I did work on the Specimen Journal this week. Here is the title page when the wooden cover is turned back. There is a language to it but I have no idea what it is. It is doodling “letters and words” to look right in places one would expect to read information. I could not resist and used a bit of metallic watercolors for the title. I also figured that it would be the most handled page of the book, so lots of smudges. Next is the first page of the first signature in the book. There are three folios to each signature and therefore twelve pages to illustrate in one way or another.
Here is the title page turned.
There will certainly be something in that large blank space because I suspect the author/illustrator/discoverer had a minor case of kenophobia or in art terms, horror a vacuii. Both translate to a fear of empty spaces.
Now the next two pages:
On these pages we are introduced to the dragonfly like specimen. And admittedly I am influenced by Australia in my choice of trees and blooms. There is a close-up of the mating ritual to the left side of the right hand page and an explanation in something we cannot read.
I actually remember seeing dragonflies do this. It was one of those Annie Dillard moments where you feel compelled to look closely at what Nature is showing for a brief moment only. Otherwise I think she would be disappointed that I squandered the opportunity. Annie Proulx makes me feel that way when I don’t watch people closely enough. Both of them make me feel like a gawker.
And that center fold that I started with. Now there is a bit more to it. I added a butterfly and some more green to a bothersome empty space. The female is laying her eggs.
And then the page after that is where I have gotten to date. Before I introduce the life of another specimen I think I will return to location where the discoverer is. Some plants and rocks to finish off this signature. Maybe even a fetus look inside the dragonfly’s egg.
A predator would be nice. Something that might go for dragonfly eggs since once they have hatched, like in this illustration, they are as safe as their parents.
There is one thing I am noticing while doing this. My illustrating skills are just about the same as they were twenty years ago. If I was doing this on a daily basis I would expect some improvement. So maybe by the end of the journal it will look like the discoverer improved or he just handed the whole thing over to someone more competent.
It also really does remind me of the Voynich Manuscript, full of rather naive little drawings. I will keep at it and promise not to devote endless blogs to this project. There are lots of other things I could be doing and talking about and next week I can maybe show something else.