Drawing. Drawing in limited time: against the clock. As Ted Hughes said of the deadline for poetry, can induce a sense of crisis in the artist and adrenaline is released. My friend Deirdre Rogers did a drawing exercise with her zart (zoom art) group last week and had 12 minutes to draw what was outside her window. After cutting a quill from the goose feather that had been on her shelf for decades she prepared her inks and drew quickly, capturing the meteorological mood of her part of the Exe estuary in Devon. I asked if I could mention her age. ‘Of course you can say I’m 91.’ That’s another aspect of limited time. You get on with it. I fancy drawing again – but I don’t do it. Not yet anyway. Deirdre’s got twenty years on me, so I know that when I do pick up the sharpened 3B pencil, or skinny felt tip that vitality can be there – if I look properly, like she does. When I was a kid I drew horses. There were a lot of gee gees in the fist part of my life in the 1950s. The bay that pulled the milk van, Sheila the Shire that drew the hay cart, on whose heaving shoulders I’d hitch a ride to school. The ponies Bonzer and Snitch bought for rich kids, and that didn’t get ridden; yours truly offering to exercise them free of charge. The piebald out to grass in a nearby field that needed brushing. Then the race horses at the Epsom racing estate where my Granddad (an ex jockey from Ireland) was a handy man. So I’d be picked up and placed on the back of thoroughbreds with names like Gilchemish the Second or Flying Ebony. All this horseflesh before I was 12. Horses – their charm, strength and beauty represented vitality. Poetry as flesh. We find it in what’s around us, usually in the natural world. So look for it it now while we hang in the aspic of the next Covid lockup. I saw a fox at the bins the other day. It was beautiful. But back to Deirdre. She also does country dancing, but these days has to sit out the quick jigs, so she draws them, and her fingers dance instead.
Drawings: Deirdre Rogers