Some time ago I had the idea of sketching things I’m frightened of. Drawing something makes you understand it much more intimately, and I’m inclined to think that the better I understand, the more I appreciate, the less I’m likely to be frightened.
The easiest thing to start the experiment with was a large spider – not a live one but a specimen in the Cliffe Castle museum. A live one only half this size would have made me feel a lot more uncomfortable, even safely trapped inside an inverted drinking glass, the classic spider-trapping protocol. (I can do this, even with large spiders – just).
During the first few minutes I wasn’t enjoying myself at all, what with the sensation of being close up and sort of connected, even with the glass of the display case between us, but gradually things began to change and I did find myself getting a lot more relaxed and comfortable as I went along.
I don’t know what kind of spider this is or where it came from, as it’s displayed just as a representative of its kind with no specific information, but it’s not native to these parts. What it is, exactly, that scares me is hard to work out but it’s something to do with all those legs, and the unpredictability of how fast and in what direction they’re going to run.
I was seduced, eventually, by the colour and the fur. I have to call it fur, because its legs are covered in what looks like the gingery parts of our cat (who’s a multi-coloured tortoiseshell) and they make it look like – well, a soft stuffed toy. Not cuddly, because something with eight legs can’t be that, can it? But by the time I’d finished I was comfortable. I think that possibly, if the glass had not been between us, I could have touched it……
I may try drawing other things that scare me.