Small ways to be creative

Very recently, I published a post grieving over the demise of a great love affair of mine, with drawing and with art. But even as I did so, elsewhere in my life I’ve been subtly, in small ways, bringing drawing, and creativity back into my life.

I lament my lack of formally-developed skills and techniques. My work is, I feel, rather slapdash. It still grates with me that one of my early posts on this site, about autism and fashion, includes a featured image that, to me, is an utterly abysmal example of what I can do with pens and pencils. It was a quick doodle, on a scrap of paper, and the cartoon likeness of me is woefully inaccurate.

But I still like to play around with pens. I’ve recently started incorporating hand-drawn cartoons into PowerPoint slides at work. I have a near-pathological hatred of looking for suitable, copyright-free images online (for some reason, this task makes me unreasonable angry. I can’t really explain why, because I haven’t really worked that one out). It’s far more fun to spend my time drawing something that conveys my point than to waste valuable hours in an unsatisfying, unfruitful Internet search.

Last week, I was at an international conference for specialists working in my field. I contributed two sessions (one of which was on neurodiversity. I’ll probably write more about that at some point. It was good). Both featured slides with some of my cartoons. And however scrappy the artwork, the images provided a distinctive talking-point, and a hook upon which delegates could hang their own impressions and memories of my sessions. I like to stand out – I’ve suffered from low self-confidence all my life, and I’m gradually finding the means to remind myself, and others, that there are certain ways in which I’m kind of awesome.

And rather than sit and read on the train rides to and from the conference, I took my Moleskine sketchbook, and a box of coloured fineliner pens, and I doodled. Rarely in recent times have I enjoyed such therapeutic focus.

A paper Moleskine sketchpad, opened out to show a colourful pen-drawn scene, landscape orientation, featuring flowers of various shapes, colours and sizes, foliage, and a honeybee. The sun shines in the background, in the top-right corner of the drawing.
One of the railroad doodles. Semi-imaginary flowers.

I’m now thinking I’d like to do more. Reclaim that stolen passion for myself. And actually practise. Hone techniques. Use pencils more. Study real-life scenes. Practise accurate replication of objects, animals and people so that I can more readily and automatically incorporate them into my cartoons without getting flummoxed by my own sloppy execution. Maybe even properly learn to use the drawing apps I have installed on my iPad, so I’m not always resorting to scanning paper-based artwork all the time.

Get good at it, again.

But, hey, baby steps.

I don’t want to set myself up for a fall by setting my sights too high.

I’ll doodle, I’ll sketch, and I’ll scribble. And I’ll see where it take me.


[Featured image: a panel showing six doodles, cartoons and sketches. Clockwise from top left: the flower scene also included in body in this blog post; a cartoon depiction of a very happy me in love with details; a collection of colourful robots;  a stylised tree; a collection of colourful butterflies; a cartoon depiction of overwhelmed me experiencing sensory overload.]

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