My first drawing of Peter, a pointillist pen and ink of him as Duke Bluebeard made not long after we had met. (I think it evident from this that I was going through my ‘Edward Gorey’ period!) The drawing belongs to Nicolas and Frances McDowall of The Old Stile Press. Click to get a better view of the sheer mind-numbing number of individual marks that make up this very small drawing.
A detail from The Comfort of Angels Attending the Dying from The Temptations of Solitude series, 2004. Even when I didn’t consciously intend a likeness of Peter he nevertheless frequently appeared, as can be seen here in the angel on the left.
Eight years on from The Temptations and I recast him as the psychiatrist Dysart in my illustrations for the Old Stile Press edition of Sir Peter Shaffer’s play Equus. By this stage I had no need of his modelling services in the studio as his likeness had engraved itself onto my retinas. The above drawing is a Conté pencil study.
The following images are from the finished book. The drawings were made in acrylic paint applied mainly with bristle brushes to animation cel, then scratched through with an engraving tool. I have to confess that the ‘engraving tool’ was nothing fancy, but just a sharp tin-tack with a finger-grip made from Sellotape! The same tin-tack served for the entire project. I kept it safe and sharpened it occasionally on my Arkansas whetstone. I have it to this day, my favourite graver for working on cel.
I’m not the only artist to use Peter as a model. The portrait painter Eugene Fisk has painted him twice. This one titled The Connoisseur is in a private collection.
In the image below is a startling though beautifully realised representation of him by another artist.
Susan Adams produced a polychrome wood-carving of Peter’s head. It was first used as a ‘maquette’ when she was illustrating Duke Bluebeard’s Castle for The Old Stile Press. More recently Susan incorporated the head into a mixed-media sculptural work in which a black fur romper-suited simulacra lies on its back while supporting a stilt-walking female figure towering above it.
At first it can be difficult to see Peter in this image from Susan’s illustrated edition of Duke Bluebeard’s Castle for the Old Stile Press. However once you’ve found him, you wonder why you didn’t spot him immediately. It’s a haunting, masterfully accomplished image.