Wednesday, September 22, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 383

Title: I. A Fast-Fish belongs to the party fast to it.

II. A Loose-Fish is fair game for anybody who can soonest catch it.

8.5 inches by 7 inches
acrylic paint, collage and ink on found paper
September 21, 2010


  1. Is this the first time (or the second time?) you've used text from within the book in the piece? I recall the one with the title page...also, are you getting the text from another source or are you actually physically altering your copy?

  2. It's actually a complicated answer. The first time I used material directly from the book was my illustration for page 106 which was a whale spraypainted on a page from Chapter 32: Cetology. At the time, I thought it would be interesting to explore a more direct connection between the art and the text, although that is something that I have for the most part resisted doing often.

    The second time was my illustration for page 176. This is not the first time the white whale Moby Dick is mentioned or even described in the novel but it is one of the more ominous descriptions. I used the title page of an old hardcover edition of "Moby-Dick" that had been badly water damaged, which I thought was simply far too appropriate to ignore. You can see the discoloration from the water damage along the lower edge of the page.

    The third, and most recent, occasion of me borrowing a page from the text was my illustration for page 350, a simple portrait of Melville himself. That illustration is for the line "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method," which I felt was a nice summation of the novel, Melville's work on assembling it, and Melville's life in general. There are also, of course, parallels in my own work on this project.

    However, this piece is indeed the first time I have experimented with directly including actual text, excised from a copy of the book, into the actual art. My creative background lies primarily in making comics and there are multiple instances in the book where an arrangement of panels or juxtaposed images seemed to me to be the best way to visually demonstrate Melville's comparisons. This line was so wonderful, and such a perfect contrast, that I really wanted to make it visually explicit. I knew my images would be enough, but something about including the text, almost as captions, really struck my fancy.

    In the examples above, the first and second illustrations were both on pages cut from a water damaged hardcover copy, printed some time in the 50s. The illustrations are by Boardman Robinson, on glossy paper, and it appears to be a forerunner of the Easton Press edition. The third illustration was on a title page cut from the Signet Classics paperback edition that I am using for this project. That copy is so well-worn it is falling apart, so I have replaced it with a new one but I am making use of what I can from the old. Finally, this newest illustration uses bits of text cut out from that same water-damaged hardcover above.

    Good question!

  3. This is a lovley picture. Well done!

  4. Thank you Red Dave, this piece was fun to do. I enjoyed being able to work in some comic-based visual vocabulary and this seemed a perfect fit.


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