A project I completed as part of my university illustration course involved chasing a TED talk to illustrate through a series of illustrations. After watching a variety of different TED talks I chose to focus on Stefano Mancuso’s ‘The Roots of Plant Intelligence’. I chose this TED Talk for my project because I found they way Stefano Mancuso talked about plants very interesting, especially when he gave life to them and described them as almost having a mind of their own and this is a idea I thought could translate well into illustration.
Here are some of the key ideas and themes I took from the talk:
– the underestimation of plants by humans
– the comparison between plants and animals
– the mention of Noah sheltering animals on the ark, but not any plants
– the sophisticated senses of plants compared to animals
– the complex behaviour of plants
– the fact the the blue whale is thought to be the largest living creature on earth when there are trees much, much larger
– plants being considered low level organisms
– the movement of plants, e.g. growing,finding sunlight, flowering
– plants communicating with each other
– plants tricking insects and animals to distribute pollen
– the roots of the plants and the comparison between them and the brain
All of the points above are issues and ideas that I intended to explore my final illustrations for the project. I originally began my project by working traditionally, using mainly ink and a drawing pen but later on moved to colouring them digitally.
After my first critique for the project I started to colour my images, experimenting with different ways of applying colour to the images as suggested in the critique. I also was told that to re-think the idea of using the imagery of a brain in the images and to look into the shapes and patterns of plant roots compared to the shapes and patterns of brains and neurons. As well as this, I was given the idea to incorporate themes of nature verses man made, in relation to the idea of the underestimation of plants by humans, in the use of archways in the illustrations. I could do this by having the plants breaking out of and taking over the man made arches. As for the colouring of the images, I experimented with using a mix of gouache, ink and watercolour as well as gold ink for the archways. The painting process was taking a very long time to finish, mainly because there were quite large images, and eventually I began to run out of time and had to think of a different way to colour them.
I eventually ran out of time with this project and the day before the deadline I had to re-draw some images, scan all of them, clean them up on Photoshop and the digitally colour them. It was a very long day but was very rewarding as I finished all of the images and I was extremely pleased that I managed to meet the deadline. Also, I believe that I learned a lot about meeting deadlines in the future and having to change a project slightly at the last minute. Now that I managed to finish all of these in that one day, I know that I could get a lot done in one day if I set my mind to it
I am extremely pleased with these final images, even though I was hesitant about working digitally at first, but the block colours worked extremely well compared to my original paintings.