Subject year 3 (PDP)

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Since the end of last year, throughout the summer and the whole of first term, my focus has mainly been on the idea of gods, goddesses and their visual representations. The dissertation proposal gave a lot of weight to the subject and in my mind it was like a seed which slowly but surely started poking out of the ground, becoming my main focus for the start of my third year of Illustration. Knowing that it would be a project that would take up the entire year, unlike anything else we’d done before, I knew I had to choose well and make sure my project would feel relevant to me throughout the year. It was not an easy choice because I’m all too well-aware of my interest and attention levels, and yet it was – knowing I’d be concentrating on the dissertation made me realise that whatever research I did would inform both aspects of my studies.

From the very beginning we were assured that nothing is set in stone, our project idea will grow and evolve and potentially change into something completely different from the initial concept. It was important to keep our minds open, and that is exactly what I did. At the start I chose to focus on mythology, specifically creation myths. I was keen on visualising the similarities between the different stories, my plan being to show that as different our cultures were, they all built on the same basic set of principles – the primordial void, the cosmic egg, the world tree, the creation of humans out of earthy substances (mud, dust, trees). My good intentions weren’t entirely applied, as I didn’t actually do a great amount of work in first term – the dissertation was taking most of my attention and in the end I only had the theory with some concept works, which resulted into a weak formative assessment. Looking back, I realised I could have put together a significantly more substantial, uniform set of works. My problem stemmed from the fact that I hadn’t decided what I was working towards. A visual storybook, a graphic novel, posters, and animation…? I realised, the hard way, that knowing what I’m working towards helps me mould my ideas and direct my work to a certain standard and consistency, something I was lacking in first term. There was not much I could do about it if I wanted to do well in my dissertation and do it right by the deadline, although I took the time to arrange all my ideas and come up with a plan for the type of work I would start working towards immediately after – an animation.

As my plan changed, my idea and the reasons behind it became more diluted. I was painfully aware of the amount of work I’d need to do if I were to make a hand-drawn animation. At the time there were several drawbacks to the plan, work that didn’t have anything to do with my project but was in fact the type of work I want to do as an illustrator – an EP cover and the exhibition we organised at Paper Arts in Bristol (a big shout out to Jamie Stevenson who was the man behind it all). Before I knew it, it was already time for our second term assessment and all I had was, again, concept work and thumbnails for my animation so I decided to create a long continuous piece which would in fact be the full visualisation of my final short animation. The positive feedback I had for it as a piece on its own made me rethink my whole project – leave the animation focus on this. It made sense – if it works, why not? I was also largely swayed by the lessened workload, one big hand drawn piece is better than hundreds and hundreds of illustrated frames. And all was good until the opening night of Within/Without, where one of my tutors noted the success of my pieces and advised that I revise my choices and work towards a similar outcome for my final piece. That was the point when I felt completely thrown off but I took her advice regardless. The development illustrations I’d been doing in my sketchbook could easily be translated into separate images which I could turn into an installation – a series of hanging pieces forming a narrative of a backward timeline, the Cosmic Genesis. With only a month to finish everything I found myself rushing everything. Stress levels started increasing drastically around the time I had to lose about five days waiting to get my laser cuts done so I could start painting over them. I went even further down the stress hole when we were allocated spaces and I got the furthest possible corner space when I’d asked specifically for an open space for a free-hanging installation. Up until the last moment I was assured it was not final and changes could be made and at the end it was evident that changes were not going to be made. The culmination of all possible stress was reached in the last few days – finishing everything off, making sure I have everything required for hand in and setting up the exhibition and the studio space. Now that it is all over I can evaluate the different aspects of the project:

IDEAS

It was difficult to explain my concepts in presentations, even with concept work for back up, there wasn’t enough and it seemed like there was nothing to ground my idea, according to feedback. The project changed drastically over the course of the year and so did the idea behind it but in the end, when writing my statement, I felt like it had finally come together in the best possible way, bearing the desired message.

RESEARCH

As the idea morphed so did the research. From myths to animations, academic reading, artists of interest, individual and collections of works, spiritual and scientific studies… even though it was a bit all over the place I feel it was all necessary to shape the project into what it is.

DEVELOPMENT

With so many shifts, I ended up having to discard most of the work I’d done over the course of the year. But at the end it’s all about how you allow your project to grow and evolve, which is exactly what I did.

OUTCOME

Even though it all felt a bit rushed, I am happy with my final pieces, even though I feel like I could have done an exceptional job had I reached the idea earlier and not had to worry about the exhibition space.

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Laser cutting

So, the final decision was to have my pieces painted onto circular boards. A hard surface with weight to it for the hanging, which could easily be laser-cut into the right shapes and sizes. MDF. Yes.

After speaking to my tutor about it she advised me to talk to a specialist and I sent her an e-mail as soon as I could. After not receiving an answer for about four days, I got quite worried, as I needed the time after to prep and paint the boards. It was nearly a full week before I was induced in the magic of laser-cutting. I managed to fit all the circles onto 3 thin MDF boards and so create the platforms for my final pieces.

Because of the restrictions and considerations of the laser, the hanging holes which I hoped to be quite thin, had to be a lot wider which I wasn’t too pleased with. The other thing was that since I wanted my pieces hanging without turning, I had to have two holes on each. It was either that or getting perspex sticks which I didn’t want to do for it would have taken away the floaty bubble idea.

Finally after almost a full day sorting that out in uni, I was ready to get to work and star painting.

final idea / development

After Amelia’s comment on the second opening night of WITHIN / WITHOUT, I decided I had to make some changes.

Instead of a single long piece, I chose to go for the easier option and go with separate images for the separate pages. I’d been doing concept drawings in my sketchbook and it only made sense for each one to just be on a separate piece of paper, but still, adamant that they should be suspended on strings, rather than just hung on a wall.

Quite a few things changed throughout the course of this project. From illustrating different Creation myths in order to point out similarities to making an animation uniting all their main elements, to a long continuous piece hinting at a multiverse… I have finally come to a final decision.

My plan is to create an installation of the timeline of our universe but backwards. First we observe what is now, the Earth suspended in space, and then we start going further and further backwards until we reach the point of the Big Bang, the point of primal genesis, the point beyond which we can’t tell what was. Then I will employ the multiverse bubble theory and we will move out of the bubble our universe’s timeline is contained within, to the space where all the numerous bubbles float about, each one containing the possibility of a universe within it… they hang freely until they lead to another freely hanging piece, the last bit of the installation, a mirror. Next to it a short poem tying everything together and inspiring the awareness, self-consciousness and empathy we al must feel towards our world, our planet, our home, and all the beings inhabiting it alongside us.

It is our world, our choices and our responsibility.

 

studies

A few days ago I was playing around with neon markers and ended up making these two images…

frequencies has a lot to do with the dream-themed images I’ve been doing for the exhibition in Bristol (Within/Without). I like to think that when we dream all our frequencies are in tune so this is about them coming together slowly and all at once.

distortion comes from the same headspace but that has more to do with my final project for the degree show at the end of the year. In trying to figure out how to represent the god/consciousness that created our world I thought to experiment with the ‘blank TV screen’ visuals – that black and white distortion which is in constant motion that I once heard was in fact frequencies emitted from the Big Bang.

I’m planning to turn those into prints to have at the show, so if you like what you see, you know where to look :)

 

rise and fall / micah lidberg

Tom Rolfe, fellow course mate, illustrator, and printmaker, showed me a concertina booklet by Nobrow Press he’d recently bought – Rise and Fall by Micah Lidberg. It hit me instantly – the bright colours, simple shapes and markmaking, layering of elements, juxtaposition… and most importantly, the continuous image showing the unfolding of a timeline. I immediately knew I wanted to do something of the sort, and I believe this is how the 3,3m piece came about (that and my friend reminding me about scrolls and such).

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After the presentation feedback and going through Rise and Fall again, I will be attempting a simplification of the narrative and visual language, as well as a scale expansion (moving towards a hanging installation rather than a handheld scroll).

Bristol Show / concepts

Even though most people in the upcoming show in Bristol have decided to exhibit work they’ve been doing on their final uni projects, I decided to do something different, which I’ve been looking an excuse to do for quite a while now.

After having an almost overwhelming number of mad vivid dreams, I thought it would be really interesting to see how they look on paper. What you see below are development images, which I won’t be displaying but which I still find quite captivating.

Trying to portray the magical side of the very action of dreaming was a bit of a mind twisting endeavour so I decided to step away from the dreamer and focus on the dream itself. The sketch below was inspired by the ending bits of a dream I had, where after a mad party everyone went down to the beach, some of us surfing while those who couldn’t were just swimming about and splashing each other. I remember the sea crystal clear, almost mirroring the sky, the sunrise on one side, and the massive planet on the other. I couldn’t tell if it was light or dark because the moment in my mind was in the exact middle between night and day.

mock viva

Here’s most of what I had in my presentation / mock Viva Voce.

We had to prepare and time it (10 minutes + 5 minutes for comments and questions), which was one of the things I slightly messed up by starting off a bit slow and then having to rush the end. I did a recap of the whole research I’d done and evolution of my ideas though I was meant to be showing mainly developments and actual work. I think my save and trump card was the 3metre-long piece I did instead of thumbnails, as concept artwork for the planned animation (you can see that here).

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makin Gifs

Sooooo I made a little .gif image…. the unfortunate result of procrastination.

heehheh x

animation: beginning

After getting overexcited about the little 15 frame gif that I made, I quickly went on to do a storyboard for the entire story I want to animate. All nice and wonderful until I realised just the first two thumbnails will take something like 30 frames each, and that’s pushing it. It really does drain your soul, animation. but hey, might as well give it to something worthwhile…

here’s the first test animation I did at the end of last week.

Now this one was more carefully executed, with tracing paper and all, and it pointed out a few things I need to consider when continuing with the animation work – one is the use of acetate. or the potential use of a light box, although when working with so much black, I’m not sure it’ll work properly. then again nothing is certain until I test it.

ahhhh good luck, me. To be continued…

animation: stage O

A couple of months ago I had a tutorial with Georgina very much out of the blue. We had a short chat in which I was mainly explaining my idea and what I was planning on doing. I was quite busy with writing my dissertation at the time so I wasn’t exactly prepared. Still she seemed impressed to see how clear my direction was and it looked like she wasn’t quite certain what advice or suggestions to give me.

Still she noted that my idea might work really well in animation.

I hurried to turn it down as I hadn’t done animation before and I could clearly see the amounts of work to be done.

How foolish.

Looking back now, it feels like it was a hint of sorts, that I’ll have to do it whether I like it or not. To be fair, animation is one of the first major influences of my life and it’s something I wanted to do for quite a while before I decided I prefer illustration. Why I felt skeptical to do something I love and appreciate so much baffles me.

So now that I’ve finally come to terms with my imminent social death, I’ve started working on the sequence for a Slavic creation myth. The most interesting thing about it  is that I have to explain ‘this is Slavic’ to people. I should stop at one point and ask, ‘which culture do you think this came from?’ the process of ‘breaking it’ to people might be more successful than the animation itself…

well here’s the first test piece I did at the start of last week…. just to see if I’m on the right track….

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wake up to create the golden egg out of which Rod comes out with love to create the World….

this obviously has a long way to go before anything becomes out of it. whooooooooop. so ready for this.