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Bronze bust – National Portrait Gallery,

I went to the National Portrait Gallery Lates last Friday . They had a drawing exercise drawing the busts of some ancient famous people, I had to have a go. Don’t know who this guy is, and I wondered how hard it would be to draw a beard.

When I was young my dad ended up with LOTS of paper. I don’t know how. It was 1979. Seems strange to have a heap of paper arrive, but it was normal at the time, when you’re 9 years old you dont really have a yardstick for what normal is – so you just get on with your paper-filled life.

Anyway – my point is I drew, I had been drawing before that, but when the paper came I drew and drew and drew. Dogs, houses, spacecraft, dinosaurs, cowboys and indians – I even did crayon rubbings of the furniture. Mental. It took years for the paper to run out.

Over time I became what the other kids in my first/lower/infants school called “a good drawer”.  I entered a National competition, I think it was World Wildlife Fund – I won it, but was sick the day of the award so my dad went to collect it. The prize? £15 worth of book tokens.

Anyway – I kept on drawing and went on a foundation course to build a folio for an arts degree. Looking back I wasn’t really interested in art as concept or what it could say, I just loved drawing so I did it again and again and again. Didn’t want to write, or analyse, I would skip  those classes, but stay late for extra life drawing. I just wanted to draw, well by then …draw,get drunk, go to parties and chat-up girls.

So academically I was a bit lazy, when it came to university applications, I didn’t make the cut. Then I got stuck in crappy jobs for 6 years – I had fun otherwise, I had good friends, chatted up girls and went to parties – but working life was boring and it went nowhere. And I stopped drawing.

Its a tragedy – why did I stop? Worried about day to day life I guess, which I did find a REAL shock after being in education for so long.

Eventually I went to University – in 1997, and I could draw again. I wasn’t as polished, but the skills were there.

What’s my point? Well, I have two points:

ONE: National Portrait Gallery invite the public in late on a Friday to draw from paintings, photos or statues – they lay on equipment. The standard of people varies; some are good some are not so good – but it feels great to be in a room where everyone is drawing. If you’re around and you know what I mean by this you’ll go. If you don’t know what I mean, try it anyway – whether you think you’re good at drawing or not – it’s fun, it’s free and it feels good.

TWO: If it’s fun, it’s free and it feels good and its not hurting anybody, don’t have a six-year gap, keep on doing it.

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