Revisits: Missing

I did some illustrations for an event at Fictive Dream, an online fiction magazine specializing in short stories. It’s called “Revisits”. In it, the magazine revisits “the best of the back catalog”, as editor Laura Black says. Every two weeks through August, a different theme will be explored.

Look here for the first post, Love, which also offers an overview of the parameters of the art aspects of this project.

Today, July 24, the theme is Missing. Here’s the image:

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As soon as I heard that this theme, Missing, would be part of Revisits, I knew how I would portray it using the tree theme and landscape design that Fictive Dream editor Laura Black and I had settled upon.

With this vision in mind, I read over Laura’s notes for the theme:

These stories are linked by sadness and/or despair so I’m thinking in terms of cool blues. For the tree, perhaps a single tree suggesting the loneliness of the person left behind.

I enthusiastically agreed with the color scheme. Blue conveyed the idea of a lack, a deficit, something that has been taken away – it’s a cold feeling, missing, a negative state, I felt.

But I strongly felt that a single tree might not convey enough of the theme. To me, one tree conveys the state of being left alone, being without; but how that state came about was not clear, I thought. I needed to show that things had once been fuller and were now lessened.

I set up a row of trees in a blue field under a gray sky, leaving a space where one tree should be but is not. I hoped that the gap would convey that once things had been complete but now they were not. I wanted the remaining trees to look drawn in, sad, and as if they were quite aware that one of them was missing from the line.

The idea behind my thinking was this – in any pattern, your eye looks for variation, and interprets it in light of the surrounding visual information. I’ve made lots of artwork with overt patterning that exploits this idea, such as these two collages below – but in the Missing artwork, the method was more subtle.

When I showed Laura the image, she liked it, and so – Missing was ready to be included.

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Thanks for reading! And take a look at the stories:  here at Fictive Dream.

6 thoughts on “Revisits: Missing

  1. Laura Black

    I agree with the comments above, to have a gap convey the missing person is a masterstroke. The shape of the trees certainly expresses sadness but the gap makes them even more forlorn. And maybe the blue of the landscape suggests that those left behind are now adrift. I think this is among the most successful in the series so thank you,Claudia.

  2. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you. I like this image a lot for the color scheme and the shape of the trees – I wanted them to be very similar and contained so the missing one would be apparent by the gap. I think this image is a great example of context – if the trees were arranged randomly, the absence of one would not matter so much, but the pattern depends on repetition, so the hole stands out. I also think of when there is a row of trees, and one dies and is removed. The others suffer for it, both visually to our eyes, but also, it seems that new knowledge about trees is explaining more about how they are connected under the ground to each other, and do not stand alone. When one is gone, the whole is diminished.

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