A Place with a Dark Story


I rarely write much about the places I draw or print from.

In fact, I often have to write the name of the place in my notebook in order to jog my own memory! But this place is different and has a very “mixed” memory for me. Last year we were staying with my friend Kathy Gibbons* in Arcy-sur-Cure for a few nights, one late afternoon we went for a walk with her around the village. Hidden in the woods, behind huge gates, was a mansion, beautifully situated at the end of an avenue of trees. As it drew to evening, the house almost shone in the lengthening shadows. I took some photos that I hoped to use later. Then Kathy told us that the house had been commandeered by the Nazis from the family during the second world war (I daren’t think of what might have happened behind those closed and imposing gates). This made my feelings for this beautiful place take on a different slant; when I went back to the photos and looked more, I saw that, because of the light exposure, the house had almost bleached out completely. I decided to do the same in this drawing. I started it in October and left it unfinished until we returned to Radicondoli in December. I thought that the unfinished drawing was too fussy; and so I took out a lot of the drawing in the trees and made it darker, with a focus on the light where the house stood.

Here are shots of the same piece in progress - it took me a long time to get over the darkness I felt in that place, and in the end, to get the image to work, it had to become quite dark itself. All that over-drawing improves the finished piece, I think.

Aplacewithdarkstory2 Aplacewithdarkstory3

*Kathy has written a book, you can find it on Amazon HERE