Friday, 4 October 2013

Moar on Culture Days Book

The Super/Natural book for culture days is complete and has been handed in. Now it's the property of Dunlop Art Gallery. Not too sure what they're going to do with it and I had to hand it in before culture days because I worked the weekend. Some random facts about the book:

 I used 36 hand-cut stamps on this book, three of which were cut specifically for the book. I didn't realize I had that many stamps.

One of the "denizens of mythos" cards is missing from the book. The "Green Man" card was made of dimensional paper clay; I was pretty sure it would get broken if added to the book so left it out. Holly drew me a full sized green man for the book instead.

The book was one of the few things I actually worked on during September. The rest of my time was spent crying, so the book was a welcome distraction.

 Ravana is my favorite picture, with Enkidu second. I wasn't really keen on doing any of the heros from the Indian epics for some reason but when I started working on Ravana (the villain), the picture turned out perfectly. The piece that made it into the book was actually the original sketch--all done in one sitting. I love it when that happens.

 I was going to add a picture of Hektor prince of Troy (whose biggest problem was that he had a simpering little douche for a brother) but in the end left it in my sketchbook. You've all seen it anyway.

 I spent a year COMPLAINING about the choice of book. The lined paper, the perforations, the binding that wouldn't allow the book to lay flat, the shadow through. All of them made me crazy, but I managed to work around them mostly. After I handed the book in I found out that the books given to us were the WRONG books. The company who made them had made an error and since they were custom made, couldn't be returned. They were supposed to be white pages, no perforations. I saw a few of the later batch--much better. Seriously couldn't understand why artists would choose these books. Turns out they didn't.

 So there's a lot of bookbinding tape keeping this thing together; even the cover had to get some. When we were looking at the rest of the books at the library, the last page of mine came out entirely. More bookbinding tape...

It turns out that the project is on going and the woman that runs it told me I could always take out another book--might be worth it not to have that AWFUL paper.

 I tried to cover a fair number of works and cultures, but whatever culture I went to I ended up with epic heros and shapeshifting characters or creatures. In the end I felt like that probably described the work best--things that seem natural may be something much greater and less easy to explain or control.

I'm also not a particular fan of "realism" when it comes to epics and mythology since these stories don't describe real life--they describe something much larger than life (and let's be honest: I prefer Kay Nielsen to basically all other illustrators from the Golden Age). So most of the illustrations were intentionally stylized to try and lend the feel of the stories themselves to the pictures. This is why I also eventually began creating the "echo pages" to create the aesthetic feel for the story that's being illustrated. Mythology has a strong aesthetic component to it I think, and I do try to capture that as much as I am able.

Since I've always loved both illustration and mythology (though epic sagas more than "just so stories") the project was fun to work on and I already had a good working visual language with which to do it. So the work flowed pretty easily. I thought I'd add or riff off older work more; I have after all been illustrating mythology for most of my life. I did use the stamps, but used fewer scans than I thought I might. Alas many of the older pieces are in storage and unavailable anyway, though I think it would have been cool to add Pangu. But I did add scans of the phoenix (that scan being what's left of the picture) and chinese dragon.

Of the many sent out, only a dozen or so have made it back. I got an overdue notice for the book; turns out they hadn't scanned it back in. With that completed I looked at the other books. Mine was totally the best one. And YES I AM GLOATING THAT THING TOOK A LOT OF WORK.

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