WATCH: Drawing With Don - the perfect tonic for these troubled times

Daily column by journalist Siobhán McNamara

Anyone who was a child in the nineties or noughties - or who sat watching Zig and Zag with their children at that time - will no doubt have very fond memories of the wonderful Don Conroy.

Drawing with Don was a regular feature on Network 2 (RTÉ 2)’s The Den at the time. A well-known artist, writer and lover of nature, it was perhaps his gentle encouragement that made him most endearing to young and old alike. 

Furthermore, there were no fancy paints or easels on The Den. Instead, the artwork was created on a big flipchart with chunky markers. This had the effect of making it seem even more do-able. 

Even I, who had such a block on drawing that I broke into a cold sweat at the mention of Pictionary, believed that if I followed Don’s instructions I could recreate a barn owl, or a duck in the reeds. Though I have to say, I never actually put it to the test. The magic was too fragile and too precious to risk shattering.

Until now.

Because Drawing With Don is back. This is without doubt one of the best things to have come out of these troubled times. 

20 years on, I’m feeling a lot more resilient, so I opened YouTube and found Episode One, how to draw a clown.

I was still a bit apprehensive, but Don Conroy is as wonderful as ever.

“Don’t worry about making mistakes,” he said. “We’ve all made mistakes.”

He went on to say that even the great Michelangelo made mistakes, and used to leave them in his drawings.

“And,” continued Don, “the ancient Chinese used to say you cannot call yourself an artist until you make 1,000 mistakes. I think I’m on 752.”

Suitably reassured, I followed the steps and drew a clown. My second attempt wasn’t actually too bad, not that I’ll be showing it to anyone!

Today’s lesson is an old favourite, the barn owl and I’m looking forward to giving it a go. And even at 46 years of age I’m feeling a wee bit proud of facing my fear of drawing and being brave enough to make as many mistakes as it takes. 

Thanks Don!

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