At nine years old, my assigned seat in the 4th grade classroom was near the bookcase, in a far corner. Being the studious type, I would often speed through any homework in class, and peer at the bookcase. One set of books, in particular, held my attention - each sporting a bizarre illustration with something that looked like a centaur-like-pegasus-like... thing on the cover. It was dark, baffling. Somehow, I had to read it. Very uncharacteristically of my quiet bookishness, I brazenly walked up to the teacher, and simply asked if we could read it in class. Imagine my surprise when, instead of being reprimanded, the teacher allowed it! During the reading, the rest of the children were confused, and often bored - but I was thrilled to my core. The book was Madeleine L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time.
Inasmuch as you can be defined as a person when you're nine years old, Wrinkle in Time was a threshold into multiple paths for me - a lifelong interest in science, a love for reading, the soaring interconnectedness of its philosophy, and the odd comfort the story offered me (as a very Meg-like child) that "fitting in" at school doesn't matter a bit when you've got a universe to save. As a rule, I try and reread the first two books of the Time Quintet every year... yet somehow it feels far too hallowed a thing to try my hand at this most-fanly of fan art. Well, until now. I'm intending this to be the first in a series of pieces dedicated to books I've loved.
I scoped out many different compositions, each with the intention of being viewed as a book cover: the protagonists, fleeing or feeling the scope of the challenges in store. Many of the compositions featured a graphic tesseract icon, which eventually I dropped purely because this amazing piece solved that problem so effectively.
I wanted to embroil the children in something larger than themselves, as they were in the story - not merely to show them fleeing from some undrawable "baddie." The antagonist that Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin face is depicted simplistically in the tale (simply referred to as "The Black Thing") but it collectively refers to anything springing from the worst aspects of ourselves: our fear, our hatred. The Black Thing is in us, in the children. It sings its own song. It caresses.
Above, in the stars, hover the shape-shifting, time-bending entities known as the Mrs. W's (Whatsit, Who, Which). Although they twine tendrils down among the children, they're held at a distance, fundamentally removed. Etched in starlight, they watch protectively, but leave the children to face their challenges alone. They're lit with starlight, bannered by hints at their angelic nature.
This piece was finished over a longer period than planned, (a spat of winter illness slowed me down) but I'm fairly pleased with the results. I'd like to revisit the kids' faces, some of the shapes, and perhaps work the graphic tesseract idea back in. While on some level I don't think I'll ever truly capture the joy of discovering L'Engle's classic for the first time with a pencil and paint, it feels just plain good to produce work dedicated to a story that I love. I'm certainly looking forward to more!