Friday, January 21, 2011

MOBY-DICK, Page 534

Title: ...Moby Dick bodily burst into view! For not by any calm and indolent spoutings; not by the peaceable gush of that mystic fountain in his head, did the White Whale now reveal his vicinity; but by the far more wondrous phenomenon of breaching. Rising with his utmost velocity from the furthest depths, the Sperm Whale thus booms his entire bulk into the pure element of air, and piling up a mountain of dazzling foam, shows his place to the distance of seven miles and more. In those moments, the torn, enraged waves he shakes off, seem his mane; in some cases, this breaching is his act of defiance.

8.25 inches by 12 inches
ink on watercolor paper
January 11, 2011

12 comments:

  1. Fantastic. It could be a book cover.

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  2. The turmoil the man feels is mirrored by the sea. Or is it the other way round? Awesome choices here.

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  3. Only 18 pages left! It's so hard to believe, but I will say that rather than running out of steam on this daunting and ambitious project (and really, who would've blamed you if you had?) you've only gotten better. Some of the very best of the illustrations (out of a pool of more than 500, mind you!) have been in these last few weeks. Marvelous job, Matt!

    Your dedication is inspiring, and I'd like to think it says as much about Melville's great work as it does about you.

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  4. Daryl, thank you. For this, such an iconic and important image, I really wanted to be very true to myself so I reached way back and drew this in a way that just felt very right. Very "Matt Kish." It is, perhaps obviously, an homage to a Rockwell Kent illustration which I think is titled "Moby Dick Ascendant." I would like to see this one on the cover of the book, so it will be interesting to see how that goes.

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  5. Buck, you are perceptive in many ways. And I do think you see the multiple layers in this illustration, and in your comment as well.

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  6. John, those are very very kind words and give me great heart. I was actually terrified - and I mean losing sleep, stomach hurting, dry mouth, head pounding terrified - of running out of steam and creating lousy illustrations for these last 3 chapters. I think I may have been pushing myself too hard because I feel like a shell of a person now, but when I look at these pieces, and the pieces yet to come that I have not yet posted, I am pleased. I do think I did a good job, and I think these final pieces are some of the best in the entire series of 552. I truly do want to go out with a bang.

    And I agree with you completely about this entire project being a statement about Melville's great work. Perhaps the only thing that has been harder to deal with than the stress has been that the novel generates almost too much inspiration. On many many pages I could have chosen dozes of lines to illustrate. I can easily see working on something like this for a lifetime. The book is simply magnificent, and my hope is to add these illustrations as a humble footnote to the great body of art and writing that surrounds it.

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  7. Elizabeth, thank you, I was hoping to create something beautiful and awe inspiring with this. So much yet to come is about terror and violence, and I wanted these earlier views of the White Whale to capture some of that godlike beauty and magnificence.

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  8. I love the straight up pen ink pieces the most.

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  9. Thanks Steve, coming from an artist as brilliant as yourself that compliment means a great deal. Over the course of these 534 (and counting) illustrations, I think I've come to enjoy the pen and ink pieces the most as well. It would have been a delight to do the entire project this way, but there's simply no way I could have done one of these each day, every day, for a year and a half. As much as I love the detailed pen and ink work, it does take a great deal longer than just about anything else. Here though, at the very end, I am pushing hard to use it as often as I can.

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  10. re: the end of your response to steve (beside the fact that i find this beautiful) i personally love that you have worked in so many various ways and styles - and with increasing skill and poignancy. forward on still, dear matt! lizzy

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  11. Lizzy, the greatest of the many pleasures of working on this project has been the freedom to do whatever I want with the illustrations. Paint. Ink. Crayons. Markers. Collage. Any style, any aesthetic...I will really miss that. This was such an amazing opportunity and I have relished each and every page and illustration.

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