When I watch my kids drawing, I'm amazed by their confidence and vision.
My children see whatever they want to see in their drawings. They don't judge whether the sun should be that shade of pink, or whether the tree should be in proportion to the cow, or whether that hand looks like a bunched up string of pork sausages. They just draw.
They know that none of that judgement nonsense matters. What matters is the simple joy of moving your pencil or crayon or charcoal or whatever you have in your hand, across the paper. Of making shapes. Of filling space. Of dreaming and imagining and creating and remembering.
Let's reconnect with that inner child's love of drawing. October's Make Date is a joint celebration of our travelling tour celebrating mums (Story of Mum: Mums Making an Exhibition of Ourselves, landing in London on 18/19 October), and The Big Draw, a month-long focus on the fabulousness of drawing. So we'll be using both hashtags: #somum and #bigdraw. And sharing what we create here: Draw Your Story.
Call it doodling if you like. We've doodled before at our Make Dates and it has always been both hilarious and insightful. This one even prompted someone to have a baby. Drawing is powerful stuff!
What will we draw?
We'll be drawing moments from our mothering journeys that we haven't captured in photos, on film, or in words. Or at least not in the same way. Moments and emotions entwined - that sit somewhere in our heads, in our hearts, held somewhere in those fingers that hold the pen.
They might be good memories, bad memories, mixed-up memories - but they are our memories. They are our stories. And the act of drawing or doodling or simply letting a crayon run riot on the page helps to shape them in our mind.
That brown scribble above? It took me FOUR goes. Four blank pieces of paper to get to that heart-shaped night of sadness and guilt and worry, that dark sensation of intense closeness and overwhelming responsibility. And to you it probably just looks like a brown smudge with a face on, and that's completely OK. Because the process of drawing that moment, of re-experiencing those early fear-filled days of sleepless motherhood, of connecting with what that really felt like, was strangely healing. It doesn't really matter what it looks like.
I did try and draw a happier moment too. Of something I do every night - watch my children dream.
I actually take photos of them every night too, (you can see some in this short film from last year). But I've never attempted to draw that moment - and it was lovely to sit in the dark and listen to them breathing and try to draw.
As you can see I completely avoided drawing sausage hands by not giving my daughter any hands at all.
How will the Make Date work?
For a bit of inspiration, we're going to start the Make Date with a virtual screening of My Mum Story films from the exhibition (basically we'll each choose one of the films in the gallery here and watch it at the start of the Make Date, chatting along...).
We'll answer questions and draw as we go, sharing photos of our doodles and scribbles and wrong-coloured suns and giant cows. You don't have to try and think of a hugely significant moment. Because every mothering moment is significant.
And as always, you don't have to get creative at all if you don't want to. You can draw and never show anyone. You can just chat. Or lurk. We love a bit of lurking at a Make Date. (If you're still not entirely sure what a Make Date is, this might help).
Rather wonderfully, our friends at The Big Draw have given us some goodies to give away at the Make Date - just add both #somum and #bigdraw to your tweets to enter.
One lucky scribbler will win a Quentin Blake T-Shirt (you can have a child one or an adult one, or put a child in an adult one for maximum amusement opportunities...), along with a Big Draw Sketchbook, all packaged up in a limited edition Big Draw Tote Bag.
Two runners-up will also get lovely Big Draw Sketchbooks to inspire you to keep on drawing...
The Big Draw campaign struggles to raise the funds needed to spread a love of drawing far and wide, and you can find other goodies like these in their shop - it's a great way to support what they do.
As, of course, is drawing.
So join us on 9 October to share our stories in drawings. Bring your pencils, your felt tips, your crayons, charcoal or pastels. Grab a biro. Whatever you have to hand. And who knows what our drawing hands might help us to discover together. Let's draw.
to find out more about The Big Draw.
The 2013 Big Draw runs from 1 October to 3 November in fifteen countries, with more than 200,000 people expected to take part. Hundreds of new and enjoyable drawing activities connect people of all ages with museums, outdoor spaces, artists - and each other. These events are for those who love to draw, and those who think they can't.
Since its launch in 2000, The Big Draw has successfully supported the Campaign for Drawing’s aims by encouraging everyone to draw. Big Draw events highlight the power of drawing to help people see, think, invent and take action.
We'd also love you to join us in London for our next real-life Make Dates at The Photographers Gallery. We won't be drawing though - unless of course you've got the bug by then...
Join us on 18 October for a Mums' Make Date with poetry from Hollie McNish, five mums sharing their stories, creative stuff to do, and add to the exhibition, and a special pre-reception with BritMums. We'll be there all day on 19 October and will have a Family Make Date from 2pm to 4pm with puppet-making and storytelling to distract the kids so you can get creative with us. Hope to see you online and in London!