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  • Lucy Fleming

The Ghost of Christmas Past


The dark depths of a crisp December night.

Despite Halloween being the favourite among many for spooky stories, December is my favourite time of year to read ghost stories.

There is something about the Christmas ghost story tradition which seems to be less adored these days as it was when I was growing up. As a child, my family and I always looked out for an M.R James adaptation on the BBC. We delved into the pages of 'Ghost Stories of an Antiquary' on December evenings, as short days dwindled outside and candles fluttered in a harrowing winter draft.

Shortly after watching 'A Christmas Carol' a few days ago, I decided to paint a ghost. I've never attempted this before but had a vivid idea of the sombre and pensive mood I was hoping to acheive. I didn't want my ghost to be scary, but somewhat peaceful. I got my inspiration from The Ghost of Christmas Past. At first I wasn't sure whether to make her child-like or an adult, then I settled on an age around 14, maintaining an innocent face but a lankier body.

The colour palette was a challange I was keen to attempt in order to create the right atmosphere. I chose monochromatic, rich teals and blues to be complemented with the yellow and placid green of the focal point. I decided that the sky would also be fairly bright and have a big, full moon in order to give the sense of silhouetted trees and glimmering silver linings on the foliage. There had to be something mystical about the character, as though she was an apparition and not just a pale character. It needed to be obvious that she was a ghost. I decided to keep her colours very pale and monotonal. I also made some of her hair and dress somewhat transluscent without having the character fade away completely. She holds a lamp as though waiting to guide some unknown character on a journey; another aspect completely inspired by the Ghost of Christmas Past.

No glitter, snowmen, or jolly red noses will be found here, but something I very much enjoyed and am glad to have as part of my protfolio.

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All images © 2019 Lucy Fleming