Wednesday, June 4, 2014


The tenth of Calvino's 55 Invisible Cities and my fourth illustration for the project, Isaura. You can see the entire series so far, which includes work from my partners in this project Joe Kuth and Leighton Connor at our tumblr Seeing Calvino.

"Isaura, city of the thousand wells, is said to rise over a deep, subterranean lake. On all sides, wherever the inhabitants dig long vertical holes in the ground, they succeed in drawing up water, as far as the city extends, and no farther. Its green border repeats the dark outline of the buried lake; an invisible landscape conditions the visible one; everything that moves in the sunlight is driven by the lapping wave enclosed beneath the rock’s calcareous sky."

10 inches by 8 inches
ink on watercolor paper
June 3, 2014


  1. This one is weak, Matt. If you're going to symbolize Isaura's aquifer in your illustration, seems to me that "the inhabitants dig long vertical holes in the ground" is an essential detail. The description cries out for a vertical format: "thelong vertical holes in the ground," the long cables used to lift and lower the water buckets (and the gods that live in them!), windmills above the wells, "reservoirs perched on stilts over the roofs" of the buildings, "the slender arches of the aquaducts," "the vertical pipes, the plungers, the drains, all the way up to the weathercocks that surmount the airy scaffoldings of Isaura, a city that moves entirele upward." Also, Calvino's city is supposed to be a green oasis (built over a deep BLACK underground lake), not a moon base.

  2. entirely - my bad, but I'm typing on an ipad...

  3. I would be interested in seeing your illustration of Isaura.


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