A field guide to the tatterdemalion in its natural habitat.

Gathers broken shells on beaches, pebbles with holes in them and other hopeful but powerless talismans. Goes for long walks on steep hills, spends much time watching the sea. Picks up dead leaves and tries to memorize their structure. Becomes enamoured of themes to a point beyond any reason. Works into the night, but still gets up at dawn. Never seems to do well enough. Can only look back on work that is so old it no longer matters. Knows the next painting will be the one. Wants to get it right but cannot define what right is. Hates getting it wrong (but quite familiar with that feeling, thank you.) Cannot even describe that it is for that matter. Buys useless and usually broken things because they suddenly appeal. (To what? Cannot define.) Would happily be a knight in shining armour, but rust just gets everywhere. Loathes paperwork (how terre-à-terre and quotidian). Is always busy, but never done. Isn’t at all heroic or invincible, but daydreams about it. Works hard on things that don’t matter because somehow they do. Gets lost in thought often (has no proper map). Is a little raggedy at the edges, and patched at the elbows, but patches of gold and silver. Goes to buy groceries and comes back with books. Can spend whole life drawing pictures of things that don’t exist. Occasionally peers out of hedge at the world speeding past, but knows roads are dangerous things… they can lead just about anywhere. Even to the other side of the world.

– John Howe,