Guardian crossword doodles

I probably won’t be posting much here over the coming year due to being up to my armpits in writing my graphic memoir, The Facts of Life. Although feeling trepidatious, I’m looking forward to the challenge and feel privileged to be undertaking this creative endeavour.

However, today is my second blogiversary so I thought I’d better post something, hence these favourite doodles from 2013, including some scribbled on the Guardian crossword. Myself and my husband try to do the Guardian Quick Crossword every day. What is it about concentrating on words that prompts a doodle? I’ve also thrown in one that I did on a makeshift style sheet when proofreading a few weeks ago. It seems that words and pictures have an inextricable attraction and cannot be prised apart – at least not in my world. Ladies, houses, and trees, appear to be my main preoccupations – plus the occasional alien for good measure.

All the very best wishes for a creative and happy new year to my blog followers!

Motorways

I’ve had to make one or two journeys due to family illness this year and, when not driving, I’ve found it to be quite absorbing to draw the fast-changing landscape of motorways. It takes my mind off things. The drawings are very wobbly, of course, due to the movement of both the vehicle and subject matter – but I like that quality. I became excited by the shapes of those 1950s concrete motorway bridges – and I started to fixate on the CCTV cameras. I also found the black digital display boards to be somewhat foreboding and ‘looming’ when they didn’t contain any information. They’re just the right size to be spooky in some way. Maybe it was just the mood I was in! See if you can guess what I was listening to…

Sketchbook pages

I’ve just come to the end of a sketchbook that I’ve kept for the last 18 months, so thought I’d post a few pages here. Ironically, when I was in the thick of being a children’s illustrator, I didn’t keep sketchbooks – the last thing I needed in my spare time was to be drawing. I had to rest my overstretched tendons and tunnels (I had recurring RSI). In recent years I’ve started to carry one around with me again. I’ve also included some pages from other sketchbooks – I have them of varying sizes from a tiny one that fits in my purse to an A4 book at home in which I do comics workings-out.

I don’t often attempt to do finished drawings in them – they’re more for practising looking, and planning (comics). I like to draw in cafes, on journeys, on beaches, and in waiting rooms etc. In these situations, people are in varying degrees of motion, which means fast drawing is required to get any sense of form. I like that challenge, and the results are very gestural lines – mere essence of movement or character.

My reasons for sketching are varied, and include: taking the opportunity to practise drawing when I’m not doing anything else; an attempt to be ‘in the moment’ and record it for posterity; on occasion, to escape from the moment or thoughts, or from boredom; note-taking at talks; and I also sketch in the wee hours when I can’t sleep – this tends to be when comics idea emerge. They can seem very urgent and important in a dozy half-slumber but often appear pretty rubbish later in the day. Like dreams!

Doodles

I wonder if looking at other people’s doodles might be akin to listening to their dreams i.e. poignant to the originator but not quite so to the listener/viewer. But what-the-flip? Here you are:

I have a box in my studio containing almost a year’s worth of recycling. While rifling through looking for something, I noticed all the scribblings. These are mainly from a notebook I use when proofreading. Looks like there are one or two phallic symbols in there for good measure, and some very ‘female’-looking pens. My doodles tend to be based on things lying around on my desk, bits of text/typography that I can see, and imagined characters. Houses pop up regularly, too. If anyone looks at these and comes to the conclusion that I’m really screwed up or need help, do let me know!

The Doodle Revolution looks like an interesting website – keep meaning to have a closer look.

Childless or child-free?

Click to view:

There are supportive communities online for those who are childless by circumstance and for those who are childless by choice. I’ve never felt that I can totally identify myself with either label.

I’m not keen on any term that defines you by what you are not. It seems rather negative. There has been much discussion about this topic on Gateway Women, a site conceived by Jody Day to bring together, and celebrate, women who don’t have children for whatever reason. She coined the term ‘nomo’ (not a mother). Again, the term certainly isn’t for me for the reasons stated above, but the site has some interesting articles and is a good place to go if you’re seeking solidarity with others in a similar situation.

In short, people who didn’t procreate shouldn’t have to be defined by that very fact. However, and all too often, women of my age are.

On the rocks

I’ve just got home after a couple of days off visiting the coast of North Somerset and North Devon. While sitting (uncomfortably) on the pebble ridge at Porlock, I found a lump of charcoal, which inspired me to draw on some pebbles. I used to do this as a child – it was the in thing in the 70s. I also had a 2B pencil, and black and white chinagraph markers in my bag, which made things a bit easier. I’d forgotten my scalpel so the charcoal lump soon lost its efficacy. It ended up as a small visual diary of the trip. I like drawing on pebbles because of the texture; it feels nice: