The Sleeper Paintings

Head 2, Image courtesy of Next StagesHead 5Head 1Head 4Head Paintings In ProgressDetail of: Head 5Head 1, Image courtesy of

This series of paintings are based on many small pencil drawings made lying in bed.

Lying next to a sleeping person to make the drawings in a position where my eyes are often closer to the ‘sleeper’ than the drawing is an odd place to make a drawing! This close-up viewing affects the drawing in two ways. Firstly, lines become more important than tones. Secondly, facial features especially those with protruding shapes such as a nose appear to shift positions more subtly. If you attempt to draw this it makes the forms appear to ripple and reverberate, which in turn became for me, a metaphor for drifting-off and sleeping.

Try to focus your eyes this close and it blurs edges until they appear uncertain, (a bit like squinting). The resulting drawings are indicating contours like relief mapping in a mist.

These amorphous ‘Sleepers’ could almost be like clouds, because although monumental, they are very delicate and lightweight. I think that if you stretched your hand into them it would almost disappear into immaterial filaments and evanescent membranes.

Seeing very close to the subject paradoxically becomes the opposite of seeing it clearly and sharply. It’s like I am using my eyes to touch, as much as to see, something that is blurred and gently shifting or drifting and very fugitive.

The paintings are large because the drawings give the sense that the sleepers are huge.

In these drawings and paintings I am trying to grasp the feeling of being right up-close in someone’s personal space, an intimacy where sight and touch become mixed up. I don’t think there are many pictures that investigate this area of seeing? Although I’m really excited by Claude Heath’s “Blind Drawings” and other working investigations into this area of perception.