So: I've been looking through portfolios of my old..very old..drawings and will pin some of them up on this blank wall. It's both annoying and challenging to re-visit these youthful works and conclude that many are better than anything I've done in recent times. I don't believe the theory that artists' best work is created in their youth and anyway I can't speak for anyone else. But I want to look into possible reasons why some - I've picked out around 100 drawings - of my early works seem to achieve something (I'm not going to try and define that something) which I'm not achieving now.
I can easily teleport myself back to those years (17-18-19 years old) and remember clearly what I felt when I was drawing then. I believed in Art, I was romantically in love with Art, it was my mission. I wasn't hesitant or doubtful but confident in my ability to take on anything Art could throw at me. The first five large drawings below were done from sculptures in the Louvre where my tutor, an école des Beaux Arts professor, would meet me every day and teach me to draw in the classical manner, with plumb line and pencil held out at arm's length to measure proportions: "Aplomb! Proportion!" he would repeat like a mantra. I can still hear it now. Each drawing took weeks and he was wonderfully severe but after a while, when he saw that I was making real progress, we became friends. He said we were now equals and that I could draw "like a man". Yes, this was before feminist consciousness-raising but my joy at this verdict was boundless.
More old drawings to come, next time.
NdA Charcoal. Roman bas-relief, Louvre. 42cm x 47cm (16.5" x 18.5")
(The male bits in the facing warrior were missing. Not my doing!)
NdA Charcoal. Roman portrait, Louvre. 48cm x 63cm (19" x 25")
NdA Charcoal. Roman bas-relief. 48cm x 62cm (19" x 23.5")
NdA Charcoal. 48cm x 63cm After El Greco "The Holy Trinity"
NdA Young self, Paris. 32.5cm x 43.5cm Charcoal and wash on oiled paper.