Lenora’s Portrait and some thoughts on tornadoes

Oh, such a pretty machine! I just finished a portrait of Lenora Lovelle, complete with rusty gears and blushing roses. And those vacant, glassy eyes…


Every week gets me a little closer to finishing the book. I’m excited and a little sad. I think I could keep doing these illustrations forever. Last week we did a photo shoot for a freak poster. The “World’s Only Pair of Conjoined Fraternal Twins!” features two good artist friends, Heather Chapa and Lauren Grudzinski in a role that is not that far from the truth. Then tonight will be another photo shoot with The Vitrolum Republic as the circus musicians who narrate the story. It should be a fun time, as I anticipate many unique hats, things covered in sparkles and feathers, and above all, the music!

As “Water for Elephants” is now in theaters, I’ve just begun reading the book. Between the circus buzz of the movie and the wake of several destructive tornadoes, the timing for this work seems suddenly more relevant. I’ve been struggling this week with the absurdity of my story in relation to the tragedy of the real event, especially as stories from the recent tornadoes come out. For all of our technological achievements, we are still vulnerable to the whims of nature. A column of air that can throw trucks and rip trees out of the ground is horrifying no matter what time period you live in.

A lot of my writing tends to pair absurdity with tragedy, though, now that I think about it. For some reason they need to go hand-in-hand. There is nothing more absurd than the reality of our existence and nothing more nonsensical than mortality. It’s part of why I was attracted to this historical anecdote in the first place. Circus + Tornado = Absurdity + Tragedy.