Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The One Thing Needful

The one thing needful

"Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else."

Illustration for the opening passages of Charles Dickens' "Hard Times", which is in fact my next big project. Now you know! I am terribly excited to be tackling something this hefty, and equally pleased that now I can talk about it.

I read this book in the blink of an eye over Christmas. In fact I gobbled up the first eighty pages in the bookstore, laughing aloud in places because it is so delightfully ridiculous. Arguably his most allegorical novel, (and arguably his shortest novel at 277 pages,) I found Hard Times to be a wonderful book to get yourself into Dickens if you've struggled with him before. I had, as he was forced upon me in college. A week or two with this book and he quickly became one of my favorite authors.

I know, boring. That Dickens is a good author is not news. But had you heard of this book before? Is this book news to you? It was news to me. And that puzzled me. I wondered why it wasn't more famous, as light and accessible as it is. It's what really sparked my interest in painting these pictures in the first place -- to give the book a lift and maybe get it out there to a wider audience.

Well -- I also wanted to make paintings because I couldn't stop drawing pictures in the margins of my copy. The book begs to be illustrated. Many people already have. I just felt like we could do with a bit of a modern take.

Many more illustrations to come as you can imagine. In the meantime I leave you here with "Thomas Gradgrind, sir. A man of realities", surveying "the inclined plane of little vessels...ready to have imperial gallons of facts poured into them until they were full to the brim."