For my university year, myself and five of my fellow students decided that we would put together an online exhibition through making a shared website. We decided to use WordPress as we all had some sort of experience using this. We’ve spent the last 4/5 weeks working on putting the website together, hours of calls and texting to make our exhibition public. Due to Covid-19, we weren’t able to do a live exhibition and so came to the conclusion that a website would be suitable to still do this and reach a wider audience.
Our website is bilingual, English and Welsh. As a group we decided that this was important to all of us to include the Welsh language, the language of our nation and therefore have done everything in our power to make it as inclusive as possible. For more information follow the link to view our brand new exhibition and see what myself and my fantastic group of fellow students have been making! Thank you.
For my final project, I’ve been working on swans, painting and inking black and white swans. This has been such an important topic for me, I can empathise with racist comments about being German, I cannot, however, imagine what a black person is going through in this world. To live in fear, be subject to injustice and prejudice. The list doesn’t even end there. Speaking out is difficult for me, I get anxious that I’m going to say the wrong thing, offend someone, upset someone. I want to be educated about Black History and Black Lives Matter, so if I do say something wrong, help me change because its a way forward.
For my project, the main subject of interest was the black swan, and the occasional white swan. I think that this creature was so fascinating to me because they’re not a regular sight in the UK, the black swan is native to Australia.
Through-out the entire project, making the link between the swans and racism was one of my biggest challenges for this project because at one point, I was just painting and painting swans with no means of how to conclude the project. With a little over two weeks to go, I decided I really had to get something done.
I began researching all of the recent BLM news that had been going on the last year. Looking at not only recent news, I was also reading up about Black History; slavery, oppression, prejudice. The more I read, the more I wanted to cry. I then thought of compiling all my swan paintings into one book and having a piece of text with each piece. I wanted the writing to be small, on the opposite page to the paintings/ink pieces, so that they could be side by side. I did this because I wanted the text to be quite subtle; not to take away from whats going on in the world one bit, but more as a reflection of how racism can be subtle too. This idea resonated even more with my idea as all the information I was finding was American based. I challenged myself further to find out facts, statistics and information about racism in the UK and while it’s a very big deal in America, its a very subtle, low down, not often talked about factor in the UK.
With all that in mind, I began putting a book together…
Before adding text, I played around with the layout, seeing if a coloured page would compliment the pieces better and centring each photograph in the middle of the page or not. Ultimately I’ve decided on white.
For the type itself, I spent hours researching facts, statistics, stories and past history. Educating myself on these stories has been so insightful to me and made me realise just how naive I’ve been to the situation. Of course it’s happening in the UK, so why isn’t it talked about?
For the first page, I wanted a Martin Luther King Jr quote, something he said in his famous speech that summed up what I wanted from the entire book. A strong opening quote, which I could then contrast on the final page.
If you haven’t seen this speech I highly recommend giving it a listen, even if it’s just as means of education. I knew that I wanted to feel the emotion that I’m trying to convey from the very first page and I hope that the part of the speech that I have included will do that. This quote I’ve put next to what I believe to be my strongest piece.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day down in Alabama with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.
A dream is an ambition, an aspiration, hope. This speech fills me with hope for a better future, a better future in so many ways. For the second page of my book, I researched how many people had been killed or injured by police brutality in the UK. I deliberately searched for these following the uproar in America because there was a lot of talk in the UK about it too… but no mention of the same happening in the UK. Choosing each person was difficult because there were so many names and very little page space. Here are a few stories of the names that I picked. I intend to educate myself on the names that haven’t been mentioned. Please note – these stories are not easy to read.
Mahmood Mattan (CARDIFF 1952):
The last person to ever be hanged in Cardiff was an innocent man. Born in Somalia, Mahmood was a sailer, his job took him to Wales. He upset many locals when he married a Welshwoman called Laura Williams in the 1950’s. In March 1952, Lily Volpert, a shopkeeper, unofficial moneylender was found lying in a pool of her own blood in her shop. Her throat had been cut. Mahmood was charged with her murder and just five months later he was tried and wrongly found guilty. A key witness giving evidence at trial claimed he saw Mahmood leaving the shop, however, for many years information from other witnesses claiming they hadn’t seen him was withheld. In 1969, the same witness tried to murder his own daughter by cutting her throat, she survived and he was sentenced to life in prison. Four and a half decades later, Appeal Court judges overturned Mahmood’s conviction and he was found to be innocent. For more information follow the link below:
David Oluwale (LEEDS 1969):
David Oluwale was a Nigerian immigrant who came to work in Britain when he was just 19 years old on a stowaway cargo ship from Lagos. David suffered from mental illnesses and was therefore vulnerable to homelessness and a victim to racism. He was last seen running towards the River Aire. Devastatingly, he was later pulled out of the same river, badly beaten. A man who was suffering not only mentally, but physically too, was using the river as a means of escape from the men who should have been protecting him. Two officers were charged with manslaughter, but were acquitted in 1971. However, both officers were convicted of assaulting David but were given short jail sentences. Inspector Geoffrey Ellerker received 36 months, while Sergeant Kenneth Kitching received 30 months. For more information follow the link below:
Cherry Groce (SOUTH LONDON 1985):
Cherry Groce was shot in the shoulder/spine and paralysed her from the waist down in 1985 during a police raid in search for one of her children. She was shot in front of her children. Her shooting sparked riots for days in Brixton. Cherry died in 2011, following an infection that lead to kidney failure. Her death was linked directly to her gunshot injury. Officer Douglas Lovelock was charged with unlawful and malicious grievous bodily harm in 1987, but was later acquitted. For more information follow the link’s below:
Cynthia Jarrett (NORTH LONDON 1985):
Just a week after Cherry Groce’s death, police raided Cynthia Jarrett’s house after obtaining a warrant to search her son Floyd’s home address. The police thought (wrongly) him to have stolen a car and wanted to search his address based on rumours that he was handling stolen goods. Cynthia was watching television with her daughter when the police arrived. During the search Cynthia Jarrett became distressed and suffered a massive heart attack and died. Her daughter Patricia told the court that her mother was pushed over by D.C Michael Randle. Her death was put down to an accident and no police officers were charged or disciplined following her death. For more information follow the link below:
Joy Gardner (NORTH LONDON 1993):
Jamaican born Joy Gardner was studying Media Studies at London Guildhall University university with the hopes of becoming a journalist. In 1993 police officers and an immigrant official raided her home to detain and remove both the mature student and her five year old son back to Jamaica. Joy was shackled with manacles and a leather belt. She was gagged and had 13 feet of surgical tape wrapped around her head and face. She died a few days later due to suffocation and cardiac arrest. It was later emerged that Joy’s warning letters of her impending deportation were ‘deliberately’ delayed so that she would have no warning of her removal. In 1995, three officers were accused with manslaughter, one was acquitted by the judge and the other two were found not guilty by the jury. For more information follow the link below:
Christopher Alder (HULL 1998):
Hull born Christopher Alder was brought up in the care system with his fellow siblings. At the age of 16, he joined the British Army and served in the Parachute Regiment for six years. In 1998, Christopher was punched at a nightclub and was later arrested after becoming aggressive at hospital. Christopher Alder died face down in police custody, his trousers around his ankles and his hands cuffed behind his back. A postmortem failed to establish the cause of his death. Footage of police officers standing about making racist comments and ‘monkey noises’ was seen as the officers stood watching Christopher as he died on the floor. Five officers stood trial for the Manslaughter of Christopher Alder, however, the case collapsed and all officers were cleared. For more information follow the links below:
Roger Sylvester (NORTH LONDON 1999):
Roger Sylvester worked as an administration officer for a drop-in mental health centre. Roger was detained outside of his home under the Mental Health Act 1983 and restrained ‘for his own safety’ by eight police officers. He was taken to hospital where he was further restrained for 20 minutes before his body became limp. Roger fell into a coma and after seven days his life support machine was turned off. For more information follow the links below:
Sean Rigg (BRIXTON 2008):
Sean Rigg was handcuffed and restrained face down for eight minutes after the police were called in response to Sean displaying ‘strange behaviour’. He was arrested for assaulting a police officer, public disorder and theft of a passport – which turned out to be his own. He was placed in the back of the police car with his legs bent behind him and his face down. During the journey to the police station, Sean’s mental and physical health deteriorated and he became unwell and wasn’t quite conscious. He was restrained in this position for a further ten minutes unattended and unmonitored. CCTV footage captured one of the officers claiming Sean was ‘faking it’. Sean was then carried to the stations custody suite where he was placed onto the floor – still handcuffed and unresponsive. After a further 25 minute delay, a Dr was called to examine Sean, although CCTV footage showed that the custody sergeant mislead the Dr by telling him that Sean was ‘feigning unconsciousness’. When the Dr eventually examined Sean ten minutes later, he found his heart had stopped and that he was no longer breathing. Despite a CPR attempt, Sean was pronounced dead after arriving at hospital. No criminal charges were bought over his death. For more information follow the link below:
Jimmy Mubenga (LONDON HEATHROW 2010):
Father of five, Jimmy Mubenga died while under restraint of G4S security guards when a fight broke out between them. Jimmy was restrained and dragged back to his seat on the BA flight from Heathrow to Angola. While restrained, Jimmy could be heard pleading for help and shouting “I can’t breathe” and “they are killing me, they are killing me.” Jimmy became unconscious while under restraint as the plane was about to take off. The G4S staff checked his pulse and could not find one. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene. In December 2014, all three G4S guards were found not guilty of manslaughter. For more information follow the link below:
Kingsley Burrel (BIRMINGHAM 2011):
Kingsley was arrested following a disturbance in Birmingham in 2011. He was detained under the Mental Health Act when he called the police saying he was being threatened by a gun, CCTV footage showed that he was not being followed. While waiting for examination at the hospital, Kingsley was handcuffed to the hospital floor for 5/6 hours where he wet himself. He died from a heart attack four days later. Jurors found that the police used an unreasonable amount of force to detain Kingsley. They found that being in a secluded room ‘more than minimally contributed to his death’ and the blanket used to cover his face had a ‘more than minimal’ contribution to his death and should have been removed. None of the officers were brought to justice for the part they played in Kingsley’s death. For more information follow the link below:
Mark Duggan (NORTH LONDON 2011):
Mark Duggan’s death triggered the biggest riots in modern English history. In August 2011 Mark was shot dead by Metropolitan police officers in Tottenham, North London. Officers had been trailing him while he travelled in a minicab, he collected a gun before resuming his journey. Eleven officers continued to follow him before he was shot twice and died from his injuries. Mark Duggan’s gun was found 4.35 metres away from his body where he was shot, over the fence. The gun being thrown before or after the first shot is one of the biggest questions in the case, as police officers reported firing after seeing the gun in his hand, but not recalling seeing it between the first and second shot. However, Mark Duggan being able to throw the gun after being shot once already seems unlikely. For more information follow the link below:
Smiley Culture (SURREY 2011):
The 48 year old singer who rose to fame in the 1980’s with a number of reggae-rap style songs, follow the link “Cockney Translations” to hear his music. During a police raid to Smiley Culture’s home, he stabbed himself during his arrest due to a police drugs investigation. Investigation’s are taking place into how officers can take responsibility in supervising arrests in such ways to avoid “unforeseeable” events such as these. For more information follow the link below:
Julian Cole (BEDFORD 2013):
Julian Cole was enjoying a night out with some of his friends when they were asked to leave in the early hours of the morning. Initially, the group walked away but Julian returned to the venue requesting a refund. He returned to the club alone. He asked for a refund multiple times. Upon return, Julian was seized by security who passed him to the police immediately. Witnesses say they saw Julian dragged unconscious across the road by officers – headed for the police van. At this point, Julian’s neck had been broken and as a result suffered some serious spinal injuries referred to as a ‘hangman’s fracture’. He was unresponsive. Julian was lifted into the police van; when he was driven to the station he remained unresponsive and an ambulance was finally called. Julian had suffered a severe brain injury due to the lack of oxygen reaching his brain, he also had a cardiac arrest. Julian, who is still alive, is paralysed and has brain damage. He requires 24 hour care. The investigation was riddled with lies and cover up by the police, Julian’s family were told misleading information by the officers in the hours following him being taken to hospital. Officers claimed Julian had been ‘chatty’ because he was drunk, while in the back of the police van. CCTV footage showed an unconscious Julian being dragged to the van and a toxicology report showed that Julian had consumed alcohol but was under the legal drink-drive limit. In 2018, three officers were fired in relation to them lying about the events that occurred that early morning. Police officers have been found guilty of misconduct but no one has been charged or held accountable for inflicting these life changing injuries on Julian. For more information follow the link below:
Sheku Bayoh (SCOTLAND 2015):
On the night of May 2nd, 2015 Sheku Bayoh had taken drugs which his friends say drastically altered his behavious. Police were called early the following morning when Sheku was spotted behaving strangely with a knife. According to police statements, when they arrived he no longer carried the knife but he was failing to comply with their instructions to get down on the ground. Each officer used force with Sheku within seconds of confronting him. They used batons and CS spray. Sheku then punched one of the female officers to the ground. Officers also reported Sheku stamping on the female officers back and told them he thought Sheku had killed her. He was then restrained on the ground for five minutes before falling unconscious. He was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at hospital. A post mortem revealed that he had 23 separate injuries on his body, including gashes to his head and a broken rib. His death was determined to be “sudden death in a man intoxicated whilst under restraint”. A witness came forward after seeing many news headlines making Sheku out to be a monster. He spoke out publicly saying he witnesses Sheku punching the officer but reported not seeing his stamping on the officers back after that. “There was no more attack on her at all” he said. Investigations continue. For more information follow the link below:
Mzee Mohammed-Daley (LIVERPOOL
In August 2014, Mzee was attacked by five white males and sustained 14 stab wounds following this incident. Later, he was diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and his family said this attack left him in a state of paranoia. He was also diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and ADHD (attention deficit hyper activity disorder). In June 2016, Mzee Mohammed was shopping at Liverpool ONE shopping centre, when security who were monitoring CCTV reported him to the police claiming a ‘big Black male with dreads running around barefoot’ threatening shoppers with a 12inch black. There claims were never proved or confirmed. Mzee entered a fast food restaurant where he was held onto the floor by security. Security had checked for the knife which couldn’t be found, this information was not communicated to the police who handcuffed him and lay him on his front. Mzee was carried out onto the street and appeared to be completely motionless according to witnesses. An ambulance was finally called and he was pronounced dead. The IOPC concluded that there was not enough evidence to suggest any officer committed a criminal offence or behaved in a manner that would justify disciplinary action.
Sarah Reed (NORTH LONDON 2016):
Sarah’s traumatic experiences of loosing her baby in 2003 led to her experiencing various mental health struggles over the years including Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and bulimia. She was also a victim of police brutality in 2012, when a Metropolitan Police constable was caught on CCTV yanking her by her hair and dragging her on the floor, pressing on her neck and punching her several times in the head. In 2016, Sarah was found dead in her prison cell. When Sarah’s mother went to visit her at the beginning of January, she said her daughter looked unwell, it worried her because she’d had letters from Sarah who pleaded for help to get her out of the prison, she wrote “I shouldn’t be here; I’m not being treated,” and “I need my medication.” The jury concluded that her death was self inflicted at a time where her mind wasn’t in the right place. Her treatment at the facility was not acceptable and the inquest heard that her cell was not cleaned and that Sarah was not given showers and was kept in isolation for the most part. She had no real interaction with staff, family or friends. For more information follow the link below:
Dalian Atkinson (TELFORD 2016):
Footballer Dalian Atkinson was best know for playing for Aston Villa and Manchester City. Dalian died at the age of 48 after being tasered by the police near his father’s house in Telford. Police were there after responding to a call saying that Dalian was threatening to kill his father. His brother claimed he’d “lost it, he was in a manic state and depressed out of his mind”. After being tasered, Dalian Atkinson went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead 90 minutes after the police were called. In 2019, the CPS said that criminal charges would be brought up against the two officers involved. For more information follow the link below!
Kevin Clarke (LEWISHAM 2018):
Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at the age of 17, Kevin Clarke had been living at a residential support service up until his death in 2018. Kevin was experiencing a relapse when the police were called. Kevin was laying on the ground when he was restrained by up to nine officers. He was handcuffed and his legs were restrained too. Video footage reveals Kevin telling officers repeatedly that he couldn’t breathe and that he thought he was going to die. By restraining Kevin, the situation was made worse as he was not harming anyone, he was suffering from a mental health crisis. Investigations continue. For more information follow the link below!
Trevor Smith (BIRMINGHAM 2019):
In March 2019, Police were executing an ‘intelligence-led operation’ where they raided Trevor’s (or ‘Big T’ as the locals liked to call him) home. Officers were there to carry out a search warrant obtained under Section 8 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. Trevor was shot in his bedroom. He died at the scene. No arrests have been made and investigations continue. For more information follow the link below!
Simon Francis (TORQUAY 2019):
Simon Francis died in his cell at Torquay police station in May following his arrest in Exeter. A preliminary post-mortem examination was unable to find a cause of death. Police say paramedics were called when he was found seriously unwell in his cell in the afternoon. He was pronounced dead later in the evening. Investigations into how Simon died continue. For more information follow the link below!
Without a doubt the hardest part of this project was researching all the names of the victims killed or injured because of police brutality. I’m aware that there’s so many more. I will read their stories.
For a digital view of my books follow the links below!
Charles Tunnifcliffe OBE was an internationally renowned naturalistic painter of British birds and other wildlife. He worked mostly on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales. Tunnicliffe worked in many different mediums including watercolour, oil, etching, woodcut and scratchboard. Many of Tunnicliffe’s work depicted different birds in their natural habitats or settings as well as other scenes depicting nature. As well as this, he had also illustrated a number of books.
Tunnicliffe’s beautiful drawings of life size birds and their features was recommended to me by one of my tutors following my most recent project which involved the swans. I’ve really enjoyed looking at all of his work depicting swans, I especially liked the ‘Whooper Swan’, the white of the swan contrasting with the yellow/brown background.
Looking at his work has inspired me to keep drawing and painting these swans, Tunnicliffe manages to capture the black of the swan as in the above, while also keeping the detail of the fine feathers.
For my final pice I’ve been looking at ways to make art in relation to the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement. Being a white artist making this kind of work is so nerve wreaking because I don’t want to offend anyone. I do believe in speaking out for what’s right, I enjoy doing this through the medium of art. Following my last post of swan paintings, drawings and ink sketches, I’ve been thinking of ways to really push the importance of the subject through in a way that can be understood clearly by everyone, the swans being a metaphor for the topic.
This week I looked at exploring the topic using acrylics, this is a bit new for me as I haven’t painted using acrylics in a few years. I don’t enjoy using it as much as u enjoy using watercolour and inked which I find more malleable, and easier to blend tones and colours. Its definitely a medium I would use against for my work, and include in my work process.
I also looked at the skeletal structure of the swan, the idea behind this is it show that beneath the black and white feathers, they’re both just a bag of the same bones essentially. This was fun to explore because it was an idea that carried on developing the more I thought about it. I thought of Mufasa explaining the circle of life to Simba. I know it seems silly but it made me understand my own project.
This made me think about how everyone, humans, animals, plant matter, all of it will just end up as bones, dust, soil and the process starts again. It honestly baffles me that racism still exists in this day an age, because to put it quite bluntly, we all shit and bleed the same. No one person is better than another because of who they are, what they identify as, the colour of their skin, age… I could go on. For my project, I’ve been thinking about ways of incorporating this into my work
I began with a design sheet and got some post it notes and wrote down some ideas that I’d had regarding this project. I liked the layout and I thought of ways I could incorporate this idea with all my other ideas.
I liked the idea of having the beauty of the animal as the first thing people look at when they view my small paintings and drawings, I have been thinking of using this type of design to put with my pieces and adding facts and statistics about the BLM movement. I love the idea of including the beauty with the shock factor. I think that this holds its own kind of strength to it in doing it this way. I use my voice through the medium of art.
I’ve been in a bit of a slump regarding the swan drawing and paintings, I’ve been going out, painting them, photographing them or working to make digital pieces to grab inspiration where I could, I scribbled notes next to some of them, or on post it notes to record some ideas I had while drawing the swans.
Get ready for lots of swan drawings/pictures/paintings.
Having gone out and drawn some basic outlines again, I later when and painted in the other drawings using reference photos to use the watercolours and create some small paintings. 1/
Because I’d been out drawing these originally, I was thinking of nature and the sounds surrounding me. I really enjoyed going out and drawing these. It’s definitely a stress reliever and I always enjoy taking a step out into nature and drawing and painting some beautiful animals.
I’ve also worked on some digital pieces, playing about with colour and the blend tools to show different ideas and colours. These are pieces I’d done based on photographs.
I’ve been working in a small watercolour book, it’s been a lot more portable than having loose watercolour pieces. I’m not allowing myself to spend too much time on these pieces, as I’m experimenting with colours and composition and lighting. Along with my ideas surrounding racism, I’m still not sure how I can express this in my work, and the cogs are whirring with different ideas. At this point in time, the practice is lovely and I’m really enjoying capturing the beauty of these animals.
As well as working in watercolour, I also began using ink and a dip pen. This has been a learning experience that I’ve enjoyed working in. I’ve focused on crosshatching but will probably be looking to use the ink to draw and create in different ways and I’m excited to learn about this.
Finally, a sunny day! When I woke up this morning, I thought to myself that I was definitely going out to draw today. Its a cloudless sky today.
I took the dog with me and set out for the lake around the corner from me.
Yesterday, I’d actually cut up and prepared some watercolour paper because the weatherman promised nice weather. So, with that in mind, I got a load of watercolour paper our and cut them into squares and small landscape sizes, then taped the sides up ready for a tidy painting piece.
Despite having a range of big and small pieces, I used more of the smaller pieces.
I’m not joking when I say that the water is like a mirror today. It was so still and silent.
So I sat down and just began drawing on my little pieces of paper. They were so still and really curious, though they weren’t keen on the dog. Though they came within touching distance of me, they backed up quickly whenever the dog came closer. They didn’t fancy a kiss from him.
Anyway, back to the point.
As you can see, they are really rough drawings, but I feel like they convey the point. I decided to use watercolour pencils to fill in the second photograph. For this part, I used previous photos to try and get the correct colours for the paintings.
I’m quite happy with the outcome of the piece, I found it difficult moving from my watercolour blocks to the pencils, but I thought that a fine point of the pencil would help to get finer details into the painting. I think that I’ve achieved this in the tree-line/reflection, but I think that I should work more on the water next time around. This is something I think I will focus on when I paint the remaining pieces, and possibly transfer a few of the sketches to my sketchbook.
Today, I learnt that the black swans have like little nostrils on their beaks which isn’t something that I’ve focused on in previous sketches and drawings so this little piece of information will help me greatly in drawing these creatures more accurately. (as can be seen in the photograph below, they look a bit like an apple seed)
My first idea for the final major project has been centred around the black swans that I went out and photographed last week. I felt really inspired after seeing them, as I’d only ever seen white ones before. I had lots of ideas about where I could go with both black and white swans, thinking of the recent BLM movement, the story of The Ugly Duckling, the environment around them and thats just to list a few of the ideas I had. I started with the idea that was most familiar to me; the story of The Ugly Duckling. This is a story I’m certain most people are familiar with, it’s a story of discovering personal identity, belonging and isolation as well as togetherness and acceptance. Even the kindness of the strangers in the story are essential in this little duckling who stands out, to discover where his true home is and where he belongs.
These are some of the themes of the story, and I’ve really cut the story down to make it fit onto my two small pages, but the story, despite being aimed at kids, packs in some nice symbols, the ugly duckling hatches and gets thrown into the harsh reality of the world. He’s pushed around by his siblings and finally grows up and becomes his authentic self.
I love the story and its the first thing I thought of when I began thinking about ideas for my storyboard. Obviously, I could really go many ways with just this story, revolving around identity, isolation (which could also be very relevant with this whole Covid business) belonging, and acceptance. I could also look at the illustration aspect which I’ve done with my little adaption of the story. I’ve been thinking about looking at the environment around these animals too, two summers ago I went to Lake Windermere and there were hundreds of swans, geese and ducks being fed by the humans around them. I always think of wildlife artists/photographers who say it’s hard not to interfere with wildlife when you see something distressing happening, and up at the Lake, people were feeding these animals by hand. It was amazing and terrifying at the same time. A couple of days before finding the black swans, I’d gone on my usual walk with the dog, and saw a mask on the floor (again bringing back to the Covid idea) and I decided to paint it.
I thought after making this, that I could explore making a series of paintings of watercolour paintings, showcasing litter in beautiful environments. Behind the gate in the above painting, is where the black swans live on a little lake. Theres a little path up to the lake and the litter surrounding the area just amazed me. I photographed everything for some inspiration before I choose a sunny day (its been torrential rain for the last few weeks) to head out and get some sketches down on paper (and a bag to start picking things up).
I did take some photos while I could before the heavens opened up on top of me and I had to retreat to a dry place (yes, my feet were very cold and wet).
These are just a sample of images of the ideas I have in my head. I think it would be interesting to look at how it affects wildlife, especially so close to these animals home. On the other side of my village, theres another lake and this one has some white swans living there, so I’ve started with some observational drawings of those. I got an hour or so in before the rain started; and this time I got caught in it!
I say enough rain, bring some sunshine! Here are the observational drawings:
I had a lot of fun making these, it’s obviously really difficult because they’re moving so half the time, I’d got half a drawing down, had to start another, and then going back to finish the other when I found the right position again. I tidied these up at home and added the orange colour to the beaks.
After watching some of David Colman’s videos, (I was following along a couple of his ‘character drawing’ videos) he was explaining that thinking in terms of shapes was a good way to think of character drawing. The first few drawings were from a reference photo’s that he had provided and I drew from reference based on what he was telling me, I put all the drawings into layers so that I could go back and create a design sheet for everything that I’d learnt. I’ve actually really enjoyed trying this out and have decided to adopt the idea.
So actually, I never really got the idea of making design sheets and I always thought of them as a chore, but I’ve really enjoyed throwing this approach to the mix and it’s made me think of design sheets in a new light.
So after doing these, this morning I decided to do a warm up design sheet. The other day, there was a bit of sun, and I took the advantage of going out with my camera and saw some black swans. I was aware that they lived on the lake but never thought of approaching to have a closer look. Having only ever seen white swans, I decided to go investigate a little.
So I’m very aware of how dangerous swans can be, but they were actually just curious. They came up really close, I think they were a little interested in the dog more than me, they seemed to follow his movements and I was able to get some great photographs.
Unfortunately, the clouds started to travel very fast and it started to rain. I’m waiting for a clear day to go back out and take my pens and sketchbook with me. However, I used one of the references to start my warm up design sheet. So I definitely think that using simple shapes to get the correct outline will help in creating a funky little character and that will be my next step in thinking about how I can do this.
Tim Hodge has worked in animation for over 35 years. His work can be found in feature films, including Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Mulan’, Warner Brothers Television, Dreamworks Television and more. Hodge is a storyboard artist, but also works in illustration and fine art. He is able to adapt his style to suit various studios.
While doing work for my own storyboards this week, I accidentally stumbled across Tim Hodge’s instagram account. Lucky for me, he works to create storyboards – which conveniently I’ve been working to make for my own short video. Here’s one of Hodge’s storyboards for the Film Brother Bear.
First of all, I’d just like to say that I wish my storyboards looked as tidy as Hodge’s. The storyboard lead to this scene in Brother Bear. When you watch the clip side by side with the storyboard, I find it so interesting to be able to point out what you can see similar in both.
Here are just a handful of my favourite illustrations that I chose from his website. Looking at these illustrations reminds me that I can make my own characters as funky and as wacky as I want them to be.
Hodge’s fine art gallery really made me giggle, it really broke me out of this mental state of what I believed fine art to be. I’ve loved looking at these and they’ve given me the opportunity to look at the art I create and think of it in this funny way, as well as in an aesthetic manner.