I worked on the Davis sea today working my way up towards the Terra Nova. I had studied the currents earlier in my research and noted the East Wind Drift that moves around this area and I wanted to make sure the waves were moving in the right direction. You will notice faint pencil lines indicating the movement of the waves and the direction. This was my fifth sketch and I may alter it yet. I don’t, as lots of artists and illustrators do, do everything in pencil first. I do an outline or I do the general movement and then I develop it in ink as I go along. I like to ‘feel’ the way the texture or the movement develops as it seems more natural and organic that way.
The challenge as usual was to get perspective but make sure that the coastline still looked right. I also wanted to show a different kind of wave to the others I had used which were sweeping and tumultous in places, here I wanted the ripples of waves as they roll in. I will however be making them match in in style to the others, but I haven’t done that yet. Trying to have the waves moving away again and turning them is my next challenge.
I tried to take a close up but the flash went off. Nevertheless, you can see some of the detailing in the pen work for the waves. Each stroke has to be built up gradually to create the depth of the wave and that’s why this work is so slow. I enjoy the challenge of creating so many textures out of one nib, just by changing the pressure, the way I hold the pen and the lines.
I looked at the expanse of white by the base of the Terra Nova and an idea struck me, I thought about putting a camera in the ice in homage to Ponting, without whom I would not have had the images to work from, but moreover, his film: The Great White Silence was my starting point for the map and tells the story in words and pictures of the beginning of the expedition. It was this film that the ISCE gave me as part of my initial research. If you haven’t seen it I thoroughly recommend it.
I looked over the internet and found this image of Ponting on the expedition and thought if I turned it to face the other direction, I could have Ponting photographing the Antarctic.
I got quite excited at the prospect, but after sketching it in, I realised that the map had enough going on already and also I didn’t want another figure in the map. The figure walking the pony and the figure on the Terra Nova are like echoes of the people who were there and to put Ponting actually there in the main picture was not going to enhance the mood, in fact it would probably shatter it because a silhouette on the ship is almost as if it is in the past and the Terra Nova itself looks almost like a ghost ship with the way it merges into the iceberg. The figure walking away with the pony is on a fragment of old paper and is walking into nowhere and again this seems fitting. They are not really there. Whereas the picture of Ponting just doesn’t sit comfortably.
I came to the conclusion that the viewer should be the only real person there looking at the story and the echoes of the past and exploring the strange landscape with their eyes. I decided in the end that using Ponting’s images was enough to pay homage to his photography.
Sometimes what an artist leaves out is as important as what she puts in.