Trying to find an artistic image of lungs isn’t easy. But being of the belief that everything has beauty depending on how it’s depicted, I persevered. Section header for the lungs section of my vitality guide project, Organ-ize Your Health.
Can break your bones…
This is the skull I carved tonight to open the “Bones” chapter of the “vitality guide” I’m working on called “Organ-ize Your Health.” Bones are fun because they’re creepy and beautiful at the same time. There’s something mesmerizing and impossible about the fact that we are all walking around with skeletons inside of us. Everyone hides something a little scary.
I am approaching my Vitality Guide, if you will, by organ/system. Even though I will ultimately lead with the liver I started playing with the heart because I already had a heart stamp. And who can resist the symbolism of leading with your heart, etc. This is a draft for the chapter head. What will follow will be some detailed information for each of the foods and recipes.
As always I struggle between not-enough-going on and making it too busy. Given that I also want to work in some collage I have no idea where I will land aesthetically, but tonight was a good start just to break the initial barrier between thought and action.
I’ve long been interested in nutrition for healing and health and am continually frustrated with how to best approach and present information so people’s eyes don’t glaze over. A few years ago I thought of breaking it down by organ and systems, with a week devoted to each. In this way people would not be overwhelmed by it and could hopefully integrate it in a more meaningful way into their lives. “Organ-ize Your Health!”
(O bviously I have to print the rest of the word closer to the “O”, but you get the idea.)
I’m working on an idea for a nutritional guide (hate that term). Vitality Guide? Then it occurred to me, why not mix two passions and illustrate it?
They may just be vegetables, but to me they have distinct personalities. Peas in a pod are, of course, sweet, fun and innocent. Artichokes on the other hand, are the perfect architecture of a vegetable. They are regal and noble.
Eggplants? Carrots? Cauliflower?
In grappling with making a stamped white cat there was the obvious option of carving the image in reverse so that the lines remain and the rest is carved away. It is not how I usually carve, so thinking this way is a challenge. Lines tend to become wider because extremely fine lines become unstable. That’s not entirely true. They have to be carved at an angle leaving a wider base for stability, which can be done more easily for straight lines and open areas. And some of it comes down to comfort and skill. I’ve seen plenty of negative carving, much of it Japanese, that is exquisitely done in miniature. It tends to be done with an X-acto blade. It baffles me.
I think she loses some of the delicacy and subtlety. Regardless, this was an interesting exercise. I feel a little more confident now using this technique. Practice, practice, practice. Especially those things that we fear.
My friend’s story has a cat and a dog who are both white as the central characters. If I were illustrating them using line drawings this would be no problem, but when stamping, it is more of a challenge. I tried roughing it out on butcher paper instead of white paper and think that may be (at least part of) the solution. The other thing I experimented with is using watercolor over the stamped image. This helps give more dimension to them as well as integrating the watercolor used in the background. The cat has black markings in the story and that is another challenge I tried to address using paint detail.
There are two dogs because I was trying to see if I could solve the problem of scale between the cat and the dog without carving a new one of either of them. They are supposed to be sitting together on a hill, but as we all know a cat’s idea of “together” is a little more distant than most.
I want to deepen my illustrations by adding water color and collage. I want that in my mind, but when it comes to actually doing it I freeze up a bit and fall back on old habits. I am more comfortable sticking with the familiar if I can be more sure of the results, which goes without saying if you choose a technique you have done dozens of times before. New materials represent the unknown and that is awkward and the outcome is usually amateur at first. So, here I go. Making some stilted art in hopes of getting to a more layered and interesting place.