Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The House of Yells

My second unit at Arts University Bournemouth was entirely self-directed, though the tutors suggested we base our project around a prompt or competition. I focused on children's book illustration and the Macmillan Prize competition.

The competition brief requires a full 32-page story-board as well as a 4 final double-page spreads. 

My story is entirely developed and written by myself. It is "The House of Yells."

It began with writing the story and then breaking it down into a 32-page format.
Alongside, I was practicing sketching children since their limbs and proportions behave so differently to adults.

Designing the main character was challenging, because I'm till trying to find a balance between realistic and simplistic depictions of children.

I also had to make sure she wasn't creepy... which always seems to happen.

The story centers around Emi, a little girl living in a home with parents going through marital conflict. I chose not to depict the parents themselves, and rather implied them through their shadows and visual representations of their yells.

Since I was focused on Emi's isolation within the space of her home, this "house of yells," I needed to spend time designing the room. I have very little experience with drawing interiors and houses, and with using perspective. None of these things has ever really interested me, so this project, in part was an attempt to expand my horizons.
I made a pinterest folder for the furniture (in 2 categories intending to represent the parent's personalities)
I also made a make-shift (very very make-shift) diorama of the room using books and boxes and jars, to take photos of it from different angles. It helped me wrap my head around the perspectives a bit.

Ultimately, a lot of the work I did designing the house and designing the room in its entirety is not shown in the final spreads of the story. So it was definitely good practice in making work that isn't visibly part of the final outcome.

Emi's coping mechanism is to listen to the characters in the picture frames on the walls. They tell her stories and she uses the worlds they describe to build a safe space for herself.

Say hello to Elsewise

 Wells and Hatch
During the thumbnail and storyboard process, I was concerned with the use of different mediums to convey different aspects of reality. My original plan was to have the house in stark colored pencil lines, Emi in ink, the yells in pastel, the picture frame characters in ink and watercolor, and their stories in watercolor. I was planning on somehow overlaying the line drawings of the house with the watercolor of the story worlds, to demonstrate how Emi constructs this imaginary space over top of her reality.

But while the media tests might have been interesting as isolated images, they didn't seem sustainable throughout the whole story. So I scrapped the overlapping idea. 

Here are some of the thumbnail spreads, with the final text placements.
p 3-4

p 5-6
Ultimately I created 5 and a half final spreads of work to submit to Macmillan, along with the rest of the story as these roughs.

p 1-2

p 9-10

p 13-14 (only the left page is the final artwork)

p 17-18

p 19-20

p 21-22

This project is evidently unfinished. I am satisfied with how certain aspects of it turned out, but I need to take a break to gain some perspective (and learn how to use it). I would love to continue with it, as I'm attached to the story I wrote. However, I think I've been wrapped up in this project for too long, and some space may help resolve the issues I have with it.

I always hope that each project I work on will further my practice in some way, and this particular endeavor seems to have highlighted my strengths and weakness more accurately than others. 
I definitely demonstrated an aptitude for thorough planning and concept work, but still need work on ploughing through bumps and ruts.

So we go forward.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

This Tale is a Lie: A Fairy tale Zine

My first project this past semester, studying abroad at the Arts University Bournemouth, was to create a zine. My topic was folklore, and beyond that I was given no restrictions or guidelines.
I found my first few months there to be quite challenging, in that I had never before had so much free time for self-motivated work. That, paired with the incredibly broad topic of folklore, led me to struggle initially with finding a focus. I won’t post any of my first sketches because they are really quite aimless and I only truly started to make work when I developed a narrative to my zine.

For this documentation I’d like to focus on the exploration of different mediums and ways of working that was key to the zine unit. The narrative I developed, focusing in on fairytales, is metafictive, and therefore the use of different mediums even within a single piece became significant. (Every page is shown in order and the text was written by me).

Cover Page (watercolor, ink, folded paper, thread, digital)

My zine traverses through idealized imagery of fairytales, and pulls back the curtain.
Welcome (ink)

(Ink, lino print)

(Ink, watercolor, graphite)

I wanted to investigate the idea of the authors of literary fairytales, as collectors and potentially manipulators.

(ink, inserted photography)

(graphite, ink, watercolor)

I explored the idea of fairy tale characters having lives and minds external to the stories collected and retold by countless storytellers. With this narrative, I used differences in mediums, colors, and scale in order to separate the fairy tale characters from human reality.
I wanted to play with the reality of the page as a space, for control and imprisonment.

(ink, photography, torn paper)

(ink, watercolor, pins, photography)

(ink, watercolor, pins, needle, thread, photography)

I’m particularly attached to the piece below. Witches are evasive and do not follow the rules of society. They slip through your fingers. I chose watercolor (a similarly tricksy medium) to depict this stigmatized role of the “witch,” the woman forced into isolation for not following the dictated path.

"I'm not good, I'm not bad, I'm just right. I'm the witch!" (ink, watercolor)
Those who exert control over these characters are subject to their own rules of society. (ink, graphite, watercolor)

Below I placed myself in the role of the manipulator. As an illustrator I may make commentary but cannot exclude myself from the group. I actually felt pretty bad creating this page.

(ink, jar, water, photography)

 The zine narrative then shifts to a larger view, thinking about the multitudes of versions of each story across time.

Though each version may be but a shadow, the same girl flits between her stories (pringles tube, paper, tea bags, pins and needles, photography)

Beyond all individual versions, there is a central theme, there is a core that resurfaces and thrives with change.

(ink, watercolor, graphite)

The penultimate page is supposed to be layered over with a page of tracing paper, the words of both pages overlapping.

(tracing paper, colored pencil/ink, watercolor)

 The ending is left to you.

(watercolor, tracing paper, paper, thread)

Explanations of the content of individual images can be found on my tumblr. 
Hand-bound zines

Monday, June 29, 2015

Printmaking Quilt

I’d like to commence this blog with a project from last December. It was my Printmaking 2 final project, and entailed both wood block and pronto plate prints.

I began with the concept of making a quilt of small square prints, and after some concept sketches as seen below, I developed the imagery and the story behind them.

Trying to find a narrative flow.

Rough color scheme

The images were split into 2 categories, both by their content and execution. The woodblock images I drew directly onto 6”x6” plywood blocks, and carved away the excess. The other images were to be produced as pronto plates, which is a form of paper lithography. I drew all of these on regular paper, and then transferred them onto the pronto plates using India ink, litho crayons, and a light table.    

Light tables saved my sanity.

After that it was a matter of printing the blocks and plates! All 20 were printed on rice paper, which I felt would give a more cloth-like quality to the final product. Unfortunately I don’t have any shots of the actual printing process, but pronto plates are definitely less intuitive (for me at least) than relief printing. They involve first sponging water, and then rolling ink, onto the plates. The ink is repelled by the water and attracted to the India ink and the litho crayon. 
All the final pronto plate prints
All the final wood block prints

And now to explain what this whole thing is about (which perhaps I should have talked about earlier, as incentive to read the darn blog). 

This patchwork quilt alternates narrative and symbolic prints. It results from my relationship and thoughts regarding childhood and fairy tales. The pronto plates are focused on my relationship with memory, childhood, and idealizations of both, as informed by reading, constructions of childhood, the romantic child etc… In this short narrative I attempted to depict the odd balance I walk between the awareness of how steeped in assumptions and influenced by societal constructions my notions of childhood are, and the attachment I maintain to these idealizations. It struggles with trying to capture and preserve an aspect of myself I can never understand or truly be sure was ever really there.

The wood blocks are a reflection on my evolving relationship to fairytales. Like my relationship to ideas of childhood, I recognize that my understanding of fairytales are influenced by cultural associations across history. However, what I love about fairytales is that everybody seems to have a different relationship with them, a different favorite. Gripe about Disneyfied stories all you want (much of it is very justified)— I love ALL the different options and how you can piece together what you want to take away from the vast compendium of stories. These images depict key elements to my personal relationship to them, from films/picture books, to novelizations, and some of the first literary versions themselves.
My tumblr post breaks down each image individually for those further interested in the project, as well as showing larger scans of each individual print.

To finish it off, I spent 4 hours sewing (if you can call my fumbling that) the whole quilt together.