October 9, 2015

Sonnets to the Malamute: A Three Headed Dog in Hell

My illustration work brought me to a challenging sonnet. Because I had already switched from a vertical format to a horizontal one I selected a sonnet to illustrate from my clients book of sonnets to the malamute that had allusions in the text to many mythological figures. In that sonnet the malamute became Cereberus, the Hell Hound. His drool was transformed into the Horehound plant. There were three judges in this sonnets, as well as the mythological dog Lelaps. It was a veritable mythological smorgasbord.

Generally, I consulted with my client when I was not entirely certain about the iconography of his poetry. But in this case I illustrated something without doing so because I thought there was a figure not mentioned, but perhaps implied in the text. The mythological Lelaps, the dog who always caught his prey, is often paired with the Andalusian fox. The Andalusian fox can never be caught, so this pair chases each other indefinitely. There was no mention of the fox in the sonnet, but I thought that since Lelaps was there, he should, of course be chasing the fox. So I added a fox in the upper left corner of the drawing.

When the drawing was complete, my client wanted to know what that other dog in the upper corner of the illustration was doing there. I explained that Lelaps is generally paired with the Andalusian fox so I just presumed to make him a feature of this illustration. I hoped that I would not have to do this illustration over again because it was quite detailed and time consuming. I had to do a lot of searching to find good pictures of a horehound plant. And I was unfamiliar with the rest of the cast of mythological characters as well and had to make a few drafts to get them right. Giving a malamute do three heads in different positions also had posed a significant challenge.

So after silently chastising myself for adding a fox without my client’s say so, I ventured an offer to make the fox much lighter. Total erasure was impossible. Of course this can be accomplished with ease in photoshop but my client was also purchasing the original drawings and not just permission for use. Fortunately, the lightened fox managed to squeak through. At least he recedes a little more and is not so dark and obvious.  How foxy!

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