‘The Pencil Speaks the Tongue of Every Land.’

Because I believe that ‘The Pencil speaks the Tongue of Every Land,’ I wanted to illustrate Miss Tarbell with illustrations which were appropriate. I did not want finely crafted, realistic depictions as they would not continue the feel of the writing, so chose to follow the advice of the late Edward Ardizzone and go for illustrations that captured the gesture of those described in contrast to capturing a likeness. ‘He has no use for the view that an illustration can be a decoration or graphic embellishment in the same mood as the text, for him the relationship between the drawing and the words is much closer.’ (Gabriel White in ‘Edward Ardizzone’). This is more efficiently achieved in a work that applies itself to over-statement, introducing something of the cartoon image, rather than holding on to realism.

I was helped considerably in this objective through a drawing I saw by Camille Pissaro who, though not the greatest draughtsman, had captured the essence of an action perfectly. The image, in watercolour over pencil, was of a mother washing out her little daughter’s ears. The expression of a squirm on the little girl’s face is simply but perfectly captured, needs no explanation to tell us what is happening, and in this truly speaks the tongue of every land.

To settle on the use of doodles which were executed by an untrained, unpractised hand was the perfect solution. It gives that raw, unsophisticated feel which I saw in the Pissarro drawing but depicts the gesture of the individual thereby giving an insight into their character, the point so eloquently put by Ardizzone.


‘Cicely saw her friend alight from the car and went to open the door while she was striding down the garden path.’