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, August 7, the theme is Sex. Here’s the image:
Fictive Dream Editor Laura Black and I both felt that Sex needed a strong intense color, allied to Love, but not to be mistaken for it – and the trees should be similarly related. And there there is the connection to Friendship to consider (have I just stated something very obvious about the real-life equivalents? Oh dear). Laura said to me in her notes on this theme:
Here I envisage the deeper reds to differentiate the theme from Love; two trees close together with branches intertwined but not necessarily with the potential for growth that there is in Friendship. Perhaps I ought to mention that in one story the sex is nothing more than a transaction and the woman is without emotion.
From these comments and from my own earlier statements, you can see that when the illustration topic is a large abstract idea, it is very easy lose focus. Borders between emotions merge and without something concrete to fall back on it’s hard to figure out how to take the first step.
This is where the use of the tree form made a difference in this project. Let me step back and show a small sampling of the huge variety of tree images I have done over the years:
In each one the personality of the tree is the subject of the picture – each tree portrays and evokes different feelings or emotions. Each tree is an individual.
For the theme of Sex, I used strong reds with brown, purple, and orange tones inthe landscape, to indicate vitality. I gave the trees curvy shapes to emphasize their organic natures. The trees brush branches but are not entangled – I wanted it to be more as if they were interested in attracting the other’s attention. Flirting a little?
I added a pale sky with some violet overtones to bring out the red colors. When I showed the image to Laura, she liked it. And so the illustration was done!
I love looking at all your trees.
Sex is strangely difficult to portray in any medium. I like your solution. (K)
Thank you. When I heard this was a topic, I thought, oh no, how to portray it, especially since love and friendship and abuse and grief were also being covered, seemed like there can be elements of all of these in this topic, but with the combination of shape and color, it worked out. Once again, a tree can say almost anything, I think.
Indeed it can.
Great image. I love the colour choices and the way the branches intersect and connect visually and also curve upwards. It’s a very pleasing image.
Thank you. Trees can do and say anything. The more I learn about them (in real life) and how they grow and interact, I am amazed, and it makes me want to portray them to show some of this complexity and yes, emotion, I think they have.
I agree with your comment above that trees can do and say anything. Your selection of artwork portraying trees is marvellous, especially the beautiful collages in all their detail. But, as you know, I love your bolder work too and the second image of the tree against a light blue sky is gorgeous. The artwork you created for Revisits: Sex is strong – I love your notion that the trees are flirting. And there’s something seductive in the way that the trunks are gently curving. There’s optimism and strength in those upward pointing branches too. And of course that deep red sets the artwork off perfectly. I wanted it to be different to the Love image and you’ve achieved just that. Beautiful, Claudia, thank you.
Thank you. As I said in the write up and in other comments, it seemed that when we got to this topic many symbolic resources had been used already as far as color and gesture. But sometimes, it is not the totally new that is needed but a combination or a new slant. That is how I feel here. I liked how this one came out, after initially feeling shaky on it.