazing how such a simple act can bring such exhilaration.
Since then sketching has once again become a regular pastime. It has de-stressed me during tough times. It has made me smile. There is a joy in doing things you did as a child that can only be experienced, not explained. If you're lucky enough to be brought back to a state of mind, where you can pick up your childhood passion once more and find wonder in it, don't ever let it go again. Some things are worth holding on to. A sketchbook is one of them.