Wednesday, August 4, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 333

Title: Now, how had this noble rescue been accomplished? Why, diving after the slowly descending head, Queequeg with his keen sword had made side lunges near its bottom, so as to scuttle a large hole there; then dropping his sword, had thrust his long arm far inwards and upwards, and so hauled out our poor Tash by the head.

5.25 inches by 8.75 inches
colored pencil, ink and marker on watercolor paper
August 3, 2010

9 comments:

  1. Gorgeous. Maybe one of my favorites so far.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you both very much. I am really really thrilled with how this one turned out. Honestly, I had been thinking about this chapter for quite some time because it is one of my favorites. Which is strange because it's not an especially important or significant chapter. There's just something strange and nightmarish about the whole episode of Tashtego falling into the whale's head and then plunging into the ocean. I don't know, it's always stayed with me.

    So for this illustration, I chose white watercolor paper and tried very very hard to really show what I had always seen. Rather than depict something symbolically or even whimsically, I wanted to show what is really, literally happening. At least in my mind. And it turned out really well.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's really a stunning portrayal. And I love all those creatures at the bottom. Even though they're utterly menacing, there's also something strangely noble about the way they all lean in towards Queequeg and Tashtego — as though this were the opposite of that sad scene when Ahab cries out to the little fish, "Swim away from me, do ye?"

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ben, I find it absolutely fascinating that you mentioned that prior illustration of Ahab and the colorful fish swimming away from him. That is perhaps my absolute favorite illustration so far. Somehow I feel I was truly able to capture the "deep helpless sadness" in Ahab through a few lucky brushstrokes. But to me the most intriguing aspect of your comment is how you alluded to the idea that this piece is a kind of opposite to that one. Passing the halfway mark (page 276) made a deep and indelible impression on me and I have notice myself echoing several prior pieces in this second set of illustrations. I was actually thinking about that earlier image of Ahab and the fish while I was finishing this one, thinking to myself that this was a kind of echo of that. I am so pleased that this is visible to others, and in a way that is starting to bring a cohesiveness to these illustrations.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That's really interesting! You know, the other great thing about this is the way your pictures can alter our reading of the novel. As soon as I saw this picture, the thought flashed into my head: all things swim away from Ahab; but all things swim to Queequeg. Even before I'd thought about the visual resonances between the two pictures, they had produced an intuition about the novel that would never have been possible before.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ben, that is one of the greatest and most humbling compliments I have ever received. Melville is an absolute colossus, and "Moby-Dick" casts a very long shadow. So many incredible artists have mined the novel for inspiration and produced staggeringly powerful art. Quite often, I really do feel like a little ant playing at their feet. To know that others are seeing the novel in new and different ways while looking at my art is...well, words fail to adequately describe what an amazing feeling that is.

    ReplyDelete
  7. These illustrations are incredible and this one's my favourite; it's my favourite part of the book too - such a surreal moment and I love how this picture captures it! I've been studying Moby Dick this year at university and wish I'd seen your work earlier. I'll have to recommend to my class. :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you very much Maddie, I appreciate the kind words. This was a fascinating chapter to work through in a visual sense, and one of the many that I feel I could have produced a dozen illustrations for. So much symbolism, so many ideas, so much richness in the text. I am very fond of this piece and was sad to see it leave me, but it ended up in a wonderful home in Ireland of all places, which I find intriguing.

    ReplyDelete