Henry Moore is very famous for his sculptures, but regular readers will know that he also made sketches in the London Underground during World War II, when the tube stations were used as bomb shelters.
But how did he achieve the spooky effect of the figures rising out of the darkness?
With wax crayons from Woolworth’s and watercolour paint!
“I hit upon this technique by accident, sometime before the war when doing a drawing to amuse a young niece of mine. I used some of the cheap wax crayons (which she had bought from Woolworth’s) in combination with a wash of water-colour, and found, of course, that the water-colour did not ‘take’ on the wax, but only on the background.
I found also that if you use a light-coloured or even white wax crayon, then a dark depth of background can easily be produced by painting with dark water-colour over the whole sheet of paper. ”
Letter to E.D. Averill, 11 December 1964
Can you see where Moore has used light-coloured crayon and dark watercolours to create the ghostly figure of Woman Seated in the Underground (1941)? The ink flows over the wax and soaks into the paper around it, leaving the light colours behind.
Why not try it yourself?