In this illustration Arthur Boil, the main character from our book, is visiting the solicitors, with his mother and father, to find out what his late Uncle had left them in his will.
It was an interesting and fun illustration to draw as it opened up the opportunity to introduce the reader to the Boils and offer a snapshot of their individual personalities and relationship to one another.
I started out by first reading and then re-reading the text that the illustration would finally accompany. Below is an extract from this part of the chapter.
“Arthur sat in the solicitor’s office and waited patiently. Whilst Mrs. Boil kept dabbing her eyes with a floral handkerchief, whimpering from time to time like an injured puppy. Mr. Boil, on the other hand, kept fidgeting around in his chair, itching for the proceedings to begin.”
Poor Mrs Boil! Clearly Arthur’s uncle was someone she felt very fondly of and this whole situation is really rather emotionally affecting her.
Mr Boil, on the other hand, couldn’t give a rat’s bottom about Arthur’s uncle! From the extract above, it’s not clear whether he’s a bad person or not but his intentions, on this day at the solicitors, couldn’t be more obvious.
What about Arthur? Well, the chapter extract doesn’t offer much regarding his relationship with his late uncle but they do show him to be someone who isn’t outwardly emotional or greedy.
In the picture I chose to sit the Boils in a row, facing forward, as if being viewed from the other side of the solicitor’s desk.
I wanted to convey the relationship that Arthur has with his parents and also the relationship between Mr and Mrs Boil.
Placing Arthur in the middle re-enforced the personality divide between his parents. I didn’t want it to look like a strained marriage though, but a relationship made up of two people who love each other dearly but have no idea why!
To re-enforce the closeness of this family’s bond I consciously chose to keep all three characters in close proximity to each other.
The use of identical chairs also further connected them. Arthur’s chair was made slightly lower to reflect his grounded character. It was felt that, had Arthur’s chair been at the same height then it wouldn’t have reflected that difference he has to his parents.
Arthur has reached the age where most children start to notice the odd quirks their parents possess. I just loved the idea of conveying this in the illustration so I made Arthur slouched in his chair and slyly looking at his dad in utter disappointment.
For Mr Boil I wanted him to come across as someone who isn’t evil but just terrible at hiding his true emotions. This is something children are also not very good at so Mr Boil was draw to mirror the persona of a young over-excited fidgety child.
Mrs Boil, on the other hand, is a fragile emotional character. I imagine she would cry often and about the most trivial of things. To illustrate this she was made thin to re-enforce her fragility. Also slightly turning her away from Mr Boil reflected her annoyance of his totally unexceptable behaviour.
For a picture that demanded quite a lot of character depth and story telling the ideas and artistic decisions came quite naturally.