Creativity Magazine

Iron Knee Meets An Ellipsis Comin’ Thro’ The Rye

By Mrstrongest @mrstrongarm

Last summer, I did an illustration for Diplomat Magazine for their cover story on the Scottish Referendum on independence. The referendum was held on September 18, 2014.

In case you missed it, Scotland voted No, electing to remain in the British Union. The vote was 55% to 45%, with a voter turnout of 85%.

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Oddly enough, two months later, I was asked to illustrate an essay by a young Scot who was attending grad school in the American South at the time of the Referendum. The author struggles with regret and guilt for not being there for the vote and its aftermath,
but remains confident that “the prodigal can always return.”

The essay was called Wild Are The Winds To Meet You, and you can read the entire essay here.

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As mentioned in previous posts, many of my ideas are sparked by phrases or passages in the text. Here are the three illustrations I did for Wild Are The Winds, with each preceded by the passage that inspired it.

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Within three months I was waist-deep in Tuscaloosa life and head-over-heels for a real Southern boy. Ten months later, he was gone. He was my previous self in reverse: in almost perfect symmetry he packed his life into one suitcase and flew to Glasgow for a masters in film studies, which had been my field for two years at St Andrews.

I could have given a master class in irony. Alanis Morissette would have learned a lot.

Caricature Canadian singer songwriter Alanis Morissette whose most famous song is Ironic playing guitar and singing rebus with clothes iron, knee, human leg

Alanis Morissette is a Canadian singer-songwriter. She achieved her greatest commercial success in the mid 1990’s. Her biggest hit single was Ironic.

You can create a rebus to spell out anything, really, but I wanted to keep it simple so it wouldn’t overwhelm the rest of the illustration. Hence “irony,” instead of “ironic.” My apologies to all you purists out there.

detail image of caricature Canadian singer songwriter Alanis Morissette whose most famous song is Ironic playing guitar and singing rebus with clothes iron, knee, human leg

How accurate is the caricature? Here are some photos of Ms. Morissette.

photographs of Canadian singer songwriter Alanis Morissette

(Scotland) may not be the land of blooming heather and shining river that the songs describe. It may, in many ways, be already broken. But what’s broken can be fixed… I told Tyler when he left that a goodbye can be an ellipsis.

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I had to google ellipsis. I found out it’s something that I use all the time. Especially at the end of sentences…

Rebus pictures of plaid letter G, bagpipes, golf ball, golf club, haggis, thistle, Scotsman wearing tam, with ellipsis

I don’t think my “Goodbye…” qualifies as a rebus, but it must be a close cousin.

Using a tartan (what we Americans would call a plaid) was the best I could do for the ‘G.’ Bagpipes got pressed into service for a rather showy lower-case ‘o.’

Modern golf originated in Scotland, so a golf ball and club were perfect for the ‘od.’ That’s “St. Andrews” on the ball, a nod to what many consider the oldest golf course in the world.

I was stumped for a lower-case ‘b,’ until I thought of haggis, Scotland’s legendary “savoury pudding,” a delicacy decidedly not for the faint of heart (or stomach).

detail image of rebus pictures of plaid letter G, bagpipes, golf ball, golf club, haggis, thistle, Scotsman wearing tam, with ellipsis

 

A thistle, Scotland’s national emblem, made a picturesque ‘y.’ I had to stretch the furthest for the lower-case ‘e': a wee Scotsman wearin’ a tam o’shanter.

The three large dots on the end represent the ellipsis. So why did I include “sorta,” “kinda,” “maybe”? Because the goodbye may not be final.

Goodbye… is not the same as Goodbye. (period) The ellipsis says: Who knows? Perhaps we’ll meet again.

detail image of rebus pictures of plaid letter G, bagpipes, golf ball, golf club, haggis, thistle, Scotsman wearing tam, with ellipsis

America has opened itself to me, as its old dream promises. For that I’m grateful, as I’m grateful to Scotland for folding my loved ones into its music.

I know above all things that the tune carries a refrain, if not the cry for freedom or unity, then a sustained note of welcome. The Atlantic can be the breath between verses. The lull before a song rejoins.

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I heard the author saying that if you’re a Scot, you can go home again. You will always be welcome.

I like the imagery here: Scotland as bagpipes extending the note of welcome: a note that’s a Welcome mat with a little Scottish flag. The musical notes like stepping stones across the water. And Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster making her usual cameo appearance.

This is also a good example of how an illustrator sometimes has to creatively distort things to make them fit: I squeezed the United States’ continental land mass like an accordion, but it’s still recognizable… I think.

Musical notes forming bridge between Scotland and United States, with welcome mat for Scots expatriate cowgirl with flag, bagpipes, and Nessy the Loch Ness Monster

Here’s a detail image:

detail image of musical notes forming bridge between Scotland and United States, with welcome mat for Scots expatriate cowgirl with flag, bagpipes, and Nessy the Loch Ness Monster

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Have you ever been away when something important happened “back home”?

Have you had any experiences that struck you as truly ironic?

Have you ever eaten haggis and lived to tell about it??

Hope you’ll leave a comment.

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