D and I are whisking off today on the trains bound North for Oban, the gateway to the isles (though we aren’t sure what our plans are on that point). Not a literary journey, but likely a very picturesque one. As you can guess, I will probably have plenty of photographs to share. I hope I don’t overdo the images to the detriment of words, and that soon I will have a lengthy, word-rich post for you to sink your teeth into. You might also ask, what happened to Endless Reads 2012? Tobias Smollett happened to it. Smollett and all his Georgian puffery and personal wretchedness…I hope four-odd hours confined to a carriage will help me toil through more pages than I have managed so far. He’s going to be one of the two-weekers. Not giving up yet!
More fun so far has been starting a second illustration class at the Edinburgh College of Art. This time, we have to design one lengthy project, alongside general practice and keeping an observational sketchbook.
Tonight, we were set the task of producing a mock-up of our project ideas. I decided to do a series of illustrations showing Aida’s long bus journey from New York City to New Mexico. It would be a blurring of reality and the work-in-progress, of the real journey D and I took and the rough outline I’ve made in the draft of The Millennial. Non-fiction visual narrative, I suppose? I said I would put them together in a little booklet, perhaps. After class, one of the other students came up to me with a suggestion that I add diary entries for each panel, to give a feeling of intimacy. I’m havering on this idea, though I was so grateful to have kind feedback. I like the idea of having it a silent sequence, removed from the burden of text (I know I’ve been writing too much when I say that, and welcome Oban as a wee break from type-type-type).
Here are the rough (oh so rough) drawings I made, plus a little extra one just for fun. There will be more scenes in the final project, I think. More drama, as there was on the actual journey.
Diary of a houseplant. The real-life one didn't take to being sketched, and has turned very peely-wally in the few hours since.
All the numbers, written on environmentally friendly used envelope
So! There were 24 comments left on the giveaway post, discounting any doubles and my response.
I wrote all the numbers out on the paper above, shuffled them, and took them into the hall, where the early afternoon light was shining to a moderate brightness…
tossed the numbers in the air and closed my eyes –
The first number to hand was 23…that means Artboy68 you are the winner of the photobook/random assortment of goodies!!!
Artboy68 has just drawn my picture over on his blog as part of his 100 portraits project. I was going to put that in a separate post later but since he won I’ll link right now. It’s by complete chance and the whims of the throw that he won – I did everything blind and haphazardly. I lack the card-counting skills to get thrown out of the big casinos, honest.
Thank you all so much for entering, and I’ll have another giveaway the next time something nice and shareable falls into my hands. I hope you’ve enjoyed this as much as I have.
For the illustration course exam, I have made up a chapbook of illustrations and short snippets from the early chapters of Kilea.
Front cover (it looks a bit spooky, but the rationale is found later in the text)
It’s my first effort at doing an extended sequence of illustrations, and has been quite intensive; hours of cutting out, hours of drawing. Who knew it could take two bent-backed hours to draw a small panel illustration in pen and watercolour?
Endpages and title. The pine plantation motif from a smaller version I posted here a few days ago.
The opening paragraph to Kilea (also posted here earlier sans pale faced child)
This is the drawing that brought me a new respect for the art of rendering.
Last one for now, What Kilea found in the playground
I have a few more, but they need tidying up a little. I don’t know what I could do with the chapbook after the exam, other than keep it in a drawer, to look back at later to track progress. Sigh in relief that I can get back to focusing purely on the next novel. Yet it has been really satisfying to create something tangential to the writing, and who knows, I may in time see that it has helped sharpen my writing style as well.
I have come across a series of articles by a book jacket designer on the elements that go into the art and business of representing the heart of a novel on its sleeve (urgh, sorry!): Jacket Mechanical. It doesn’t hurt that he focuses on the thoroughly thorny dilemma of getting the book cover right for Lolita. As you can imagine, there have been some covers that are so far off the mark, they spark second-hand embarrassment in the viewer. Just say no to sexy Lolita, or 50s housewife Lolita, or from the movie of the same name Lolita. That last one I have a pretty strong prejudice against for any work: there needs to be separation of book and film treatment, because that there is usually so a vast difference between the two forms of media that it’s disingenuous and sort of sad to try to sew them together in such a way. Like sewing your trousers to a fancy top – you’ve got a jumpsuit on your hands, but how do you put it on? And are you sure you want to?
The other reason I have been interested in book jackets, is that I am still taking a night illustration course at the Edinburgh College of Art. I had an interesting brief discussion with one of my teachers about the parallels between the narrative of the novel and the narrative of the book jacket, and the article I’ve linked to does a good job of delving into that same issue. Here, then are my attempts at describing or intimating at the narratives of two seaside novels:
Iris Murdoch's The Sea, The Sea
Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse
I apologise for the hash job of scanning – these were done on A3 paper and my dinky scanner can only take up to A4, hence edges clipped off, and random parts having to be realigned.
In both of these covers, I tried to play with perspective to say something about thematic elements of the novel. The protagonist of The Sea, The Sea is an affable raging narcissist with a view of nostalgia and lost love so warped and self-aggrandising that it can be used to justify to some pretty bizarre acts. I wanted to capture To The Lighthouse‘s use of framing human desires within the frame of domesticity, as well as providing a slightly unsettling view – the impossible window looking out above a lighthouse that is positioned on a rock in the middle of the sea – to better reflect Virginia Woolf’s techniques of deflection. Not sure if that’s all coming across, or if I’ve got the best grip on the texts, but it’s all about the challenge, about trying theory to practice. And getting my hands (and face) all inky in the process.
From a scene not yet written
Just a wee picture today – I’d been doodling this woman lying in the grass looking up at the stars when I noticed she reminded me of the main character from The Millenial, Aida. And then I realised, of course, Aida needs be lying out in the middle of the huge meadow of the Valle Grande, dreamily doing the same. Now it just remains for me to write it, and make it natural…