Boy with Swan

I needed a time off from ‘Hansel & Gretel’ and so I’ve returned to the ‘Beastie Boy’ theme for a day, by way of a break. Here’s my ‘Boy with Swan’ underdrawing, plus some rough sketches.



I think I’m being fairly courageous showing these really crap drawings. However it’s a fact that sometimes the stream-of-conciousness-scribbles are what point the way forward, and so even what might be regarded as unfit for general consumption can have value for me.






We all look back on work that we know we might have done better, and we all have to keep trying to improve on our last attempts. If not, why else bother to draw, or paint, or make? These clumsy Boy with Swan sketches are not exhibit-able, or fine or perhaps even informative for anyone except me. Most are rough as hell and I wouldn’t want to be judged by them alone. Nevertheless they show process and thinking. They have a job to do, and they’re doing it.


18 thoughts on “Boy with Swan

  1. I love the composition you settled on, especially the shape of the swan’s neck, which immediately reminded me of the hansel and gretel drawing you showed me the other day, with that fantastic chimney-pipe. this one and the first one seem as if the boys are dreaming their creatures from cloth to life–and in this one, that little sneak of feathers on his left leg tugs me further in that direction 🙂
    this series makes me so happy 🙂

  2. So, here’s the thing! I’m new to this making art malarkey. Well new compared to you. And I have recently begun to exhibit ( Open Studios etc.) and while I do love such events, I do wonder if I am being a bit arrogant! And indeed I often question if ithe work I make is worth showing.

    But thank you for your words of encouragement. I’m heeding your advice and sharing.

    And I love your working drawings. I feel quite inspired and encouraged by your ‘rough’ work.

    Thank you.

    • Hello Hilary. Malarkey! Good word.

      Glad to hear that you’re sharing. Sharing is conversation, and without the conversation we’re in a vacuum. Nothing thrives in a vacuum. Nothing lives in a vacuum.

      Glad you like the rough work. It’s where the thinking happens.

  3. Your work is always fascinating, and you have the confidence to expose yourself in this way. Not an easy thing for most.

    I am really interested in the swan. I find that it flows more for me, when the neck is curved.
    When there is that sharp angle, I find it uncomfortable, as if it’s neck were broken, a different thing altogether!
    Beastly boy is wonderful!
    Much loveXxx

    • Yes, I take your point, the crooked neck is a tad uneasy. I guess I’m trying to show that this is a ‘hobby-horse’, a construct with life breathed into it by the performer. Not powerful muscles and sleek feathers, but bamboo and wire and cloth, danced into being. We’ll see where it goes as the paint and pencil render get underway. These things are headstrong. I mean them to go one way, and they go another. Sometimes I think I’m less a painter than some kind of medium channeling whatever comes over me!

  4. Thank you for that today Clive. ‘They have a job to do and they’re doing it’, you’ve basically changed the way I see my sketches and preparatory drawings for ever you marvellous man, it’s the perfect approach to these working drawings.

  5. Zoe, I don’t care about the exhibition. (Well I do, or course, but that’s tangential to the issue.) I care that he can’t see his achievement, and that he’s dismissive of what I know to be not just good, but great. (In the true sense.)

    Don’t worry, I’m not about to stop posting at the Artlog any time soon. Still wake up with stuff to share and things to say. (And friends to talk to!) But mentoring is key to my creativity, and I thought that things had gone so well between us on that front. That I let this one slip past me fills me with regret. I don’t know how else to say ‘This work is beautiful. Don’t dismiss it!”

  6. Thank you, Cosima. I feel stricken with sadness right now. I fear that he may destroy work, and that would be too terrible to countenance. The fact that he’s removed it from where he can online, is not a good sign.

    It is hard to say what one means, when saying it just seems to make things worse. I probably just have to stand back from this now, because it’s making me anguished.

    Had I made this work that he’s now saying is no good, I would have been so proud of myself. Strong, visceral ideas expressed through lovely drawing. Just lovely.

    • I wonder if he would consent to allow you to store the work (without showing it) for a period of time; years perhaps. I don’t know how young he is, but I’m sure he will have many changes of mind over the course of his career. He may thank you for saving the work from destruction one day. Good on you for caring. And I love the sketches and underpainting here. Angela Carter strikes again?

  7. not crap drawings; beautiful expression of process. . . . and so informative. thank you, as always, for sharing your work and making other lives better for doing so (on a gray, rainy day where I am)..

  8. I would really love to know what Leonardo thought of his rough sketches and drafts, and preparation drawings. Maybe he too thought they had no value, except for him…

    And I love your beastly boy, in all his different beast guises. He has the serious, dreamy face, inclined to one side, the nose, the eyes and the big joined eyebrows of my favourite among your Heroes…

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