Illustrations for Molly Drake Album – Part 2
March 24, 2013 § 14 Comments
Molly Drake (1915-1993) was the mother of the late singer Nick Drake. Her music is beautiful and somber and you can listen to / buy it here.
All told I made three drawings for this album featuring a teacup, a weaver bird, and a portrait of Molly Drake. The portrait of Molly was not included, but the other two are printed with letterpress on the inside of the album jacket.
When making a piece I first concept and design the image with thumbnail drawings.
After I have a solid visual I then make quick mock up drawings using photoshop. This way I can immediately cut, chop, and paste the image together to capture the correct ratio, size, and shape of the forms.
Often I use the original thumbnail as a guide during this process so as to keep the essence of the form from getting lost in translation. As seen below I ended up reversing the composition of the original thumbnail as I felt it had a better flow considering that there would be the weaver bird facing it on the opposite page.
When I am satisfied with a digital sketch I then place a grid over it and redraw it on paper by hand. Once the image is sketched in I ignore the digital mock up and let myself just draw and feel out the forms.
About concepting the teacup– I wanted a simple image that held a lot of information. I chose to draw a teacup in part to reference the artwork on the cover of her son Nick Drake’s album Pink Moon (1972).
It is also a reference to Molly’s song Breakfast at Bradenham Woods and as a symbol for British colonialism– as I learned that both Molly and Nick Drake were born in Yangon, Burma. Coincidentally, I recently spent 15 months (2010-2011) living on the Thai-Burma border working with migrant youth from Burma— and had spent a lot of time contemplating the history of Thailand and Burma and how they became what they are today.
The landscape on the cup is of a famous lake in Yangon, Burma called Kandawgyi (The Royal Lake) with a view of the Shwedagon Pagoda– two visuals Molly Drake would surely have seen often while living there. Pictured below is one of the photos I used as a reference. I replaced the tree with a willow and gnats alluding to Molly’s song I Remember.
The rest of the imagery on the teacup are all nods to Molly’s beautiful songs. The moon and stars reflected in the tea relate to Night is My Friend (my current favorite song of hers . . . *sigh*) as well as a line about the moon chained to the tides and “if you can see the strong and wearied starlight” from Ballad. The swallow and cuckoo are from Cuckoo Time.
Molly Drake set poetry to piano chords– I love her music and feel so fortunate to have been able to work on this project! I listened exclusively to her songs while working on this artwork hoping they would influence what I drew and help me to honor her music.
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