In my previous post, I discussed my illustration of The Mole from Wind in the Willows, which I created for my newborn niece, Willow. Today, I present the companion piece to that one, The Rat. Once the Mole ventures out of his hole, he comes upon the Rat, out rowing his boat on the river, and joins him. This is a river rat, or water vole, which live in England and are closer to a muskrat than the city rat or farm rat (which is what I tend to see in my mind when I hear the word “rat”.)
I decided to show him taking a nap along the riverside because that’s what sunny afternoons are for when you’re a river rat, right? I had a good time with this one, coming up with various shades of brown to try and give him some dimension and make him look furry. Below you can see the pencil drawing I did for this sketch. I wish I had matched some of the pencil lines more closely when I inked it, but overall I’m pleased with how this turned out.
This is my take on the Mole from Wind in the Willows. In March of this year, I became an uncle to a little girl named Willow and her dad (my younger brother) mentioned to me that if I had any ideas for art to decorate her room, I should feel free to indulge those ideas. The room was going to be a nature themed room and so as I thought about it, the characters from the Wind in the Willows naturally came to mind.
I’ve liked the Wind in the Willows since I first read it, and have liked the illustrations that others have done for the book, but I decided to try and update the characters a little bit in my renditions of them. The book was first printed in 1908, and since the book describes the characters as wearing clothes, most illustrators place them in the common dress from that period of time in England. This makes for quaint and charming little critters, running around in their coats and hats, but doesn’t really reflect current fashion trends. For this illustration, I tried to dispatch with my mental images created by other illustrations I’d seen, and try to show my modern take on the Mole.
The very beginning of the book finds the Mole doing some spring cleaning, and suddenly, for some reason, coming up out of his underground tunnel and being overcome by the beauty of the outside world. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone doing spring cleaning in nice clothes, so I chose to garb him in overalls. I also gave him large glasses, partly for comedic effect, and partly because moles as a species have very poor eyesight. I did try to stay true to the anatomy of a mole in most respects, so you’ll see that his hands are the large tunneling paws specific to moles, and his toes are oddly splayed like most mole feet. I’m not sure that moles have ears like that, but I needed something to have the arms of his glasses rest on, and I don’t think they are too distracting. I mean…he is wearing clothes after all.
For those interested, here is my pencil drawing of the mole.