Tuesday, 10 July 2012
There are three drawings of the cloud formation 'nimbostratus', made in 2006, whilst living in rural Hampshire. Until recently, I had consigned two of them to the bottom of one of the flat boxes where I store unframed drawings, and had not considered publishing them, but on inspection, decided to reinstate them into the series of nimbostratus drawings.
Nimbostratus clouds are rainbearing and can lean on one's spirits like a wall, yet often contain the most delicate gradations of tone which make them beautiful to look upon.
The lodge in Hampshire was a good place from which to observe the skies, built atop a hill, in the middle of two fields which fell both North and South to tributaries of the River Whitewater. At the back of the cottage was a large, glazed lobby, affording a wonderful view of electrical storms. I used to take a cushion and sit on the floor of the lobby to watch summer storms, feeling as though I were at the epicentre of the disturbance, exhilerated by the drama unfolding around me.
I never made drawings directly from observation. Rather I drew from memory and imagination, allowing chance a hand in the development of each drawing. I destroyed a good many drawings, and have just five remaining from that period. It is my wish to return to making drawings of clouds, again from remembered observation, and to that end have purchased several sheets of soft white printmaking paper; a cotton paper made by Arches of France. As yet, I have been unable to make a beginning, hampered as I am by what I can only describe as a profound terror. Of what am I so deeply afraid? Contemplating the making of a drawing is like peering into an abyss. I am terrified of failing, of making a mistake, of ruining a piece of lovely paper, of the episodes of self harm which attend failure. I am reluctant to run the risk of such pain. Yet, according to the words of Samuel Beckett, to make art is to fail, to fail in a way in which no other dares. He was more gifted than I, authoratitive, incisive, passionate. If the depth of my fear was matched by a corresponding measure of ability, then surely I must produce drawings of noteworthy strength and beauty. As it is, I struggle with modest endowments, try to be grateful for what I have, attempt to find the means to overcome my inadequacies.
The words of Mary Potter, "draw all the time..." resonate in my mind, for practise, if it does not make perfect, at least effects an improvement, affords the possibility of approaching the drawing that one sees in one's mind's eye.
On the floor of the back bedroom lie the nimbostratus drawings. From my chair by the window I can look at them, and gaze out at the everchanging cloud scapes beyond the glass. I may sit for hours thus, trying to summon the necessary spirit in which to attempt once more to touch pencil to paper in the making of drawings of clouds.