Why I am Drawing, and Why I Stopped Stitching

This morning I am delaying the start of the drawing, in order to write about the drawing.

People have asked me why I have not been stitching, and why I am drawing after a lifetime of stitching. This blog post, the moment I hope to capture with this, is an attempt to address that question.

I love stitching. It’s my native tongue. It comes easy to me. I know the nuances of stitch and fabric. I have done it for years, decades, and it has served me well in both functionality and art form. I’m not boasting by saying I have skills. I have. True story.

I had a good four hours intense drawing yesterday.  And I left the studio exhausted without a backward glance. Satisfied.

This morning I came in, dumped my bags, hung up my coat, put the kettle on, kicked my boots off, put the heater on (snow, hail, sleet, driving wind!)

Then I sat at the table, thinking I would take a couple of photos for instagram maybe. So I got out my phone….

Only then did I look at the drawing.

I gasped.

I dropped into my chair.

I swear my breathing got faster and I could feel my heart beating.

The drawing speaks to me. 

It matches the weather.

It certainly matches my mood.

Stitching NEVER did this.

If I take as an example the Nine Women project, yeah, the one with the bras. The textile and stitched elements of that were planned. There would be nine, I would choose the bra, respond, imagine the woman, and then know instinctively how to stitch to convey the thoughts I was having. I am very proud of that project. It stands I think as a good body of work. But in terms of its processes, it doesn’t come close to this.

I can track and trace the path to the drawing, in my life, my head and my sketchbook. I know how it happened. I am still unsure why, and when circumstances returned to some sort of normality, why I didn’t return to textiles. I think, much like Forrest Gump, I just stopped. It wasn’t serving the same purpose any more. 

This drawing then…

It is the immediate connection between brain~hand~pencil~paper.
I’m thinking but not thinking.
Deep thinking.
Not thinking.

But the resulting drawings are some sort of emotional purge.

They are indeed academic.
There is knowledge, and skill, and experience there.

But there is also a sensuality here.
A light touch… and a depth… like a carving…
There is violence almost… implied if not actual.
And a soft kindness, sympathies and empathies.

There is most definitely love and all its physical manifestations.

What enables this to happen on the paper is the paper itself. It just takes what I give it.

And this is it too… 

The paper responds to me more than I was finding with textiles. They did as they were told and I was master of them. The paper is doing its thing. The paper is a living thing it seems to me. We have a conversation. I tell it my secrets and overnight it becomes something else while I am not looking. And in the morning it shows me an answer.

This morning I get to think about the next question to ask of it.


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