Hello to all the bibliophiles, bibliomaniacs, bibliophages & bibliognosts out there! (I’m sure none of you are biblioklepts.) I’ve created some free bookmarks for you: please contact me if you would like the high-resolution files (300 dpi, jpeg & pdf). Happy reading!
There’s a new experiment going on in the Lab– Curious Art Lab is now on Zazzle!
For now it’s just the Bibliophile mug (it’s available in various sizes & formats), but if you would like another image as an option, or this image on a different item, please let me know, either in the comments below or via the contact button. Thanks to those who have suggested this possibility!
Update: I’ve added quite a few designs since this first posted– beer mugs, ornaments, & gift wrap also!
What animal is more robustious than a squirrel? When Anu gave me this delightful word, I envisioned a playful pair climbing a tree together. Sketching it out took me back to the days when my twin boys were small. They loved roughhousing with each other, but even more with my husband, so I decided to make the pair a parent and child. I also made them red squirrels, for more “R” goodness, & the tree they’re climbing is a robur oak (which just happened to be on the same page of the dictionary). I loved the line in the definition of “robustious” that read “Now Chiefly Humorous,” so I echoed it in a hidden message in the oak bark. And then I painted lots & lots & lots of fur! By the way, if you enjoy seeing my work in process photos, the best place to go is my Instagram page, CuriousArtLab. If you follow me there, you’ll even see sneak peeks of my A.W.A.D. paintings before they’re published, though I never give away the words.
Thanks again, Anu, for another wonderful week of words to illustrate, & for bringing us so much linguistic loveliness all year round! And thanks to all of you A.W.A.D. fans who have commented, contacted me by email, & otherwise connected. It’s such a pleasure to meet other logophiles & hear your stories!
My parents live by a pond (with very quaggy edges) & for a while they were regularly visited by a magnificent great blue heron. So when Anu gave me this word, I instantly thought of “Oscar” (as he was named by my grandmother, though I’m not sure why). I doubt Oscar ever landed a fish as large as this, nor could his neck bend in quite such a conveniently Q-like fashion, but he was an intrepid fisherman & a gorgeous creature, so this is my tribute to his majestic beauty. North Carolina (where most of my family lives) is the home of wonderful wetlands. As with many such areas across the country, they are very much in danger from over-development, so I thought of this dilemma often as I was painting this. Let’s hope generations to come will still be able to experience the wonder & awe I felt when Oscar came to visit.
Another delicious word from Anu! I love to paint food, especially teeny tiny food, & I’m a huge fan of the lavish Dutch & Flemish still-life table paintings known as Pronkstilleven. I also have a penchant for animals in costumes & for adding hidden messages in my work, so working on this painting felt a bit gluttonous, indulging so many of my curious tastes all at once!
In addition to the letter “G” formed by the giraffe & his goblet, & the rather obvious spot-spelling, there are smaller messages to be found, & of course, the background definition of “gastronome” tops it off. (This was another page with many related words– luckily I didn’t pick the wrong one this time as I did for “bibliomania!“)
Interesting how so many eating-related words start with “G”: glutton, gourmet, gourmand, gastronome, gobble, guzzle, gorge, gulp… I’m sure some of them are cognates. Anyway it seemed to me that a giraffe, complete with long tongue & capacious gullet, seemed to belong here as well!
After all my years of logophilia, I still get a thrill from discovering new words– especially words as enchanting as this one. Of course, that’s one of the reasons I love A.Word.A.Day. When Anu introduced me to “chatoyant” I couldn’t wait to paint this illustration!
It’s surprising that I never ran across this word before, because I’ve always had a thing for optical effects: oil rainbows on puddles, shot silk, iridescent glazes on pottery, even beetles plaguing the garden but entertaining my eyes. And you could probably already guess that I’m quite fond of cat’s eyes too!
Perhaps even more surprising, I’d never before experimented with interference colors– in part because they are fairly pricey & I was a little afraid that after one dose, I might develop an expensive new paint addiction. Also, as an illustrator I was taught to avoid reflective materials because they don’t scan well & it’s hard to reproduce their effects in print or on screen. But for this piece, I knew the time had come to take the plunge. Sure enough, its dazzle is very hard to get across in a still image, but I enhanced both the cat’s eyes & the frame texture with Golden Interference Green, & with the right lighting it creates a pretty cool flash effect!
I created a couple of crude gifs (below) that somewhat capture the chatoyant flash:
I’m also considering embellishing some prints of this image with interference paint on the eyes, so the print lovers out there can get in on the chatoyant action! What do you think? Please let me know in the comments below, or request a custom image in my Etsy shop.
I’ll admit it, I’m a lifelong book addict. I love reading them, but I also love looking at them, touching them, talking about them,
hoarding collecting them, & simply enjoying their beautiful & comforting presence all around me. So when Anu Garg offered “bibliomania” as one of this year’s words for A.Word.A.Day, I was ecstatic. I scanned the definition from one of my collection of vintage dictionaries. (Please don’t ask how many I have– it’s a fraught subject in this household!) It took a little while to figure out how to illustrate the concept in the form of a letter “B,” but when I sketched out a twisted bookworm with a precipitous stack of books, I knew I was on my way.
Here’s where the true confession comes in. (You thought it was the book-hoarding part, didn’t you? But that doesn’t embarrass me in the least!) My real transgression? I illustrated the wrong word!
I painted three of the other words before I started on this one (don’t worry, no spoilers here), & by the time I came to this painting, I somehow focused on another definition from the dictionary page I’d scanned, & got it in my head that I was illustrating “bibliophile.”
I’ve always said that I can’t see the forest for the lichen. I may be meticulous in many ways, but alas, I’m very far from methodical, or I would have had the sense to double-check my word list before plunging ahead. Instead I obsessed for days over choosing the books for the stack & painting all the tiny titles. The worst part is that “bibliophile” is even involved in a sort of puzzle element hidden in the art (that’s a hint), so it’s not just the background that’s off-key….
Ah, well. The whole thing reminds me of a painful anecdote I once read, about a printer carefully proofreading every little town in a highly-detailed map of the Untied States… ;-)
In any case, I hope you can forgive me for getting lost in the dark & disorienting forest that is my brain, & focus with me on the fascinating lichen of teeny tiny thumbnail-sized books!
The open book on the floor is the one that started my own case of bibliomania, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I scanned & reduced the “Mouse’s Tale” spread from a beautiful vintage copy given to me long ago by one of my oldest, best & most bibliomaniacal friends. (Yes, you, Natalie!)
As for the books that the bookworm is clutching so fondly, many of Anu’s fans will recognize the titles, though I’ve taken some liberties with the cover designs to fit the old-school style. Thanks & apologies once again to Anu & all of my fellow bibliomaniacal logophiles!
Update: This image is now available on mugs in my Zazzle shop!
The original is marching onward to a wonderful new home.
As someone who often chooses curious & circuitous pathways over direct routes (both literally & figuratively) I can attest that getting there really is half the fun! Painting the meadow in this piece for instance… possibly a slightly mad pursuit considering its tiny size & peripheral importance, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. And if you look closely at the finished piece, you may find an appropriate message from Tolkien amidst the foliage! (There’s also a bit of a nod to one of his aptly-named characters on the suitcase… can you spot it?)
Thanks once again to Anu of A.Word.A.Day for the inspiration!
I didn’t know this word until Anu suggested it for A.Word.A.Day, but once I looked it up I knew it would be great fun to illustrate! There’s something delightfully Shakespearean about the definition of “afflatus” in the old dictionary I used for the background text– any word that could evoke both “an exaltation of soul” & “belching” would appeal to the bard, don’t you think? Still, I hope his expression conveys that it’s divine inspiration he’s receiving here & not digestive vapors, however angelic. It was a technical challenge even to get a likeness since his face is barely the size of my fingernail!
Here’s a work-in-progress shot showing the scale of the painting. (If you’d like to see more of this sort of thing please follow me on Instagram.)