Why the Singing Bone?

Posted by | December 05, 2015 | Why the Singing Bone? | No Comments

When I was younger, for reasons that I won’t pretend to understand, I was obsessed in creating a story that revolved around the hostile relationship between two brothers. As the years went by and the lack of confidence in my writing ability grew, I let the story go, but for some reason the idea of ‘two brothers’ stuck with me. Perhaps, in part, it’s simply because I have no brothers of my own. I was free to delve into the feelings about ‘family’ that I was struggling with without having to worry that someone close to me might project themselves into it. But I also think that the Singing Bone interested me because of its bleakness. The true hero dies. The villain dies. The family is destroyed, torn apart, and no real revenge is obtained by the hero. Rather, we are left with more acts of hatred in what may seem like poetic retribution, long after the hero’s passing. ‘Justice’ would be served as in most fairy tales, but it is a victory that Simpleton cannot savour. The individuals do not prosper and there is no real happily ever after, unless we are satisfied with the idea that the world has been freed from a lie.

Instead of focusing on writing, I wanted to turn my attention to my drawing and put the limited amount of free time I had into that instead of splitting it between drawing and writing. I was not happy at my day job and I fantasized about transitioning into illustration. I was inspired by children stories (the old ones, like the tales collected by Brothers Grimm) and I thought that I could develop a portfolio around that. The publishers I had visited liked to get a better sense of an artist’s abilities in telling a story through a few drawings, and in the Singing Bone I had found the one that I was going to focus on in creating my portfolio. My need to be practical in choosing which project to focus on was fighting against my need to explore very dark ideas and feelings.

The photo above is the earliest sketch I made of the Singing Bone since coming back to it in 2009. I had made a small drawing for a school project way back in 2003 where I used a very different approach. Perhaps I will post those sketches at a later date…

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