Tuesday, 29 April 2014


On some days drawing clouds, especially storm clouds, seems like the way forward. On other days, difficult days of bitter despair and fathomless self doubt, it does not.

Saturday, 26 April 2014


This drawing was made sometime in 2005 or 2006; I cannot remember exactly when, although I know that it dates from the time after I had withdrawn from Winchester School of Art, during which period, before our removal to Somerset, I worked in isolation at the lodge in rural Hampshire. It is reminiscent of the Nimbostratus drawings, published in earlier posts, but I believe it to be a far superior drawing; indeed, I am uncomfortable about having published the Nimbostratus drawings, as to have done so evidences an assumption that I considered them worthy; a somewhat shaky understanding of their virtues as I now come to realise.

The cloud drawings had been becoming darker overall following  withdrawal from my PhD, and I made many studies of stormy formations on offcut pieces of paper, unfortunately without due consideration of the relationship of drawing to paper size and shape. None of these studies survive.
When I now consider a return to the making of cloud studies, I turn to just three drawings for reassurance and inspiration. This drawing is one. I was, at the time of making the drawing, enamoured of mass rather than form, or of line. I liked dust and powder, and found  it  a more intuitive, emotional way of working, to spill dust and powders onto paper and then ease them into the surface using a fragment of linen cloth wrapped about my forefinger.  Working thus I felt a more intimate connection with the drawing and materials; the tiny circular movements of my finger were like caresses, my breath was cast over the face of the paper, my entire being was concentrated, alert, vigilant, abstracted. It was an almost erotic experience; certainly an act of love.

I shall not remove the Nimbostratus drawings from this online diary, whatever the discomfort I feel on allowing them to remain, for I have learnt from them, perhaps belatedly, and they stand not only as failed endeavours, but milestones on the path to more mature and proficient works, which I hope that I shall be able to realise in the immediate future. I now believe that my intuition regarding the road ahead was apposite, and feel that I wish more than anything to resume my practice in the depiction of storm or rain cloud formations. To that end I direct my attention to the "overarching" skies, and rehearse in my mind the articulation of dust and powder upon the enticingly receptive surfaces of the papers I have stored away against the day when I feel able to make a new beginning.

Friday, 25 April 2014

the shell

One of the nicest pieces of work that I ever made was a gift to a Professor of English Literature, whom I was dating at the time, many years ago, now. It was a limpet shell, pale, steep sided, scrubbed clean of the echoes of the sea, and of the remains of the flesh of the creature once dwelling within, inside which, in the form of a spiral, I inscribed, in pencil, the words of a love poem by Robert Herrick. The shell, an enchantingly simple, bony tent-like structure, was delicately tinted in shades of ochre, buff and cream, the smooth interior surface accepting the mobile graphite as if it had been designed for just that. I placed the shell, weighted with words of love, in a small box lined with white tissue paper, and could hardly contain my excitement at the prospect of bestowing it.

The relationship is long over; no correspondance has passed between us for at least a decade, but I remember the man, and the shell, and my longing both to give it, and to keep it. It was received, as I recall, in the very spirit in which I had fashioned it. One can ask for no more than that.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

cloud verse

"Clouds, that surround us like a ring of white-
Gowned nuns, their vigil gentled by the wind,
Grow taller with each mile so as to hide
The blueness underneath their spreading arms.
Their habits greying with the ageing day."

 The second verse of a poem entitled 'July Journey',
from The Desecration of Trees, by Lotte Kramer.
Published by Hippopotamus Press, Frome, Somerset, 1994.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014


Increasing longsightedness renders my vision imperfect for reading, drawing, writing and playing the piano, but perfect for gazing at the clouds.

Friday, 18 April 2014

drawing practise

With regard to the three drawings written of previously, and as yet only existing in my mind's eye, those of the blue mittens, the red handled skipping rope and the little leather shoes, I find that my internal vision well outstrips my abilities in draughtwomanship. On attempting to make a preparatory drawing of the little leather shoes, my eye is painfully bewildered, and I am unable to perceive the correct proportions, or understand the shapes and their relationship to one another, the interplay of lines that makes up the whole, let alone transfer this compexity of information to the paper. The marks that I make with the pencil seem coarse; I cannot depict the article before my eyes with any degree of accuracy or finesse. Neither can I attempt a more naive rendering, approaching the problem in a similar manner to that in which I approached the drawings of tree, volcano and rainbow.

 Dyspraxia, formerly known as 'clusmsy child syndrome' and with which I was diagnosed somewhat late in life,  causes me to experience difficulty in understanding spatial relationships which may account in part for my refusal to engage with more than one subject in a drawing, instead suspending an image centrally in a sea of white or cream paper, with relationship only to the edges of the paper and thence to the frame. Dyspraxia also affects my fine motor skills and coordination; I find the pencil an unwieldy, although much loved, instrument on attempting to draw with it, and when I write, although managing some fluency and speed, I am often unable to attend to the true shapes of some of the letters, lacking the control to fashion them as forms distinct from one another.

 I cannot altogether ascribe my lack of skill to the condition; I find and have always found, academic drawing difficult, and do not seem to be gifted with the facility to render observed objects accurately or gracefully, particularly the human figure; the same confusion regarding proportion, line and spatial relationships pertains. As noted above, my interior visualisation, that which shapes the drawings in my mind, is far superior to that which I exercise physically when I attempt to draw from observation. There is no fluid transmission from my eye, or my mind's eye, to the paper although when I was engaged in making the drawings of tree, volcano and rainbow, none of these subjects being drawn from life, I experienced a sense of freedom and a measure of ease. I concede that practise would effect an improvement, but I have come to a further realisation; not only is it  imposible for me to draw the little leather shoes in an academic, realistic fashion, I do not wish to. Such a method does not chime with the image I have in my mind. However, I have achieved progress of sorts; on encountering failure where I would have preferred success, I do not engage in self harm, instead coming silently to terms with my deficiencies, and, setting aside materials, begin to consider other possibilities.

For I must find a way of realising the piece of work comprising the blue mittens, the red handled rope and the little leather shoes. If I do wish to draw them after all, I may well decide to try and trace their outlines on the paper from  projected transparencies,  attending to colour and mass afterwards. I might make a photographic piece. I need to set the work adrift in my imagination; forget the three ghostly drawings, or at least not be fettered by them, and apply myself to exploring other means of articulating my ideas. I do not believe it possible to make a drawing of the blue mittens in the manner in which I had first conceived of, on discovering them, and finding the suggestion of a drawing seeded in my mind, therefore I shall wait awhile, and then make many careful transparencies of all three things, the rope, the pair of shoes, and the little mittens. This activity would mark a return to an earlier way of working, but might also suggest the method by which I would find it possible to externalise my inner concerns, thus creating a piece of work which satisfied my vision.