I was struck by many things about Audrey Niffenegger’s astonishing novel The Time-Traveler’s Wife when I read it in early 2007 – just before I started this blog – and among them was a tender description of one of the characters, an artist, making a pastel drawing, from life, of a sleeping baby.
As a pastellist, I yearned to do this with my own infant daughter. She’s 18 months old now, and still I have not accomplished it. I found it impossible to sketch her back in those early days, when the only place she would give in to a daytime nap was in my arms; but from the past year I have a handful of small pen sketches made of her while she slept in her pushchair. I thought I would share them as a montage. (The one in the bottom right-hand corner was done 5 days ago while in a moving car, where (strangely) it is easier to draw than to write.)
I have painted M in oil pastels, but “only” from a photo, as shared here. One day , perhaps, she will be patient enough to indulge her mummy while I sketch her awake, and from life.
Meanwhile, here is a record of the moment when she stopped simply making lines back and forth across the page, and started visibly experimenting with mark-making: she was 17 months old. These drawings remind me of abstract work that I have seen, and I’m very fond of them. To me they’re like an exotic script, or some strange dance notation.