Revisits: War

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 21, the theme is War. Here’s the image:

Image 13 blog

The theme of War is more concrete than some of the earlier ones. We all have many images of war stored in our heads from exposure to the news, stories told to us by friends or relatives, war in fiction or movies, or from our own personal experiences.

Fictive Dream Editor Laura Black said in her notes on this project:

For the colour I have in mind khaki (perhaps the shade you used in Image 11 for February), and numerous splintery trees with damage from bombing or shooting.

The artwork to which she refers (Image 11) is this one that illustrated a story in Flash Fiction February 2019:

I also recalled an image I made for an earlier event at Fictive Dream, September Slam 2018 – the story concerned events of World War I. For various reasons the story ultimately was not included and the illustration did not appear, but I remembered the khaki-yellow color I used in it:

Fictive Dream Ypres full size 8-18 #1 adjusted text flattened small

So I used the greenish color for the landscape with a dull ocher for the sky, both colors associated with army uniforms. I also deliberately made the colors less vibrant than some of the other illustrations, though I kept the intensity.

When it came to the trees, Laura’s image of  trees splintered by bombs coincided with my own (and my husband’s too; when I mentioned this theme to him he immediately described trees blown up and lying on the ground in pieces). It was important the the trees portrayed the suffering, damage, and destruction of war. I created trees that are barely standing, with branches scattered around and who may or may not survive, trees irrevocably changed, trees whose years of growth were destroyed in an instant.

When I showed the image to Laura, it fit her vision, and so the illustration of War was done.

Image 13 blog

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

9 thoughts on “Revisits: War

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. Both Laura and I (and my husband when I asked him for his ideas) saw broken trees of some sort. I found this one…upsetting… to do when thinking about smashed trees, odd, because I am inured to reading about human casualties since…there is an infinite history of them, I guess, and we get used to bad news if we hear it often enough. I hope the trees bring people to the point of feeling it, maybe, when the usual image won’t? Guess this is all kind of odd to be saying, but it’s how the image came to be.

      1. memadtwo

        It’s hard not to be distressed about everything we read and see going on around us today. War is only one part of it. And I agree, somehow the destruction of trees seems to especially catch at the heart.

        1. Claudia McGill Post author

          I followed your reference and looked around on my own as well. I did not know this artist and now I feel he is expressing exactly what I feel about trees, and also that idea that inanimate objects have a spirit or a life (I have thought this since I was a child). Thank you for pointing me in this direction.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. We have such vivid images of war, this one came easily. Though I also think if I were doing another one, I’d take a different angle, just to go against expectations, and that has given me something to think about.

  1. Laura Black

    I agree with you when you say the war theme is the most concrete of them all, and that our ideas of war are readily informed by films, books, the news and so on. Splintered trees are symbolic of war (especially World War I in my view) and I felt this would be right for this image. I love your representation of trees in the artwork – once beautiful trees now reduced to stumps. The colours also are exactly right, and the dull ocher in particular. I can’t believe we’ve arrived at the end of the series. As always Claudia, it was a real pleasure to work with you on this project. Thank you for all that you did.

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