Revisits: Magic Realism

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.

Look here for the first post, Love, which also offers an overview of the parameters of the art aspects of this project.

Today, June 26, the theme is Magic Realism. Here’s the image:

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As an English major in college, I was familiar with the genre, which combines the real with the fantastic and the everyday with the surreal in order to weave a story rooted in reality but diverging from it, all to unsettle and redefine the idea of what is standard normality, or what it is not. The literary movement is thought of as originating with Latin American authors, but writers all over the world write in this genre.

If this had been a standalone project, I would have chosen hot pink for the ground, but that color was used in Love and it fit better there. Fictive Dream editor Laura Black offered a great idea in her notes for this theme:

These stories tend towards chaos in one way or another, and two of them refer to fiery skies and deep reds. For this category the colour could be a deep red or a colour that’s not often used, perhaps off white/turquoise. Magic realism stories are often luxurious in their use of language and maybe this could be reflected in the tree?

The mention of fiery skies set me in motion. I chose a deep brilliant orange color scheme for the ground – it stayed in the color family both Laura and I envisioned, but it didn’t infringe on other themes. I used a yellowy sky to continue the feeling of warmth in this piece, as if the ground heat was radiating into the air.

For the trees, I knew right away what I would endeavor to create, even before I read Laura’s notes. I saw elaborate, highly-patterned trees that were clearly trees but did not follow everyday tree growth forms. I’m very fond of spiral patterns in particular and I use them often in my artwork:




In this picture, I set out one tree in the orange landscape and gave it spiraling branches with other shapes mixed in. I felt one tree was plenty – I wanted it to stand out and make a big statement.

I made only this one image, and Laura liked it. So, here you have Magic Realism.

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Thanks for reading! And take a look at the stories:  here at Fictive Dream.

6 thoughts on “Revisits: Magic Realism

  1. Fictive Dream

    This really is a marvellous piece of artwork. It’s vibrant and striking just like the stories in this very special genre – magic realism has been one of my favourites for a long time. The Revisits illustrations (two per month) bring a whole other dimension to the home page. Now that they’re building up they are signalling ‘special project’ to readers I think, and that’s just what I wanted. I love it when you hit on one piece of artwork and we both know that’s the right one. Many thanks, Claudia, as aways.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      I feel this is the artwork in this series that most matched my inner vision of it, and I was really happy that you thought so too. I had to do some research on Magic Realism to make sure I had the right framework to create the artwork within, because it’s not a genre I read much (I think most of my exposure was a long time ago in college). Doing this particular piece opened my eyes to literature I have not paid attention to, a benefit for me!

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