I read my first Victorian novel at the tender age of 14. It was Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre and I was an immediate fan. I admired the titular character's independent cast of mind, even as she grew up under the thumb of cruel guardians, teachers, and punishing circumstances. The author's biography was another reason to love her. As an adolescent in the hinterlands myself, with mainly books and my imagination (and, ok, TV) to amuse me, I felt a kinship with Charlotte and her siblings. Tampa may not have been Haworth Parsonage exactly, but my 14 year old self wanted to believe we were kindred spirits. Back then, books had such a hold on my imagination, they were more real than my waking life; their characters and their creators walked the school halls with me, whispering commentary in my ear as I made my way to class or tried to concentrate on a lecture. I'm happy to say that even now, Jane Eyre still satisfies. I read it every couple of years, and I'm always impressed with Jane's insistence that she live her life according to her own ideas, and no one else's. So here's a portrait of one of my favorite writers, with the bleak and beautiful Yorkshire moors of her home. Couldn't you just see her sitting at the back of the classroom, whispering ironies in my ear?
Today's drawing is of the island from Shakespeare's play, The Tempest. I made the island into Caliban's mother, Sycorax, who is never actually seen in the play. It's the island that succors Caliban, that endures Prospero's colonization, and survives to see him leave her shores. Good riddance, I hear her say!
I was all set to do a post with some people drawings, but then my friend Carly Larsson reminded me that it was Herman Melville's birthday with her drawing of the Seaman's Bethel in New Bedford. I read Moby Dick earlier this year, and since then, my regard for Herman Melville is through the roof. Not just for his brilliance in examining America through the lens of whaling (although, yes!), but for the absolute unique quirkiness of the book and the voice that animates it: thoughtful, philosophical, tender-hearted. I mean, it is really one of a kind, and if it didn't exist, I don't know how one could even imagine it. (If you want to find out more, but maybe don't want to read 700+ pages, check out the Studio 360 show on it.) So, here's to unusual personalities that make astounding art! I've drawn him with the ocean on his mind, dreaming of whales. Happy birthday, Herman Melville!
Fittingly, his monument features La Comédie Humaine at its base, and a dedicated soul had left some roses there.