Wednesday, 19 February 2014

little leather shoes

The third in the trio of intended drawings written of recently may well be the most difficult to realise, although I have distinct qualms about all three. Successful in the search for the child's skipping rope, my partner and I eagerly comb the internet for a pair of child's vintage shoes, hopefully to fit a child of about six or seven, thus being contemporaneous with the blue mittens. Two pairs appear in an online auction, a pair of small brown school shoes with a buckle fastening, dating from the 1950's, and a more recent pair, also fastened with  buckles, that looks to be unworn, and, as the shoes date from a later period than the school shoes, and are a little larger, seems better suited to my purpose. The school shoes eventually sell for more money than I can raise, and there are several bids, but the other pair remains unclaimed, and our modest bid secures it. Once more, I wait excitedly for the delivery of a parcel, and unwrap the little shoes on their arrival with a flutter of anticipation.

They shine with the glow of new leather, and are fashioned from three differently coloured pieces of hide; a warm olive brown, a rich cherry red, and a deep forest green, a silvery buckle securing the strap passing over the instep. I am as entranced by them as I am by the blue mittens and the red handled skipping rope, and they take their place alongside these others in the back bedroom, where I gaze upon them each day, contemplating the means and methods by which I may make the attempt of drawing them.

I am aware of a pleasurable quiver of nervousness, quite unlike the storm of anxiety which has hitherto held dominion whenever I have thought about making drawings, effectively preventing me from touching pencil to paper. Perhaps I am beginning to emerge from Dante's "forest dark", in a manner completely unexpected and surprising, although I have yet to brace myself for the encounter between self and materials. I had supposed that making a return to the drawing of cloud formations would mark my emergence from the darkness, and was thus wholly unprepared for the appearence in my mind of the drawings of the blue mittens, the redhandled rope and the little leather shoes.

Their presence in my thoughts serves both as a motivating force, and a comforting reassurance. I can visit them whenever I wish, although I must take good care not to outstay my welcome, they cannot be wrested from me, they have embedded themselves in my imagination as surely as a fertilized egg inserts itself into the lining of the womb. I am grateful for their coming, now sure of their remaining, and wonder at the process by which they have assumed such vitality; it is as though I had had no part in it. Having cudgelled myself into determining that my first move after several painful years of abstinence would be the execution of a drawing of clouds, I find instead that a mysterious area of my consciousness has been at work upon an entirely different idea, and that, after many months of studying cloudscapes and formations with a view to drawing them, and the gradual purchasing of a suite of 'cloud pencils', the "straightforward path" perhaps lies in another direction. It would seem that one cannot will the way ahead, or hold sway over one's intent.

I do, however, have a choice; I can choose to embark upon the journey of birthing the drawings, immersing myself in the perilous endeavour of attempting to give corporeal shape to my visions, or I may hold fast to the double edged pleasure to be found in unrealised potential, protect myself from the possibility of failure, keep the nascent works safe as cerebral companions. I am, though, conscious of a not unpleasant urgency, a return of the need to communicate, to articulate pressing concerns, the desire to engage with familiar and well loved tools in an attempt to realise an idea in material terms.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

red handled skipping rope

My mind is haunted deliciously by the spectres of the three drawings still to be realised, mentioned in a previous post. Of them all, the envisioned drawing of the blue mittens is perhaps the most powerful, although it is as yet nebulous, and I must take care not to dwell upon it too closely, for fear of causing it to dissipate before my mind's eye. I find myself possessed of a newly forged inclination to draw, delightful to experience, as for years there has been an absence of such. Now, I feel a pleasurable anticipatory thrill whenever I encounter the presence of the three proposed drawings in my thoughts; a frisson of excitement familiar to me, that which presages the beginning of engagement with new works. I can even think of a working title to contextualise the drawings, although I shall not speak of this to anyone.

Years ago, my work was much concerned with childhood; specifically  memories ofmy own childhood and of the games one plays in solitude. It would seem that I have made a return to these concerns, but this time informed by the poignancy of mid life, when one is very often consumed by self doubts, thus liable to question deeply one's own position in the world, and is, moreover, persistently alarmed by global events. The drawings that I hope I am about to embark upon address those concerns obliquely, their collective and individual titles conveying both the unmitigated pleasure to be found in the pursuit of the simplest pastimes of youth, and the ever present fear and dismay embedded in one's adult consciousness occasioned by current events and occurances.

With my new born intent a motivating force, I search online sources for a child's skipping rope, preferably one with wooden handles and a white rope. I am particular in that I require a vintage rope, one that has been used, and is still in usable condition. I find, however, only contemporary replicas of the skipping rope I once dreamed of owning, and so turn the task over to my partner, who is a gifted researcher, and who frequently unearths longed for treasures from times past. He is gloriously successful, and I am ecstatic, for he finds a once white rope, suspended between two rounded wooden handles, reminiscent of old fashioned ice cream cones, their red paint pleasingly worn to reveal the blonde wood beneath.

The arrival of the skipping rope is attended by much anticipation and pleasure. The parcel is duly unwrapped, and the red handled rope placed within the scope of my eye in the back bedroom, where I can look upon it each day, as I do my drawings, to familiarise myself with it, get to know it as an enchanting object. As with the future drawing of the blue mittens, I discover that the means by which I shall attempt to realise the drawing of the skipping rope comes readily to  mind, affording me a point of departure, although I must be careful to allow the drawing to evolve in its own terms. A precious memory in part informs my vision of the drawing to be; the rasp of frosty air drawn swiftly into the lungs, the warming exertion of jumping to and fro the whirling rope, the electric thrumming of the blood and the repetitive thud of the rope and the soles of my shoes on the aged stone paths of my parent's garden, where, one hoar bound winter's morning, I returned to skip as an adult, recording my endeavour through the eye of the camera in order to recapture the ecstasy and life affirming rhythm of the solitary games of childhood.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

blue mittens

On an otherwise inauspicious, blowy morning in early February, whilst shopping in the market town where I live, my eye lights excitedly upon a pair of child's woollen mittens, strung together by a scrap of primrose yarn, hanging midway between other handknitted gloves and mittens from a rail in one of the local charity shops.

I am drawn at first to the colour; a deep, soft, royal blue, intense yet subtle, although other details delight. The mittens are quite small, probably knitted for a child of around six or seven years of age, and are obviously made by hand; slight irregularities about the thumbs enchant me. I imagine slipping them on, feeling the reminiscent roughness of the wool against my skin, easing my thumbs into place, holding my mittened hands up before my eyes to enjoy the colour.

In my mind's eye there float three drawings, one of which is the drawing of the blue mittens, shadowy as yet, but vital enough for me to begin to see a way forward in terms of the process by which I would attempt to realise it. Enthused and emboldened by my find of the little mittens, I visit the nearby art supplies shop, where I select a Sennelier chalk pastel of the same vibrant hue, taking pleasure in it's luxurious friable quality, envisaging the lively blue against the velvet darkness of graphite powder, and the mild creaminess of the paper.

Something has begun in my psyche, a precious, long hoped for rennaissance, a most welcome re-birth of intent, desire and purpose, which, taking place after an agonising eternity of waiting and self abnegation, thrills me, surprises me by it's very intensity, persuades my ever doubting self that the journey upon which I am about to embark, although fraught with peril, will, eventually, prove to have been one of worth.