Gallery of past work

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Sketching and unease

The other day, I spent an hour sketching with a friend on a quiet country lane near where we live. It was a lovely, sunny autumn afternoon and the colours of the trees were beautiful.

For some reason I now can't explain, I chose to draw a rock that was topped by a large tree and in part overgrown with ivy. Its roots were intertwined and exposed. It was the pattern they made that enticed me, I think. I drew for a quarter of an hour, absorbed in creating the shapes of the roots and the deep shadows underneath. Then I stopped and looked at what I'd done.

The shapes on the page resembled something most unexpected and rather disturbing. A grotesque face was looking left out of the drawing. Monstrous and Hobbit-like, it felt like a haunting. I found I couldn't ignore what I'd seen. The peace was gone and I didn't continue.

Strange what the eye and brain register. I still feel the same unease when I look at the drawing now - not one for saving, except perhaps as a reminder of the strange ways of the mind.


  1. An appropriate image for a 'post-truth' world!? Do not discard the drawing - rotate it to the right and you have growth. Crop it into parts. There is so much going on in there.
    I have a little mantra: if it doesn't work, cut it up and look again.

    1. Thank you, Olga, for your helpful comment. I have just rotated the drawing to the right (to the left too and flipped but that was somehow less successful) and the result was extraordinary! The monster was reduced to just a trace and there was, as you suggested, encouraging growth.

      Funnily enough, I often play around in this way with other work - and indeed apply a window and cut up - but I've never done it to a drawing. A tip to remember.


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