Sunday, June 4, 2017

"Breastfeeding" (Mother's Day Alaska)

Here's a digitally enhanced illustration of a panel done after a pastel demo for a class. I really like the additional manipulation of imagery done after scanning the original linework, which in turn frees me up to experiment in other media (like with graphite, or wash or watercolor), which then finally leads right back into playing with the resulting work on the computer for a hybrid third or fourth variation. By then the work certainly qualifies for that nugatory label "mixed media."

I stepped outside of my usual comfort zone of materials, and created the original using a restricted palette with chalk pastels, both stick and pencil, with lots of blending stump work and layering with workable fixative. But I couldn't resist some tweaking with various Photoshop filters for special effects ("sponge" to be exact: "It's a technique that's taught in some of the finer preschools and kindergartens").

After a prompt from a friend whose partner is involved with a local nonprofit agency (the Fairbanks Breastfeeding Coalition) I mulled over the topic for a few weeks before doodling out some concept sketches. The above image (pencil > ink) was a first take, after which I quickly realized I really ought to do some more research on the subject matter. At the very least maybe details like the proper way to hold an infant, as opposed to hauling around a sack of kitty litter or birdseed (the limits of my personal experience).

That explains the somewhat surreal situation with a model, who I had take a brief deviation from normal duties and reenact the pose so as to get the shirt folds and hand placement correct. I also believe it's an important meta-lesson for students to see firsthand the creative process as a piece unfolds in various iterations. Hey, you make do with whatever resources you have on hand.

Yes, it's a cartoon. That being said, no, it doesn't mean that the facts of basic biology should be forgotten. As in pretty sure moose milk doesn't come from their armpits.

Here's the pen + ink made with a dip-pen (a single heavy nib) + Micron (.08) for stippling, and the preliminary flat-color  before wading in with brushes and cutting contrasting shadows. You'll notice two subtle tweaks that are different from the original: the first was a compositional edit in flipping the direction of the moose tail - a visual pointer - from leading the eye out of the panel to pulling it back into the piece, thus maintaining the overall cohesiveness of the design.

The second was a slight shift in the gaze cues: all of the mothers are each looking at the neighboring offspring, creating a triad, which follows a progression of 1- 2 -3 in the number of youngsters. Details, details. Please note I did not add any nuggets - a deliberate psychological repression on my part. The iconography of Madonna with child however, was purely subconscious and not my fault.

Rolling the fully digitally colored variation over into a Nuggets panel was an obvious way to get more mileage + exposure from the design. Another note in the importance of always retaining copyright of your artwork.

Here below is a snapshot of the piece in the show, which was housed in the Fairbanks Regional Public Health Center. where the piece, along with an impressive number of other talented submissions, was displayed at the Fairbanks Breastfeeding Coalition's First Friday gig.

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