Sunday, 9 November 2014

A baby zebra in a tyre swing

I love my job, I'm fortunate. Just lately I think I've turned a corner, finding techniques and ideas a little easier, discovering that I can work more confidently and fluently than before. For some reason I've attracted foreign publishers; it feels exotic, romantic even, sending pictures over the oceans and mountains and across the Equator... to be reborn as pages of books which will be read in languages that sound nothing like my own.

However, at the same time it often feels as if these are the only proof of my existence! Whilst I'm whizzing around the world in one dimension, I'm becoming increasingly rooted to my home turf in every other - more and more confined to base. My contacts are just names, in black lines on a white screen. We type hi and best wishes and thank you... we meet deadlines... but we'll never meet each other. My actual world becomes smaller and my physical meetings fewer, the more my pictorial world widens and the further my communications travel.  Such irony.

There are so many imaginary voyages to take so I spend more and more time inside my head. Outside it I too am just a name in black lines on a white screen to someone somewhere. Real and imagined universes mingle as I paddle out to the farthest reaches of my mind to conjure up scenes I'm never going to witness because they don't exist. I try to catch them as they hover up there in the top right of my brain like distant butterflies, often behind some misty ethereal screen, frequently elusive until they choose to reveal themselves. Once caught I must pin them down, sharpen their blurry edges, fix their constantly metamorphosing forms and seal them on paper, make them tangible, black and white and still.

Well really this is just a fanciful way of telling you that my latest brief is to illustrate a baby zebra, wearing a large floppy hat with a feather in it, giggling whilst sitting in a tyre swing being pushed by Grandma. The zebra, that is. There are legs and haunches and hooves and ears to consider... how could a baby zebra sit in a tyre swing?!  How does Grandma Zebra push it? How will baby wear the hat?  Would illegal substances help?

Soberly, I'm still searching up there (brain, top right, behind the misty screen) for the answers. Then I'll have to trap them in black lines on white paper.  Obviously in this case lots of black lines.  In due course paints will flesh them out further and one day, hopefully, they'll be reincarnated in the mind of a child across the Atlantic who will look at the pages and see what I saw, then take their own imaginary voyage...


  1. Lovely post, C. Some of the magic of your calling is brought our way. What a fab job.

    1. Ah thanks. It's nice to be reminded further that I do exist when I read your comments!
      I'm still struggling with the zebra scenario though... first attempts failed...fresh start tomorrow hopefully.

  2. I don't want to make any suggestions so I'll just offer this tid bit...I have a friend whose grandfather raised exotic animals, including Zebras. He said they are the meanest creatures alive.
    There are a few pictures out there of a German Colonial officer leading his Askari on a Zebra. It's a striking effect but almost surely a pony with painted stripes.
    It is odd to be in communication with people that you'll probably never meet. Even more odd to become fond of them and look forward to hearing their thoughts without ever actually meeting.

    1. Zebras mean?! Who'd have thought it? Maybe they have a complex about the stripes and secret longings to be dapple grey instead.

      It is odd isn't it? More and more we communicate with those we'll never meet, those we'll never even speak to, yet bonds still form and friendships are made. I echo your last sentence completely :-)

  3. Replies
    1. Oh those zebras are getting a hard time!


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