Illustrating Words

An illustration that does not complement a story, in the end, will become but a false idol. Since we cannot possibly believe in an absent story, we will naturally begin believing in the picture itself.
~ Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist, screenwriter, academic and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature

The origin of the word “illustration” is late Middle English (in the sense ‘illumination; spiritual or intellectual enlightenment’): via Old French from Latin illustratio(n- ), from the verb illustrate. Wikipedia.

Illustrators create visual representations, of their own work or that of others, in many mediums and industries: books, magazines, newspapers, poster art, advertisement, greeting cards, film, fashion, medicine and other sciences, manufacturing and technical design. Woodcutting, engraving, lithography, pen-and-ink, charcoal, metalpoint, pastels, colored ink, pens and pencils, watercolor and acrylic paints have all served them well. Today a trip to any art supply store is overwhelming—but exciting!—because of the wide-range of materials available for drawing and painting. Currently, digital options for making and adjusting images are constantly developing and increasing.

I “became” an illustrator, or at least got to the point of consciously being one, by accident rather than intent. I had done art most of my life, but never to be an artist as such. In the early 1980s, for my own pleasure and, frankly, sanity, inspired by a series about Edith Holden (1871-1920) and her nature notes, which, in book form and film, would become The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, I embarked on a couple of nature journals. Tiny and private, wrapped in plastic for protection, worried over in case they were damaged or lost, eventually they found a public life because of the miracle of all-in-one (scanning) printers and, in 2011, my decision to begin blogging. I used my journal illustrations to accompany the poetry and prose I shared. When All Things That Matter Press took on my first novel, A House Near Luccoli, it seemed natural to use my own artwork for its cover. I’m so grateful they allowed me to. Now three more covers later (two my own and one done for Dancing in the Rain, a poetry anthology by Christine Moran published by Bennison Books), my accidental artist has ventured into the pages of my third novel.

Section of one of the illustrations from “Without the Veil Between” Copyright 2017 by DM Denton

 

Having just finished a number of black and white (and shades of grey) illustrations for my upcoming Without the Veil Between, Anne Brontë: A Fine and Subtle Spirit, while delving into research for my next fiction work about Christina Rossetti, Victorian poetess and sister of Pre-Raphaelite illustrator (painter and poet) Dante Gabriel Rossetti, it seemed a perfect time to explore the collaboration of artists and authors and the history of illustration production.

 

 

Expression through the combination of words and pictures has ancient roots, art clarifying and embellishing text bringing to mind the painstakingly illuminated monastic manuscripts of the Middle Ages.

 

 

 

 

The invention of mechanical printing by Johannes Gutenberg in 1452 took book production out of sacred seclusion. Initially, block books were the way forward, text and illustrations cut into the same wooden block. By the mid-16th century, copper-plating engraving and etching offered better definition and more detail.

Book illustration was established as an art in the 18th century and, with the onset of the Industrial Revolution, took hold by the 19th, printing processes improving rapidly with more publications seen by more of the public.

In the early 1800s, lithography, the process of printing from a flat surface treated to repel the ink except where it is required for printing, offered increased texture and accuracy because the artist could draw directly onto the printing plate.

Chromolithography, color lithography, was widely used for postcards and other printed products requiring color, such as playing cards.

Many names and nationalities were associated with the ever-growing popularity of illustrated newspapers, books and magazines. I mention only a few.

Thomas Bewick (1753-1828), best known for his A History of British Birds, helped to popularize the printing of illustrations using wood, adapting metal engraving tools to cut hard boxwood to produce printing blocks for metal typeset that were more durable than traditional woodcuts and lowered the cost for higher quality illustrations.

 

George Cruikshank (1792-1878), who depicted children as miniature adults, did the plates for all twenty-four illustrations in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist originally published in installments between February 1837 and April 1839. Dickens worked closely with many other illustrators (i.e. Hablot Knight Browne – Phiz, 1815-1882, John Leech, 1817-1864, and George Cattermole, 1800 – 1868 ) and was very involved in the characters, settings and scenes depicted, even offering his thoughts on the colors of what he envisioned, although the drawings were in black and white. Only Hard Times and Great Expectations were originally published without illustrations.

John Tenniel’s illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1871), and Lindley Sambourne’s for Charles Kingsley’s The Water-Babies (1863) are some of the loveliest woodblock contributions of the mid-19th century, a time when wood engraving dominated.

Lithography (including color lithography) remained popular until the end of the 19th century, while a decade before the advent of the 20th century the photomechanical process—artwork transferred to printing plates through photographic means—found its footing in the book illustrating industry, moving image printing towards its future digital course.

 

In the 19th and 20th centuries there were a number of artistic movements that affected the design and illustration of books. Aubrey Beardsley  was a proponent of Aestheticism and Art Nouveau, influenced by Japanese woodcuts and often portraying grotesque and erotic subject matter.

 

 

Dante Gabriel and Christina Rossetti photographed by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (AKA Lewis Carroll)

Many of the Pre-Raphaelites painters were also illustrators, most notably John Everett Millais, Holman Hunt, Arthur Hughes, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the latter, as above-mentioned, the brother of the subject of my next novel, Christina Rossetti. They brought the vivid lines, vibrancy, naturalness, emotionality and even mysticism of their paintings to  black and white wood engraved book illustrations.

Awaiting her brother’s creations, Christina required much patience. But patient she was, devoted to him and his talent, and he eventually completed drawings for her Goblin Market and Other Poems (1862) and the title page for her The Prince’s Progress and Other Poems (1866).

Even when there wasn’t any literary reference for a picture he was doing, Dante Gabriel Rossetti would often create a text to inspire him.

At first, I see pictures of a story in my mind. Then creating the story comes from asking questions of myself. I guess you might call it the ‘what if – what then’ approach to writing and illustration.
~ Chris Van Allsburg, American illustrator and writer of children’s books

Of course, of special interest to me are those authors who did illustrations for their own work, including, in the case of children’s books: Beatrix Potter, Kate Greenaway, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and Maurice Sendak.

 

 

 

I’m particularly fond of the flower fairies, paintings and poems, of Cicely Mary Barker.

 

 

 

Other writers who did their own illustrations included William Makepeace Thackeray, William Blake, TS Elliot, Evelyn Waugh, Rudyard Kipling, and J.R.R. Tolkien.

It was an irresistible development of modern illustration (so largely photographic) that borders should be abandoned and the “picture” end only with the paper. This method may be suitable for photographs; but it is altogether inappropriate for the pictures that illustrate or are inspired by fairy-stories. An enchanted forest requires a margin, even an elaborate border.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien

There are those who feel illustrations in novels or accompanying poetry are a distraction, dictate the meaning, give away the narrative or define the look of a setting or character and, therefore, risk cheating the reader’s imagination. I believe illustration can actually expand it. That’s what happened when at the age of eleven I picked up my mom’s 1943 edition of Wuthering Heights with evocative woodcuts by Fritz Eichenberg. My imagination was rewarded not cheated, my involvement with the writing, story, setting and characters deepened by the drawings. Even if I skipped ahead to see them, I became more curious and committed to finding out what they depicted.

Perhaps writing that makes illustrations unnecessary sets the stage for them to be all the more illuminating.

Children love illustrated books. Creative images pull them into the words and often encourage them to read more and can increase what I saw one article call “visual intelligence“.  For me, a book is already a visual product, not only in terms of reading its words but, also, in its presentation, whether I hold it in print or on my Kindle device.

Why, it’s one o’ the books I bought at Partridge’s sale. They was all bound alike, it’s a good binding, you see, and I thought they’d be all good books. There’s Jeremy Taylor’s ‘Holy Living and Dying’ among ’em ; I read in it often of a Sunday.” (Mr. Tulliver felt somehow a familiarity with that great writer because his name was Jeremy); “and there ‘s a lot more of ’em, sermons mostly, I think ; but they ‘ve all got the same covers, and I thought they were all o’ one sample, as you may say. But it seems one mustn’t judge by th’ outside. This is a puzzlin’ world.
~ The Mill on the Floss, George Eliot, 1900

My own approach to adding illustrations to Without the Veil Between was to offer hints and stir curiosity—set up and anticipation, while creating a distinct visual to enrich the reading experience. I’m new at this, so I can only hope I have succeeded as I set out to do.

I close with another teaser clip of an illustration from Without the Veil Between:

Copyright 2017 by DM Denton

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

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Solstitium … Once Again

There came a day at summer’s full
Entirely for me;
I thought that such were for the saints
Where revelations be. ~ Emily Dickinson

Copyright 2014 by JM DiGiacomo

Sunflowers: Copyright 2014 by my mom, JM DiGiacomo

My summer has begun

Softly, quietly; under a few clouds

that won’t block the sunshine.

A lonesome beginning,

just as I like it,

in order to feel glad for myself and

honor the ways of those

who don’t look for company

except as it finds them

through the touch of a breeze

or face of a flower

or sigh of a raindrop

or trust of a sparrow;

with nothing to yield for 

but the freedom to reach

and wither

and grow all over again.

~ DM Denton

Earth, Teach Me

Earth teach me quiet ~ as the grasses are still with new light.
Earth teach me suffering ~ as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility ~ as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring ~ as mothers nurture their young.
Earth teach me courage ~ as the tree that stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation ~ as the ant that crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom ~ as the eagle that soars in the sky.
Earth teach me acceptance ~ as the leaves that die each fall.
Earth teach me renewal ~ as the seed that rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself ~ as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness ~ as dry fields weep with rain.

– An Ute Prayer (Utes are indigenous people of the Great Basin, now living primarily in Utah and Colorado, USA)

Do you have A Friendship with Flowers?
Available in Kindle and Print Editions
Click on “Look Inside”

Love flowers? This book was originally created by hand in a small journal while I was living in Oxfordshire, England (most of the flowers included are found in the US, too). I am so pleased that I have been able to preserve it to share with a wider audience. It was done with gratefulness for the flowers that graced and healed me with their beauty, wisdom, and playfulness.

Diane Denton’s skill with visual and literary expression gives me pause. To have introduced such beautiful “friends” to her readers is a gift to be long cherished. Denton’s skill with words and with illustrations not only provide delight to her in the producing of such, but provides us as readers the joy of her discoveries through sight and words. These flowers actually sing to us, in their pleasure of being in good company with their companions of the soil. And so it is with joy I keep this publication available to read and gaze upon over and over again.
~ Jean Rodenbough, author of Rachel’s Children, Surviving the Second World War and Bebe and Friends, Tails of Rescue

Blessings on this Summer Solstice
and 
Winter Solstice, for those in the southern hemisphere  

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Some Feline Understanding

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

For National Cat Day (10/29/16):

Where is it? I asked,
that gift I gave you,
perfect for your imagination
and paws to throw around.

For days it’s been missed,
not missing;
your eyes playing with
my questioning
like fate
hiding what it has in store.

But, really.
Do you understand what I’m asking?

It seems so, when
you deliver
all that I wish for,
laid at my feet—
as instinctively
knowing to leave me to
my wonder
and that it’s time to
take a nap.

Play-N-Squeak-Play-N-Squeak-Mouse-Hunter-Cat-Toy







 

 

Cats are always present for me, including in my prose writing: novels and short stories. Here are some samples:

 

Signor Stradella enjoyed a bowl of broth as though he had never eaten at a better table, laughing at Golone’s drooling, and breaking off a steamy piece of bread, complementing Cook with his mouth full. He was amused, not unkindly, when Despina, leaving, almost tripped over the cats who had decided the kitchen was where they should be. They rubbed the men’s legs, as enticing as enticed by oyster stock that eventually found a second table on the floor.
~ from A House Near Luccoli

 

She reached for the eiderdown to wrap herself in, Bianchi whimpering and darting under the bed, Caprice leaping onto it to catch the unseen. They were expected to be a little crazy, even magical, conjuring a great life out of a small one. When they slept, their whiskers and eyelids quivered for their wildest dreams. Were they back in Genoa, too, in Nonna’s darkened room and big chair where falling asleep was required? Or wandering down to the kitchen so Cook would scold and then reward them? Or, as their legs extended, sneaking up towards what was off-limits but inviting, were their thoughts about how they escaped but never got away? Would they wake to the confusion of why bells weren’t ringing from every direction and the sea wasn’t close by? Did they miss not knowing what was beyond the window, the view of the street, or smell of the bay?

No, they just stretched and yawned and accepted that all they ever needed had come with them.
~ from To A Strange Somewhere Fled

 

One or more cats might defy exclusion from the parlor, a little nuzzle pushing its door already open a crack to allow them access to whoever welcomed their leg rubbing or not. Rose did, especially once the reading was done, bowing to escape any reaction rather than acknowledge it. Gathering them up was a reason to crumple to the floor without seeming to faint or rudely reveal her relief. Taking them out was a way to escape before she might be asked to recite more or even sing, and disappear until no one expected to see her again that evening.
~ from The Library Next Door

Illustration for Kindle Short Story: The Library Next Door

Copyright 2014 by DM Denton

 

Maudy excused herself to baste the ham and continue what was left of the Christmas she had planned. She didn’t say anything about needing to be alone, which she wasn’t for long. A kitten had slipped into the house and then the kitchen, interrupting Maudy’s self-pitying for a little canned tuna and place on her lap to curl gratefully.
~from The Snow White Gift

Copyright 2013 by DM Denton

Copyright 2013 by DM Denton

 

 

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Earthly Gratefulness

My little way of honoring Earth Day, with gratefulness for the flowers that have graced and healed me with their beauty, wisdom, and playfulness.

 

 

I continue to be inspired by nature, am blessed to be surrounded by it, always aware of how it deserves my utmost care and attention, which often means inattention as it knows best how to care for itself.

Except as it has been sorely injured and needs our help in healing.

So, leave those dandelions! Be nature’s best friend: have the ‘worst’ lawn in your neighborhood.

 

Dandelion

Illustration© by DM Denton

 

“Not a single bee has ever sent you an invoice. And that is part of the problem – because most of what comes to us from nature is free, because it is not invoiced, because it is not priced, because it is not traded in markets, we tend to ignore it.” ~ Pavan Sukhdev, United Nations report, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity.

 

Summer Solstice resized

Illustration© by DM Denton

 

Earth Day is Every Day

Earth, Teach Me

Earth teach me quiet ~ as the grasses are still with new light.
Earth teach me suffering ~ as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility ~ as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring ~ as mothers nurture their young.
Earth teach me courage ~ as the tree that stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation ~ as the ant that crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom ~ as the eagle that soars in the sky.
Earth teach me acceptance ~ as the leaves that die each fall.
Earth teach me renewal ~ as the seed that rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself ~ as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness ~ as dry fields weep with rain.

~ An Ute Prayer (Utes are indigenous people of the Great Basin, now living primarily in Utah and Colorado, USA)

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Creative Tunneling Towards the Light – 2015 in review

WordPress has offered this year in review for bardessdmdenton-author-artist.

This year I feel like I’ve struggled with my blog, especially to attract attention to it. As another novel, other writing, and doing any illustrated work in conjunction with those projects take priority for me, this blog has been evolving. And that’s how it should be. There are also other very important things that make my bogging time limited, like taking care of my mom who will be 87 in a few months. Being single, I’m it when it comes to all the everyday things. And, of course, there is the day job, which helps to keep me from being a starving artist. 🙂

Ok, why am I explaining anything?

When, from the bottom of my heart, I just want to thank those who have visited here, again and again, now and then, and for the first time. I wish all many blessings for 2016 and far, far beyond.

Perhaps you’ll scroll down below the picture and click on the link to see my most popular posts, in case you missed any of them.

A sound, a scent, a sight,
a hope, a dream, a memory,
creative tunneling towards the light;
one word, then two and three,
a poem, a page or more of prose
set out on a never-ending journey;
there’s loss, there’s love, not less
than the unsettled heart should need
to imagine how it is doomed and blessed;
the stars, the sun, the moon,
a breeze and, oh, the stillness, too
give the birds and composer’s hand a tune;
a brush, a lens, a thought,
what is known and never can be
explained except as inspiration sought.

 

Click here to see the complete wordpress report.

 

 

Happy New Year Alt

 

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Forget Me Not

There is a flower in silence and motive that causes thoughts of interrupted solitude.

For a while, grand illusions grew out of its brightness and reach.

It might have been as beloved as bluebells, trembling stems and tiny flowers spread in a fragrant mist as far as the eye could see.

Such an easily admired effect. All was good. And understood. Azure waves in daylight, scented stars at night. An audience that wanted nothing more or less.

Until it was growing in less predictable ways and places. At least by those expecting it to always sparkle and sway the same.

I’ve known this self-seeding flower forever. It comes and goes, disappearing as it has to, reappearing where it will, not to anyone else’s design; perhaps, not even to its own.

Well, it knows better.

Controlling this flower is a challenge. Pull it out and throw it away; being perennial it will merely find new ground. Its vulnerability finds strength in escaping boundaries that other sorts obey.

Its roots have a habit of curiosity and continuity. Lost and found in shade and filtered sunlight, its leaves hold out for dew.

There is a rumor that God almost forgot this flower, but I have never believed it.  Another, closer to the truth, claims the weight of armor almost drowned a chance for it to speak its truth.

Copyright 2015 by DM Denton

Myosotis (from the Greek: “mouse’s ear”, after the leaf) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Boraginaceae. In the northern hemisphere they are commonly called forget-me-nots. Illustration copyrighted 2015 by DM Denton

 

Not all were strangers, not the little myosotis stars bursting unforgettably through the dirt and grass.

“They always come up in legions, no matter how I thin them.”

Somehow she knew what her father was saying, feeling a return of pleasure when he gave her the bouquet he had made with a few tiny daisies, too.

~ From To A Strange Somewhere Fled

 

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

 

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An Aside

Grass, it’s just grass,

I told myself

as I stopped

at the intersection

aside glancing

while waiting to pass through;

roadside grass,

fresh and soft,

sun-tipped,

fingers of the breeze

playing it

like strings on a harp

plucky

in arpeggios

running along with shadows,

disappearing into prickly patches

and secrets

(of being

just grass)

that I keep

as if

I know what they are.

Grass and Teasel cropped

 

 

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

 

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