A Birdbath Story

You know that I have done a lot of illustrations for the online short story magazine Fictive Dream. I love working with editor Laura Black and the process of turning words into pictures is always a challenge and a joy to me.

I’ve done an illustration for a story published today, 7/31. I’ll tell you about my work process and then you can check out the story at Fictive Dream.

In recent times, I’ve been searching my archive of images for ones that might fit the story, rather than creating new work. My mind has been scattered given the situation we are living in right now and my focus on work equally scattered.

In these days, Laura provides me with information about what she’d like to see in an illustration, rather than me reading the story and coming up with ideas – having less information actually seems to free my mind in considering all kinds of options for paintings, collages, fabric art, postcards, etc., that I look through to find an image.

For this story, An Assortment of Trolls by Gary Fincke, she wanted a picture including a birdbath in a garden. She said: The writer describes the bird bath like this: “It was ornate, the kind of scrollwork that reminded me of the rococo columns.”

Well, I have a love for birdbaths, and I decided to create this image from scratch.

What I did was draw an assortment of birdbaths from photos found on the internet, using pen and ink. Then I scanned them. I do this so that if something goes wrong in the assembly of the artwork, I did not destroy my carefully-created drawings.

Here they are:

Next, I created a garden background. I used acrylic paints washed over the paper, and then I drew in the garden using a pen. This picture is about 11.5″ x 7.25″.

Birdbath story background 7-20

Now, I carefully cut out each scanned image and temporarily attached it to the background, scanning the combined compositions. Here they are:

Which one did Laura pick? Well, you’ll need to go to Fictive Dream and read the story to find out!

13 thoughts on “A Birdbath Story

  1. mim4mail

    Delightful! Thanks for sharing your process. Love the images. And thanks for the link to the story. This comes right when we’re working with a ceramic artist on a fountain/birdbath for our garden.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. The birdbath project sounds like a lot of fun. I did concrete work maybe 15 years ago and made quite a few things, including some odd statues, but never a birdbath. I don’t know why. Anyway, this illustration project was really pleasant work for me.

  2. Fictive DreamLaura Black

    I’m glad you have a love of birdbaths, Claudia, because it’s resulted in such a wonderful set of images for me to choose from. I honestly could have chosen any one of them as they would all have complemented the story really well. In the end, my choice was determined by the ornate stand and fluted edging on the bath itself. I think this was the most consistent with the narrator’s description. I also loved the pale green you chose for the background and the richness of the garden itself. Beautiful images – thank you very much.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. The level of detail needed to represent the birdbath mean using the fine point pen, and that meant slowing down and taking my time to depict details. A very restful process for me, these illustrations. Glad once again to be creating art for a story.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I loved drawing these, I could have kept on going. The fine point pen was just right for getting details and I enjoyed making sure I depicted each birdbath with as much of its elaborate personality as possible.

  3. memadtwo

    She picked my favorite birdbath. And I think that’s one of my favorite stories I’ve seen you illustrate in Fictive Dream. So many layers of the truth of human behavior. (K)

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Yes. Who would think a birdbath could provoke so much, such a simple object? But I guess almost anything can be a catalyst. I am happy with the illustration and I think it goes with the story, and I enjoyed doing it a lot.

      1. memadtwo

        The object stood in for everyone’s complicated feelings about the person–as it so often does. Gifts come with many other things attached

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