The Cucumber in the Office Fridge

You may remember that I’ve done some illustration work for the online fiction magazine Fictive Dream. I love working for editor Laura Black and I also love being involved in the world of short fiction in this way. I’ve found the process of reading a story and turning it to something visual to be really satisfying in a way I can’t quite describe – there’s the challenge of “seeing” what the words say and then conveying it that I love.

Recently Laura asked me if I would illustrate an upcoming story for the magazine. I was happy to do so. The story, The Cucumber in the Office Fridge, by Kim Magowan and Michelle Ross, appears today at Fictive Dream.

In illustrating this story, I used a technique that helps me create works that are similar but not alike – for when  I want to try a couple of takes on what is essentially the same image, starting out. I felt my overall plan, an arrangement of food items on a fridge shelf, was good and I did not need to have an alternative, but I wanted see it in a couple of different ways.

Also, I was also working under some time pressure – the story needed to have its picture done for posting less than two weeks later.

So I got to work. Subject: cucumber and various other items in a refrigerator.

I made two different cucumbers drawn in India ink and colored with acrylic inks. Being the star of the show, this item needed to stand out and to occupy the center of the image so as to fit the thumbnail and full view windows on the blog at Fictive Dream.

For the other food items, things that I thought would be found in an office fridge, I drew in India ink using a dip pen. I then scanned them. Next, I arranged the items in two different configurations, with the plan that one would stay black/white except for the cucumber, and the other would contain color in the items.

Finding a good arrangement for each view, I then created backgrounds for each picture, colored the items with acrylic inks as necessary, and collaged them on to the backgrounds. In this way I could try out my compositions in an efficient way not possible had I just drawn the entire scene out. And if I made a mistake in coloring or gluing, I had the scans to fall back on; I could print out another item and try again.

Finally I did a scan of each picture and the illustrations were done for Laura’s consideration.

Here are the images. Go to Fictive Dream and read the story – see  which one Laura chose and how it fits the story…

Now that you’ve viewed the art, here’s more info if you are interested in seeing past works of illustration for Fictive Dream – I’ve given a few links and if you want to know more, search my blog under the topic: Fictive Dream. 

September Slam 2018

Flash Fiction February 2019

Flash Fiction February 2020

Revisits 2019

And…here are links to the events at the magazine’s site, Fictive Dream.

Flash Fiction February 2019

Flash Fiction February 2020



4 thoughts on “The Cucumber in the Office Fridge

  1. Laura Black

    Thank you Claudia for these fabulous images. Both represent the story very well but for me the winning illustration was image2. I preferred the coloured version and I found that it worked very well on the website because the purple edging is exactly the colour of the Fictive Dream logo. Just great!

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. It’s funny you mention the edging – I added a border on each picture because the backgrounds in each image are very pale and I know from you that the picture needs to be demarcated for your magazine’s purposes since the background is light. Normally I would not put border around an artwork like this, but, I like the way it looks, it is useful, and it put me in mind of how food looks on a refrigerator shelf – it is enclosed by the walls and shelves. I enjoyed making this image a lot; I do like working with food!

  2. Laura (PA Pict)

    Both images are great and the way you coloured the cucumber definitely suggests decay and toxicity. I like the second image best for the story because, whereas the monochrome was “clean”, the use of various colours somehow underlines the idea of a jumble of abandoned food containers left to rot in the communal fridge.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      I wanted to try both ways, with the idea that the monochrome except for the cucumber would make the cuke very prominent. Then I added just sparing color to the next one, so that there was no competition once again, but supporting. I felt this scene was influenced by the idea it was inside a fridge, white and glassy.

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