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Saturday, April 24, 2010

In Celebration of National Poetry Month

Here are two views of T.S. Eliot and a limerick. The first Eliot I did for the Wash Post Book World in the late 80s. Actually, this one wasn't used; I rejected this drawing and did a second one that, though almost identical (not shown), was somehow better to my eye and turned that one in along with a companion illustration of G.B. Shaw (and I sold 'em both to Michael Dirda of the Post for like, really cheap). But I kept this one I'd rejected. Now I'm not sure what's wrong with this Eliot. Maybe he doesn't look enough like a ventriloquist's dummy, or the nostril isn't sufficiently ornate.

The second, lower Eliot is from a great book called The Holy Tango of Literature by Francis Heaney that I illustrated back in two thousand and aught four. And the limerick I wrote because it was fun.

Though donnish and quite dignified,
Tom Eliot once versified,
On the greenish-tiled wall
Of a men's restroom stall,
He signed it and then flushed with pride.


Mike Peterson said...

The second is decidedly better. I think the first is realistic enough that it demands to be completely realistic. That is, it's more of a portrait than a caricature and so needs to be a complete portrait. The second, clearly a caricature, allows you to work more on capturing character than reproducing physical features.

richardcthompson said...

I agree, Mike. Edward Sorel does astounding caricatures in pen and ink, and gorgeous ones in pastel too. But he says pen and ink is funnier. I know what he means.

Muzition said...

"T.S. Eliot" is an anagram of "toilets."

paul bowman said...

I don't know that I think the 1st drawing too portrait-like to be a caricature. Seems to me very much a caricature. (Anyway, a portrait is just a caricature so subtly rendered as to leave subject merely confused rather than definitely insulted.)

What the first does lack somewhat to my mind is that smirky hawklike Jeremy-Brett-ness of Eliot's face — which the 2nd, more mature drawing gets, even though you've given him more scowl than smirk. — Of course no one's likely to smirk outright while carrying around a roll of t.p. So that unflinching truthfulness characteristic of your work is perfect here, really.