Ideas – Assignment 2: The Fifties – Using Reference

Exercise Using Reference~ The Man in The Chair ~ Starting Point 

Week beginning ~ 23 March 2015

I started by thinking about the fifties in reality and not the nouveau-celebrity Happy-Days perception that we have of that era. I thought about London and the great changes that occurred. The new wave of migrants, the struggle for working class families, the young who were just discovering freedom and a more egalitarian education. I wanted to find realistic imagery not fly-by-night unimportant frivolity. However, I soon realised the fifties were driven by the new and exciting post war era of globalisation. I thought about the median and so I looked for content that would describe a youngish middle class English person who might be part of this burgeoning modern world and new way of thinking. I grabbed imagery that I thought reflected a socially aware but reasonably ordinary man in his late 20s or early 30s. He may still live at home with his parents and family or maybe he has a wife and a home of his own. Anyway with that in mind I cobbled together a few moodboards based on the list required by the exercise.

50s moodboards1-3
Graphics ~ Interiors & Architecture

For the first set of moodboards above I sought realism and some quirk. I found really lovely objects that I recognised from similar 60s and 70s products that were still around when I was a child. The National Health milk powder really struck me. I remembered my mum having the orange juice concentrate that was also from the welfare foods department, she told me that she had the milk powder too. Receiving these items was a given after the war and the tail end of rationing. I loved the Marmite advertisement, it was so whimsical. At the time Marmite was heralded as a health spread to every mother and family in England. Of course now its considered too high in salt and is recommended with caution… The literature was also focal point for me as I consider it to be an era of open discovery. I think the seminal novels of the era, for example Jack Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’, really shaped the upcoming sixties and its relative permissiveness. However ‘Fahrenheit 451’ by Ray Bradbury speaks volumes of a brutal reality that evolved from world war two and remains with all its pernicious deceit in this second millennium.

Costume & People ~ Transport ~ Film
Costume & People ~ Transport ~ Film

In this second set of moodboards I looked for both the ordinary and the idealistic. I chose Alfred Hitchcock as he was such a visual character both through his films and his eccentricity. I had picked out one of Saul Bass’s Hitchcock posters in the Graphics set which reminded me to include the man himself as he often did in his own films (by the way, Saul Bass was a genius)… I stuck Eisenhower in there too, as American politics had such profound effect on the west in the 50s. I wish it were not the case as I indicated previously, however there it was loud and clear US popular culture and political dominance in its most profound form… In the set of Film images I tried to be eclectic I picked some seminal movies including one of my favourite films from my late teens, Orphee by Jean Cocteau. It was so hipster really, the film was just one long gorgeous french fashion parade. But what I really loved most in this second set is the Transport board. The little London bus tickets were still in operation until I was about 20 and the underground map graphic hasn’t changed much even though new lines have been added over the years…

So with all this and more in mind I set about creating the man in the chair….

Week beginning ~ 30 March 2015

Elements 

I grabbed a large sheet of reasonable cartridge paper and I began by sketching the objects that appealed to me most, first came the Marmite jar. I was fascinated by the slow packaging transition from the late 19th Century to the present day. I thought the Fifties version was really whimsical and the advertisement for it even more enchanting (click on the moodboards for detail and use the zoom tool ~ they’re fairly high res).

Sketches-on-paper
Marmite Moments

The sheet above came mostly from the transport and Architecture moodboards,  I really loved the tube map, I loved Edward Johnston’s typographic design and Harrys Beck’s info graphics in my old graphic life.  still think together they produced organisational visual genius. I knew I wanted to include the underground map alongside the marmite and the the crockery I chose to sketch. The two little squares with squiggles were for surface reference, as I needed a chair and a table. I had chosen the kitchen as the most likely room to convey my musings from the collective research. I also drafted some other elements in my sketchbook. I printed out my mood boards tore out relevant bits and stuck them in my sketchbook along with imagery I found of dudes sitting around in the fifties, plus my new favourite bit of fifties furniture, the kitsch wall clock.

Inside-the-sketch
The Inside Sketch…
Week beginning ~ 06 April 2015

Composition

I now had a collection of elements and I needed to think about the composition. What, where and why?

At this point I headed off to digital land. I scanned in all the components and tried out some compositional layout. Then I printed off a few variants and started to sketch,copy and trace… I composited a mash up of some interior shots and my sketches that I warped into perspective. It is a rather with a peculiar composition. From that point I did the usual scribbly on the back and transfer through thing that I often do. I think it gives me a bit more confidence to keep going once I have made some kind of mark or something akin to that anyway…

Sketches
It’s Mash Up

I played around from here, since I had the weird mash up image (which is an A5 size). I thought the best way forward would be to tile the image up and draw or trace from there. Just some minor adjustments on the way…

Tile-Up-Mash-Up
Over & Over
Week beginning ~ 13 April 2015

Realising the Exercise

I got to doing that old thing of overlapping and tracing again, going back into my marks and working over things. I think it makes me believe that I can come up with a solution. Anyway I tiled up massively, overlayed two bonded sheets of layout paper and proceeded to trace using a fineliner, a brush pen and a fountain pen…

Layered image
Layers & Layers

I really wanted The Man in The Chair to be a sort of beatnik who wasn’t quite able to go the whole hog, but could have maybe watched films like the Seventh Samurai and possibly read authors such as Steinbeck, Kerouac and Boroughs. He lived normally (cue Cornflakes, Marmite, Milk Powder etc…) but with a little spirit, perhaps he preferred jazz to rock n roll, but still had boring job, not much money and he definitely understood the reality of life…  I wanted to place him among simple things, the crockery has a very definitive common but considered design. I chose Enid Seeney’s Ridgeway Homemakers Design, I think it was the first crockery wear that bowed to the Habitat/Ikea world that burgeoned in the 60s and 70s. I think The Man in the Chair or his wife would have had this level of taste and consideration. He symbolised a new world, a way forward, a sort of choice even if it was bit keep-up-with-the-Jonses. I’m finding that what I seek is slightly intangible and I don’t really have final image as such because I went through a fair few iterations to get to this point…. I really enjoyed the research and the imagined nostalgia that it created. I would have liked to try out a more ‘vintage’ approach to the production. It probably could have more Bawden/Piperish look. I’d like to return the image in the future to complete to my vision of the piece…

Layered Image
A Few More Layers & Layers
Advertisements

Ideas – Assignment 2: Writing a Brief & Creating Moodboards

Starting Point ~ Writing a Brief

Week beginning ~ 9 February 2015
After The Storm, Bernie Fuchs, 1997
After The Storm, Bernie Fuchs, 1997

I started my research by looking around for illustration styles and eras that directly appealed to me. I found that I was drawn to twee, girly, fashion, hipster imagery. So I looked and re-examined imagery which could have a deeper connection to the creativity I seek. I found then I was drawn to a much darker, more foreboding look. I spent far too much time agonising over my choices. Finally I decided to choose an image that bore little resemblance to my initial thoughts, a Bernard Fuchs illustration: After The Storm, 1997. What drew me to this piece was it’s evocative, stormy, expansive ambience. It appeals to me because it reminds me of the beatific, melancholic tension of Australian outback landscapes, which for me, as I have identified in my previous posts, are so familiar and intrinsic. I discovered that the illustration was created to complement a poem. The content of which describes the hardships of the ranchers of rural America. I was really intrigued as there is so much connection to the Aussie rural way of life…. So I tried to find the prose for the image, but could not pinpoint it exactly. I discovered that it could have either come from ‘”Home on the Range: Cowboy Poetry” by Paul Janeczko or from “Raising Yoder’s Barn” by Jane Yolen. I spent too long fretting over it all that I was losing valuable work time. Eventually I came across a poem that is so similar in content and action that I decided to use it to inspire the briefing process. I drew up a plan and wrote up my research and ides in my sketchbook alongside the poem and the image…

AfterTS_SktchBk
Poetry in Motion

The poem: Tempered Souls by Darin Brookman

I’ve seen the horses gamely trot
Defiant in the still.
With ears pricked up as if to test The nerve in Nature’s will.
I’ve seen the lightning bridge the gap
‘
Tween heavens and the sod,
Like careless insults tossed about
By some ill-tempered god.
I’ve heard the thunder roll across
The wide and lonely plain,
As to proclaim the coming
Of the driving, pelting rain.
Then in the keeping of the storm
I’ve stood with hobbled heart,
As things that man might build or plan
Were rudely torn apart.
But after each and every storm
In spite of what has passed,
I’ve watched in awe as new sun gave
The world a polished cast.
The ponies graze contented now
That storm on mem’ry’s rolls.
Their backs still wet they carry on
With bruised but tempered souls.

With the poem and image in hand, I generated some ideas for constructing a brief. (Click on Poetry in Motion image to read the research detail). I thought about the client, and decided I would go with an American theme. The client would be a kind of hipster US publishing agent that care about their products.

I thought that they would write a blueprint with quite a young voice. So I looked at retro hipster style graphics and chose a blocky retro theme. I customised a free CV template which encouraged me to segment and plan the brief content.

I gave the client a name, QuirkyT (not terribly original but it fitted nicely in my template shape, (graphic design habits dying hard))… Then I constructed a friendly briefing intro to Bernie Fuchs which described the product, followed by a compliment to the artist to give him confidence that he was chosen with the greatest intention. Next I focused on his talents and what the client would want in relation to the artists talents. I finally added the poem and then a briefing on the expected response, I detailed the look and tone, identified the audience, and added some suggested inspiration. (I did a fair amount of research here probably overdoing it on the time again).

There’s also a timeline and visual referencing. I looked at the seascapes of Turner because I saw a similar tumult and astral violence that is evident in Fuchs’s image. I asked the artist to look at Hopper for the feeling of forlorn emptiness in a US both rural and urban through the early to mid 20th Century. I also chose Joe Jones’s illustration because he focused on the ‘dust bowl’ and the great depression of America, which had the same kind of ethos as the pioneering ranching. As can be seen in the detail above I gave the artist reference and inspiration words. I suggested alternative sources of research such as the American Carpenter Gothic ~ which has that quintessential American craftsmen quality. Anyway here is the brief in its entirety…

Brief-Template
Make it Brief!
Week beginning ~ 23 February 2015

 Spider Diagrams ~ Brainstorming ~ Ideas Generation

I’m more of a fan of word lists, doodles and sketches. At the risk of being ostracised by all who sail in them ~ I think Spider diagrams are a corporate invention from the 1980s Thatcher/Reagan-up-the-ladder-jack-capitalistic era. They denote all that elitist manager-knows-best crap to me and they are quite often used in place of cooperative idea exchange. As you can see I have a slight aversion to them, though I do employ them upon occasion… Anyway, here they are and I did find the exercise very useful, it was really interesting testing them out on my family…

A Clutter of Spiders
A Clutter of Spiders ~ click to open high res ~ zoom for detail!

My findings ~The easiest word to expand was ‘angry’ – oh oh! Really scary, it must be highly significant in my subconscious because I was really fixated on it and I think it was kind of cathartic and also exciting! The most tricky and least fluid for me was ‘festival’ ~ Why? I’ve been to heaps of festivals, both music and cultural, perhaps they don’t figure highly in my subconscious imaging process? It’s a shame because my love of all things twee and retro should have really taken off from the word ‘festival’… And, funnily enough my husband found festival the easiest and angry the hardest, yet he is more overtly grumpy than both me and my daughter. My daughter found ‘seaside’ really easy even though she absolutely hates the beach and tried actively to avoid it all the time we lived in Australia… Strange… However, I think  the words and connectors in my ‘seaside’ diagram had the most profound emotional content comparatively, it actively revolves round the things that I consider important to my well being. So my guess is my time in Australia has a profound hold on my subconscious….

Week beginning ~ 02 March 2015

 Words to Pictures

‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’ by Betty Edwards was de riguer when I first went to art school. But TBH I think I work much more instinctively and can only function by observation and when I am immersed. I studied fashion design initially and found it a little restrictive as I am an instinctive kind of a gal… But it left me with life long love of couture craft, knitted surfaces, textile arts etc… In fact I utilised pattern cutting and millinery construction processes when I went on to study fine art ~ mainly focusing on soft sculpture. So naturally, from the list of words in the exercise I chose ‘fashion’.

It was quite an interesting experiment. I started sketching and the first attempts were completely obvious and far to commonplace. I though about clothes, fabrics, texture, models, runway, era, diet, shoes shoes shoes (my favourite vice).. But still it was all to simplistic…

WordsnPics_1
Is the Pen Mightier than the Knitting Needle?

So next I scanned some of my favourite stuff… I absolutely love crafty knitting, FAIR ISLE just ROCKS!!! I also love stripes, knitted or jersey… I looked at fabric colour and colour palettes that I would love. I thought about young hipster dudes, both male and female. They seem to have attuned retro/modern/craft/twee/hardman style all into one pretty fab look. So I sketched my version of a couple who might have that code of dress. Yes, Dr Who, bow ties are cool!!!

Hispters_et_al
Hispters & All…

I felt a bit more in tune with my intent. So I did my next favourite thing and did some colour combining. I love the colour Chartreuse, which is kind of greeny mustardy yellow. I experimented with it in conjunction with other jewel tones (the Chartreuse and pink in the bottom left column work best for me), then I just went a bit random.. I also returned to my obsession with yarned surfaces… So sketched a little texture ~ fairlisle and cable… Finally I returned to the original quick sketching process and found that I was a wee bit more fluid this time.. so I guess if I can create momentum I can make some headway in quick imaging.

Brief-Bits_2
Somewhere Over the Rainbow…
Week beginning ~ 16 March 2015

Moodboards

So moodboards ~ This exercise appealed to me greatly ~ so much so that I got really bogged down and freaked out in the planning of it. Yes I know, it was not supposed to be meticulously planned, it was supposed to be an ideas generating process. But of course I chose to focus on the word ‘fashion’ again. And as I had a million things running around my head relating to that I got into a silly obsessional headspace over it.

I grabbed my sewing machine and all the bits and pieces I could find, considering most of my stuff is packed away in boxes… Suffice to say I was quite pleased with the outcome. Here it is as it was made. It’s followed by a set up or a kind of installation version that I thought would add more to it as I had plenty of haberdashery at my disposal……

Mood_Itself_v2
Alone in a Mood

I thought that a Fashion moodboard might be something found lying around in a garment sewing room. So I got out my patterns, yarns, cottons, pattern cutting rulers graph paper etc… (forgot my cutting shears ~ I’ve got a beautiful old pair of Morplan black handled ground steel scissors… ah well). I thought this would enhance the piece and add textural dimensions to it… Though I think the stitching and the eclectic sourcing of the board is fairly busy on its own. I used no glue, I stitched the entire cascade so every join is for real… This is a process that I adopted throughout my fine art practice. So for example, at my degree show I built a large column structure, floor to ceiling, out of hand-cast plaster reliefs, I used only ‘plaster strapping’ in the architecture. I dipped rolled scrim in plaster and then created a kind of dripping plaster G Clamp from it. I felt that the structure had truth and integrity about it. I try to be mindful of keeping a process as honest as possible. It seems important in this age of digital trickery….

Mood_Set_2
All set up…

My favourite bit of the board is the middle panel it has an eclectic mix of retro and high fashion imagery which feels satisfying. The scrabble letter are a bit of a worry as it looks like it says something akin to ‘arse’, but I’m sure on close inspection it’s fairly obvious that it says ‘yourself’, hopefully!!!

Mood_Centre
It’s all in the Detail…

I am familiar with moodboards from my fashion days and through working as a graphic designer. Though of course in more recent times I have utilised digital media for the purpose. Not half as much fun nor even remotely as creative. I really enjoyed making this piece, it felt really good to be back on my sewing machine and I love ripping up bits of magazine and paper sundries… In fact, I keep scrapbooks from graphics and stuff I find around, I am in a rural place right now so it’s a little more difficult to find stuff, below are some extracts from the books. They’re great sources of reference, they’ve mostly been created for my work as a graphic designer, but theres always illustration, print, fine art, texture, textile, photographs etc.. I just put in what I love at the time, then I usually annotate or anywise why or what I’ve got… (you know the drill ~ click to open in new window ~ zoom at will!!)

Scapbook Board
My Own Private Idaho

I also have stashes of beautiful fabrics for pattern, colour and textural inspiration…

fabrics-board
Hoarders Anonymous

Say Hello

Starting Point ~ Research & Experimentation 

Week beginning ~ 3 November 2014

I began by explaining my assignment to my family. I asked them to help me draw up a list of words either positive or negative that relate to me. I wondered how I could introduce myself to any stranger so I also added relevant words.

Word World
Word World

 I continued a dialogue with my family around the words and things that either obsess or amuse me. I sketched out some thumbnails.

Let to Right ~ type grid, hair type, head spew type, fashion stuff, patchwork, type bubbles
Left to Right ~ type grid, hair type, head spew type, fashion stuff, patchwork, type bubbles

Idea one ~ type grid: this would consist of relevant words created in a retro style hand rendered font style filling an A6 (standard postcard) area. Idea two ~ My face with my hair as the type this was based around 60s retro stuff that I researched – culinating in a mood board of psychedelic images and hand rendered type.

Hello Mood Board...
Hello Mood Board…

Idea three ~ just flowed on; I thought about all the words coming form my head, though this seemed such an obvious image. Idea four ~ was nothing much, just sketched my silly bag and shoes, didn’t pursue this for more than few moments. Idea five ~ the patchwork quilt with images and words take from the list grid ~ I really likes this idea but the when I tried to explain it to my poor audience they all sighed… Idea six ~ I referred to a photo I took here in the Pyrenees, blowing bubbles outside on my mothers land. I thought the bubbles could be made up of hand rendered type and float away into the landscape, again this seemed a little trite. 

Construction ~ Research & Experimentation 

Week beginning ~ 10 November 2014

I was in my usual chaotic headspace, so in attempt to organise my process I printed out a reduced size mood board, cut it up, stuck it in my sketchbook and I started to sketch out the words in various retro styles. I also photocopied my list to port it over to the pages I was creating (not sure why, but somehow it gave me psychological support)…

Sketch Away
Sketch Away

My inspiration for the type mash up came mainly from my beautiful book Retro Fonts, by Gregor Stawinski – I looked at various weights and forms that appeared to relate to the words. I trawled the web for inspiration too, as I had this 60s is theme evolving.

Retro Fonts, Gregor Stawinski,  Laurence King Publishing Ltd, London, 2009,   Exmaples, Pages 168-169, 416-417
Retro Fonts, Gregor Stawinski,
Laurence King Publishing Ltd, London, 2009,
Exmaples, Pages 168-169, 416-417

Once I had sketched out a few words I photocopied and scanned what I had to date. I coloured the copies and analysed what was there.

Torn Words ~ Head Start
Torn Words ~ Head Start

From this point I decided to go with the face/hair thing. I looked at fashion drawings from the 60s/70s. I had an old collection of Aussie ‘Dolly’ magazines. I thought about the ‘watercolour/feltippy’ style and the mood of the drawings…

Illustrations ~ Dolly Magazine, Australia, 1973
Illustrations ~ Dolly Magazine, Australia, 1973

Construction ~ Stage Two

Week Beginning ~ 17 November 2014

The next stage was to envisage a colour palette for the illustration. I did some research into my birthday, the seasons in which I was born and my physical colouring. I have worked with graphic palettes and understand fully the whole system. I would usually choose a palette of 3 and a neutral as is advised in most reasonable layouts, or a couple of opposites and a neutral, two tones and a neutral etc etc… However when I used the research based around my birthday, colouring etc. The advice was to use an autumn palette, of course I am used to people telling me I am an autumn coloured person. Olive skin etc. BUT I don’t necessarily want to so I explored a bit, got out the watercolours and constructed a palette I kind of liked.

Colour Me Bad
Colour Me Bad

Having traced and scanned the words and the palettes that I constructed.

Wordsworth
Wordsworth

Starting with Illustrator and photoshop I traced and manipulated bitmaps and vectors. From here I used masks to drop the watercolour palettes into the words to keep the had rendered effect. The process was quite detailed, as the counters and swishes of the letters often need separate treatments. Anyway it took ages…

Words-in-Progress
Words-in-Progress

Once the words were mostly finished I worked on a watercolour of my head from the sketchbook drawings ~ The process: scanning, printing, scribbly transfer, redraw, watercolour…

Trace, Scribble, Watercolour, Copy etc...
Trace, Scribble, Watercolour, Copy etc…

The Final Hello

Week Beginning 24 November 2014

By this stage I could begin to put all the elements together. I used photoshop to create the basic structure and introduced the letters to the file. I dropped a face underneath the letter layers and began to warp the words into a kind of hair formation.

Head~Wood
Head~Wood

Once I had completed the hair I worked on constructing the postcard. I researched french postcards, the wording, the stamps etc.. I used a basic A6 template to composite onto. I wrote out the message on the back of the card utilising and highlighting the echoed the words that make up the image. Hope the message is sort of funny…

Postcards From The Edge
Postcards From The Edge

Finally I reworked the head bit as it was patchy. I printed out the head and traced roughly round the hair to create a cutout backdrop, I used the bitmap clipping mask technique again and multiplied through two layers (scanned watercolour blobs)… I am happy to share my CS techniques with you all at anytime…

Hairy Times
Hairy Times

Finally I put the head and the postcard together, I experimented with background colours for the head, I ended up with a pale pink wash. I simplified the face a bit too. I just used a one colour bitmap. I think this is it. I could go on but I son’t think I’ll gain anything by reworking yet again…

Say Hello
Say Hello

The History of Illustration

Exercise 1 – Research

Week beginning ~ 13th October 2014

The list of illustrators included in the project research brief is fascinating. To examine the history of 20th century practice is a great leveler. This last decade of the 21st century has seen a burst of graphic and visual communication in the guise of a cacophony of style and content. The public is ready to accept conceptual communiqué, which is awesome, but sometime the craft and emotion is lost in a post modern quagmire. I looked at all the designer/artist on the list supplied. Of course I absolutely adore Kathleen Hale and EH Shepherd, after all I was born in the late sixties, my parents in the 30s and my grandparents in the Victorian and Edwardian era. Winnie the Pooh and Orlando the Marmalade Cat were in abundant supply at my family home… However, I have chosen the work of John Minton to examine more closely because he and his contemporaries were illustrating and painting from the raw emotion born from two world wars. Bawden, Ravillious and Ardizzone can also be included in the genre, though I am focussing on Minton as I see emotion, pathos and melancholy in the figurative elements of his work.

minton
Blitzed City with Self Portrait
Blitzed City with Self Portrait
by John Minton 1941

Although the work is of its time it travels through the decades due to the powerful and emotive imagery. I have chosen “Blitzed City with Self Portrait” which is housed in the befitting environment of the Imperial War Museum in London. The image does reflect the ‘fashions’ of the 40s obviously, the car, the way Minton is dressed and also the lack of heterogeneous high-rise architecture, but I feel it still reflects the gritty urban chaos that is ever-present in the less affluent parts of London. And of course Minton’s work references the birth of modern art, although he was tightly held by the more conservative Royal Academy. Minton is said to have been part of the neo romanticism movement of the 1920s, its aim to record and surmise the future of Britain. This would explain the melancholy imagery of a war-torn landscape. However, I also see visual parallels with Munch, Chagall, and the expressionists. It is easy to see why this style could adhere to illustration and translate into narrative imagery. I decided to focus on  Shaun Tan as my choice of contemporary illustrator, whose work also echoes elements of whimsical pathos and melancholia. Tan’s work references a style which belongs to the art of Australia, where empty lonely spaces are filled with distant surreal characters which create De Chiricoesque hypnogogic style. This type of imagery reflects life in early Australia and also the space and atmosphere still present in the landscape, both rural and urban.. Having lived, worked and travelled extensively in Australia for ten years, only returning to Europe in 2014, I thought it would be more interesting to analyse an environment which has become familiar to me over the years but in which I was also a stranger. I understood the feelings of melancholia and emptiness that are often portrayed in Australian art and I think the reason for this is because many practitioners are immigrants or first generation Australians. Australia is a reasonably untapped country, where many have been uprooted from their traditions and have been set down in an enormous, beatific but also extremely harsh environment. Shaun Tan’s work genuinely reflects the tradition of Australian painting whilst also introducing quirky contemporary themes. I have included the work of Jeffrey Smart in order to illustrate where Tan’s influences. The two images below illustrate the proximity of an Oceanic style. Jeffrey Smart’s ‘Cahill Expressway’ (a seminal painting for 20th Century Australia) and Tan’s ‘Lost Thing’ are frequently cited together to illustrate how Tan has used Australian art to fuel his narrative. Smart was a seminal Australian painter in during the 20th century. He described his own work as having an “Orwellian Gloom” something reflected in the imagery of Tan. I believe there are parallels to Minton whose imagery also vaguely Orwellian.

Smart-v-tan2
Image 1: Cahill Expressway, Jeffrey Smart, 1962 – Image 2: The lost Thing, Shaun Tan, 2000

Tan captures the essence of melancholia both in the narrative (as Shaun favours his own text for illustration) and in the imagery through drawing and painting. He states that there is no set procedure to his methods and that he may start with a drawing and then write the narrative or vica versa . He starts by roughing out ideas  and when there is sufficient definition he traces cleanly to a layout pad for proceeding activities such as scanning. He paints in sequence from dark to light and traces out white lines onto the dark backgrounds. Tan sometimes works over photocopied of his work in acrylic. He also states that he employs wide variety of media where necessary, such as scratchboards, watercolour, assemblage, oil paint for more opaque results and a host of other techniques.

 Exercise 1 – Have a go 

Week beginning ~ 20th October 2014
OurHouseWeb
First Steps

Having looked at Minton in during the research week I decided to examine two images of bombed London streets during the blitz.

These images appealed to me because I grew up in Victorian terraced London and I have an imprint of the urban ugly-beauty that goes hand in hand with this environment.I chose to illustrate the corner of my childhood home in Finsbury Park sign a map reference and an old photo.My house was second from the corner. I chose the image of me aged 20ish when I was at Camberwell studying sculpture and just about to move away from home. I imagined arriving home and mounting the pavement on the corner as I had always done. Only this time the scene felt like a recurrent dream I have that takes me back to this house.

My dream scene is wintry and melancholy so I tried to sketch out with this in mind. I used a kind of ‘back and forth’ technique the silly one from school – You take the drawing you’ve made and scribble furiously over the back and then trace through the drawing again to get a kind of scribbly light image. I thought I could rework from there.I like to use techniques that repeat until the chaos (I am a chaotic image maker) subsides.

Layering ~ This Way n That
Layering ~ This Way n That

I traced, layered and redrew, I guess there’s no real final just a series of experiments.

Exercise 1 – Have Another Go

Week Beginning ~ 27 October 2014

 

BunyipnMood1
Mood Images & First Sketch. (Top left image ~ Tales of Suburbia ~ Shaun Tan)

 As stated in the research I looked at the work of Shaun Tan for my second attempt to adopt the style of an illustrator. I particularly loved his book Tales of Suburbia so I used an image from this book that reminded me of the side entrance to my house in Sydney. 

I began sketching from photos that I had taken of my backyard in Sydney. I then adapted the form of the landscape a little to capture that same dreamlike melancholy that I sought previously.  

I used soft thick graphite pencils and a rubber to try to draw through the image. It’s the usual chaos but perhaps that suits this particular image.

Bunyips & Backyards
Bunyips & Backyards

The animal crouching in the alley is based on an Aussie mythical creature called a bunyip. I looked at various depictions of the creature, my favourite being a mash up of a dingo, a kangaroo and a duckbilled platypus.

Striving for Sepia
Striving for Sepia

I then went through a process of rendering the image via scribbly transfer drawing through to tracing out.

I also thought about the ethereal nature of the image and decided a kind of sepia effect would be in keeping. So I used the scribbly transfer method on highly marbled paper which I stained with coffee (I know it’s a time-honoured technique but Shaun Tan did state that he similar methods in his work). The result is dark and foreboding but also bit chaotic as ever…

Exercise 2 ~ Getting The Gist

Week Beginning ~ 3 November 2014

I chose to examine an article that I read in the September edition of French Marie Claire. The title caught my eye ~ Nous Sommes Tous Aurelie MartinWhich translates as We Are All Aurelie Martin. The article looked at a diverse group of 30 year old women who all had the same name due to the popularity of Aurelie as a girl’s christian name in 1984 plus the fact that Martin is the most common surname in France. The article examined the pros and cons of a common name and then focused on the group and their achievements. I underlined the words that I felt identified the essence of the article, then I constructed a quick brainstorm sketch. I had a little think about the most important factors that survived my efforts and then sketched thumbnails etc…

Sketch
Brainstorm

I sketched out two main thumbnails.

Inside ~ Outside
Inside ~ Outside

The first from a direct passage in the article which identified a practice in telemarketing where the operators are given common inoffensive names to use when they cold call. The main female nomenclature is, of course, Aurelie Martine. I was shocked at this malpractice and thought that it might make a poignant image. I used masks to represent their ‘Aurelie’ caller IDs.The second image which I felt worked better pictured the diverse Aurelies pulling the strings of a mannequin in an Aurelie T Shirt each girl has the same puppet. I thought that this represented the outside view of the girls but the real girls are standing behind pulling the strings confidently while smiling the face of the name plight…

I thought the mannequin image worked a little better. So I continued using my sketching techniques from the pervious exercise. I also experimented with colour.

I traced back and forth, used fineliners, Lyra pencils and the like. I am not overly happy with the results.

All Together Now
All Together Now
Kinda Done
Kinda Done