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, May 22, the theme is Grief. Here’s the image:
In earlier projects for Fictive Dream, as you know, I made a couple of images for each story. I followed that trend with the earlier Love and Abuse and Growing Up. At this point in the process, though, I was feeling more confident of the direction of my work in general, as far as interpreting themes, and for this theme, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do. I figured I’d give it a try, show it to Fictive Dream editor Laura Black, and see what she thought. If it didn’t work, our discussion would give me direction and I’d just take things from there.
I took my inspiration from several things. First, as far as the color scheme, I wanted to reflect the emotion in grays, browns, and dark blues – a sere, devastated kind of landscape with an overcast sky.
The shape of the tree needed to reflect the emotion as well – I felt downward reaching branches would give the right feeling. When people grieve, shoulders slump, the head is down, they draw into themselves and the feeling, and that’s what I wanted the tree to portray.
I had two visual sources I worked from. One was the recurrent motif of the willow tree, with its downward flowing branches, found in mourning samplers from the 1800’s (look here for an example). I have had an interest in needlework throughout my life and have learned a little about the symbolism and history of mourning embroidery.
The other source was a photo I took some years back. It’s a tree standing in front of a local elementary school. I found the branch patterns dramatic. I entered it in a camera club competition and it won a prize, so I kept the image and was able to refer to it.
With these pictures in mind, I created the representation of the tree. When I showed it to Laura, she liked it, and so, the image for Grief was done!
Thanks for reading! And take a look at the stories: here at Fictive Dream.