There were probably instances of a ghost guitar in the illustrations I enjoyed as a child in Highlights Magazine. Highlights featured a find-the-image illustration each month, packed with hidden images on a particular theme – cats, flowers, buckets. There is a lot of that find-the-image game going on for me in this colorfully detailed illustration by artist Kenneth Carnes.
Armed with the title’s hint we begin examining this veiled illustration for evidence of the guitar and it is not difficult to find. The guitar strings along a winding neck are an easy discovery. Of course we can then follow the neck down to the soundboard. Along the way we discover the fingers of a ghostly hand. It is curious, perhaps troubling, that those fingers are tangled in the strings. Is this ghost guitar revenge?
The other discoveries are perhaps tougher because unexpected. Is that a recorder, left center, which emits music like a wisp of smoke? Do you see birds? Leaves? There is something of the magic garden about the illustration. And what about the angry bulldog face in the upper left corner? Are those a pair of pom-poms coming out of his head to the right?
The disparity of imagery, hidden as it may be, creates an ambiguity of mood. The piece is not entirely spooky, although the entangled hand is creepy. But there is a light hearted, even silly aspect to the drawing as well.
The audio, however, is not ambiguous. Guitarist Burton Philbrick chooses one of his electrified cigar box 4-strings to create a murky, solemn ambience with slow paced chords and sliding solos. The introduction by Midisparks lays down a bed for Burt’s guitar with some equally murky, and dare we say ghostly synth patches.
This illustration is available for purchase at the Yessy site, to which we have provided a link.