Back and forth, back and forth I go across the thick Arches paper, spinning it on the polished wood of the table to bring whichever part of the composition I need to work on next closer to me. (The sheet measures 76 x 57 cm.) In this way it’s almost stopped having a top and a bottom, which given that the three protagonists are all airborne… four if you count the fish… is a reasonable way to be making the drawing. Yesterday the oak leaves blew in from somewhere. (Marly Youmans uses the lovely description ‘diapering’ for the informal scattering of leaves and flowers in the backgrounds of my compositions.) Sometimes I’m fast, scribbling away for all I’m worth, confident of where I’m going, and at other times so abstract do the patterns become as they swarm across the sheet that I have to slow down to make sense of the knot of flailing limbs, enfolding arms and flapping coat-tails all tangled up together. The fact that there’s no guide to this drawing other than photographs I took of the maquettes, makes the whole process feel pretty improvised. It’s reported the painter Cedric Morris started at the tops of his canvases and worked his way south, bringing to completion each worked-on section before moving downwards, a process for which he coined the term ‘knitting’. I’m doing the same with this drawing, though working centrifugally as the composition spins on its axis. If Cedric could be said to have ‘knitted’ then maybe I’m the artist who ‘crochets’!
Today I think I must tackle the angel’s head, and perhaps Tobias’s too, as they’re in such proximity to each other. I’ve been putting this moment off, anxious about ‘pinning down’ the representations of them. Jack too has yet to make an appearance, and this morning I plan to encourage him to stretch out on the rug of the upstairs sitting-room where I’m working so that I’ll have him at hand to model. He’ll doze happily in the Autumn sun once he’s had a good, energised twenty minutes of tearing around the garden retrieving his frisbee.