Five Stories for Five Years: Satyagraha and Ernest Jones

Fictive Dream, the online magazine devoted to the short story, is celebrating five years of publishing with a special event, Five Stories for Five Years. Editor Laura Black commissioned new stories by several authors from the beginning days of the magazine and they are being presented the week of May 17-21, 2021.

I illustrated each story, and I’ll be showing the art each day during the run of the event, right here.

Today’s story is Satyagraha and Ernest Jones, by Mike Fox.

I made four versions for this story in my intial work, but neither Laura or I were satisfied with the results. I didn’t even show her two of them, I felt they were just not good enough.

Laura sent me additional details of the story and then I created this image, which was exactly right.

Sometimes it just takes time.

Go to Fictive Dream, read the story, and see what you think.

21 thoughts on “Five Stories for Five Years: Satyagraha and Ernest Jones

  1. Laura Black

    Today’s story is Satyagraha and Ernest Jones by Mike Fox in which one of the characters is Mahatma Gandhi, so the illustration complements the story exactly. The colour palette is perfect for the dry, Indian setting and the collage figure of Gandhi is unmistakeable. You’re right, Claudia, in saying that we weren’t satisfied with the original illustrations but here I must make a BIG NOTE TO SELF: make sure you give the artist an accurate brief! I was way off course and yet the obvious was right there in the text. I suppose we all have an off day. Thank you, Claudia, for asking the right questions and for creating such a perfect illustration.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you, Laura, I was a bit afraid of being too representational with this illustration (before I did it) because it of course needed to fit in stylistically with the rest of the pictures. The original ones I did were more abstract. I think it is hard to synopsize what you are looking for as far as a visual image from a story – it is tricky to pick out the visual symbols or themes which can be different from the ideas or emotions that are also themes. This story is an example of that, I think, and my first images were based on illustrating concepts vs in this case, the setting and the people, who represent another aspect of the story. There are always so many ways to go about illustrating a story when you are work in abstraction that you don’t face when you are doing a realistic representation of an incident in the story, say. In the end, we found our way and I like how this picture turned out. I think it fits the story well and supplements the themes of the story, and that is what is important.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I did a lot of collage work in the years, say, 2000-2010, that was fairly realistic, and I enjoy it. I do find it is a great way to express figures, for instance, since you can make body parts and then arrange them before you commit to the final look.

      1. msjadeli

        You’re welcome. Question: do you usually use a painted or otherwise created background or contrast to the paper parts?

        1. Claudia McGill Post author

          No, I don’t have a set way I create a collage – I have often made them so that the entire picture is made up of pieces of paper. In this series the background is painted with a restrained number of collage elements so that it will fit in stylistically with the rest of the art in the series. If you want to see an example of an overall collage I did in recent years, look here:

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Yes, I think it is has lot of atmosphere and I enjoyed the historical references. I did some research on the “characters” before doing the artwork and along the way learned quite a bit about something I wasn’t that familiar with.

  2. Laura (PA Pict)

    I don’t have time to read the story right now but I love your art work. I get the sense of radiating heat from a parched landscape and glowing sunshine and I really like the composition with the two characters off to the side. I spotted Laura Black’s comment above which provides a little insight into the story and I definitely see Ghandi in the figure with the walking stick.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I am happy with how this one turned out and I really feel collage is such a good way to make figures. It allows me to experiment and refine the image before I have to make a final decision, which most other mediums are not so forgiving.

  3. memadtwo

    I love this story, and I think you and Laura were right to make the image concrete. The ideas defy images. As Jade noted, the pace is perfect. We are always rushing about, but it’s good to take the time to really think sometimes. This story gently slows the reader down. (K)

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Yes, it is a gentle story, a rminder that good can make its presence felt, that we do not have to rush and live in anger (at least I am getting that from it, maybe it is the times we live in that prompt me to see this aspect). I like making figures in collage a lot. It reduces them to gesture and posture, and it is essential to position them so as to get the emotions across. Which I enjoy that kind of decision-making. I also like the colors of this illustration as well.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. It’s a throwback to how I made many collage pieces in the past, I mean around 2000-2010 or so. It was fun to revisit it.

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