This year for The Big Draw Festival 2019 #DrawnToLife: Creativity & Wellbeing, we have been incredibly lucky to gain some truly fantastic Ambassadors championing creativity and advocating for mental health. Gary Andrews is one of these fine specimens; having spent his life as an animator, with drawing playing an important role in both his work and home life, he found that his 'Doodle-a-day diary' became a crucial outlet for his grief after the sudden death of his wife, Joy, in October 2017. He now continues to illustrate his day-to-day happenings, from the mundane to the extraordinary, and has gained an incredible following of people from all over the world, many of whom are also dealing with the death of a loved one. His work has had an incredible effect on so many people, in most cases helping others learn and understand how to cope with their own feelings of grief.
"I receive countless messages from all over the world from people who have found that the doodles speak to them on a personal level. I think it is because grief is so universal."
Gary Andrews in an interview with The Big Draw.
The overwhelmingly positive response that Gary has had from his Doodle-a-day diary, he says, has in turn helped him to navigate his way through his own grief. He says that "seeing how it is having a positive effect on others could not fail to have a positive effect on me too. Knowing this makes Joy’s death less pointless too, which eases the pain."
Gary recently received a couple of our new and exclusive Pink Pig sketchbooks branded with the official #DrawnToLife Festival logo. After asking his online following for a little inspiration as to what to do with these beautiful new sketchbooks, he got cracking on an incredible new series entitled 'Things That Spark Joy', celebrating all of life's blessings both big and small, and putting them down on paper for all to enjoy.
Here at The Big Draw, we absolutely loved following this series - and we weren't alone! #ThingsThatSparkJoy has had a wealth of wonderful responses online, reaching people far and wide and touching us all with it's relateable, moving, often humorous depictions of life's true pleasures.
"I was looking for more subjects to draw as a series, following on from the success of the Hot Santa cartoons in December and the Mythological Creatures in November. I was sitting at home thinking just how lucky I am to live a creative life when it struck me that ’Things That Spark Joy’ just made so much sense."
"Despite losing my lovely wife, I have so much to be grateful for that I felt getting some of this down on paper would be a good exercise for me: to take a look at my life, to count my blessings."
"It is a very personal series but once again it seems to have touched a chord, with followers agreeing with some, or coming up with their own additional ones."
"The series has made people look at their own lives and what makes them happy, which has to be a good thing. Often what we see online is so negative - it’s easy to criticise something - so I rather enjoy finding the positive in the world."
If you have are interested in Gary and his series #ThingsThatSparkJoy, or would like to find out more about his work, you can follow him on Instagram or Twitter for daily Doodle-a-day updates, and more! You can also read our interview with Gary here.
Have you been inspired by The Big Draw Festival 2019 theme: #DrawntoLife? Why not join our global Festival in 2019? Registration is now open! Find out more about the benefits of becoming an organiser here and other ways to support The Big Draw's mission here.