October 11, 2015

Sonnets to the Malamute: The Poet Revealed

Apart from the accidental shift from a vertical to a horizontal format in my recent illustrations, the job was going well. I chose the sonnets that I wanted to illustrate. With input from the author, the work progressed slowly but smoothly. Then a shift occurred when the author came up with his own ideas for the last 8" x 10" illustration as well as the final 5" x 7." He proposed to reveal himself as the author of the sonnets. This revelation would be in the form of a dual portrait of himself as both man and child. I was sent pictures of both the man as he is now and how he was over seventy years ago as a toddler. The author originally thought to make the man and boy Janus-like, but I explained that I would require profile views for this and since there were none in the offing, the Janus format was abandoned. With more requests to include two images of a puppy, slight of hand and ventriloquism, my work was cut out for me.

For this last illustration, I treated the author of the sonnets as a kind of conjurer/ventriloquist. He speaks through a small puppy and a toddler. Because these are his creative instruments I reduced their size to a toy-like scale in contrast to the central figure. I had to do a bit of my own conjuring here because the portrait I was given was of a face only but no hands. I drew my own hands in different positions, making the fingers thicker to make them older and more masculine. I placed the right hand palm downwards with strings emanating from the fingers and attaching to the bantam sized dog. The left hand is palm up in a gesture of release - the puppy is released in to the sky. The puppy in the sky is taken from my previous illustration of a line in the first and last sonnets, "You are the sky above a star on earth." In this redo of a portion of the previous illustration the sky is depicted torn in parts and incomplete at the base in order to indicate that it is a construct, like a stage setting, rather than a reality. I made it this way because I felt that once the poet/author of a work steps in to that work it immediately places the art into the realm of a created, imagined or remembered entity. In this regard the illustration depicts both the art and the creator of the art in one context where they coexist yet are separate realities.

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