(Not) illustrating Travelogues

While filing art recently, I found early printouts of some of the threads that would become Travelogues.

Pencil sketch of foxgloves, over cut-off text.

These were made before I knew what on earth these records of journeys should become, and I was trying to work out whether they could (or ought) to be illustrated.

Pencil sketch of cow, tractor, and boat, over cut-off text.

I sketched my way through, and eventually realised they should not. The words that make up Travelogues were already very visual; those images needed to stand alone.

Pencil sketch of violin, sack, tree in pot, over cut-off text.

But there are metaphors and sounds in there, too, and graspings after meaning that I realise now might have been flattened into a single dimension, if I’d illustrated them.

Pencil sketch of passenger looking out a train window, over cut-off text.

It’s a peculiar chemistry, working in words and images. Illustrating Flyaway, I realised that I often use illustrations to annotate, and that the academic work I was doing parallel to Flyaway had drawn that away (more on that here: Illustrating Flyaway).

Pencil sketch of abandoned vehicles, a window with leaves against it, ruined jetty, tanker, over cut-off text.

On the other hand, this loose, light, pencilled style suited Margo Lanagan’s Stray Bats very well — perhaps because it was a way of linking minds and teasing out thoughts (as, indeed, the text itself was — it’s a delightful chapbook of vignettes and I highly recommend it).

Pencil sketch of workman, over cut-off text.

Travelogues, however, already contained all the snapshots I was trying to capture, and the rhythm of the railroad, and its sounds, and the strange tunnels of the mind.

Pencil sketch of waterbird, over cut-off text.

Travelogues: Vignettes from Trains in Motion is available from Brain Jar Press, and through good bookstores and the usual online suspects.

2 thoughts on “(Not) illustrating Travelogues

  1. Pingback: December 2020 post round-up | Kathleen Jennings

  2. Pingback: 2020 in review: Things I wrote | Kathleen Jennings

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