It's all or nothing at all

Today I'm going to share an illustration that has been a while in the making - and the story behind it.

It's all or nothing at all

Below is a drawing that I've been trying to make for a few months - it's gone through a few different iterations, and now I think I like it.

If you're interested in reading about the making of the drawing, scroll down to keep reading.

The finished drawing

A lot of my work starts like this: I get a thought stuck in my head and the only satisfying way to get it out is to try and turn it into something on a page.

Last December, I was at the airport, days before Christmas, queuing to get on a plane that I was sure might still get cancelled. They had made all the passengers (of which there were only about 20) wait outside, for reasons I did not understand but was too tired to question - it was raining, and there was not much else to do in the cold besides contemplate things for a while. It had been quite a difficult month - well, actually, a difficult year that had culminated in a particularly tough month.

From an earlier version

One of the things that happened was that Sarah and I had both gotten Covid earlier in December, right after each other. Now that we were better, she was going to see her family, and I was going to see mine; and although we were technically recovered, as I stood there on the tarmac next to the Ryanair plane I was suddenly aware that I was not well. I had already spent most of the week either crying or on the brink of tears, and now that I was actually at the airport, going somewhere, it was frankly just too much. I wanted to push against something, I wanted to protest, I wanted to scream - I had chosen to be here, and yet it felt so painful.

And lonely.

I climbed up the steps to the plane, feeling the cold wind even in my wool jumper, and I thought, well, terrible things can happen, terrible things have happened, but actually, I am okay right now. We are okay. We have each other. At least we have each other.

I find it strange now that I was able to tell myself I was okay when I clearly wasn't, physically or mentally. But somehow, in all this exhaustion, my brain managed to comfort me with those thoughts. And I watched as we rose above the city - the Pentlands to my right, at first. Breaking through was a most beautiful view: the clouds a soft padded field of white, the blue sky stretching out forever to the right, and to the left, mountains peaking through the clouds. I let out a breath I had been holding for a long time. Relief.

The ink drawing

P.S.: The title of this blog post is taken from the song L.A. by Amen Dunes - this is what I was listening to on the plane, so it seemed fitting to include it here. The line it's all, or nothing at all is a familiar thought to me. I think that sentiment summarises well why it's so hard to write about big feelings. You want to do them justice, don't you? And that is hard. And sometimes, after half a year of holding onto a thought, you just have to say, well, I've done my best - here it is.

I've been trying to make it for years and years and years
Watch them years go by on fire

Thanks for reading, and take care!