Wednesday, March 30, 2011

PEN Canada Campaign Poster

A mock poster campaign designed for the independent, non-profit organization PEN Canada. PEN Canada is committed to defending freedom of opinion and peaceable expression on behalf of writers worldwide who are mortally persecuted for elucidating necessary truths. The authors and journalists they support confront a variety of dangers for their craft. They often become embroiled into wars, imprisoned, exiled, live as refugees and are intimidated by tyrannical government regimes/gangs. Even in democratic countries, writers are the target of censorship. Despite being stifled in their native homeland, their voices must be heard and their passion for communication undeterred. On November 15, PEN Canada honours the Day of the Imprisoned Writer. In November 2005, one of these honoured victims was Roya Toloui, a Kurdish journalist, human rights activist and feminist. After discovering a very unsettling interview about the horrors she experienced in an Iranian prison, I chose to make her plight to subject of my poster. Simple enough, the silhouette created by a woman in a burqa (in essence, a mobile prison and global symbol of male subjugation) is fitted with a damaged letter containing the wise words of Toloui who exhorts politically active Iranian women to be fearless link.

This painting was a nightmare to complete. I aimed for a fully traditional rendering which included the figure, background and calligraphy. I had no intention of doing the type digitally in fear of losing the integrity of flawed handwritten script. Well…after placing a graphite transfer on the painting and trying to ink the letters in…I made countless mistakes and my hopeful experiment failed. I was forced to re-paint a good quarter of the figure over again. Alas, I was unable to correct the imprint of the type beneath the newly applied layers of paint. After my merciful professor allowed for an extension, I used a buddy combination of Photoshop and Illustrator to salvage the piece :). As for the Islamic wedding henna on the girl’s hand, I referenced photos of original henna designs that my friend Rachael had done for me. Thank you for your artistry Rachael :) 

The henna designs were inspired by those done for me by my talented friend Rachael, a fellow student in third year Sheridan Illustration. Thank you Rachael for your artistry :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ivan and the Chestnut Horse

After sifting through a book on Edmund Dulac’s fairytale illustrations nearly two years ago, I came across his beautiful rendition of the Russian folk tale ‘Ivan and the Chestnut Horse’. Dulac’s image, rendered in a style strongly reminiscent of Russian iconography, depicts the climactic moment when Ivan prompts his steed to fly to the extremity of Helena the Fair’s tower and the couple share a kiss link. I am naturally drawn to historical romances, so it was no doubt that Ivan and the Chestnut Horse would catch my immediate interest. The story recognizes several interwoven themes of love, loyalty, responsibility and above all, intuition. You have a son struggling to fulfill the dying wishes of his father, a demeaning set of arrogant brothers and a princess who wills her own captivity so that she might become the prize to a bridegroom who accepts the challenge of liberating her.   

I sought to combine all these narrative elements into a single illustration that made exclusive use of negative shapes. I turned to optical illusion as an ideal form of visual communication. By juxtaposing the royal couple with the silhouette of a horse in profile, I learned the importance of balancing value and creating colour associations. Plenty of my research was devoted to accurately representing the elaborate clothing from the age of Russian Imperialism. I sense that the greater part of my work in the future will deal with the history and folklore of world cultures. In recent years I’ve enjoyed studying the histories of various countries, notably Italy, England, Poland and Russia 

Two-part reading of 'Ivan and the Chestnut Horse':

An initial sketch for 'Ivan and the Chestnut Horse', a variation of the Edmund Dulac scene.