Drawing the dark

When I was a little kid, I was afraid of the dark. I had to sleep with a night-light because the darkness seemed full of threat. But I loved scary stories, especially scary fairytales.

Flipping through the catalogue of the German illustrators exhibition, I wondered again about the darkness in their illustrations. I think all art is about trying to strike a balance between light and dark and it made me think of the drawings I used to make before I became a writer.

I was always surprised when people bought them because they were always full of ambivalence. Unfortuately, I no longer own many of my favourite ones, the ones where I nearly caught a moment, or managed to say something vaguely interesting. I can’t remember what I entitled the picture on the right. But I know the puddle of light represented hope.

I miss drawing but rarely put pen, pencil, paint or ink to paper these days. Somehow words overtook my preoccupation with images. I could never make the pictures tell the stories that I wanted them to illustrate and am now endlessly admiring of real illustrators. Perhaps all art and story is about trying to strike a balance between light and dark.

For all those hours I spent lost in colour, I think words were going to be the way I would best express that balance.

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Books are windows into other ways of being.”

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