Sylvia Plath’s drawings span her life and travels in the United States, England, France, and Spain. One of her letters or journal entries accompanies each section in the book, Sylvia Plath: Drawings. She describes with particular glee her honeymoon with Ted Hughes in the small Spanish fishing village of Benidorm.
Her daughter, Frieda Hughes, wrote the book’s introduction. She describes how calming it was for her mother to draw, and particularly how her mother’s artistry and academic endeavors flourished when she was with her husband, Ted. Painting also calms me, and like Plath, I prefer to depict real things on a small scale.
Her drawings render her as human to me. They’re imperfect, with wriggly, deep-set lines. I can’t help but feel that despite being calmed by drawing, she held a critical eye and still struggled amidst the peace.
Below are terms aptly describing Plath herself; Frieda uses the first two to describe her mother in the intro.
1. Effusively (as in, “she wrote effusively”): unduly demonstrative; lacking reserve.
2. Ebullient: cheerful and full of energy.
3. Benevolently: characterized by or expressing goodwill or kindly feelings.
Which of Plath’s drawings is my favorite? Cambridge: a View of Gables and Chimney-pots, c. 1955.