LAUIL603 SELF-INITIATED BRIEF: POETRY
I started this brief by re-visiting an image which I had made at the start of the year, I really like the content of the image and wanted to write a poem around it. I also thought I could improve the visuals of the piece as my practice has grown so much from the start of the year. Writing is quite a task for me – I enjoy the process but it’s a lot more draining than illustration is, like I could sit and draw for hours but writing really saps my energy for some reason.
I re-designed the image using more textures and added markings onto the watermelon but I still wasn’t happy with the way the illustration was turning out. I thought that it wasn’t accurately reflecting the tone of my writing and so I decided that perhaps a collage approach would be more suitable.
I searched for ages looking through old anatomical engravings and finally came across an image which I thought could potentially work. I was initially looking for watermelon engravings too but then I stumbled upon a vintage advertisement for fertilizer featuring this kooky watermelon man. I hadnâ€™t considered also re-appropriating vintage ads and illustrations such as this, Iâ€™d only approached collage through black and white etchings (which is all I used for COP3) and then coloured them myself if I wanted to add colour. I changed the levels of the medical illustration on Photoshop and copied the watermelon in place of the brain. I used the healing brush to remove the arms on the watermelon man and also to clean up parts of both illustrations. I then added my own drawn lines to further the illusion that they were both a part of one image. Even at this stage of the process I was way more confident in the illustration and thought that it better represented the tone of my poem.
I finalised this particular spread at this stage and I was really proud of the result. I added a lot of shading to the watermelon and changed it’s colour so I could give the illusion that the watermelon was embedded in this human head. A lot of my poem was informed by the illustration as it was the visual idea which came before the poem. I researched watermelons (which sounds silly) but I found a traditional Japanese game called Suikawari that requires the participants wear a blindfold and swing at a watermelon with a stick until it is broken – they then share around the pieces of the broken watermelon to eat. The part I most enjoy about my practice is the relationships I form between text and image. Writing can be particularly frustrating but I enjoy the opportunity it provides me to add extra layers of meaning to my work. There’s an old saying that a picture is worth 1,000 words but I find that writing combined with image allows me to say more!!
I find that now my process for illustration is a lot of searching for appropriate resources for collage, research for writing in terms of certain words and getting inspirations from other poems, and also my development work is just digital so when it comes to showing my development I don’t have a lot to include?? Writing takes up a lot of time but it’s not as if I can include my notebook pages as development because it’s literally just blocks of incoherent scribbles and I don’t see how it would benefit me time-wise to scan stuff like that in?? Also I doubt anyone would want to look through my notebooks as part of submission.
For my second poetry spread I decided to re-use the finches that I was drawing for my picture book brief as I had decided against going through with that. I wanted the illustration to show the birds tending to an open wound to reflect a poem that I had been working on. I found an old medical illustration online showing some kind of procedure and so I loaded it into Photoshop and went about fusing the two elements together. I like the idea with collage that I can combine found imagery to make something new but then I can also add my own stuff into it to make it more uniquely mine. I was having a mini breakdown to Pete about my practice becoming solely collage-based and not doing much drawing anymore but I think I have struck a nice balance between collage and still being able to apply my visual signature.
Again I used the healing brush to get rid of the belt which was around the top of the arm and I placed one of the birds in a position as it was holding open the wound. I began working into the arm with an oil paint brush I downloaded from Kyle T Webster as the original image was of quite a low quality. I used the grave etcher brushes in illustrator to add some lines over the top of the arm to further distract from the fact that it was low resolution.
I really was unhappy with the hand from the original illustration as no matter how much I went in to try and improve it the quality still looked quite bad. I decided that I would have to replace the hand so I sourced a vintage hand illustration from a cigarette ad, I saw an opportunity for me to replace the packet of cigarettes with a bird as the position of the hand lent itself to me being able to superimpose something else in. I decided that neither of my bird paintings were working and so I downloaded a stock free Goldfinch and used that instead.
After adding the bird and the hand onto the original image I moved the open wound further up the wrist and I decided that the rest of the arm wasnâ€™t working and that I would need to paint the rest of the forearm myself to mimic that of the recent hand which I had sourced from a vintage advertisement. I cut off the original image past the elbow and used Kyleâ€™s oil brushes. I think it was smart of me to recognise that the old design just wasnâ€™t working and that I needed a new approach.
I added canvas texture over the top of the parts which I painted to blend in with the hand. The digital painting was looking really flat in comparison with the collage which hand obviously painted irl. I found that when I added the texture the forearm seemed to blend better with the hand, I still think I need to do some more work to make the combination more seamless but I’m happy with the results thus far!
I added a section of a vintage medical illustration for muscles over the wound which I had painted to make it more authentic. I duplicated the selection to show depth and then I added some dark veins over the top to keep the realism up. It took me so long to get to a stage where I was happy with the aesthetic of the wound. Unsure as to whether I should have blood oozing out but the poem that I am in the middle of writing is based around delicate subject matter so I don’t want to be too graphic purely for shock value!
I drew a faint black line around the goldfinch and added some shadows to make the design feel more dimensional! I also added sutures to the arm and wrapped the thread around the beak of the goldfinch which I thought was a nice touch. I talked about this when I was evaluating my second selfportrait but I like the way I’m starting to evidence a deeper understanding of collage and being able to join disparate elements together in intelligent ways.
(Sometimes I worry that my work can come across as being sensationalist and that I just use violent imagery for the sake of it but hopefully from the ‘Splitting Headache’ poetry spread it is evident that it is purposeful and reflects the mature content of what I do!)