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I have always drawn, ever since I could hold a pencil. It was a foregone conclusion that I would become an artist in some way, so it was no surprise to anyone that upon graduating from Art College in 1983 I became an illustrator and animator. I draw every day for my work but over the last few years that has become increasingly electronically based (drawing on a screen) so in 2016 I decided to keep a daily diary, drawing in pen every night something that happened that day. Sometimes funny, sometimes sweet, occasionally angry! Then, on October 27th2017 my life was turned upside down when my beautiful wife Joy died as a result of Sepsis aged just 41, leaving me to bring up our two young children (Ben, 8 and Lily, 11) alone.
It was at this point that my diary took on a whole new significance. I continued to draw on a daily basis, still documenting my life but now it had become a medium through which I could channel my grief. I found on those days when the pain was too great that just drawing the events that had triggered that grief went a long way to easing the pain. A little like a pressure cooker – letting out little bits of steam. It was also a great way to help me remember the good things and the funny things that still happened – and to remind me when looking back through them that life continues, in all its ups and downs, despite the tragedy that had affected us. I post the drawings on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and it was a way for my friends to see how I was doing. I never shied away from the dark days but always celebrated the good ones too. The messages I received back would help to buoy me up when I felt down and kept me going.
Then the media noticed what I was doing and the whole thing exploded! Cue a massive rise in my Twitter followers, radio, TV and Podcast appearances… the whole thing was quite surreal. Now the messages I received were from all over the world but the sentiment was still the same – the drawings were striking a chord and showing others they were not alone in their feelings of grief etc. Many people say to me “I wish I could draw like you, what a great way to express how you feel.” To them I say “Just do it anyway. It doesn’t matter what the drawings end up looking like. Just do it for YOU.” The very act of scribbling something, anything, down is a little release – an exorcising of a demon, a twist of the valve. Maybe not a drawing – maybe a poem, or prose; a tune on the guitar or piano. The most important thing is don’t keep it in – let it out.