I’ll start by admitting that before getting round to reading the ‘The Birds’ I was already in love with Daphne. Our relationship first began in 2016 when I read Jamaica Inn. It spurred me on to start university after 6 years of working in retail, and my essay on the Cornish landscapes and torrs she describes so beautifully gained me a place on my course.
Here I am in my three years later only just getting round to this amazing short story, dispite it having been sat on my shelf for a few years. The Gothic module I’m just starting is providing the chance to read quite a few novels I have pushed aside for years because they’re too long or I’ve been required to read something else.
It wasn’t hard to find an image in my mind from ‘The Birds’; the part where Nat sees the gannet about to dive upon him really stuck with me. They’ve got such menacing faces! In art college we had a skull of one to paint for still life at one point and it had a huge sharp bill that could definitely crack a skull at speed.
I was wondering how a story about birds could be considered a gothic work as I’ve never found birds scary. I ued to work in a pet shop for years and the birds where my favourite. They’re so soft and delicate, they made me feel like Lenny from Of Mice ad Men whenever I handled them. But actually, after reading, yeah! I can definitely imagine that happening. Like a bird zombie apocalypse. Just what my anxious mind needed!
This is what I love most about the gothic: it makes my own imagination make it scary. And everybody imagines things differently so the stories affect everybody in different ways. Du Maurier writes very ambiguously and I really hate coming to the end of each journey she takes me on.
While I’ve been doing these illustrations so far I’ve been waiting until I finished the book to then begin drawing, then trying to only use my imagination of what the scene looked like. I was quite surprised just how much stuck with me such as the hoe and the position Nat is running in. I did forget his hat though and tried to out some blood in his hair which kind of just looks like dandruff. The only thing that is additional is the Robin and swallows who feature in different parts of the story. It’s these smaller birds who go full Kamikaze on him and his house and lie on the floor of his bedroom after breaking in. Here is a photo of the paragraph which inspired me.
I’d like to have addedmore birds to the picture but it would have taken too long and arranging them would have been very difficult. I could have done a lot more to the painting as far as details are concerned, but I’ve been working on it for too long and am keen to start my next project. I’m not sure yet but the next one could quite possibly be another Daphne classic, My Cousin Rachel!
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'The Birds' by Daphne du Maurier 🐦 Wanted to take this further but I'm a little exhausted with it now. Really like the gannet and the seagull though. Accompanying blog link in bio 😊 #daphnedumaurier #thebirds #illustration #painting #draw #creative #book #bookstagram #art #watercolour #winter #student