A moment of creativity
When I put out a plea a few days ago for help with illustrating #journey, I had not anticipated the generosity which numerous artists would show by donating their time and talents. I am immeasurably grateful to them. I had not anticipated, either, that I would get to sit down with one of them and witness the moment when pen and ink gave birth to an idea on a piece of paper right there before my eyes.
Yesterday, I sat with photographer and illustrator Max Ellis at his old oak dining table. Around me were works of art of every description, and outside the remains of the props from last year’s squirrelfest photos. Steaming mugs of tea pushed to one side, the conversation turned to #journey. With a scratch-scratching of pen dipped in ‘antelope brown’ ink, a pair of old boots emerged on the piece of paper before me as we talked about the pilgrim’s possessions. Next on the list was the penultimate chapter of the book ‘around the campfire’. The pen scratch-scratched its way across the paper again, and all I could see from the wrong angle was a series of hatched blobs and a flame rising. That is when the magic happened. With the paper turned around, I found myself looking at the silhouettes of three pilgrims leaning in towards their conversation around the fire. How did that happen?
Today we have all manner of digital aids at our disposal when it comes to creating works of art. We can manipulate photographs and images of just about every kind in just about every way. To do so is not to cheat – it is simply extending the creative process. However, there was a rawness and simplicity to yesterday’s moment of creation which I shall savour.
Many people who write of their pilgrim travels talk about encounters on the road which enhance them in some way. They talk of meeting people whom they would never have met had it not been for the shared objective of the road. In that moment of encounter every difference falls away, to be replaced with a kind of rich humanity unfettered by nationality, background or even language. Yesterday, I had such an encounter – and I am a richer man because of it.