Friday, January 18, 2008

The Good Earth - Books II

The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck is one of my favorite books and I hope part of a new "series" of collages about books. I read this book when my granddaughter, Antigone sent it to me in the mail a couple of years ago. My mother had a copy of this book on her bookshelf, but I did not read it back then. So it was nice circle completed when Antigone sent it to me. Since I love this book so much it is strange to me that I struggled so much representing it. I've had it in my folder for quite awhile debating whether to publish or not. Please leave your comments and critiques especially because I really want you to let me have it. lol!

Wang Lung decides to marry and although poor he is able to buy a good wife, O-Lan. He is a hard working farmer who spends his days in the field with O-Lan by his side. Together they work the land and bring forth three children. Wang Lung is eventually able to rent some land from a rich landowner and improve his condition. Dought occurs and he looses all he has gained. With his family starving he sells all that he owns except the land and flees to the south where he finds work pulling a rickshaw but it does not provide enough for them to live so the children must be put to begging.

It is a very strained and turbulent political time in the city and Wang is afraid he will be conscripted into the Army. He works only at night to avoid induction. A riot occurs and the peasants break into a wealthy family's palace. Wang Lung is drawn into the crush and finds himself face to face with the rich man who unable to flee and is begging for his life. He offers gold in lieu of his life. Wang Lung uses this gold to return his family back north to the land.

Wang Lung is able to improve his farm, build a new home and live comfortably. His wealth is now tied to the harvests from the good earth. He becomes respected and prosperous and decides to purchase the house of Hwang where the wealthy owners have succumbed to vice and addiction. He takes from O-Lan the jewels she looted from the palace in the south and with them he purchases the house of Hwang and all their lands.

If you want to know more you will just have to read this wonderful classic by Pearl S. Buck. he he

Deconstruction: All using Adobe Photoshop
Photo, letter, man plowing and bookcover were all vintage. Desk, typewriter, landscape from ($4). There were many layers, but it finished out with 12. I think I used every feature I know on Adobe Photoshop to attain this result!


dianeclancy said...

Hi Bobbie,

Nice job!! My dad had that book too .. I can't remember if I read it then or not - at least some I think.

If you really want suggestions for doing things differently, here goes ..

I think the structure of the image is fantastic ... the only weak link I see is the book itself. If you did things like have faint text with the name and author, rather than the image of the book, I think it would be stronger.

It is the whole idea (which I still often am trying to get myself) of showing what we are trying to say rather than telling it.

It is letting go of some literal things to have them have more room for interpretation and understanding.

Does that make any sense? I like the way you have yellowed the book and have it almost transparent .. take away the literal structure of the book and have the elements floating and wow! you have done it again!!

Hope this is helpful!
~ Diane Clancy

John (Copyright JMM 2007-2008) said...

Bobbie, it shows great care and affection.

Put a two by four on the floor and any idiot can walk across it and jump and dance and read his blackberry.

Put that same two by four a hundred feet off the ground (without a net) and most people would freeze, act nervous and stumble. F E A R. D E A T H.

Inserting the book themselves adds someone else's graphics. It means you share yor image with a book designer's vision. Book graphics tend to be strong - to catch your eye and make you buy it off the shelf. Diane's idea - to quote from the book, etc may be an option. Keep it all yours. You alude to what that book meant (means) to you.

But it is your vison and the picture is warm and kind. Like the commercials on TV, that makes your pic priceless.

Lisa Sarsfield said...

Hi Bobbie. I am instantly drawn the the earthy patchwork fields.
I like the transperancy of the other images too.
If you were to be creating a book cover for this book then I would agree with Diane but I didn't get the impression that this is what you were doing.. I read this as being a visual tribute to the book. A bit like a diary page. If thats the case I think you have done a great job (in my opnion!) and as the topic is the book I think it belongs here. I really like the aspects of real life that are in this..real fields, real book, real thoughts.
Good work- I look forward to seeing the next one!

Sweet Irene said...

Thank you for giving us the synopsis of the book. My parents had it, but I never read it.

Your collage is very beautiful and very appropriately done. It could be a proper advertising for this book.

Pearl S. Buck would have been very pleased with it and maybe even now you are getting into her good graces. I'll have to check the library for a copy of this novel, you've made me curious.

Lovely artwork! Keep going by your instincts. They serve you well.

Neda said...

Lovely..I read Buck when I was little (French translation)..Loved it.

I really like the transparency, it anchors the collage in the present and yet throws it back to the past, as if we are seeing a sliver into what once was..

My only suggestion, if you really insist, is that I would position the book as another transparency just behind the author to the left (with the right edge of the book slightly overlapping her shoulders and hair... Alternatively, I would shift the position of the typewriter (by the way..great idea) and her image to the left just a tiny bit so as not to have it centered.. Something about the "golden rule" (1/3 and 2/3).

Another tiny advice: the little green notebook is a nice touch; it might be either too small or too far from the typewriter. Bring the the vase a tiny bit closer to the center too...I hope you don't mind my rearraging.

Ultimately, please, do what comes naturally to you and do not think too much. You are doing an awesome job. BE FEARLESS! YOU ARE AN ARTIST!!!!The collage looks very nice as it is. I LOVE to see you explore these venues and I am particularly impressed by the book illustration idea. Well done, my dear.

Fawzan Barrage said...

Hi Bobbie,

I am so sorry I never visited your blog before. I didn't know you had one!!!! Silly me.

You do some excellent work with your photoshop. I really love everything about this one here. From the colours to the montage to the theme. It is all very well done.

I'll be sure to visit regularly from now on.

womann in glass said...

This a great image. combination with the person, landscape.
I blog too much nowadays. Red a lot of books in my life.
Did not read since I blog.

I wonder if this book is available in dutch.

Sue O'Kieffe said...

im wondering what would happen if you removed the background of the author from the photo...keep it transparent...keep her in memory..the repeated blockiness of the book and the photograph bothers me a also not sure about the wording on the yellow river/road tying her image to the book cover looking at this image without reading your explanation of it so these are sort of random thoughts...i'll be interested to see what you do if you edit it some more....
thanks for being open to is so helpful in art...

Rima said...

We had all her books in paperback, thick, heavy and in French - very emotional reads for teens.

I agree with John and Neda about the composition, and the inclusion of the book. You've been very fluid lately in your designs, and this one is so full of angles and disparate perspectives. I wasn't sure if it was on purpose and I felt as if you were representing the map of some journey.

BTW, congrats on the brand-new-and-in-a-hurry great-grandson! hope everyone is doing well. Love

Bev said...

I love the pictures of the fertile fields in the background which sum up the title of the book. The picture gives a feeling of Pearl sitting at her typewriter and being transported through her imagination into the world of arable farmers and the countryside, as there is no devision between the two. I think this is quite a universal image for writing and reminds me of the Ted Hughes poem 'The Thought Fox', where the poet is writing a poem about a fox, and so strong are his imaginings that it is as if a fox has actually entered the room.

You wanted a critique lol I think the line around Pearl's head is unnecessary.

Lisa Sarsfield said...

Congrats on your new grand-baby Bobbie!!

Deef said...

Belle maîtrise de photoshop en tous cas ;))
Je trouve ce tableau plein de délicatesse. Très léger, très apaisant. On s'imagine l'écrivain, seul face à ce paysage d'une grande sérénité, tel que le serait un peintre, avec sa machine à écrire pour palette et ses mots pour les couleurs…

Sweet Irene said...

Hi Bobbie, congratulations on becoming a great grandmother!

John (Copyright JMM 2007-2008) said...

Yes, congratulations...Debi's pictures are heart warming. Our best.

womann in glass said...

Hi Bobbie, you became a grand-mother. Congratulations

red tin heart said...

I love your collage and your review for The Good Earth. That is one of my favorite books of all time. xoxo Nita

Her biography is wonderful too.

Micki said...

Bobbie, so nice to meet you in my comments about "holy cards."
I'm so impressed with your blog because I am just learning about Photoshop and trying to do borders. What a beginner huh? offer lots of ideas and I am amazed. Of course I love the "Good Earth"....great pic. Thanks.

Sue O'Kieffe said...

i have a little something for you at my blog. please stop by
~sue okieffe

Sweet Irene said...

Hi Bobbie, I have something special in my post for you today.

Frances said...

I like the idea of the book being complete and in progress in the mind of the author sitting at her typewriter in the dream of landscape.
I remember this book from childhood. I read it at school.
I love that image and I think the same about your work as Debi's, it is beautiful, evocative and thought-provoking, all you have to consider is whether you are interested in the visuals or want to communicate something through the image - in the second case ask our judgements on what it says to us - if we say what you hope for, your image has succeeded on that level. Don't know if this makes sense, my mind is full of adolescents' thoughts and exam struggles from the work I am doing at the moment.

Enzie Shahmiri said...

I read her books as well and admire the way she could describe a place making you feel as if you are part of the story. I actually red the Good Earth in German, while in highschool on the 70's.

P.S are you getting my comment replies to your comments? I went to FLickr and made the last two image spublic for you.

frazzledsugarplummum said...

I picked that book up at a secondhand shop when I was about 10 and have read it every year since. I love it. I love your tribute to it as well. The colours are just as I imagined. I used to think of Pearl writing it on a typewriter like that too. Thank you for sharing the story behind you doing this piece and for sharing it with us.