Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Owl and the Pussy Cat



How many times have this classic odd couple been illustrated? Thousands at least based on a quick Google search.

I rediscovered this blissful pair through a modern master of enigmatic written and illustrated works. I found Edward Gorey's, "Amphigorey", a few years ago in a used bookstore and became enamored. I read some biographies about Gorey where he listed Edward Lear as an influence and had illustrated Lear's, "The Jumblies" and "The Dong with the Luminous Nose." I managed to find both of these at a local library. Gorey's illustrations for "The Dong" are hauntingly beautiful with sweeping cross-hatched land and skyscapes, and I feel was his best illustrated work.

After reading some Lear at the library I bought his complete works edited by Vivien Noakes. He is a very interesting character himself traveling the world painting landscapes and wildlife. If I were basing his artistic ability solely by his illustrations for his nonsense writing I would say he was the Scott Adams of his day, where his writing was his strength. However you can't always judge a book by its cover. See his detailed painting of an eagle owl to see the difference.


About my color illustration:

The final art is actually in vector format and was used as another Christmas gift T-shirt. To create the pencil texture I scanned my pencil drawing, loose guidelines and all, and converted it into vector format using Inkscape. Here is a detail to see the texture.



This works best when you increase the contrast of your pencil scan to the point where the lines are nice and black. As I mentioned in other posts I still found it easier to color it in Illustrator.

A few years ago I took a stab at trying to make a few illustrations for "The Owl and the Pussycat" blending concepts from my engineering books with the animals into a nonsense world, but I couldn't quite get down on paper what was in my head. I think I was trying too hard to force a style on myself.







Let your curiosity take you places to find new sources of inspiration. And take advantage of your local library not just the Internet!

3 comments:

Art Fan Ako said...

First, thanks for the library use endorsement (I'm a Librarian). To see an artwork in person upclose is so much fulfilling, isn't it? Beautiful rendition! Love the details and the colors and expressions! Delightful.

Alpha S. said...

I love discovering new illustrations of Lear's The Owl and The Pussycat. It must be one of, if not THE most illustrated children's story ever. One has to wonder what Mr. Lear would say if he knew just how beloved his little poem has become. Thank you Ken, for posting your illustration for me to find.

sheree said...

Ken, these are really fantastic illustrations! i would love seeing them as children's book characters!