Wednesday 1 July 2020

Art Ideas! - a bit of escapism - other worlds

I've always loved fantasy - myth, legend, other worlds. As a kid - picture books, story tapes, Tolkien and Enid Blyton read at bedtime by our parents. Getting a bit older - fantasy novels full of dragons and elves and all things magic. Adulthood - haven't stopped. There's nothing like a fantasy novel before bed to make you (well, me) forget global pandemics for a while.

Creating your own other worlds brings some of the same escape. There are endless ways to do it of course, so here I won't share art techniques, rather give a few ideas to get your brain thinking in an otherworldy way.

Being me I'll talk from a painting point of view but please create your worlds using whatever materials and techniques you like. Drawing, painting, clay, collage, felting, writing, dried pasta... Dance? I can't advise on that last one.


1 - paint what you read

Whilst reading a book / listening to an audiobook jot down any landscape descriptions which appeal. I've done this with a few books, for example Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. It's set in Scotland so isn't strictly otherworldly, but set in the 18th Century so I hope you let me off with it. Some of the descriptions conjured fully formed pictures right into my head. I sketched out my ideas using pencil then made these four detailed miniature acrylic paintings:

This giant boulder becomes a hiding place for Kidnapped's two main characters. 
I included two golden eagles circling by the top of the waterfall.

moonlit mountaintops

'Cluny's Cage', a hillside hideaway amongst the trees

moonlit bay


2 - real things in the wrong places

This is what I find usually works best. Look around you. Pick something, anything really. Sketch it down then sketch the wrong setting around it.

Choose something small and make it big - paint an apple on a tabletop, just a straightforward apple, painted to fill most of your paper. Then paint a little figure standing at the bottom of it, or perch a castle on the top. Suddenly your apple is a GIANT apple mountain.

Here's one I painted back when I was at art college. I painted the long straight desert road based on a photo I'd seen, probably in a National Geographic or The Guardian. I selected one of the (many) nature objects I've collected - a dried root of seaweed, clasped onto a hard piece of pinkish rock (granite?). I turned the rock upside and painted it into the sky.

And this goldfish on a rather unstable pedestal:

Poor thing.

Or choose something big and make it small - paint the church at the end of your street, paint it smallish on your paper and arching over it paint the stems, fronds or flowers of one of your house-plants. The church now inhabits a giant jungle landscape.

Here's a large observatory building transported to a little patch of clifftop grasses. The bird is an African oystercatcher:

Here's a small cone-shaped fossil I've painted (then annoyingly misplaced the fossil before photographing it for you. I'll probably find it as soon as I publish this):

Painting it alone on a blank dark background let me see it as an anonymous object or shape, which then let me more easily start imagining what I might make it.

A standing stone, I decided.

I sketched these thumbnail ideas using pencil & biro:

Finished painting, a standing-stone-on-another-planet:

Or is it a close up of a tiger's eye?


3 - make it up completely!
Maybe it comes from looking at and reading so much of this sort of stuff my whole life, or probably it's just how I am, anyway, sometimes these strange scenes just pop into my head, or they appear as I doodle.

Subconsciously Lion King?

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