Lawrence Boythorn

Lawrence Boythorn

“You have brought your bird with you, I suppose?” said Mr. Jarndyce.

 “By heaven, he is the most astonishing bird in Europe!” replied the other. “He IS the most wonderful creature! I wouldn’t take ten thousand guineas for that bird. I have left an annuity for his sole support in case he should outlive me. He is, in sense and attachment, a phenomenon. And his father before him was one of the most astonishing birds that ever lived!” 

The subject of this laudation was a very little canary, who was so tame that he was brought down by Mr. Boythorn’s man, on his forefinger, and after taking a gentle flight round the room, alighted on his master’s head. To hear Mr. Boythorn presently expressing the most implacable and passionate sentiments, with this fragile mite of a creature quietly perched on his forehead, was to have a good illustration of his character, I thought.

Sketches and comments

One thing I decided early on about creating Boythorn is that there are no shadows or darkness around him. “His superlatives seemed to go off like blank cannons and hurt nothing,” says Esther.

The second thing that sprang to mind fully formed was that I wanted him to appear that he’s constantly exploding out of his collar, so the design of his hair, collar and necktie sort of presented themselves.

The rocking vase and swinging chandelier became a good way to complete the scene, though the choice of those items were random. I could have shown the pictures shaking in their frames but that seemed like a bit much!

I did a good deal of research for the chandelier, looking for the one I was imagining, and you can probably guess how that went. I feel like if you absorb the esthetic of the era, and look at enough photos, in the end you draw what you need to, so this chandelier is completely made up.

The rule of thirds is a useful design principle that worked out well for this piece. Although I hadn’t planned it that way, I found in the first thumbnail that my composition would work with it.

When you divide the canvas into thirds vertically and horizontally, you’re left with four points where the lines intersect. If you place your focal point or center of attention at any of these four points, the viewer’s eye will readily go there. You can see that that’s where the bird is positioned. Of course the rest of the composition needs to support this choice.

As for the linocut itself, I’m a little surprised at how much “noise” I left in this image. That’s all the unwanted black bits in areas that should be white, and the image should be much cleaner looking that this. In all honesty this would be an easy fix in Photoshop for the blog, but I resist that urge, since if I ever wanted to sell prints of this image it really needs to be fixed in the linoleum. And really, “fixing” a linocut in Photoshop sort of defeats the purpose.

It’s a simple solution, since the problem is caused by not cutting the lino deep enough. I just need to go back and gouge those areas a little deeper, and this faulty print is a roadmap for the areas that need work.

Remember, with linocutting, all you can do is erase!

Author: mooney2021

I am a commercial artist and illustrator from New York and now retired. I'm also a longtime Charles Dickens fan and I've embarked on a project to illustrate his great BLEAK HOUSE.

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