09 March 2013

A book in search of (another) vision

RECKLESS, by Cornelia Funke.

Started reading it, put it down. Picked it up again, couldn't get into it. The thing I found it hard to get past was that it felt like the reader was dropped into the middle of the story, and I couldn't wrap my mind around what was happening or why there was no back story at the front, so to speak. It made it hard to care about the characters. I worked up a bit of a block, but I finally HAD to read it, for my 6+7 Book Club at the library, and now I have to say that I have fallen for this book! And the reason is all about the imagery.

Her descriptions are rich, lush, tactile, visual, completely evocative. This book so longs to be illustrated, and I can see the pictures in my head--I wish I had the skill set to do it!

It needs an Arthur Rackham, or (better) Edmund Dulac, or (maybe) Kay Nielsen, or...?

Maybe somebody more modern, but with that fairy tale sensibility, and a bit dark. Maybe Nadezhda Illarionova. Or Jean-Baptiste Monge. Somebody lovingly focused on every detail, somebody with patience, somebody with vision, somebody who can draw and paint from their imagination instead of needing something to look at as a model. Somebody with that level of ability and vision should take this on and turn it into the fairytale equivalent of a graphic novel.

Funke has commissioned the special effects company Mirada to create a Mirrorworld App for the iPad to go with this series. We are getting a special preview of the app this week at Burbank Public Library. (Thursday night, 7:00 p.m., Buena Vista Branch at 300 N. Buena Vista in Burbank--please come by, if you're local.) They did an amazing job: The app features a lot of back story on some of the peripheral characters, plus a panning feature that lets you look around Chanute's Tavern, embroidered panels that tell the Tailor's story, a segment on the botany of Mirrorworld, and a lot more. I can see why their rendition is so inspired--but I still say, Illustrators, step up!

03 March 2013

Spinach / Artichoke Dip

This weekend I started to work on some drawings/paintings for the library cookbook. First recipe up: Spinach/Artichoke Dip. So I headed out for the farmers' market this morning to buy an artichoke and a bunch of spinach.

My first two drawings were of just the artichoke. I don't want each illustration to slavishly duplicate all the ingredients of each recipe, nor can I see necessarily painting the finished product--after all, a bowl of white goo with green flecks doesn't make for a very interesting illustration; so I thought since the artichoke is the most fun element to paint, I would just do that. Then I tried representing a few more ingredients, too, in combination with the artichoke.

I was pretty happy with this one (above). The darks could have been a bit darker (and I might go back in later and add some), but I really enjoyed how the shadow turned out, and I like the attitude/angle. (I'm going to have to re-scan, though--I had some bleedthrough from the picture behind this one in my sketchbook.)

With this one I spun the artichoke around to get another angle, and the sun was at another angle as well (I was painting on the patio), so the shadow is in a different place. This time I tried doing it more wet into wet, at which I am not very accomplished, and I think that shows. I also overworked the shadow, which became muddy and weird. Then I tried some spatter, but it's a bit of a mess--too much, too large, too regular, and I haven't got the hang of directing it where I want it yet. I won't be using this one, but it was fun to do and I did learn some things for next time.

And for this last one, I cut off the stem of the 'choke so it would stand up (although not very straight! I think I'll have to use Photoshop to rotate the whole picture), and added a handful of fresh spinach (the recipe calls for frozen, but this is called artistic license) and the Philly cream cheese. I quite like how the spinach comes forward, and I always enjoy doing some lettering/labeling work. Not sure about the artichoke, though, it feels a bit pallid--in fact, the whole sketch feels that way to me. Again, I could go back in and work on it some more...

I can see that this is going to be a challenge for me--to work hard enough to achieve the results I want without getting too crazy about redoing and reworking! I guess I'll just keep going and pick the most successful ones at the end.

More next week...