Monday, November 29, 2010

Cumulus Discord - How Did We Get To This?

I made these drawings as a CD booklet for my friend Alexander's forthcoming album.

It was a really fun project to work on. His album is basically about his own life, but a little dramatized and fictionalized and exaggerated. The songs start in the present and then reach back into the past, going further back each time, to try to answer the question of how he ended up where he is now. I felt like he gave me a whole lot of license to interpret the story, like I could make a mini-comic that goes with his album, but doesn't have to follow the facts exactly.
Deciding that I couldn't handle working in backwards-order like the songs go, I told a story of a young man who goes through different life phases, starting long ago, and living in a sped-up history. It's as though each year in this guy's life is 20 years apart in history. Or maybe each panel shows a different person living at a different time. Really, I just wanted to be able to draw different time periods. Because that's fun. And in a way, the time periods I chose kind of go with the spirit of each drawing.
So, the story as I saw it, with influences in parentheses:
A young peasant rejects his parents and leaves home (Hogarth); he and a friend become outlaw cowboys;
he is betrayed and thrown from a ship and gnawed by vicious sea monsters, or goes through drug withdrawal (scary-Romanticism like Goya); he washes ashore and faces life with new hope/recovers from addiction (Rationalism, World Fair architecture, Paris);
he falls in love (Romanticism, pastoral scenes with shepherds and shepherdesses, although I tried to make the lovers' posture less dominant/submissive than most of the historical examples); but the relationship starts to end/become distant (1920s phones and hairstyles and hookahs);
he has fun with friends but starts to see omens of change in his life (1950s, creepy amusement park mechanical fortuneteller); he realises the freedom to make mistakes and take risks and that things end but don't really (1970s spacewhales cosmic trippy journey);
he acts recklessly and doesn't realise the damage he's causing (1980s Ferris-Bueller style parade/marching band mayhem); he looks out his window and contemplates his life (modern-day Vancouver in winter).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


This is a followup to the last piece. It depicts jellyfish and plastic in the ocean. I am happy with it, except for the fact that I intended to have a more interesting shape in the end, rather than just filling up the whole page with one rectangle!

My works seem to be seen best from a short distance, and have little contrast to attract anyone from 30 feet away. I heard in a lecture once that a work of art should be interesting from all different distances. I must try to overcome this need to fill up the whole page!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

loose leaf

My latest watercolour drawing. I am glad it's different from the usual stuff I do, and I think the colours are very successful. In terms of being significant or having meaning, it doesn't really. It just looks pretty in an interesting way. I feel like it should be on a t-shirt, or a curtain, or the packaging for looseleaf tea. The composition is definitely a bit too rectangular overall.
Recently I laid out all my recent drawings, and realised that they don't look good from afar. The shapes aren't interesting and there isn't enough significant blocks of dark or white - contrast from afar. I guess my drawings are meant to be seen at the distance of reading a book, for example.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

fitting together

The first version of this drawing was freehand, without much forethought. Basically a doodle. I liked it, so I remade it about three more times, trying to make it better planned-out, and fitting together more. I'm pretty happy with it in the end.

I see it as an illustration for a non-specific fairytale in which adults and animals are the enemies of children, and adolescents are unsure what to do about it.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Seed Stealer

A human being discovers the mystical plant which bears the fruits, seeds and leaves of many useful plants. And she cuts it down in order to take it away!

It might be obvious that I used a photo reference for this drawing. And it ended up looking too similar to me, in my opinion. Her face really bugs me because I tried to make it different from my face, but it only ended up being "bizarro-Joelle."
But I'm pretty happy with the drawing! We'll see... Sometimes the art projects I put the most effort into end up being the least admired by other people. Think I might do some goofy black-and-white cartoons next.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Toenail Tree

Magically fertile soil - anything planted here will grow.
This image may be too small to tell what's going on, in digital version. It's weird that I thought of that before I even uploaded it. It's almost as if I'm intending for my drawings to be seen only on a screen... : \

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Back to black and white!

After a long time with watercolour paper, I got myself some nice smooth Bristol paper, because I missed making black and white drawings! I love the feeling of a steel nib skating across the surface of this paper. And brush drawing is silkier when the paper is not so absorbant.
This drawing was inspired by some imagery in Les Chants de Maldoror, a proto-surrealist book by Compte de Lautreamont from the mid 19th century. It's about an evil anti-heroic, satanic figure who does these strange little battles with angels and God, sometimes defending prostitutes and sinners, sometimes victimizing the innocent. To me it's kind of metal, and kind of disgusting, and super HILARIOUS. There are surprisingly beautiful descriptions that show a fascination and respect for natural history. There's a passage where Maldoror has not moved for hundreds of years, and as a result, various fungi have grown on him, while little creatures and amphibians have started living in his body and taking it over.
But this drawing is not about Maldoror as a character. It's another ambiguous myth, an origin story about humanity. I like the idea of the human race, in all its banality, being the offspring of gods, of the personification of a swamp (with the mushrooms and reeds and toads) and of the night sky (perching on the earth and with constellation hair). I will probably always return to the theme of two abnormal parents creating a normal child, in some way.
For a long time I've intentionally avoided specific cultural references in my myth-illustrations (or tried as best I can), and I realised this is kind of pathetic and arrogant in a way. Who is the intended audience for my artwork? An audience that has never heard any story, does not have its own mythology. I'm pretending that the story I tell is the first story ever told, as if the audience is a newborn baby, a tribe of innocents. That's kind of funny to me.

And this is just supposed to be a sweet little cartoon drawing. I really like the way the faces are angled, and the way the man's legs bend around, although it bugs the hell out of me that I forgot to draw the woman's other leg and foot!
I really enjoy the challenge of using a sable brush with ink. As well as mentally preparing for every long stroke before I make it, I have to really be conscious of how the bristles are twisting around when I turn it around a corner. If I had the inclination, I would probably wax on about how spiritual and special this process is :p

Sunday, January 31, 2010

two new things

There seems to be a cerain type of around-1900s way to make cartoon faces, which inspired me to make this. I see it in Little Nemo comics (Winsor McCay) and on some retro lithographic posters in european-esque cafes. And I tried out some fancy shading on the woman's body, which is from a life-drawing sketch. Overall, I'm not sure thrilled with the colours.

The second picture is inspired by men who tell stories about their horribly bitchy ex-girlfriends. It's not really from my own personal experience. It's one of those drawings I made without pencilling or planning beforehand - I like to imagine that the awkwardness lends it the right type of charm. It's a tricky line to straddle, though, between "meaningfully naieve" and "shitty."

Monday, January 11, 2010

Another creepy drawing

I think I could do a few of these. They creep me out a little, but they express something. I think.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Gruesome Drawings

I was in a really emotional mood, and decided to just go with it, and comically exaggerate the way I felt.And then there are some minerals, and other things: