Revisits: Love

I did some illustrations for an event at Fictive Dream, an online fiction magazine specializing in short stories. It’s called “Revisits”. In it, the magazine revisits “the best of the back catalog”, as editor Laura Black says. Every two weeks through August, a different theme will be explored.

Today, April 10, the theme is Love. Here is the illustration:

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A little background on this illustration. Laura asked me to come up with a series of images that, unlike the other projects I’ve done for Fictive Dream, did not portray a specific story but rather a theme or idea. She outlined parameters for me – to summarize, she was looking for a simple direct image that could reflect the theme of each section but could relate back to the others in the group.

The effect was to be more restrained than the abstract work I did for Flash Fiction February and the pictures needed to be non-specific – in other words, the illustration should not refer to one story or another. I did not in fact read any of the stories but instead focused on the meaning of each one of the themes.

I decided to work in collage and I used papers that I painted myself (acrylics on white sketch paper). I used a horizontal landscape background and decided on the motif of the tree for the recurring image. So, each illustration featured sky, land, and tree(s), plus text that I superimposed digitally in approximately the same location in each picture.

Laura gave me her vision of color schemes and I compared it to my own ideas to come up with appropriate illustrations for each theme.

It’s harder than you think to illustrate an abstraction of thought – the choices are endless. Love was the first one I worked on and it went through many variations. I started with two choices:

Well, from here, I can’t remember the entire sequence, but between altering these two versions both digitally and in reality, there were a lot of versions we chewed over before the final selection was made. For one thing, we decided all the trees should be black. And that since the text was dark, the sky would always need to be pale.

Take a look at the variations. The blue sky version got eliminated fairly early on, and then we worked with the pink ground, with some changes dramatic and others subtle.

In the end, the final selection was a combination that exists only in the digital world – a version including the brighter red/pink ground of the orange tree image with the stronger trees added digitally. And this selection was finalized only at the end of the project – I made all the others and then we reconsidered this one.

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In all cases, I was striving for a picture in which the trees seemed to interact, leaning toward each other and crossing branches. Love is connection. And stories about it feature that topic in one way or another.

Read the stories: Fictive Dream.