Following a minor stroke, David Hockney almost gave up on his annual Spring drawings. But when he returned to the Yorkshire Wolds, he was as inspired by the landscape as ever
Detail from Woldgate, 6 - 7 February, 2013
I decided to do an arrival of spring in black and white (and greys) at the beginning of 2013. A change from the colour I had used in 2011 for my iPad prints shown at the Royal Academy in 2012. I almost gave up on the 2013 pictures a few times, but persevered and finished them around the end of May last year.
The totems were drawn immediately on my return from my exhibition in Cologne in November 2012. I drove out on Woldgate and noticed the totem had been deliberately sawn through. A bit before this I was sent photographs of graffiti that had been painted on it. Annoying, but I thought the winter would take them away. I was at first very sad and went to bed for two days a bit depressed by the vandalism. Then I decided to draw it.
I had had a very minor stroke that had kept me in London, and the first drawing afterwards took me two days to do (the days are a lot shorter in November). The stroke only manifested itself in my speech. I found I couldn't finish sentences, and although it came back after about a month I find now I talk a lot less.
But it did not affect my drawing. I think it even made me concentrate more. I thought, well I'm OK so long as I can draw, I don't really need to say much any more; I thought, I've said enough already.
When I sent the drawings to California, my studio director, Gregory Evans, said straight away he thought there was a difference that he could see. Anyway, all I did for the next six months was draw with charcoal. I made about 25 portrait drawings that took two days each to do, and kept up The Arrival of Spring drawings.
• David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring is at Annely Juda Fine Art, 23 Dering Street, London W1, from 8 May until 12 July 2014. See http://www.annelyjudafineart.co.uk/exhibitions/david-hockney