Sunday, August 28, 2011

"Cellar Window"

If you believe everything you hear in the movies, “cellar door” is supposed to be the ultimate phrase in phonoaesthetics, an evocative, beautiful combination of sounds. Be that as it may, there’s a certain nook in the Islesford Historical Museum that I’ve been personally drawn to for the whole season: a narrow, brick-lined spiral staircase winding down to the basement with a circular window letting in just enough light to see by until the stone steps disappear down below. To me it's the most interesting aspect of the entire building, and one that the general public never sees: one reason being it leads to an archeological dig site (a "shell midden" from a Wabanaki encampment) situated underneath the museum, which was uncovered and consequently built around while putting in the foundation.

Quite a few times I questioned the investment of time put into this panel, which is a question that crosses the mind of most folks who undertake such a time-intensive and obsessive stippling piece. It's also exhibit A in perseverance, even when it looks nothing like you want it too and nowhere near what you had in mind. After freehanding the initial 11x14" sketch in pencil on Bristol, and wrangling with the nightmare linear perspective (finally resorting to using to some handy bowls & cups to approximate the window circumference), it took several days of intermittent zoning out with both dip-pens and an 01 Prismacolor to add value and texture. Plus it's always relaxing nice to take a break from the funnies and focus on a different technique and style for a change.
Over the course of a few recent postings I've alluded to some of the side-projects that are tangentially related to my being stationed out at Islesford. It was also brought to my attention how much my field-trips for research and gathering reference material resembled Edward Abbey's similar stint with the National Park Service. Even if I'm not squirreled away in a fire-tower, this summer's gig has surely been an equally inspirational experience... call it “Island Solitaire” if you will.

"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. 
May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” – Edward Abbey


  1. Worth the effort, my friend. Gorgeous.

  2. Thanks John. I especially like how many people I've shown the original too keep looking for the joke (besides how long it took to draw).