As there are the basis for my vision of Alice, I thought I would upload some quick sketches of the four Romanov Grand Duchesses. The sisters would often refer to themselves as OTMA, an acronym of their names, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia. I didn’t want to spend too long on these images and did them fairly quickly, starting off with blue pencil sketches before completing some ink paintings as well. I made the same images twice as I really liked the original photographs and wanted to see what they would look like in both sketch and ink form and I think I prefer most of the pencil sketches, however I do like how the ink has bleed in the other images. For some reason I really struggled with drawing Maria in all of these images more than the other sisters, and I don’t think the images of her are as strong as the others but she is posed in quite a difficult angle to draw and this just shows that I need more practice drawing portraits from different angles.
These are the images that I ended up submitting to the Pan Macmillan YCN Student Awards competition in honour of the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. They are the same images from a previous post just edited down to the right size that the brief asked for. The brief was very open and accepted any visual language giving me a lot of freedom to work with, however I do feel as though my work has started to go beyond the initial brief and so I submitted these images as they still correlate to the actual text and I wanted the experience of working on a live brief for this year.
Images originally from this post: https://scottkeenanillustration.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/alice-screen-printing-and-drawing/
Recently I have been experimenting with screen printing and drawing as a way of applying colour to my work and I am very pleased with the outcome. My tutor recommended trying printing with my work in order to get a flat bold colour that would evoke the propaganda images from the Russian Revolution. I used a blood red colour for the printing process in order to symbolise a number of things, the communist propaganda of the revolution, the death toll from the war, the death of the Romanov family, the Queen of Hearts and her bloodthirsty tendencies and finally Alice’s maturity.
After printing the images, I then drew back into them with a black pencil which created a very nice contrast and emphasised the red even more. I originally wanted to apply more colour to the images possibly using ink an d watercolour but was so pleased with how they turned out that I decided not too and think I made the right decision as applying more colour may have ruined them. Despite this, I could always copy them onto nice paper and then work back into them so I will still at least have the original illustrations.
Within these images, I also wanted to included a lot of the symbolism and allegory I have discussed previously and managed to do some of that. For example, in the mad tea party I wanted the Hatter to become a representation of Rasputin, who had a lot of influence on the imperial family, while the March Hare is a representation of the nobility at the time who greatly disapproved of Rasputin. The Romanov family is then personified within the confused Alice and the dormouse, the latter is wearing the imperial crown and both the Hatter and the Hare are trying to keep him to themselves.
As for the image of Alice with the roses, the symbolism there involves Alice entering adulthood and sexual maturity; a theme which had a appeared during my research into Snow White for my dissertation, particularly with the idea of red, white and black being symbols of blood, innocence, purity and death. As well as this, the roses are meant to represent the façade of the enchanted garden Alice spends the novel trying to reach, as ultimately it is not what she expected and the beauty of it is false; the roses for example aren’t really red but have just been painted that way. They also symbolise the death involved in the revolution and the falseness of the Queen’s beheading threats as it seems no one is ever actually beheaded.
The image of Alice in the house is taken directly from a drawing I had done during my development work which I photocopied onto cartridge paper in black and white before screen printing on the top of it and then drawing back into it. The house is stylised after the Ipatiev house where the Romanov family was murder and so the image itself becomes an allegory for the imprisonment of the family, just as Alice becomes a prisoner of sorts due to her growing, and the redness of the house a representation of the death that took place there.
One of the initial difficulties of this project was not knowing how dark to make it and how much of the terrible history to include within it. However as I have continued to work on the project, I have begun to move away from the Alice text and focus more upon the symbolism and meaning behind it rather than illustrating it literally. I really like working in this way for the project and will continue to do so, and my fears of the project possibly being to dark, as it did originally start out as a brief for a children’s book, are now pretty non existent. I think that the symbolism involved within these images aren’t overly obvious at the moment and so the dark nature may not be obvious to everyone, something which is common in children’s stories, particularly fairy tales as I have learned from my dissertation.
I have been finding this project very difficult and challenging so I thought I would write a post about my trials and thoughts about the project as well as the feedback and advice I have received from various tutorials and crits; especially since I am now a lot more confident with my work and the development of the project. In terms of my work, I have been advised to focus upon narrative focal points and to draw out the meanings from the text that I have been reading and to use a more poetic approach rather than illustrating the text literally. As well as this, I need to be more strict and decisive with my decision making and work processes and this is something I completely agree with and am working on as I continue the project, especially after my mock viva which I don’t think I was as prepared for as I could have been. I have also been advised to become more expressive within my work and try more expressive mark making with using new dry materials as well as thinking about contrast, particularly with colour.
As well as these points, when making my work I need to start thinking about what I want my work to say, what I want it to tell and how it speaks and relates to people. I also need to become more confident with my work, something which I have always struggled with, and need to start taking risks with my work in order to help my work to become more expressive. These tutorials have been a great help and have given me a lot of things to consider and think about as I have been doubting myself with this project and have been finding it very difficult and tricky to approach it. Despite this, I have continued working on the project and continued reading and researching into the subject matter and have been coming up with ideas and resolutions to how I can tell these stories within the one project and feel as though I am coming very close to solving the problems I’ve faced.
After working on some development work and composition ideas for my Alice project, I continued working on illustrating scenes from the book and connecting them with the history of the Romanov family and the Russian Revolution. I decided to work with different shades of brown and sienna coloured pencils in order to see how my drawings would look in different colours which emulate vintage, old photographs, something which I have seen a lot of during my research into the Romanov family. I like the look of these drawings in the different sepia and brown shades and think that they bring something new to my work, however they are still in the early stages and require a lot more development and working into.
For this part of my project, I decided to focus on the scene where Alice grows inside the White Rabbit’s house and becomes trapped within it. As Alice becomes sort of ‘imprisoned’ within the house, I therefore thought that this could become a representation of the Romanov family during their house arrest before their deaths. I stylised the Rabbit’s house after the Ipatiev House where the family where eventually confined and murdered and as Alice becoming trapped within the house can been seen as a representation of the awkwardness of puberty and the outgrowing of her childhood home, I believe it could also illustrate the four young Romanov sisters who were either just leaving or experiencing puberty during their captivity in the Ipatiev house. These four young women were experiencing the trials of puberty and adulthood while being imprisoned within this house, just as Alice does when she outgrows the Rabbit’s house.
As well as the image above, I drew up some quick ideas for different positions Alice could be in within the house and also quickly illustrated the scene where Alice visits the Duchesses house and catches her screaming baby, who then turns into a pig. As mentioned earlier, these images are very early development ideas which I had worked on previously and have been continuing to progress my project. I like the composition most of all within this work, but I do want too continue working on these scenes as I want a more unusual composition, particular with Alice’s figure as she grows within the house so that the scene looks more distressing and confusing.
After my mock viva and receiving my feedback, I continued working on my Alice project while thinking about the feedback I had received and how to develop upon that. Above are two images that are recreations of the caucus races illustration which I had used to much ink on; one image us a mixture of pencil and ink while the other features dip pen drawings with ink and watercolour. I didn’t finish these images as I wasn’t too happy with them I didn’t think the characters worked as well as they did in the original illustration, showing how hard it can be to re-draw an image again. Taking this into account, I think the next step for this particular scene will be to continue working on composition and process ideas in order to eventually come up with an image that I am completely satisfied with.
Below are some composition ideas that I came up with earlier on in the project and have continued to work on as I have developed the project. Some of the compositions are quick and rough sketches while others feature a but more detail and this is due to me trying to work more quicker, especially within my development work. I’ve also been trying to be more expressive within my work and mark making and this is something which definitely needs more improvement however I think that I am beginning to loosen up more when using a pencil and this will hopefully help me to develop. As for the compositions, I’m not too happy with most of them and I know that they definitely need more work and development however at this stage I was only playing around with concepts and ideas and some of these may or may not be developed further. Some ideas I was trying out were Alice possibly changing from a child to an adult whenever she shrinks or grows in Wonderland, emphasising the confusing time period of puberty, and inspired by my research into the Russian Revolution, I wanted the Hatter to become a representation of Rasputin and his influence over the imperial family who are represented within Alice and the dormouse.
These are some quick images I drew based upon some of the photographs I had taken during my trip to Manorbier and Tenby. I did not want to spend too long on these and got them done fairly quickly, starting with just regular and coloured pencil sketches before moving onto ink drawings. I worked quickly with ink drawings and attempted to draw most of them from scratch with a paint brush instead of drawing the image lightly with a pencil first in order to practice drawing with a paintbrush and seeing if this is something I could develop further in relation to my current projects. I have quite mixed feelings about the ink images as I feel the colour and technique work rather well, however I feel as though it’s not very easy to make the images out, especially compared to my earlier pencil sketches. The sketches of the castle I think have worked well but the other landscapes not so much as I think the use of ink has drowned out the image too much making it hard to tell what it actually is. Despite this, I think that this is something that could be improved upon with more practice, especially since I am not as familiar with painting or drawing landscapes using ink as I am with portraits.