Sketching as therapy

To say that it has been a traumatic week sounds dramatic.  I received an urgent call on Wednesday lunchtime.  By Wednesday evening I was standing outside the Stroke unit in my hometown down in Suffolk.  Hugging my parents and wondering what was next.  The corridor setting was quiet, cold, remote and downright scary.  There seem to be 3 types of people around; those going about their daily routine; those who have come to know this as their daily routine and the downright fearful.   We fell into the later category.  I won’t go into the details here.  I am trying to set the scene for my sketching.  It is probably enough information.

As those of you that know my website, blog and my sketches will know,   Reportage Illustration is my thing.  I’m interested in telling stories through drawing.  Through this interest I have come to look at a lot of drawings and social media postings by other reportage artists and have come to see quite a lot of hospital sketches-waiting rooms, those lying in beds and the like.  I guess I thought it was interesting to capture such things.  This was not the case for me this week.  There were two reasons why I wouldn’t and didn’t sketch in the hospital.  Firstly, I love to loose myself in a sketch and concentrate on it in entirety, it takes me out of myself and to another place.  I didn’t want to loose myself in this place and I didn’t want to remember it in detail and the feelings I had.  Secondly, for my mother, who was waiting on news with me, It would have felt like an intrusion and disrespectful.  So I didn’t draw the corridors, the waiting room, the chapel or the cafe.   We sat and chatted, sometimes about everyday nonsense, sometimes about the important things.

I have always used sketching to enable me to capture my take on the world and to capture life as it is happening.  I have also used it as therapy, to help calm me and focus me.  I have a tendency to flit between multiple tasks and the sketching enables me to do just one thing and to live in the moment.  I love it for that and I wanted to capture the week but only when there was some hope and some clarity.  To be positive was important and to capture this in any sketches was equally important.

By Thursday we had some sense of positive direction and we were able to go home with Dad.  It had been a tiring, draining and as I said in the first sentence, traumatic couple of days.  My awkward capture of my Dad sleeping helped me to focus on something positive and something routine.  It felt like the right time to sketch.  By Friday there were more captures, in his favourite and most used room in the house: The garden room.  He has been a keen gardener and loves flowers, the shoes by the door are his gardening shoes.  These sketches came naturally:



I headed back to Manchester on Saturday morning.  My dad is a Mancunian but I didn’t grow up in Manchester.  I have been here 10 years and there are lots of familiar things.  It feels like home.  Ironically, I had always planned to do some sketching at the Etihad Stadium, the City Ground in East Manchester.  I wanted to capture the crowds and some of the stadium.  My dad grew up a city fan.  He was very keen to tell me more when he knew I was planning to sketch it.  He told me about the matches he had attended as a kid at Maine Road, about the players he had loved to watch and about the leather balls they used to play with.  Sketching there on Saturday felt like the right end to the week. It was therapy and it felt  just right.  Around the corner of the stadium next to the gas towers seemed like the right scene to sketch too.  It was Manchester and it reminded me of Dad.



Travel Sketch Source: