There are some techniques for drawing that Quentin Blake and I happen to share. Discovering this recently made my day, and that whole week, so much brighter! In fact, I’m still very happy about it. Obviously, two people can take the same stretch of road and end up turning off to completely different destinations. But we both commit to drawing first what is most difficult, just in case it doesn’t go well and requires a re-start.
Thus, for this drawing, I started with the woman. Such a tricky perspective and her attractive bosom had to be right, not least because, in a collaboration print, comparison is encouraged.
Although my son admits that the first thing he sees in this image is the woman’s bosom, this drawing is more about pareidolia perception and that’s where I hope people linger when they engage with one of my prints. What first attracted me to drawing Martin Bond’s super photograph was the face I noticed in the punt pole puddle. I pondered whether it would be off-putting to have the pole go into the mouth of that face. It had to be so, though, as that’s how I perceived it and, after all, it’s not so unlike a person sipping through a straw. I was also concerned whether people might perceive the young woman as a witch stirring her river cauldron. No one has mentioned this to me so, hopefully, that interpretation hasn’t come to the fore in my drawing.
What ended up posing the most enormous challenge was how to draw a large. spider. I pleaded with my son to find an appropriate image to consult and to paste it – that is to say, only one image of the item – into a document, which I could open to look at when I was ready. He described this creature as appearing large-bodied enough to be the bird-eating type! My perception was certainly of a formidable, hairy one. As it were, I’m proud to have confronted my fear, although this hasn’t much improved my arachnophobia.
Confronting fear is the theme of this drawing. Time spent on a river is magic. Floating along, the water carries a boat and allows it to glide, all being well, very efficiently. Sometimes the Cam up close looks like black tea, concealing its wonders within – eels, voles, water snakes, rats, many, many nematodes, slippery gripping weeds and things that went into the river but never came back out. These are all of what a capsized person blanks out whilst concentrating on getting back into the boat.
I love the perspective that the photographer has chosen to set this scene. Up on a bridge, we, the observers, feel privy to insights that the punter is too close to the river to enjoy. My son pointed out that she’s not actually punting very well but, for me, that adds to the feeling that she’s testing the water and exploring how to move the punt.
In the process, for a pareidolist, she has unwittingly churned up a fabulous array of creatures and little scenes, which emphasises what pareidolia drawings have in common with storytelling. The last thing I perceived in this image was a person’s head wearing a crown. And this being a Cambridge scenario, let’s just leave that to your imagination.
We are offering 50 limited-edition, signed fine art gicleé prints of In The Swirls Of The Cam, each with its own uniquely numbered Certificate of Authenticity.
If you’d like to own one of them, here’s the place to go: