Sophie Blackall Illustration

Drawings and Snippets and Breaking News, (but more snippets than breaking news).

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Collyer Brothers

This is an illustration which accompanied a review in yesterday's Boston Globe of E. L. Doctorow's Homer and Langley. I don't remember when I first read about the Collyer brothers, whose Harlem home was a bulging receptacle for their hoarded belongings: tons of newspapers, literally, broken umbrellas and perambulators, at least nine pianos and an entire Model T Ford... Trapped by their possessions, in 1947 they met their grisly demise and their story has always captivated me.
I think of them particularly when I come home from holidays weighed down with a pincushion made from the hoof of an indeterminate animal, say, or a jar of doll limbs, or a Victorian child's orphaned shoe. I don't need these things, not really. And yet, I find it hard to walk away from that shoe which has survived over a hundred years, separated from its pair, no longer useful (for the purpose it was designed at least), with hundreds of secret journeys imprinted on its sole.
At the same time my desk, where I am trying to illustrate three picture books, is a mess of teetering piles and my work space is less than 15% of the available surface. I can't help feeling I'd be more efficient without all the hooves and boots and miniature limbs.
But you should see that pincushion...
Sigh.

13 comments:

Julia Denos said...

Love the piece...also encouraging to see another illustrator's teetering piles! I have them too!

Cliff said...

Nice clutter. My wife watched some TV show called "Hoarders" and now she is going around the house clearing stuff out. BTW, I love that illustration.

Jade Boylan illustration said...

love your desk, reminds me of my own! it's covered with so much stuff, I can't actually remember what colour the wood is anymore! lovely inspiring things above it as well, super duper :-d x

Princess Sputnik said...

Hey! i came across your blog through drawn, and loved your work!

I'm a beginning illustrator, and I was wondering how you got into the business of illustrating children's books. Any hints?

Thank you!

Megan said...

What a wonderful illustration of the Collyer brothers.

Also, um, I use the same Sclafani cans to contain my paintbrushes & their friends! :)

Brittany at Mommy Words said...

This is wonderful. I just found your sites and the missed connections blog is beautiful and inspiring! Thank you!

rk said...

You have me curious. May I see the pincushion?

Mim said...

My daughter just sent me the link to Missed Connections and I'm exploring your links. Like the others, I'm happy to see your studio work table. Mine looks the same and as I work the actual work area gets smaller and smaller until it's the size of my tiniest cutting matt. When I suddenly realize, I do a massive push back! Glad to know I'm not alone. Love your illustrations!

nameeee here!? said...

lovely lovely blog
definatley followed ♥


drinkteabecontent.blogspot.com
xoxo

The Wanderers' Daughter said...

I hear you. I just did a clean-out of the "work space" today, long overdue, and only because it's mouse season and one died amid my stacks of watercolor paper. Ugh. The funny thing is that I have TWO work tables in my tiny studio, but one is literally unworkable because I stack it constantly with new inspirational books, magazines, objects and photos.
And yeah, I probably would have brought home the pincushion, too.

VerdePomodoro said...

meravigliosi lavori! li adoro.... I know you from an italian newspaper.... and I actually love love your works.... especially the missed connection!sooooooo romantic!:)

kristen said...

Wow, lucky me to have found missed connections and then to realize you illustrate my daughter's favorite series, ivy and bean.

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