Wednesday, May 30, 2012

why didn't I think of this?

The dining table in this 19th c. Edinburgh flat is just big enough to roll out fabric for some trousers (or a kilt)or a dress. It has a couple shallow drawers and a sturdy brass yardstick, set flush with the table surface & bolted along one edge. Perhaps it formerly saw duty in a shop. In my home it would be as useful today as it was when the table was made.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

this bird has flown

First the predawn birdsong
Clacking of tiny feet on wood
A soft rap on the flatmate's door
The startled peal of parting tears
Cut short by stiff upper lipness.

The shuffling of thrice her volume
Swiftly down 3 runs of stairs, and
Up for one last, squeaky valise.
Then a pause, while the taxi idles:
Last gaze from the edge of this nest.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Framing techniques

 I'm outta here!
This scratchboard made for Marley Lynch's 3rd birthday is my first Sendak-inspired image that came to mind after hearing today's sad news. Goodbye to Maurice Sendak, who passed yesterday morning at 83. His phrases run through my mind every week: "Milk! Milk! Milk for the morning cake!"

In a clutch of radio interviews compiled by WHYY's Fresh Air to commemorate his passing, Sendak recalls being a sickly child in the years before vaccines and antibiotics. He spent much time in bed. To pass time during visits, his grandmother would close, then open the window shade for him, to great theatric effect. Mundane scenes of Brooklyn were enhanced by that prelude of anticipation. "The window became my movie camera, my television set." Can you imagine a better way to imprint a framing technique for illustration on a young fellow?

When Sendak chooses to employ depth cues, his volumetric worlds are rendered to the flat page so believably, giving great depth to landscape as in his "decorations" for Randall Jarrell's The Animal Family. Other views, like the party scene in Where the Wild Things Are, compress depth to a claustrophobic sliver. A master of narrative, whether a band header or full-page embellishments in dense pen and ink, Sendak enchants readers to lose themselves in each frame.  Children do this very easily, but Sendak's spell works on grownups, too. I suspect all the childhood window-watching gave him a lifelong ability to climb into the frame and report back to us.