Thursday, February 27, 2014

Reading, writing, drawing, books

I've had my eye on this little corner to draw for a while. It's the entrance way to our house. I love the way the light comes through the frosted glass at certain times of the day. And I love the bookcase. It's from Ikea but it runs the length of the wall and almost reaches the ceiling and is a compromise on my childhood fantasy of having a built-in floor to ceiling bookcase in my own home.

What actually made me draw the scene, funnily enough, was that chair. We found it by the side of the road and thought it looked kind of vintage so we grabbed it. We don't, however, have any place to put it, so it's lived in this spot for the last few weeks. And the reason it's stayed there is because the day after it appeared, I discovered my two-and-a-half-year-old had climbed up onto it, and was sitting there pulling out the grown-up books - novels and non-fiction - to 'read'. This soon turned the bookshelf into a bit of a dog's breakfast. But I didn't mind because she was playing with books.

My big fear is that my children won't love reading. And not only that, they might not even like it. It has always been such a joy for me - a comfort and a solace. A way to pass the time and relax. A way to go deep into that calm place in an instant. I've worked in a library. I've tried to write a novel. I've been an English teacher. Much of my life has been about books.

But now reading is in snippets. It's on a screen. It's all surface and very little depth. I'm guilty of reading this way. I love surfing, clicking through different links, sampling. But it's not reading. Not really. Not like sinking into a good book is reading. I still read of course, but not as much. But what if they never do? Maybe my fear is unfounded. But it's there.

My hope is that this bookshelf does not become a museum piece. These are the grown-up books in the house. Their picture books are in their own rooms and they love reading them. Storytime is a nightly ritual. And I hope this sets the tone for their future.

I made this sketch this afternoon. I had a couple of kid-free hours and because I'm between paintings, I gave myself permission to indulge in this drawing. I used pencil for set-up lines - trying to get the perspective to at least look like it might be right - and then I went in with pen for the detail. I had thought about cross-hatching, but in the end went for watercolour.

I left that big gaping white space on the left for some writing. I'm not good at writing in my sketchbook. I always feel like it ruins the picture. My writing can be neat when I'm really trying, but when I'm writing on the fly, it's a scrawl. But I know that in the future, the journalling part will be just as interesting as the picture.

So I did end up writing in that space. And then I had to scratch out two mistakes in the first couple of lines, which really annoyed me. See, I thought, this is why you don't write in your sketchbook. But then I got over it. And I'm glad I wrote.