Tag Archives: Fictive Dream

Revisits: Grief

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:

Image 7 blog

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.

Schoolyard Tree small

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.

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Revisits: Growing Up

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 8, the theme is Growing Up. Here’s the image:

Image 6a blog

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 I did the same with Growing Up.

These images represent more steps on the journey in creating a look that would be coherent through the project. As I mention in the previous post, for Abuse, we had developed some specifics. The tree motif was established as was the general layout of the images – sky, ground, tree, and text all had a specific place in the compositions.

For Growing Up, I wanted to give a sense of freshness and newness to fit the theme, and I also thought a group of smallish trees would be nice – a reminder of seedlings just starting out.

I created two images:

As you can see, we were still trying out the idea of trees in colors other than black. In discussing these entries, we decided that from now on, all trees should be black, for unity. Additionally, Laura thought the colors were a little brighter than she wanted.

This time I amended the pieces with most of my work in the real world, not the digital one. I collaged over the colorful trees and added black trees. I also toned down the whole composition (each piece) with a wash of white paint. Then I desaturated each piece digitally, just a little. I’m not fond of the effect of this last step, in most cases. It tends to gray things out, and anyway, as you know, my preference will always be for bright clear colors.

But – remember, in this project I am working to meet the wants and expectations of someone else. It was my job to make amendments to my work to suit editor Laura Black’s specifications. Commission work requires a focus on what the customer wants.

Let me back up and give you a little personal history to explain where I am coming from. When I first started doing art, I made fabric wall hangings, and a good proportion of my business was house portraits on commission. Here are a few samples:

By the time I was doing collage, I had decided I didn’t want to do commissions. I did not enjoy the stress and worry of meeting the (oftentimes unexpressed) expectations of customers. The moment when the commissioned work is shown to the customer: it’s scary for the artist!

So I made only a few commissioned images in collage; people often asked, but I turned them down.

Now, I have many examples I could show you, especially in collage, of images very faithful to the scenes that inspired them. For a long time, I took many photos as I traveled around and then represented them in collage, and I enjoyed it. The difference being, I only had to please myself – if the image didn’t come out exactly right, well, if I wasn’t bothered, then no one would be.

Commission work is not like that. Take the house portraits: naturally, the owners wanted the picture to look like the house, and while I did my best, there was always the risk of a mismatch in what I created and what the commissioner thought they might get. (Hint: always get an upfront nonrefundable deposit.)

In this project, however, Laura and I had a shared history from our other projects together, and I have always found her easy to work for from the very beginning in September Slam – she has a definite vision and is clear in her instructions, but she is also willing to listen to my ideas and respectful of my input.

With this in place, we worked together to make the best look possible for the Revisits series; though at times I was not sure if I was going in the right direction, I never doubted we would get there, and that both she and I would be happy with the results.  Hers was not an easy job at all, I think. Thank you, Laura, for everything!

All right, back to Growing Up. Here’s where we ended up.

Now all Laura needed to do was choose one of the images. And as you know from the beginning of the post, she decided on the one with the aqua ground. I like both of these images; they remind me of spring, a time when young things make their appearances and start to grow. I do admit to being partial to that aqua color, though…it makes for a happy growing-up impression, I think.

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

Revisits: Abuse

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, April 24, the theme is Abuse. Here’s the image:

Image 3 Final Revised blog

In earlier projects for Fictive Dream, I made a couple of images for each story. I followed that trend with the earlier Love and with this one, Abuse. At this point in the project, I was still feeling my way in getting the look that Laura wanted. We had developed some specifics from our experience with Love; the tree motif was established as was the general layout of the images – sky, ground, tree, and text all had a specific place.

For this image, my first thought was to create one with a bruised feeling to it. I came up with this one, featuring the purple tones and trees pushing each other:

Image 3 blog

And my next idea was to do one that was less dramatic but still had the bruise colors in it, this time yellows and pale purples, with a battered-looking tree:

Image 4 blog

When I showed them to Laura, she made a request: could the tree on the yellow one be put into the purple scene?

At this point, I had not done all the digital work to Love that you saw in the previous post; remember, Love was reworked at the end of the string of images for the project. You may imagine – Laura’s words struck fear into my heart – could I do it?

Of course, I could take my scissors, cut out the tree in the yellow image, collage over the trees in the purple image, glue in the tree, and hope the picture would scan well – the standards for the actual physical image did not need to be as high as if I were selling it as a framed piece, thank goodness, because in real life, layers add a lumpy look to collage if you do too much of them, and it distracts from the piece.

Still, I didn’t like the idea. I decided to try the digital route and see if I could get it to work. I used Adobe PhotoShop Elements 15. First, I copied small sections of the ground and sky in the purple scene and used them to cover the trees, taking care to vary my selections and blend them in well.

Then I went to the yellow image and extracted the black trees using the
Quick Selection Tool (located at the top of the tool bar to the left of the screen, in the Select section). With a little work, this tool allowed me to pick out the tree and copy it to the purple image.

Then I added the text and voila! The job was done.

Image 3 Final Revised blog

Not only did I have the image Laura wanted, but I felt that I could use this technique, if I had to, for other images. It gave me a measure of comfort – if an image required some tweaking, that did not mean creating an entire new collaged image.

And as you remember, it did come in handy, allowing me to improve the Love image later on.

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

Revisits: Love

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.

Today, April 10, the theme is Love. Here is the illustration:

Image 2d blog

A little background on this illustration. Laura asked me to come up with a series of images that, unlike the other projects I’ve done for Fictive Dream, did not portray a specific story but rather a theme or idea. She outlined parameters for me – to summarize, she was looking for a simple direct image that could reflect the theme of each section but could relate back to the others in the group.

The effect was to be more restrained than the abstract work I did for Flash Fiction February and the pictures needed to be non-specific – in other words, the illustration should not refer to one story or another. I did not in fact read any of the stories but instead focused on the meaning of each one of the themes.

I decided to work in collage and I used papers that I painted myself (acrylics on white sketch paper). I used a horizontal landscape background and decided on the motif of the tree for the recurring image. So, each illustration featured sky, land, and tree(s), plus text that I superimposed digitally in approximately the same location in each picture.

Laura gave me her vision of color schemes and I compared it to my own ideas to come up with appropriate illustrations for each theme.

It’s harder than you think to illustrate an abstraction of thought – the choices are endless. Love was the first one I worked on and it went through many variations. I started with two choices:

Well, from here, I can’t remember the entire sequence, but between altering these two versions both digitally and in reality, there were a lot of versions we chewed over before the final selection was made. For one thing, we decided all the trees should be black. And that since the text was dark, the sky would always need to be pale.

Take a look at the variations. The blue sky version got eliminated fairly early on, and then we worked with the pink ground, with some changes dramatic and others subtle.

In the end, the final selection was a combination that exists only in the digital world – a version including the brighter red/pink ground of the orange tree image with the stronger trees added digitally. And this selection was finalized only at the end of the project – I made all the others and then we reconsidered this one.

Image 2d blog

In all cases, I was striving for a picture in which the trees seemed to interact, leaning toward each other and crossing branches. Love is connection. And stories about it feature that topic in one way or another.

Read the stories: Fictive Dream.

Flash Fiction and Paint and Color and Ink and Paper – 2/28/19

Flash Fiction February 2019 – twenty-eight days of short short stories, an event taking place at Fictive Dream, an online fiction magazine featuring short stories. My part in the event? I did a small abstract painting as the illustration for each story. I’ll be showing one of them to you each day in February to accompany the story on Fictive Dream.

Today’s story is “Malachy”, by Niamh McCabe. Check out the illustration, then go to Fictive Dream and read the story.

Here is the image, with the banner:

 

Image 53 Fictive Dream 1-4-19 2019 small

and on its own.

 

Image 53 Fictive Dream 1-4-19 2019 small

Flash Fiction and Paint and Color and Ink and Paper – 2/27/19

Flash Fiction February 2019 – twenty-eight days of short short stories, an event taking place at Fictive Dream, an online fiction magazine featuring short stories. My part in the event? I did a small abstract painting as the illustration for each story. I’ll be showing one of them to you each day in February to accompany the story on Fictive Dream.

Today’s story is “Ab Ovo”, by Iris N. Schwartz. Check out the illustration, then go to Fictive Dream and read the story.

Here is the image, with the banner:

 

image 60 fictive dream 1-7-19 2019 small27

and on its own.

 

image 60 fictive dream 1-7-19 201928

Flash Fiction and Paint and Color and Ink and Paper – 2/26/19

Flash Fiction February 2019 – twenty-eight days of short short stories, an event taking place at Fictive Dream, an online fiction magazine featuring short stories. My part in the event? I did a small abstract painting as the illustration for each story. I’ll be showing one of them to you each day in February to accompany the story on Fictive Dream.

Today’s story is “Cuddle Inc.”, by Steve Carr. Check out the illustration, then go to Fictive Dream and read the story.

Here is the image, with the banner:

image 8 fictive dream 12-7-18 2019 small28

 

and on its own.

image 8 fictive dream 12-7-18 20194