Saturday, 13 February 2010


I've just bought a secondhand drawing board. I'm delighted, inspired and content. But is this a good thing? One of the old cliches of art is that the artist should be unhappy. Lautrec, Blake, Bacon, Hopper, all miserable, all great artists. And there are countless others. So will all this happiness get in the way of my art?

Happy or sad?

A friend recently poo pooed happinesss altogether when, in response to her stuggle with a Januray diet, I fobbed her off with the common platitude "Well as long as your happy..." Happiness is bullshit," she said "Read Barbara Ehrenreich." I didn't, and I'm still feeling fine.

Happiness aside, I need somewhere to work. Virginia Woolf famously wrote that "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." Acquiring the drawing board is my equivalent. The territory isn't just physical, it's mind space amidst washing up and unfinished jobs, soul room away from to-do-lists, a space I can escape into. It's also somewhere slopey where nobody can put their laptop, car keys or cup of tea down.

What if misery does make better art? Does happy have to care?