ghost drawings: doomed to vanish

Hervé and his Wolf. New work in progress

It’s not often that I make a composition without some separate rough sketches to guide it, but in two works currently in progress on my studio-table, the sketches disappearing under paint were the only ones, and so I took photographs of them as a combination of records/guides. (Laser print-outs on flimsy copying-paper become my blueprints as I continue to work.)

Both sketches were faint and explorative, layered with many ghostly remains of lines started and abandoned as I worked out how to fit compositions into the 30 x 36 cm rectangles. Originally there were five pristine mount-board off-cuts, too beautiful to leave propped against the wall above my desk, and too handsomely cut to re-size. They became almost like projection-screens on which ideas flickered every time I looked at them. And since I’d grown fond of the cleanness of the cards, I decided too that I wanted to leave the paper showing behind each drawing, which added more levels of technical demand because there’s nowhere to hide a mistake when the ground is a field of unmarked paper. Hence the faint, silvery-grey lines of graphite, easily erased when all the final decisions had been made.

Two of the boards, used in ‘portrait format’, became homes to Oberon and Titania.

And two, in ‘landscape format’, are currently growing images of blind Saint Hervé and his Wolf.

Above: vanishing drawing

With these I must balance the shapes and divisions of space so that the overlaps are both minimal and psychologically significant. The negative and positive have to be in perfect harmony. It’s a sort of game in which I find myself unaccountably absorbed: here’s the room, and here’s the furniture. Now, how to arrange it…

Above: wolf-paw on a man’s exposed foot. This is a realm of the senses, of cool pads, sharp claws and wolf-breath, up close.

 The fifth board is still blank. Which ‘Tale’ shall it tell?

10 thoughts on “ghost drawings: doomed to vanish

  1. The blank fifth board… I’m feeling distinctly ‘Puck-ish’ – complete with a mix of brooms and hands…”If we shadows have offended etc…”
    Love as ever
    B xxx

    • Mmmmm. Now I have to rethink Puck as played by an actor in a slightly run-to-seed, over-the-hill nineteenth century touring company. Shall it be some callow, underfed and underpaid juvenile, or a tiny actor of androgyne appearance and indeterminate years? Or might he be like the Puck I saw in a production the year before last: sixty-five plus, six-foot-something and lumbering to boot. More Bottom the Weaver than airy sprite!

      • Or…a girl disguised as a boy because she was trying to escape from:

        a) being given in marriage
        b) locked up for being crazy because she ‘wouldn’t sign the papers’
        c) family disapproval of her ‘devoted friendship’ with a minor female royal

        Oh boy… my mind is in a ferment!

        d) Puck himself, visiting earthlings, for a laugh!?

        Love as always
        B xxx

  2. Well, that final composition is powerful.
    I understand fully ghost drawings, no matter how much planning , there will be lines that just haunt you yet they are doomed as you poetically say.

    I’ve photographed them as well, resorting as you mention, to flimsy copies. Happy to have such fine company.
    I’m liking the pristine grounds btw, very fresh.

    I’ve been “set decorating” a painting myself lately; I believe it has a lot to do with the meticulous planning of my past career-perhaps the same applies to you.

    Happy to see Herve, he seems such a muse for you, and such a pretty one.
    Hoping you and your grounds have recovered a bit.

    • So, we share this phenomenon of the drawings disappearing under paint. Whenever I make a drawing that I like (and that might have further uses) but is fated to be lost under brushwork, I try to make a swift and fair copy of it. But I’m working fast right now, and pretty much running on empty, so there has been no time no time no time. Ho hum.

      Yes, H is one of my muses. Just when I think he’s gone for good, he turns up at my door again, and I’m lost to him.

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