'...He falls to such perusal of my face
As he would draw it.'
|The mask former|
Starting with a quote from 'Hamlet', eh? Sure to knock 'em dead.
I was very struck by those lines when I first read 'Hamlet' as a teenager.
I spent a lot of time drawing then, often from life. I knew that, although you might think you were closely observing something, you never really looked at anything until you tried to draw it. The relationships of one part to another, the density of a shadow, the texture, the angles, the precise delination of a curve...
The curves of the Oseberg or Gokstad ships will break your heart. I know: I've tried to draw them.
|The Oseberg Ship|
But what really brings on these thoughts is my Green Man project. I wrote here some months ago that I'd woken up one morning - without ever having any such thought before in my life as far as I can remember - thinking: 'You should make a Green Man mask out of papier-mache.' And then my brother posted that he'd had much the same thought at about the same time.
Those sort of things tend to stick in your head.
I've been busy, and haven't actually ripped up one bit of paper for the Green Man, but I have been thinking about him a lot. A lot. And one happy side-effect of this has been an increase in the intensity of my observation. When I go out for a walk now, it's not just a bit of exercise in the fresh air - it's research.
I'm perusing things as I would make them.
I'm noticing the different veinings and textures of leaves. Some have plump, pillowy leaves with grooves between the veins. Others are flatter and smoother, but grained. There are pinked edges and smooth edges. Hazel leaves are almost circular, not 'leaf-shaped' at all.
I'm noticing the different ways they spring from their twig or stem; how they grow in rosettes or spirals.
I'm studying, with great interest, the dead stalks and seed-heads standing in the hedgerows. I've always enjoyed the brilliant red berries, but now I'm seeing how many different shapes of them there are.
I imagine botanists and gardeners enjoy this pleasure in just looking all the time. Perhaps people fascinated by other things do too - people who're enthralled, say, by the study of beetles and other small cattle. But it's a pleasure I'd mislaid somewhat since, all those years ago, I used to stare at things, pencil in hand, hard enough to bore a hole in them.
Whether or not I can reproduce any of these leaves and things remains to be seen - but even if I can't, I'll still have enjoyed this renewed pleasure in just looking. Dying leaves, lemon yellow with splotches and spots of green. Bramble leaves of a deep, glowing maroon red, that you'd think could never be natural, but is.
In the meantime, I'm approaching the Green Man with due caution, by having a trial run at something else, just to see what I can learn. I'm using a cheap plastic mask (top) as a form. Can you tell what it is yet?
The big news of the week, as far as I'm concerned, is that my agent says that she's enjoying Sterkarm 3, and will be in touch soon, with notes.
She also says she found it confusing, in parts. It's not just me, then. I'm hoping she'll figure it out, and explain it to me.
And Blott's back! So's Ashteroth...