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So, the next Dialectogram is very (very) imminent – so while you wait, and because you never asked for it, here’s another postcard sized illustration from the literary world –

It’s from James Kelman’s Busconductor Hines. Kelman is generally taken to be an arch-realist and purveyor of grit, but this passage from his first novel is almost metaphysical in nature, and to my mind, encapsulates the titular character very well. So what is it about then? Well, here’s the whitespacecubegallery style caption…

In attempting to illustrate this segment, I ended up thinking about the philosophical concerns of the text, the way the main character’s anarchic imagination bucks against both the rhetoric of authority and his own variable capacity to adjust to prevailing realities.

Except that description describes a sequence of events entirely at odds with reality.  I flicked through the book for some time and had thought of a composition I thought was very clever. The Hines character would seem to emerge out of a particular piece of text – here it is from my notebook –

The idea has its merits. The quote in this image is from another part of the novel where Hines is considering buying a gun. I like how the spinning revolver seems to be turning itself on Hines  – in the novel, he obsesses about getting a gun, but we never know why – to use on others, or himself? However, it is perhaps a little too literal. I found it a bit of a strait-jacket and the composition became increasingly staid as the postcard size was much more punishing than the leaf in my notebook. None of the attempts satisfied me, or had any sense of fluidity about them, so I ruined a couple of nice acryllic boards pursuing an idea that wasn’t quite going to come good.

So it was almost in exasperation that I began drawing, without pencilling first, the figure in the foreground of the final image. Liking the sense of movement in my Hines here, I drew in other positions for him to take. Seeing that his hands seemed to be grabbing at something, I added the ball (I could easily have left it to the viewer’s imagination, I suppose) and the LAST thing I did was actually select a piece of text that fitted the image. I had to look long and hard – I knew this illustrated something about the novel, but I did not know what exactly.

And that’s all there was to it.

I’ll admit it, I’m pleased with this one. Dialectograms tend to be quite ‘static’ in nature so it is nice to get a chance to draw bodies in motion and focus on things other than the correct arrangement of bingo seats or the correct name for a box room! The discipline of working in this postcard sized form is also appreciated; if your marks fall outside the tiny frame, they’re lost , so make every stroke count and think carefully about where you put things (a useful lesson for the big drawings too). So I shall do more.  I have  other excerpts from authors I likecued up for this treatment, so expect more postcards from nowhere in particular.




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October 2019
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