This week I’m working on my commission to make an illustration for the one-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary edition of Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The chapter that’s been allocated to me is A Caucus Race And A Long Tale.

My idea is to make a double-page spread showing how the creatures of Wonderland respond to Alice prattling on about her cat Dinah, the very idea of which they’re horrified by. The mother canary herds her young away from Alice’s presence, and the magpie ‘wraps herself up’ in discomfort at the thought of a cat on the loose.

This is a collage I made a couple of years ago of Jeffrey, my cousin Pamela’s Devon Rex that I have in mind as the model for Dinah.


Dinah will fill the right of the composition, while the canary and her young, the magpie and the mouse, will be on the left

Below: sketches for the canary and her young. Don’t yet know whether the chicks will be scrawny-necked or bean-shaped.

Above and below: the mother canary

Below: the two designs for the chicks.

Below: versions of the mouse.

13 thoughts on “Alice

  1. My goodness, that cat is sensational. Seriously magical, charming and hilariously pompous. I do have rather a soft spot for the Devon Rex.

    I honestly can’t pick between the chicks. The scrawnier ones simply win my heart, but the beanie ones make me laugh. Tough choice.

    You know, I was likened to Alice only recently… “She talks in French, and goes on about her cats all the time with very little tact… it’s basically you, Steven.” Well, what can one say to that? I shall have to read it and respond accordingly.

        • I hadn’t marked you down as being like Alice, but put like that, then yes, I can see the connection. In fact the chapter I’ve been allocated, the one about the Caucus Race, perfectly illustrates those Alice traits. That’s why I’ve put Dinah into the illustration, even though she doesn’t actually appear in Wonderland save through Alice’s accounts and descriptions.

          The illustration is well underway now. I rather wish I had more to do. I could seriously get into an Alice project. This one has primed me to want to explore more.

  2. I love mother-bird ushering with protective-wings, as though she’s trying to be ‘polite’ but get her chicks to safety. ‘How interesting but we really must leave!’
    B xxx

  3. Ooh, scrawny necked or bean shaped chicks? thats a tough one!
    personally I prefer the scrawny necked variety, as I like the slightly anxious awkwardness they possess and they are less ‘cutesy’ than the bean shaped chicks (which remind me slightly of the Cadburys Creme Egg logo chick)

    I *love* the expressive quality of the mice! 🙂

      • Yes, I actually prefer the bean-shaped because they look more mindless, inane and helpless. They don’t have to look cute as Clive has the skill to avoid such a pitfall. Plus they fit the visual language of their mother more. (my two penneth 😉 Absolutely love the mouse. He’s great. Looking forward to this very much.

        • Well that’s all really helpful, and kinda goes with my own instincts about the pleasing silliness of the beanies. They just make me smile!

          Your comments mean rather a lot to me, as I’m forever marvelling at your freshness of line and unerring ability to conjure delightful characters brimming with character. I have only one double-page to make my mark in this edition, and so the spread has to hit all the right buttons. I’ll be keeping the palette limited, using strong light and shade to model the characters. I’ve been cooking the ideas for a couple of months, and they feel ready now for the ‘off’! (Consider at leisure and work at speed is my mantra!)

          I’m not showing Alice in the image. She’s always such a dominating presence whenever she appears in Wonderland illustrations… no matter who the artist… but in this case I don’t want her presence to distract from my scenario. Hence replacing her with her cat, Dinah.

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