Artists have various ways of deliberately distorting naturalistic perspective to achieve a certain mood, for example, a cosy little world.
A common feature in children’s book illustration is the curved horizon. An exaggerated and curved horizon gives the impression that the child lives on a very small planet, and mirrors the experience of early childhood. The young child’s arena is small compared to that of an adult, both physically and imaginatively.
Humans have the tendency to populate every sparse area with fairies. We historically consider small protrusions in land (knolls and hills) magical in some way. Here’s an illustration of a fairy hill, with tiny people coming out of a trap door. (Similar imagery can be seen in “The Legend Of The Pied Piper“.
And here’s an Arthur Rackham illustration of a magic hill:
I believe the concept of the fairy hill has something to do with the tendency to depict horizons as curves in illustrations for children.Continue reading “The Cosy Little World In Illustration”
Luggages, suitcases, boxes and other forms of containment are useful motifs for storytellers. Find a standout example in the lyrical short story “Prelude”, one of Katherine Mansfield’s finest.
In “Prelude”, the Burnell family move from central Wellington out to the country. Mansfield’s narrative camera follows Kezia as she says goodbye to her old house. Meanwhile, her unmarried Aunt Beryl feels constricted. Mansfield utilises a variety of containers to convey this emotional state.
Below, you’ll find a collection of suitcases and luggage in art. These characters prepare to go on holiday, arrive at their destinations and return home.Continue reading “Luggage and Suitcases In Art and Storytelling”
A whole town comes together in carnivalesque fashion for a snow fight in the wonderful scene below.Continue reading “Snow Play In Art and Illustration”
Natalie awoke the next morning to bright sun and clear air, to the gentle movement of her bedroom curtains, to the patterned dancing of the light on the floor; she lay quietly, appreciating the morning in the clear uncomplicated movement vouchsafed occasionally before consciousness returned. Then, with the darkening of the sunlight, the sudden coldness of the day, she was awake and, before perceiving clearly why, she buried her head in the pillow and said, half-aloud, ‘No, please no’.from Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson
Continue reading “Sunsets and Sunrises in Art and Illustration”
In this passage, all as brightness and cleanliness, the “gentle” movements as the curtains sway in the breeze, light from the sun creating pattern on the floor, reflects the room’s atmosphere as one misaligned with Natalie’s emotions. The space may feel welcoming and still, and the terms Jackson selects to describe this morning after are alarmingly pleasant. Yet, as the passage continues, a sudden jolt from the established comfort moves the room to darkness and coldness. Like storm clouds obstructing sunlight, the room changes its atmosphere. Natalie’s waking up is the moment when which the room changes: Not only does the girl wake up from her dreams, crossing the divide from the unconscious to conscious, but she also begins to encounter the precipitating moment of trauma. There are no doors for Natalie after this trauma, an inability to exit or enter into a space that is not somehow associated with control or defined roles. Her desire for a cleansed and hollow home, ready to be filled in and cared for manifests in the dorm room setting, a space where Natalie attempts to control her surroundings.“Homespun” Horror: Shirley Jackson’s Domestic Doubling by Hannah Phillips
A Serigraph is a rendition of an original artwork created by the silk-screen printing process.The Archer Art Gallery
“Serigraph” refers to a type of screen printing, which in turn influences the sort of art that can be produced. This particular form of screen printing is labour intensive and involves a colour professional who separates every colour. Basically, ink is forced through a series of fine meshed silk-screens, which are probably not silk these days, but a synthetic material. Some of this polyester mesh is coarse, other mesh is fine, depending on the level of detail required. Serigraphs allow artists fine control over colour in a way other forms of printing does not.
What does an serigraphic illustration tend to look like?
It took off as a printing form in the 1960s. Thank Andy Warhol. During the 60s, some big name artists such as Warhol realised serigraph printing could achieve textures that other printing processes did not allow.
ABOVE AND UNDER WATER
The Hollow Earth is a concept proposing that the planet Earth is entirely hollow or contains a substantial interior space. Notably suggested by Edmond Halley in the late 17th century, the notion was disproved, first tentatively by Pierre Bouguer in 1740, then definitively by Charles Hutton in his Schiehallion experiment around 1774.Wikipedia, about Hollow Earth fantasies
INSIDE AND OUTSIDE
A view through a window is a great way of showing two different environments, of course. But where to position the camera to allow the viewer both views? Below are various examples.
In Angela Barrett’s fairytale illustration below, the crosscut of the wall allows for the Easter Egg detail of a shoe hidden in the wall. This is an old custom. People used to hide shoes in the house for apotropaic purposes:
Concealed shoes hidden in the fabric of a building have been discovered in many European countries, as well as in other parts of the world, since at least the early modern period. Independent researcher Brian Hoggard has observed that the locations in which these shoes are typically found – in chimneys, under floors, above ceilings, around doors and windows, in the roof – suggest that some may have been concealed as magical charms to protect the occupants of the building against evil influences such as demons, ghosts and witches. Others may have been intended to bestow fertility on a female member of the household, or been an offering to a household deity.Wikipedia
See also: The Symbolism of Trains
In the illustration below, Thornton Utz makes use of a warm palette for the interior and a cool palette for the snowy scene right outside. It looks like this couple has prepared for a magnificent dinner party but their guests have been foiled by the weather.
The illustration below, by Japanese illustrator Tadahiro Uesugi, offers another excellent perspective for showing both inside and outside view through a window. Uesugi is known for playing with unusual angles and perspectives.
OVER AND ABOVE THE BRIDGE
Here is another Tadahiro Uesugi illustration. Bridges, overpasses and raised railway tracks are another way of showing the viewer two different ‘worlds’.
Panoptic narrative art depicts multiple scenes and actions without the repetition of characters. Think of the word ‘panorama’. ‘All-seeing’ (pan + optic).
Kitty’s mother died on an inappropriately sunny Tuesday. So much has changed in Kitty’s life over the last few months, and she needs the world to stop spinning around her. She needs things to return to normal — or as normal as they’ll ever be.
Normal definitely does not include her family moving from their home in a cozy corner of London all the way to New York City. Moving means leaving behind her friends and neighbors, her grandmother, and all the places and people that help Kitty keep her mother’s memory alive.
New York City is bright and bustling and completely different from everything Kitty has known. As she adjusts to her new school, explores her new city, and befriends a blue-haired boy, Kitty wonders if her memories of her mother don’t need to stay in one place — if there’s a way for them to be with Kitty every day, everywhere.
With her wry, poignant wit, Kitty tells a universal story about the grief of losing a beloved family member, the fears of starting over, and the challenges of how to remake a family in this powerful, heartfelt debut novel.
Peephole: a small hole that may be looked through, especially one in a door through which callers may be identified before the door is opened.
Though the graphic art below focuses on peepholes — from literal holes in walls to views through trees in a forest — in literature there are established terms for describing the unsettled feeling you get when you look through something to something else.
It goes back to Freud, of course. Freud and the uncanny, or unheimlich.
Freud described the uncanny as “that class of the terrifying which leads back to something long known to us, once very familiar”. The uncanny represents the liminal space between what is capable of being understood as outward in the world and what is hidden. Though we may get a sense of the familiarity, its true connection to the past is never quite in our reach. Through repression or burying, the uncanny is never able to be fully comprehended — it can, however, be sensed or felt.
The word ‘unheimlich’ is the opposite of ‘heimlich’, which has various definitions, all related to ‘the home’ e.g. ‘belonging to the home’. The home is (hopefully) where we experience peaceful pleasure and security.
Some writers are well-known for their ability to evoke a sense of the uncanny in readers. One standout example: Shirley Jackson.
In her novel Hangsaman, Jackson repeats door scenes to evoke in readers a sense of the inbetween. (Liminal space.) These doors runction as a gateway to “the shadowy part of self reserved for the double“:
A knock on her door was a strange thing to her as the fact of the door itself… as she looked at the inside, and meant to mark the next day whether the panels outside were the same as those inside; off, she thought, that someone standing outside could look at the door, straight ahead, seeing the white paint and the wood, and I inside looking at the door and the white paint and the wood should look straight also, and we two looking should not see each other because there is something in the way…Hangsaman, Shirley Jackson
Below is an analysis of this passage. Before reading, know that lonely college freshman Natalie Waite is the main character and she has created this imaginary friend she calls Tony. (Many readers don’t pick up that Tony is imaginary, instead coding Tony as a same-sex romantic object.)
The knocking figure lurking behind the door, somatically signaling its presence but unknowable until the door is opened, is exactly the fear Freud describes in the uncanny. Natalie’s attempts to understand the odd situation relies her ability to “look” at the inside, to “mark” the day, to observe panels from various angles, to “see” the paint, wood, and otherwise normal harbingers of reality.
To decipher what is happening, Natalie attempts to reassert the concreteness of her room and the door. Jackson’s paragraph instills the fear in not knowing where the boundary between the real and the unreal lays, and leaving the uncertainty open after establishing the obvious.
The “we two looking” are Natalie and Tony, not yet able to meet due to that “something in the way,” whether it be logic, reasoning, perception, or simply, a locked door.
Beyond the locked door is the distance between two selves and mental activities. To look at each other would be to finally confront the shadowy other, an act that Natalie cannot fully confront.
What is beginning to emerge in this passage, though, is an inability to separate the real world self from the non reality. It is unclear who the “I” in the passage is, whether Natalie or Tony, real self or shadowed visage.“Homespun” Horror: Shirley Jackson’s Domestic Doubling by Hannah Phillips
Useful words from that analysis:
Somatic psychology: The study of the mind/body interface, the relationship between our physical matter and our energy; the interaction of our body structures with our thoughts and actions.
Non reality: A place, situation, etc. that is not reality.
Visage: A person’s face or facial expression, with reference to the form or proportions of the features. And here it means the manifestation, image, or aspect of something. (A metaphorical face, for things which don’t normally have faces e.g. buildings or parts of architecture.)