Imaginary children: Emotional landscapes of involuntary childlessness –personal reflections, sketching, diary and picture book

    Varvara Iashchenko

    Journal of Illustration, Volume 7, Issue 1-2, Aug 2020, p. 87 - 108

   Language: English

    Received:06 Mar 2020 Accepted: 20 Apr 2020 Published online: 01 Aug 2020

The act of drawing is still an underestimated, powerful and simple means of expression for adults. It represents an odd, unconventional and hence exceptional channel to self-awareness. This article is a phenomenological study of the author’s path from sketching to an emerging visual narrative about a prolonged period of unsuccessful attempts at conceiving a child. The emotional states that arose and the transitions that occurred during this period are discussed through the prism of matrescence, a transitional period to motherhood. It starts with a conscious decision to have a child. Through the biology and by means of drawing and illustration, the author explores the inner workings of the mind, decodes visual metaphors and symbols, and explores emotional and menstrual cycles of conceiving and losing, searching for lost connections to the body and processes within. Motives of walking, going through and cycling recur in the sketches and drawings. The cycling also appears through the metaphor of tides on the seashore. The fjord – the sea as the origin of life in a biological sense – becomes a place for emotional transformation. In this article, emotional landscapes hold a special place as a helpful tool for working with emotions and developing the story. The initial sketches are examined along with the text of the diary. The phenomenon of disconnection is discussed in a social context to reveal how it is shown in the illustrations. Finally, the egg becomes a strong visual trigger and a link between biology and art, and a character in the narrative.

FundingThis study was supported by the:

  • Norwegian Illustration Fund scholarship in Autumn 2018
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