Wednesday, November 17, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 446

Title: ... so, hunted from the savannas and glades of the middle seas, the whale-bone whales can at last resort to their Polar citadels, and diving under the ultimate glassy barriers and walls there, come up among icy fields and floes; and in a charmed circle of everlasting December, bid defiance to all pursuit from man.

7 inches by 8.5 inches
ink and marker on Bristol board
November 13, 2010


  1. This was one which, at first, was a simple sketch on Bristol board. Wanting to see more of it, I continued working, fleshing it out, and polishing into what I guess might be termed a "study." Feeling as if I was on to something, I "finished" the "study" and it became the final piece.

    The scan does not show this very well, but there are actually two different tones to the facets of the ice surrounding the whale - pure white, and pale gray. I really wanted this to show since I feel it adds a lot to the depth and texture of the piece. I will be adding a second, and maybe even a third, layer of gray ink to try and bring this contrast out more and I will scan and add the finished image (replacing this one) tonight.

  2. More and more sharp edges lately. Maybe this will only increase?

    Love this one...

  3. It has been so interesting for me to share these illustrations with such a broad audience because more often than not, viewers notice elements, symbols and ideas in the art that I have not seen, at least on a conscious level. I have no doubt though that what is being noticed is often very important and even very intentional, even if only on a very intuitive level.

    Hannah, your comment about more and more sharp edges really struck me because at first I had not noticed that. Then I looked back at the last month's worth of drawings and saw that you were indeed very perceptive. I think what is happening with this is that as I close in on the last 50 to 75 pages of the book, the narrative begins a sudden but inexorable shift toward the final, brutal, nihilistic pursuit of Moby Dick. I've been thinking about that a lot - how the narrative will affect the art, what art will result from those pages, and so on. The tone of the book becomes very bleak, very brutal and very violent and I am quite certain that this anticipation of the final awful climax is being presaged by all these sharp edges - blade-like chunks of ice, harpoons, spears, picks, daggers, etc. What a wonderful and perceptive comment this was, Hannah!

  4. Also, I replaced the old image with a new scan with slightly darker gray facets in the ice. It is still a bit more subtle on screen than the real piece looks on paper, but it is much closer now.

  5. love the masked-like, armadillo-like beasts lolling in such mild tursuoise see, cocooned away from sharp ice-floes
    so lovely

  6. This is one of the less common instances where Melville specifically describes what species of whale he is writing about. In this case, a whalebone whale, or what would seem to be a right whale. I wasn't able to rely on my visual shorthand for the ubiquitous sperm whales, so I was forced to be a little more creative. But I like how you saw the armadillo-like shape in this because I am certain that, or something like a sow-bug, is what I was thinking of when I imagined this.


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