Touching The Art: Illustrations of Scenes from Ayn Rand’s Legendary Novel The Fountainhead
A bit about my recent illustrations of scenes from The Fountainhead.
I’m sharing the images one by one with their stories attached, and also sharing this in order to explain a bit about the experience of drawing them.
OK so I’ll start describing it all by saying that I’m a big Touching The Art fan. I’ve been following Luc Travers‘s videos and museum tours for a few years now and enjoyed his unique approach to art appreciation.
His presentation at this year’s Objectivist Summer Conference required having 3 scenes from Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead illustrated so that he can connect them with other existing artworks that have a similar meaning.
The purpose of the illustrations was therefore to depict the aspects of the scenes in a way that emphasized their connection to another artwork which Luc was presenting. My own personal emphasis in developing these was on capturing the mood, the feelings and the story. One way I achieved that in the illustration of Cameron, for example, was by using bold aggressive lines rather than refined realism. I wanted to capture the inner motion and violence in this moment of stillness. I wanted to make the darkness “move”.
Howard Roark At John Erik Snyte’s Office
I had about 10 work days to develop research and render these 3 scenes. The Fountainhead being one of my absolute favorite books, it was an overwhelming feeling to be illustrating it and trying to create my own vision and understanding of it on paper.
Now that it’s done I can say that, if I am honest, I didn’t fully achieve that to my satisfaction across the board. I feel I’ve succeeded at capturing some aspects of the moods and interactions and less successful at others.
It gave me a chance to practice developing a composition in a short amount of time and that was a very valuable experience. The scenes themselves did not yet suggest how to portray them. One of my favorite things was coming up with a way to describe the body language between the characters such that it would communicate the inner meaning of the story, behind the mere appearance of things.
For example, the way Dominique is standing while she is facing Roark. It had to be a balance between her overwhelming desire for him and her need to stay composed and appear unaffected. Translating that to body position, I had her pelvis leaning forward while her torso was leaning back, her head bowed down but her eyes looking up at him, but overall her body had to remain straight so that she looks restrained. Roark had to have hints of the same feeling, except, since he is the one in control in this scene, I drew him with his hands in his pockets. His hands in his pockets symbolize the apparent causal meaning of meeting someone at a party and serve as a contrast to the intense emotional reality of their meeting.
I don’t feel I quite captured his expression here though. That’s one regret I had here.
Overall this project involved… storytelling, composition, black and white values, designing characters, researching the right references, perspective, anatomy, gesture drawing and depicting moods and expressions. Let’s just say I have a lot of added respect for book illustrators. It’s a lot to handle, and the result, which seems like a simple picture, requires a lot of thinking that goes on behind the scenes.
Reading parts of the book again, I realized how much I can relate my own life to parts of it, and also how I grew apart from other aspects of it.
I had a hard time fully putting myself inside Roark’s mind, for example, which surprised me. I felt I understood Dominique a lot better this time around, but did not fully get the emotional nature of her relationship with Roark. But boy, what a book. An amazing book. What an honor and an experience to try to illustrate it. I won’t pretend like I’ve achieved it fully and completely. It is a magnum opus and would require a lot of time to do it justice in full. But taking that into account I can say I’m really glad I took this on and that it was a great experience.
I haven’t mentioned; these are all done in pencil on Bristol paper. They vary from one another slightly but their size on paper is 9”x12”.