And I recall drawing on the back of old greetings cards and till receipt rolls, not just cus times were hard, but cus it didn't matter, i just wanted to draw, draw on anything and everything, and if it wasn't paper, it was walls or pavements or - usually to my regret - school desks.
A few years later and i had A2 illustration board, Gillott nibs, a fistful of Rotring pens and a draughtsman's set. I felt the bees knees, all proper and professional like. But the drawing became difficult, i was far less prolific, far less spontaneous, cus that untamed energy had to be bottled, controlled and directed with careful pre-meditated precision, that's what i was told, what i thought.
And for me, it's where i was spoiled, where the seeds for future dissatisfaction and frustration were planted. That's the moment the 'tortured artist' was born. What tools? What materials? What technique? What should you do? What shouldn't you do? How? Why?
This month, during travelling and 'waiting around' time i finished a years old battered A5 sketchbook, knowing i hadn't much 'virgin' pages left, I'd packed a new one.
Never used it.
Instead, i drew on napkins, bus tickets, really cheap typing paper(about 70p for 100 pages), and even on the innards of a tatty novel. And i used old last gasp pens, no pencil or eraser, and markers that weren't compatible and bled into each other. And it works - it really turns up the buzz, taps right into that subconscious mother lode of creativity, the childhood self who is free of fuss. Whether it's the best sketch you've ever done or the worst, doesn't matter, as long as you're drawing, as long as you've let it all out.
Those costly fancy sketchbooks tend to intimidate, or make you feel like every drawing you do should be a work of art, soon as you open it you're careful and mannered, putting on the restraints. Unless you're some genius like Rob Crumb(not many of them about)or off your head on shrooms.
On the bus, in cafes, at the doctors, at funerals, I'm rabid about sketching, and in my studio i do it on scrap paper, envelopes, post-its, back of photocopies and especially on council tax bills, but NEVER in a sketchbook(i have plenty gathering dust).
Sketching sharpens your instinct, makes the brain-to-hand-to-paper coordination less anguished, less regimented, and more concerned with the pleasure of the act rather than the technicalities and the 'right way' to do it.
And it's helping me 're-programme' the way i work on finished pages, I'm biased, but compulsive sketching is making CEvil #2 a better issue than the first.
And it's all because of that little lad doodling on the back of Xmas cards.
Give away that moleskine that gazes into your timid eye! Liberate - draw on tablecloths, on menus, on windowsills - on each other! Let your pen free!