Thursday, August 15, 2013

Seven Ravens Redux

One of my earliest digital paintings was of a scene from The Seven Ravens, by the Grimm brothers. It was done for an Art Order challenge, and at the time I was really proud of it. In the 2 years since, my priorities in illustrating have shifted from "stark and symbolic" to "evocative and emotional". The failings of the old version come from mainly being unable to focus on what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. I just had a vision of the main character, surrounded by her transformed brothers. In the story, they aren't described as being giant, but I thought it would add some menace to the piece. In hindsight, maybe it just reminds me too much of Big Bird? Marc Scheff, in a critique, nailed it by saying that it was riding the line between wanting to be an editorial illustration and a fantasy illustration. There were, however, aspects of the the picture that I loved and wanted to keep -- Mainly the way I painted the birds. So, 2 years later, I wanted to fix this picture but the only way to do it was to start over.

In the revisited version of the picture, The elements are similar but the setting has changed. The harsh sunrise wakes her up and sheds light on the looming tree. In the story, her meeting with the birds actually happens in a castle (where she must chop off her finger to get inside. yech.) but I wanted to push the idea of the girl being alone, away from home, and anguished from the guilt of her consequences of her childishness. The story is kind of harsh toward kids, especially in this day and age. But I can relate, because I often felt a lot of shame when I was a kid. I wanted to push the picture away from being too baroque and gory, toward conveying the more subtle internal dialogue of the main character. I hope I succeeded.