Monday, 12 December 2011

Forties ephemera and a missing mojo

As people who know me are no doubt bored of hearing recently, I’ve mislaid my mojo (my creative one! It inspires and helps me draw…).  I last saw it when I finished the book I was working on, but now that job is complete and it’s nowhere to be found.  At others’ suggestions I’ve tried looking down the back of the sofa (where I discovered 33 pence, a furry peanut and one of those long bits out of a packet of Bombay Mix), and almost accused a friend of slipping it into their pocket when I wasn’t looking.  However, I’ve been here before, and I know it’ll turn up again some time, probably when I least expect it.  Until then I just have to find some substitutes.  These include, but are not limited to: music, wine, savoury snacks and one particular ‘how to draw’ book.

I love this little book.  It belonged to my mum when she was a teenager; this edition was published in 1944 when she was fifteen. 

The beauty of it, for me, is that essentially nothing has changed – all the ‘how to draw’ principles are completely unaltered by the passing decades.  But the fashions are so of the time; the men are moustachioed and suave, the women look pristine, the families seem wholesome.  Knowing it was first published in wartime and, who knows, perhaps my teenage mum even took it down into the air–raid shelter with her, imbues it with an even greater historical - and personal - significance.  And it’s still the best ‘how to draw’ book I’ve ever seen.  Maybe my mojo will turn up somewhere amongst its warmly yellowed pages some day soon. 

Until then, this book, some music and a glass of red will have to do. I really wish I hadn’t eaten that bit of Bombay Mix just now, though.

All images from 'How To Draw Portraits' by Charles Wood
first printed in June 1943



  1. I'm gonna grow one of those mustaches...suave.

  2. Beautiful, elegant drawings. How come this stuff went so out of fashion? And Mad Tracy just appointed Professor of Drawing at the R.A. ...

    (Oh btw, far be it for me to tell tales, but I'm sure I saw someone with dark curly hair riding your mojo all around town at the weekend... you really ought to report it to the police)

  3. Hello e.f.bartlam - yes I'm sure you will be the absolute picture of suaveness with a 1940's 'tache! ;-)
    Thanks, A - indeed they're lovely drawings, aren't they? and at least to me they never go out of fashion. Re. the mojo - oh, and I thought I could trust my fellow artists! Does this mean it may turn up in a collage?!

  4. This is where I got the word ephemera stuck in my head...which is what my marriage license would be if I grew a mustache.

    I tried it once as a joke and only narrowly escaped a divorce. :)

  5. 'Ephemera' is just one of those great words I think, efb (as is 'detritus'!)


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