This year I took a little Moleskine sketchbook and my gouache set to Portugal with me…
The rock in the rough sea
Guy reading Mrs Dalloway
I had wanted to paint this image after reading a passage about Septimus Warren Smith in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway:
“He lay back in his chair, exhausted but upheld. He lay resting, waiting, before he again interpreted, with effort, with agony, to mankind. He lay very high, on the back of the world. The earth thrilled beneath him. Red flowers grew through his flesh; their stiff leaves rustled by his head.”
I especially like the way this image looks when the page is held up against the light. I’m not sure it’s exactly what had sprung into my imagination when I read that passage, so I might attempt a few other versions.
This holiday I read ‘Just Kids’ by Patti Smith, which is about her life in New York with Robert Mapplethorpe. It had a big affect on me, and I found her story, and her glittering, intimate writing so inspiring.
This image came about after I had been swimming in the pool while the water was in the shade. As the water was dark at one end, I had a split-second fear every time I went to put my head under the water, that this is what I would see, waiting for me. I’ve always found deep, dark water and grotesque sea creatures frightening, and I wanted to see if I could actually create an image to capture what I was afraid of on the bottom on the pool.