When I packed up to leave France several years back I left a few things scattered in various homes. This drawing is one of my favourites and had graced walls in Aix then Dieulefit. But now it lives on a wall in the home of a friend in Poët Laval, in the Drôme.
I had done many drawings of this young woman in Aix when I used to drew with a soft pencil into small empty notebooks which I had found in India. They were exercise books for children in school, and each page numbered to a hundred. I used to I pick these kinds of things up everywhere on my travels. I loved the dusty stationary stores in Greece, Italy, Morocco, Turkey, Vietnam, and India too. They were inexpensive, and had a rather post-colonial kind of edge to them as if connected back in time just 40 or 50 years. They often possessed a faint, musky, airless odour when I opened their pliable covers. Releasing these pages within seemed like I had discovered an ancient crypt.
This was part of the drawing deal for me as I hate blank white sheets of drawing paper. I don't know if it goes back to some ideal of perfection from my own early schooling but I only use off-white, preferably even previously printed paper. I have used all sorts of agendas from various countries which seem to spark my imagination. But the idea of a blank, clothes-clean white almost makes me shrivel up into a fear of procrastination.