Borough Market is one of my favourite markets in London, so I was excited to learn this was going to be the place for our 2nd drawing trip of the term. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go the day we were supposed to, which meant I had to go back by myself to complete the exercise another day.
We had been asked to capture moments through rough sketches, focusing on movement. As such, I thought I’d try and fight my usual controlled hand and draw more loosely, which would get a sense of movement present within my images.
It seemed to work quite well. Even though I don’t get that feeling of movement in every drawing, I do feel they capture the buzz and the environment of the market.
Overall, I feel this was quite a helpful exercise. It reminded me that I don’t have to draw straight, controlled lines all the time, and that loose sketches can also help define the feeling of a place.
While borrowing a book by Virginia Woolf from the LCC library to read in my spare time, I remembered Virginia’s first edition books had very nice illustrated covers. They were made by Virginia’s own sister, Vanessa Bell, who was an artist and member of the Bloomsbury group.
What I like about Vanessa’s covers is that they appear very raw, very hand-made, as if she drew the cover of each and every copy of a book, one by one.
Perhaps this comes from the style of her drawings, or the feeling that she didn’t bother making them perfect and rather embraced their imperfections.
Either way, I feel these are very interesting, unique covers, which certainly capture the atention of potential buyers. As such, I thought I’d use them as inspiration for my own designs.
About a year ago, there was an exhibition at A Casa das Histórias named Old Meets New with works by Paula Rego. Some of these works had previously been in the gallery Marlborough Fine Arts, which often exhibits this artist’s works.
I became interested in this exhibition when I found out some of the works displayed were inspired by two novels by Eça de Queirós, one of which was “O Primo Basílio”, which I am including in my author collection.
“Breakfast” (2015) represents one of the first scenes in the narrative, set in a very hot Summer morning. I do feel this illustration is true to the writing – this image is not that different from what I pictured when reading – and, for that, I quite like it.
In fact, I do think Paula Rego captured the essence of the narrative very well with these images, and particularly the personality of the main character, Luísa (the blonde woman).
After reading “What We See When We Read”, by Peter Mendelsund, I was inspired by the idea that everyone creates a different image of the same novel/character/setting. The images we see when reading are definitely not the same as the ones the author pictured when writing; and because we fill in the gaps with references from our own personal experiences, everyone’s Anna Karenina, for example, will be different, perhaps inspired by someone they’ve met.
“We colonize books with our familiars; and we exile, re-patriate the characters to lands we are more acquainted with.”
After discussing this idea with my tutor Ellen, she suggested I would conduct an experiment based on it. It would be a research exercise which would consist of reading one same excerpt of a text to some people, or ask them all to think of one same book, and draw their visual image(s) of it.
I asked some of my friends to think of one book I knew we had all read – “Os Maias”, by Eça de Queirós (this is one of the books I’m including in my author collection). I then asked them to draw the most significant element or moment in the novel. This was meant to show how each person takes something different from the same story, and how everyone remembers the same images in a very personal and customised manner.
The results were somewhat surprising. Even though this is a story about incest, that didn’t seem to be anyone’s most significant aspect of the novel.
Instead, most people felt the ending scene of the story prevailed over all other moments. One person referred to the moment the main character sees his sister (not knowing her as his sister, of course) for the first time; I myself remember being mostly upset with the deaths in the Maia’s family.
In one of the group tutorials that we had, someone mentioned Chris Orr, a London based illustrator. I had never heard of this artist before, and when shown some examples of his work for the first time, I immediately fell in love.
Orr’s illustrations are extremely detailed and informative. I compare them to visual narratives, for in each piece of work we can see a thousand images, that are put together in a way that communicates something to us.
I find this illustration absolutely incredible. In only one image, we find all about what is going on inside the ship. This is not just an illustration – in the sense that it illustrates something –, this is a story in itself.
This image in particular caught my attention. While still holding a lot of detail and information, it doesn’t tell us a story, like the previous exmples. Instead, it gives us a sense of what it is like being in that position, standing in that place.
This reminded me of an exercise we did referring to a technique used by Bonnard.
Again, it is astonishing the amount of information present in each work. For someone who usually prefers to do line drawing and creates imagery that is, in fact, minimal, this is something that I should perhaps try. Specifically in the context of this project, it could be interesting to have such detailed illustrations, with not one but several scenes from the narratives, as book covers.