In my London rambles I came to know the
Westminster Reference Library. It’s
tucked behind the National Gallery on an almost untrafficked one-lane
street. In the first floor (what would
be floor 2 in America) are the photography and art books, and they’ve got a
great collection – such as out-of-print Garry Winogrand books hard to find
Looking through a tome on Jacques Henri Lartigue,
there was a facsimile page of the diary he was scrupulous about keeping. In the upper left he described the
weather. In the upper right he rated the
day from 1 – 20, then listed what he did that day. In the center of the page he did a drawing,
often of a photograph he had taken (but had not yet developed and printed).
I loved this format and adapted it to a drawing
journal. The idea was to use the diary
as a way to discipline myself to do a drawing a day. I started the journal on January 1, 2010 and
kept it without a break for almost two years.
For a while Dot and Harry kept Lartigue journals too, and it was interesting
to compare the number that we gave to the day.
We did our drawings at bedtime but then bedtime started getting too late
and because I didn’t have a curfew, mine continued.
When Radio Mary went into production of course
the drawings stopped. And never quite
restarted, in part because I felt like I had plateaued and wasn’t getting any
better. Or maybe it had begun to feel
too much like an obligation, a job.
A couple of the journals had been completed and
left in Santa Monica. I pulled one out
to show a friend, and the drawings were better than I remembered. At least I enjoyed looking at them, and was
glad they existed. Maybe I’d had enough
of a break, maybe I could start again and be a little less relentless about it
(allowing myself to miss a day here and there).
And there was the pleasure and energy of returning to something after an
absence. As antidote to the computer I
found that I craved creating with my hand.
I’m drawing again.