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Edward Lear's Landscapes, adapted to Pegasia

by Chris Wayan, 2010

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A year ago, I found a big artbook in my local library--"Edward Lear's Tennyson." (Yes, the Edward Lear who wrote nonsense verse like "The Owl and the Pussycat". He was a talented artist too.) The book was a sort of a mockup of a project that died centuries ago--a book deal that never was. Lear had some 200 watercolor sketches (unfortunately most of the reproductions don't show his superb colors) that he hoped to use to illustrate Tennyson's poems, though they're weren't inspired by them--they're sketches done on Lear's real travels in Europe, the Mediterranean, North Africa and India. He even mapped out which real place might pass for each of Tennyson's imaginary settings. Lear was confident, I guess, that almost no one would recognize them as travel sketches. Travel wasn't easy then, and travel photography was still in its infancy.

Lear contacted Tennyson and proposed the book, but the poet dragged his feet. Understandable--it was an ambitious idea, and at this point both men were old and ill. The project died along with them.

They were lovely compositions. An amazing talent, really. Yet he couldn't get much money or respect, even for work this good. Taste of the time. Only oil paintings were considered real art... It's curiously like the ukiyo-e artists in Japan. To a large extent, custom, medium and subject matter define what's art; certainly not beauty!

Sketch of a jagged redrock gorge with trees along the water. Southern Continent 8 on Pegasia, an earthlike moon with shallow seas. Based on a watercolor by Edward Lear.

So I decided to use the compositions of Lear's sketches as bases for illustration--landscapes for my alien world Pegasia. With its detailed tours, the place needed dozens of landscapes, and Lear's compositions were much better than my own.

I scanned about 120 of them and ended up using about 100. Felt like a thief, even though wedding them to texts they weren't meant to illustrate is exactly what Lear himself hoped to do with them. And they were too good to leave languishing in obscurity--many are privately owned and few now seem to remember this side of Lear.

So all through 2009, I slowly tweaked these grainy little grayscale scans--flipping, coloring, shading, altering, changing human figures into... others. I doubt any of them will be immediately recognizable as Earth scenes; Lear's travels were centuries ago after all, and the Old World has changed a wee bit. And once I got through with them, so had these hybrid pictures.

Oh, well. It's a mutant age.

--Chris Wayan

Here are the Pegasia landscapes I based on Lear's watercolors--90 so far. Your turn now: draw me the natives!

Click the thumbnail image to see just the picture; click a picture's label for the tour describing that landscape.

NW Continent 1: sea cliff dwellings

Continent 1: hexatemple?

Continent 1: hexakeep?

Continent 1: NW woods

Continent 1: western lake

Continent 1: central mts

Continent 1: northern gulf

Continent 1: northern mts

Continent 1: steppe

Continent 1: southeast

Mwelari Is. off Continent 1

Continent 1: "Dover"

Continent 1: "India"

Continent 1: SW canyon

east Continent 2: volcano

Continent 2: Yezfez

Continent 2: pass

Continent 2: temple

Continent 2: Badwater Shore

Continent 2: central mts

Continent 2: western seacliffs

north Continent 2: "Morocco"

north Continent 2: promontory

north Continent 2: veldt

north Continent 2: C. Fippit

Continent 3: Shkoom Wood

Continent 3: Mt Lookcha

Continent 3: Onjelli Veldt

Continent 3: Oomla Desert

Continent 3: Tira Gulf

Continent 3: central mts

Continent 3: Chukalapp

Continent 3: Dukduk Forest

Continent 3: Churnip Gulf

Continent 3: Torlei Peninsula

western Continent 3: Port Fizrat

Continent 3: Lempop Lakes

Continent 3: Thookwap

Continent 4: tropics

Continent 4: desert falls

Continent 4: desert village

Continent 4: Pseudo-California

Continent 4: Westport

Continent 5: NE coast

Continent 5: waterfall

Continent 5: walled town

Continent 5: ruins, "W. Nile"

Continent 5: ruins, "W. Nile"

Continent 5: ruins, "E. Nile"

SE Continent 5

Continent 5: boats at sunset

Continent 6: rainforest

Continent 6: crag-city

Continent 6: central hills

Continent 6: southeast

Continent 6: Lake Swirltoe

Continent 7: southeast port

Continent 7: south coast

SW Continent 7: chateau?

Continent 7: western mts.

Continent 7: northern prairie

Continent 7: far north

Continent 7: eastern mts

Continent 7: "Samarkand"

SE Continent 7: Cape Nwok


NW coast, Continent 8

NW mts, Continent 8

Continent 8: northern prairie

NE Continent 8: mountains

NE Continent 8: lake

Continent 8: western gulf

south Continent 8: gorge

south Continent 8: rainforest

south Continent 8: coastal range

Continent 8: Cape Jumpoff

Curl 9 Islands: harbor

east Continent 9: rain

Continent 9: eastern sounds

Continent 9, antarctic

Continent 9: northeast

Continent 9: central prairie

Continent 9, north coast

north Continent 9: tyger hamlet

Continent 9: tufa tower

west Continent 9: oasis

Continent 9 near Lake One

Continent 9: tipis

Continent 9: west coast

Continent 9: sunset
Map of Pegasia, an Earthlike moon. Click a feature to go there.
TOUR PEGASIA! Survival tips first, then click on a region (just numbered for now): Continent 1 - 165 Is. - Continent 2 - Continent 3 - Rift-Junction and Curl 9 Is. - 1-4 Is. - Continent 4 - Continent 5 - Curl 5 Is. - Continent 6 - Continent 7 - Continent 8 - 89 Is. - Continent 9

The gazetteer: will have a full index of native placenames, with descriptions--once the contests's over and we have natives to name them.

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