Book of Portraits Part 5: Alice Liddell

I’ve started working on illustrating Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll for the YCN Student awards competition in honour of the books 150th anniversary. I started with some very quick research into Alice Liddell, the alleged inspiration behind Carroll’s Alice, and drew some portraits of her in my book of portraits. After speaking to my lecturer about my apprehension in illustrating and extremely famous and iconic story, I decided to go ahead with the project and together we discussed ways in which the story could be illustrated differently, and a big topic of discussion was interpreting Alice as a teenager of young woman rather than a child.

I therefore drew images of Alice Liddell as both a child and young woman and completely agree with my lecturer and am more inclined to portray Alice older than she usually is, especially after re-reading the book and noticing all the metaphors of the confusion of growing up and leaving childhood behind, a notably example being when Alice grows and shrinks. As well as this, many themes such as the loss of childhood and innocence I looked at during my research for my dissertation and they are easily applicable to Alice making a nice connection between my studio practice and dissertation research.

I began drawing with blue pencil again, working quickly in order to improve and refine my drawing of faces. After this, I painted some quick ink drawings of the same images, using a lot of water to create the effect in the clothing and hair. As mentioned in my last post on my book of portraits, I had decided to combine my interest of the Russian Revolution and the Romanov family with my illustrations of Alice and have already begun to make interesting connections between the two, but will post a more in depth post about my notes a latter stage.

Virgin Mary Watercolour and Screen-Print Edits

Here are some edits it did of some of the Mary screen-prints that didn’t print very well. The image above is just a watercolour painting I did based on my original image just to experiment with colour and watercolour application, and I’m quite pleased with the outcome even though I think it could be improved greatly, however I do really like the halos, especially because of the different colour yellows within them.

With the prints themselves, I used inks an bleach to experiment with and create different looks to the image. Below are a series of images that I used both quink ink and bleach on in order to create an old and ruined look to the icon, similar to the ruined icons I had seen in earlier research. I really like the outcome of these images, particularly the last two which are completely painted, not just the halo like the first two. I think the combination of the colours with the unfinished look of the original prints really help create the old, weathered and ruined look.

After these experiments, I worked and creating an image inspired by the various stained glass windows I had seen during my research. I drew over the outline of one of the prints with black ink before painting it with watered down inks, in order the achieve the stained glass look, and I have mixed feelings about the final outcome overall. I like the effect of the two robes and think the bleeding of the colour has world very well, however, I don’t think the skin tones or halo have worked quite as well and think I maybe should have used more muted colours instead. This could also be due to me using watercolours instead of inks for the colour here and therefore creating a different effect. Next time, I think I will just use inks only in order to achieve the desired effect.

The Selfish Giant: Sketchbook Work

Here is some rough sketchbook work and ideas from my on going Selfish Giant project, including a rough idea for a book cover, experiments with dip pen and sepia ink and rough ideas for the look of the Giant’s castle, which is mainly inspired by Cardiff Castle. Even though it’s just a rough idea, I’m not too pleased with the book cover design as I think I need something which captures the story more rather than just recreating the medieval style for the sake of it, so this is something that is definitely going to be changed at some point. The dip pen experiments didn’t last very long or really lead anywhere and so I don’t think I’ll be exploring that any further for this project, however it was still fun to use a dip pen and ink again so at some point I may end up using it, possibly for small outlines.

I really struggled with the design of the Giant’s castle and still aren’t too happy with it. I wanted something that combined both my research from Cardiff Castle and my research from medieval manuscripts and illustration and don’t think I’ve quite got there yet, however this is something that I think I’m coming closer to achieving as I’ve continued my research. I think I may have been over complicating the design of the castle and may need to simplify it more. As, well as this, I’ve included two images from my earlier compositions that I’ve redrawn in a landscape form in order to included more detail and to possibly use as a double page spread in the book. I quite like this idea of possibly having one or two double page illustrations in the book and may explore this more later on when I have sorted out my colour palette and other illustrations. I’m more happy with the first image and think that works better as a double page spread, particularly with the castle in the middle, however, I am still working on the finalization of the design for the Giant’s garden and think the second illustration would work better when that has been decided. Also, I believe both would look great with colour, especially because they would feature opposing colours, as one of them is set in the winter, the other in the summer.

Life Drawing Part 3

Today I did some life drawing for the first time in a while and once again really enjoyed it. As usual, I was a bit rusty at first by quickly started to become more confident with my drawing as the session went on. I decided to continue using different coloured pencils for this session and I really like the final outcome of the images. We started with quick 3 minute poses to warm up before moving on to 10 minute poses, which I preferred as I managed to add more detail and refine my drawing within that time space. I often struggle drawing the male figure more than the female form, so this session has been really beneficial in that aspect, especially with the interesting poses that were used, some of which i can see me using within my work. 3 Minute Poses.

10 Minute Poses.

Dyffryn House and Gardens Sketches and Paintings

Here a some of the sketches and ink paintings I did after visiting Dyffryn House and Gardens. The brief for the live project involved illustrating what the house could have been like when the Cory family were living in it, as there is not much known about it. I originally wanted to take part in the project and started working on it over the Christmas holidays, however with dissertation and my on going projects I found it difficult to fit this project in and so decided not to take part in it. Despite this, I did some work in my sketchbooks inspired by the house and have included it in this post. I started with some simple pencil drawings before moving on to some quink ink paintings. I happy with most of the images but I think some could be improved. I found drawing and painting some of the architecture rather difficult and wasn’t too happy with the final result, however this is only rough sketchbook work and was intended to be experimentation and practice. I more happy with the drawings and paintings of the statues from the grounds but still enjoyed drawing the house and its features as well. I’m also pleased with the quink ink paintings, especially the colours as I think they help capture the big and empty atmosphere of the house and they remind me of old photographs. I achieved this look by drawing the images out first, before then painting over them with water and applying the in in some areas and letting it bleed and run through the water.

Book of Portraits Part 4: The Romanovs I

Over Christmas I was busy with my dissertation but now and then I really just wanted to draw something quick so decided to continue working in my book of portraits. After looking back on past work involving Russia’s last imperial family, the Romanovs, I chose to revisit this within my current work.

I started with some quick, rough pencil sketches of the family members before painting ink portraits of the family. I’m quite happy with most of these portraits and believe I have captured most of the family member quite well. There are a few I’m not entirely happy with, however I do find it rather difficult to draw a person exactly how they look and am mostly pleased overall.

After these portraits, I moved on to drawing more full bodied portraits using a blue coloured pencil. I really like the outcome of these, particularly the two featuring the Romanov sisters, however I did find it difficult to put lots of detail in some of them, especially the group family portrait. I showed these to one of my tutors while discussing ideas for my project illustrating Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and received positive feedback. We discussed possibly combining the two and giving Alice a Russian twist and using it as a reflection of the Russian Revolution or setting it in other political fuelled backdrops. This is something I think I am definitely going to explore as I am very interesting in the Romanov family and the Russian Revolution, and have also read a few books on the subject.


Constellation: PDP 2015

Thinking about writing a dissertation was a very daunting experience, especially since I am not particularly academic or used to writing as much anymore. Inspired by the rise in recent fairy tale adaptations in film, I decided to focus my research on this but wasn’t sure on what aspect of this I wanted to focus on in particular. The proposal which I handed in at the end of my second year was very broad at first, however as I began my research and attended the tutorials, the subject matter began to narrow down and I eventually settled on the representation of women within fairy tales, using Snow White as an example.

At first, I thought I would struggle immensely with writing a dissertation, but even though the experience has been stressful and intimidating, overall it has been a surprisingly enjoyable experience. I often struggle with time management and this is something with I believed would hinder my progress, however I believe I have managed to balance this during the dissertation time period due to a number of factors. Firstly, we were introduced to the dissertation in second year and therefore we had roughly a year to work on it, which helped me greatly as it give me plenty of time to properly decide what subject matter I wanted to research and write about.

Secondly, knowing roughly what I wanted to write about for my dissertation early on meant that I could start reading and researching the subject matter as soon as possible, which I mostly did during the summer. By doing this, I then had more time to write my dissertation throughout the end of the summer and autumn term, and could really define the keys aspects I wanted to focus on as there was a lot of information to take in at first and a lot of potential avenues to explore. While I was doing this, I really worked on my organisation skills, something which like time management I have also struggled with in the past. As I was reading, I made a lot of notes and typed up important quotes from academics; referencing them properly as I was going in order to save time at the end of the dissertation. By doing this, it also made it easier for me to insert or paraphrase academic theories into my own analysis of my chosen case studies, which I had typed up in a separate document to begin with.

Another aspect of the dissertation which I found extremely helpful towards the development of my research and writing was the regular tutorials I had throughout the year. With the advise and direction of my tutor, I viewed the tutorials as miniature deadlines and aimed to achieve something by each one so I could then show my tutor who helped me greatly with the progress overall. I managed to keep this up for most of my tutorials which meant that I could keep myself organised and maintain my time keeping without becoming to stressed or bogged down with work. These deadlines also helped me to roughly write the majority of my analysis up before the Christmas holidays meaning I only had to add the theory, which I had typed up separately.

I choose to focus on fairy tales in my dissertation because it is a subject matter I have always been interested in and am familiar with. I was also very familiar with the case studies I used in my dissertation and had an idea of certain scenes I could talk about, however my research into academic studies of fairy tales highlighted themes and motifs I had never even considered before in these adaptations. In terms of relevance to my practice, fairy tales had been illustrated and adapted into film countless times and so I thought it would be interesting to see how one story can be adapted differently, showing me how I could interpret this into my own work when illustrating a well known story that has been illustrated before. I was quite surprised that I ended up just focusing on films as case studies as I originally planned to analyse illustrations of fairy tales as well. Despite this, I think the dissertation worked better with just the four films as case studies and reflected not only the different ways a story can be retold, but also a sort of journey of fairy tales within film and the current trend. As well as my current projects, I am working towards illustrating Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and have been quite apprehensive due to how well known it is and how many different times is has been illustrated and adapted. However, writing my dissertation has shown me how a story can be retold differently by focusing on different themes and using symbolism, and I can easily apply this knowledge not only to this project, but future ones as well.

The most difficult parts of the dissertation for me included the layout, cutting down the word count and the title. I kept the layout rather simple at first, mainly because I had a lot of information and got confused at times at what would go where, but the layout developed as I continued to write and edit, and I believed I still managed to have a continuous flow throughout the writing. I also found finding the right title for my dissertation quite tricky, however I did leave this till I had finished writing the entire paper before choosing a title which reflected exactly what I had been researching and writing about. As well as this, cutting information from my dissertation was difficult at first as I thought all of my analysis would be relevant to my research, nevertheless, I managed to chose what information was relevant to the dissertation and my research and edit the paper accordingly.

Despite some difficulties, overall I didn’t find the dissertation as difficult as I was initially expecting and I think this is due to me keeping on top of my time management and organisation. Also, I enjoyed researching and writing my analysis which I think really helped to keep me going. I believe that if I didnt enjoy the dissertation overall that would mean I hadn’t picked a topic I was that interested in, but I did not face this issue.

Dissertation Overview: The Portrayal of Women in Film Adaptations of Snow White

As my dissertation is now finished and handed in, I thought I would write a post about what I have researched and written about in my dissertation and how this is connected with my studio practice. For my dissertation, I looked at the portrayal of women and the representation of femininity in relation to the two female characters of the fairy tale ‘Snow White’, using for film adaptations of the story as case studies for this. The films include Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Snow White: A Tale of Terror (1997), Mirror Mirror (2012) and Snow White and the Huntsman (2012).

The first chapter of my dissertation featured academic perspectives on the tale of Snow White and highlighted some of the key themes and motifs that were present in many interpretations of the story. Some of the notable academics included Bruno Bettelheim, Marina Warner, Jack Zipes and Barbara Creed. Chapter two included an analysis of all four depictions of Snow White and the Evil Queen in the case studies in relation to the themes of vanity, beauty and passivity and a comparison of how these different themes have been portrayed over time. Chapter three continued this analysis, this time focussing on the monstrosity of the Queen, the innocence of Snow White and the role of mothers and nature within the story, and once again concluded with a comparison of the different interpretations.

From my research and analysis, I found that the story of Snow White has been interpreted and retold in my different ways, despite how well know it is. When I first started my dissertation, I didn’t make an instant connection between my research and my studio practice, however the more I researched and wrote, the more I began to make a connection with my practice. I concluded that this dissertation has shown my has a famous story can be retold differently and made fresh, something with I believe is very important in illustration as we are likely to face a similar situation in our work. As well as my continuing projects, I am currently working towards a live brief to illustrate Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) in celebration of its 150th anniversary. This dissertation therefore has shown me that I myself can find a new way to illustrate a famous story by focusing on particular themes of motifs within the story and highlighting this in my illustrations.