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Drawing Sounds

I paid attention to the sounds playing out around me as I drew. There was the noise from the tree surgeon working on trees on a road further up the hill, there was birdsong and the screeching of sea gulls, there was the sound of children laughing and shooting in a playground followed by the ringing of a bell and then there was that of metal cutlery being washed, dried and put away in a drawer. I’d been standing by a terrace house as I drew and its front door was open to the sun. At one point the woman of the house had come out and I’d greeted her. It was a nice sound that of her busying herself in the kitchen. It was somehow comforting, regular and familiar.

I am most myself when I draw. It’s not that I am happiest, for drawing is difficult and pleasing myself with the result is even more so. No, it is just that I am the most engaged, the most ease-ful because I know it. I know when I am paying attention and when it is lapsing. I even talk to myself as I am doing it – encouraging a sharpness that now and again wanes. I love that kind of concentrated looking, you see things you didn’t before. And does the outcome really matter? Isn’t it more about that paying attention – that really looking at the tree. Getting to know its nuances. Isn’t that the main point. The outcome is a by-product. What have I learnt, how has it changed me? That is the nub. Oh, and the sun on my face.

Was it a recurring dream, the one about the man in black who I see at a distance, who smiles as if at a private joke and comes running towards me and I know that he will blow in my face (and presumably infect me)? I thought I’d had it before. He will be so angry with me, I think as I wake.

A misly morning. The sun is promised though.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.