Here, as a graphic illustration, is a sample of Stanley's hypersensitivity to atmosphere. He is letting his mind wander back to memories of the servant's attic in his boyhood home Fernlea <18> and deriving from them associations which might be turned into imagery for pictures he was hoping to compose: As children we often went into the attic. It was always a place of happy associations of home life and the being at times in it seemed further to increase the feelings of unexplored infinite mystery attaching to the very thought of it, to have in our own home where all was familiar this unknown world of the unknown room....This attic had a sloping ceiling and this ceiling had much meaning for me, and the sloping part brought the remote region into reachable contact. I wanted to live where the ceiling was, it was a kind of heaven. The angles of the room where it goes into a recess made diagonal shapes, I wanted, as I had elsewhere, a sort of disciple, or Holy Spirit, or figure deputising for God to live in the room. When I drew the figure the arms made other angles with the sloping ceilings....at the figure's left side the wall was consequently low and in that space I and the servant's tin box used to stand. I have the small figure in [my drawing of] the St Francis picture, and still hope to do this picture [he did so in his 1936 painting St.Francis and the Birds ] The child is not looking at St Francis, he is looking behind his back towards where the recess is and the servants are.
Such passages flood Stanley's memoirs, evidence of his instinct to describe the magic whereby his percepts became amalgamated into the associations which formed his imagery, and for which the linear logic of language is not the most apt exponent. But however odd his phrases, they invariably hold significant meaning, and can offer indispensable clues to the sources of imagery in his visionary paintings.
In the above passage we might note, for example, how important for him was the fact that the attic was a place of happy associations ; that in the familiarity of the rest of the house, the attic's unfamiliarity was not only unthreatening but that it increased his feelings of unexplored infinite mystery, feelings that he was convinced came from a source outside himself so miraculous as to seem virtually divine ; and that in carrying that feeling of divine mystery into a later painting, he recreated an image of himself as the boy who once caught a breath of the divine in a Cookham attic and so in that persona could represent a sort of disciple or Holy Ghost or figure deputising for God.