wolf-boy day three

I’m making these drawings by a method that is slightly ‘off piste’ for me. Usually I develop the idea for a drawing until I see something emerging that I like compositionally and emotionally, at which point I run with it, making many small, swift sketches. Often there are few differences between the many sketches, but the swiftness means that the variations can add significantly to my choices when I come to make a painting based on the studies. It’s not unusual for me to have six or seven ‘scrawled’ studies taped to the easel when I start a painting, all of them similar. Sometimes there will be a favourite among them that may not look very different from the others but for some reason I like better, and this will be the foundation of the composition, perhaps layered with any details that please me from the others. A slight tweak of positioning, an adjustment of negative space or even a wayward line that goes nowhere in particular but that for some unfathomable reason pleases me.

The present Hervé studies are being made by a quite different technique, probably because I see them as being preparatory to lino-prints. I make a first swift drawing to get things underway, all spidery lines  and with scant attention to much beyond the positive and negative shapes. Then I start to roughly work up the image with black conté, suggesting the inkiness of a lino-block when printed. If at this point there needs to be any  radical re-working, rather than start again I just over-paint with white acrylic or glue on a shaped patch of fresh paper, taking care to leave  untouched the parts of the drawing I think work.

Yesterday’s drawing developed because the first, swift axis that defined the angle of the boy, leaning away stiffly from the wolf as he scratches under its chin, suggested an emotional tone that was unexpected though intriguing. However the first draft of the wolf had not been successful, the beast not big enough and not looming over Hervé, and so I glued on a fresh piece of paper and re-drew him while retaining the recoiling boy I felt worked so well.

I like the the way these studies have turned out, cockled and scabbed with layers of glue and paint. I approve of the way they display the scars of their making, the indicators of false starts and changes of heart. The paper is cheap, purchased in bulk from an office supply shop. It’s wan and floppy straight from the box, though stiff as a matzo by the time a drawing has been through the processes of re-working.

2 thoughts on “wolf-boy day three

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