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Danny Gregory- Everyday matters (2003)

Danny Gregory-

Every Day Matters-cover


Danny Gregory’s Everyday Matters is a “Graphic Memoir” (The National Post, back cover) that opens with him living in Greenwich, New York, with his wife Patti, son Jack and family dog. A defining moment in their lives comes when Patti falls under a subway train, leaving her paralysed from the waist down. This event leads Danny to attempt to see the world anew through the eyes of an artist as a means of dealing with his new life situation. The book is predominately a visual diary, consisting of a random series of quotations, rough sketches of New York and travel destinations, as well as drawn impressions of his son, wife and dog, friends, co-workers and strangers.

Danny’s first quote is Miles Davis; “Do not fear mistakes, there are none”. It is in this spirit that drawings are presented throughout the book; all level of drawing is given for the reader to contemplate. From lengthy life drawing studies to quick scribbles of pigeons in the park, Danny Gregory does his best to present his drawing journey as it happens, uncensored and without excuse. He learns along the way certain truths about drawing, such as when he attempts to draw from photographs and especially stylized photos, observing on page 37 that the drawings he makes of them are “imitations rather than revelations [and they feel] contrived”. He speaks of drawing as a process of discovery, and of seeing truthfully. Time and again he reiterates the healing power of drawing, the meditative aspect of the “slow, careful gaze” as observed on page 13. The use of hand written text throughout lends the book an organic feel, and I was reminded of looking through someone’s personal sketchbook. It might be this voyeuristic view into a person’s thoughts and private life that makes this book so popular.

Although many people seem to find this book fulfilling and affirming, I was bored by the lack of structure and limited narrative. I did enjoy the ability to pick the book up and read a page at random, but there was no inner curiosity compelling me to continue turning the pages. As an art student, the act of seeing through the act of drawing is not a new discovery, and I have had many experiences of seeing other people’s sketchbooks. For an average person who doesn’t draw, I can easily understand this book’s life changing capacity.

If it motivates even a handful of people to pick up paper and pen and see the world through new eyes, than it has already changed the world. The message is simple, and contained within the title’s double meaning. ‘Everyday Matters’; not only the act of drawing objects and moments from everyday life, but also the message of appreciating and spending time with you loved ones. As Danny found out, life can be unpredictable; it is wise to appreciate the moments we have while we have them.