The Red Envelope

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 Red Envelope by Dinah Cox, appears today at Fictive Dream.

I used a variety of materials and techniques in these images. The first two present a similar scene, but one is mainly done in collage and acrylics, while the second one is mostly pen with a little wash of acrylic paints. The third image is collage, composed of papers I painted with acrylics and found papers.

Many times the fun of illustration is choosing the medium that I think will best represent the text (unless the medium is specified by the commissioning party, of course, in which case my challenge is to work with that added parameter). This time I tried out several things, to give Laura a choice and to give myself some fun with it.


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



6 thoughts on “The Red Envelope

  1. memadtwo

    I understand why she chose that illustration but I love the third one. Too cheerful for the story though. What a sad and wonderful rendering of loneliness. (K)

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I like the third one too. I thought the contrast of the bright color with the grayness of the life the narrator was living was a key point of the story, symbolically and visually.

  2. Fictive Dream

    Each of these pieces of artwork could have illustrated The Red Envelope very well. It took all my will power not to go for the third option which I really love. The strength of that red is just marvellous. But my personal preference is not the essential thing. That left me with images 1 and 2 and I chose number 1 because, for me at least, it better reflects the terrible loneliness felt by the story’s protagonist. Thank you, Claudia, another wonderful illustration.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I agree, the third one is my favorite because of the color. But the tiny envelope in the other images fit the theme of the story, the loneliness and the idea that the envelope might contain some connection but…it wasn’t and it didn’t. I liked this story and there was good visual descriptions in it for me to work with, plus a strong central image that tied things together, no matter which illustration.

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