I’ve been looking back at some old work lately and found a development image from my Wonderland project which featured screen-printed roses and a painted Alice. it based on an earlier in drawing I had drawn earlier in the project, and after I found it, I decided to try an finish painting Alice into the image.

I’ve actually struggled adding Alice into the image by painting her, so in the meantime I decided to digitally add the original drawing of her into the screen-printed image, as you can see above. I’m not a digital artist, and anyone can probably see that the digital alterations aren’t great, however I’m still quite happy with the final result.

I’m still working on the painting though, and will upload it when I have completed it.

CSAD Summer Exhibition 2015

I have been meaning to post about this for awhile but haven’t been able to sort out the pictures I took of the event until now. This is what I exhibited as part of my degree in the illustration degree show at Cardiff School of Art and Design which we titled ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’. I exhibited my two books at the show as well as several prints of my work and I really enjoyed the show and gained experience in displaying my work for an exhibition. The show as a whole was amazing to see as all of the work was very varied and it was great to see the final outcome of everyone’s work.

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.


Alice: Initial Composition Ideas

Here are the initial images I came up with for my Alice project after finishing the look for the characters. There are certain motifs I wanted to express within these images that represented both the story of Alice and the research and reading I have done into the Romanov family, as well as themes that arose within my dissertation. Firstly with the image of Alice and the roses, I wanted the image of the painted roses to symbolise a number of things and emphasised this with the blood red paint dripping onto Alice’s hand. Firstly, I wanted the roses to symbolise the blood thirsty nature of the Queen of Hearts and her constant demand for beheading and the roses ultimately becoming a representation of the possible severed heads.
In relation to the Russian revolution, I thought that the roses could serve as a representation of the many lives that were lost during the civil war as well as WWI, and finally, connecting Alice back to my dissertation research, the white roses, painted blood red, could symbolises Alice entering maturity and the dripping of the paint representing menstruation as well as the blood shed of war. Finally, the roses also serve as a reminder of the fabrication of Wonderland as they are not really red, but have been painted that way and ultimately becoming a disappointment of sorts to Alice, who has wanted to find the enchanted looking garden for most of the story only to find that everything is not as she expected.

Above are two more scenes I quickly came up with which illustrate the caucus race and the Queen’s court. For these two scenes I really wanted to incorporate the Russian revolution and mirror the two scenes and found this easier to achieve in these images. For the caucus race scene, I imagined the animals as a representation of the peasants in Russia during the revolution, who were starving and dying with not much was being done about it. The animals in Alice on the other hand, attempt to dry themselves by telling dry stories to each other and taking part in a race, neither of which dries them. I thought that the nonsensical ways the animals try to dry themselves could become a representation of the repression of the Russian people, the failure of the animals to dry themselves becoming an allegory of the starving people.
By comparison, the court of the Queen of Hearts I envisioned to be a representation of some of the nobility from the Russian revolution, who would regularly hold balls and parties, seemingly oblivious to the oncoming revolution. The Queen and her court use animals as equipment in the croquet games and leisurely activities, while other the caucus animals fail to keep themselves dry, creating a possible division of class society, something which is very relatable to the revolution.

These are the images which I showed during my mock viva in front of my three tutors and received very helpful feedback from them. I went overboard with the use of ink and eventually drowned the image out and talking this into consideration must be more decisive with my decision making in the future in terms of what works and what doesn’t in my own work. I think the strongest point of these images is their compositions, especially in the illustration of the caucus race with the movement of the animals as the surround a frustrated Alice. However they are still very early development work. I think the other two images possibly need new compositions, particularly the illustration of the Queen’s court as I feel it’s rather still looking and needs more movement.