Colour Leaning From the Steep Slope

For this project, we were tasked with creating three images based around the short story Leaning From the Steep Slope by Italo Calvino. the story itself, focuses on a man obsessed with the idea of the world ending so much so that he doesn’t notice it when he gets himself entangled in something extremely dangerous involving a beautiful woman, a…..I can’t for the life of me remember what his profession was but basically a scientific weatherman. (meteorologist? I don’t know, I’m not willing to skim that purple prose story again) and a prisoner who dubiously appears near the end.

At any rate, I started off by doing colour experiments with ink, acrylic paint and gouache paint. I hadn’t used good quality gouache paint before so I found I really enjoyed the way it blended together and didn’t dry as fast as acrylics. I just experimented with mixing colours, marks, dripping ink, dripping paint, attempting to make a gradient with acrylics (that failed spectacularly) and succeeding with gouache. It was quite a lot of fun and probably looks quite insane. I never was one to do an organised sheet of experiments.

colour 5colour 6    colour 11colour 9colour 10colour 13colour 14colour 12colour 16colour 17colour 15colour 18

After I had read the story over a few times and analysed it a little, I started looking up some of the items I would need to draw, experimenting drawing hats loosely from images on google, dresses, shells, shoes, buildings mentioned, thinking about the environment, if there were any trees and the like.

I had a rough idea of what I thought the woman would look like and didn’t really want to draw the main character as it seems he doesn’t really “appear” as an actual character in the story much himself, distancing himself, being obvious to his own doom.

colour 2colour 1

With making these studies I just used some left over paint, or a biro to get the shape or marks of the object down. The idea for me wasn’t to make the object exactly like its original in the photographs but to focus on the form and geometric shapes (or the softness, as with the fabrics I painted).

Below, the study of dresses and the hat on the left is probably my favourite thing I created while doing these studies, if only because the tones in the dresses I think really work well to give a bit more texture as fabrics and not flat objects.

colour 4colour 3  colour 7

After creating my studies I selected the three scenes I wanted to illustrated.

I chose for my first image a scene of Miss Zwida using her sketchbook with the arm chairs on the beach formed in a semi circle, the belvedere overlooking.

Now, I am going to address what I dislike about this image, which pretty much could be summed up as everything except Miss Zwida. The problem with illustration a beach scene and particularly in paint is that it is very difficult to define the image and I think perhaps I could have done more to add more tons (light and dark) to add more dynamic shading the the entire image.

Zwida herself, I spent just as much time on and actually seems to have a good amount of tones to her body and her clothing. But again, it is missing the darkness that defines some of the more subtle tones in an image.

Overall I am happy with the image because Zwida brings the quality of it up, but I don’t think the image itself would stand up on its own two feet without her.

colour 8     colour final piece 1

Next I chose to illustrate the scene of Zwida talking to a prison guard as grieving relatives of prisoners queue up to see their incarcerated relatives (left).

I wanted a soft veiled effect on her head but unfortunately it seems I wasn’t able to thin the wash enough to define that. Again the image and environments aren’t very defined and I could probably do with going over areas again with a wash to add more shading to the scene.

Lastly, I chose to illustrate the drunken story of a prisoner and his lady friend with the guard and grave keeper sat in attendance with the main character.

I’ll just say I hate this image and be done with it.

No wait I cant do that, that wouldn’t express the deep seated hatred I have for the image. Ok so, the imagery itself has poor composition, the figures are blurred or have bled into each other, the colours are muddied and don’t work together and there are very few variations in the tones of the image.

If anything the only thing good about the image is that the grave-keeper looks like a sad clown.

colour final 2 colour final 3

If I get a chance to do it again, or to improve upon the images I have now, I would try to introduce more tone variation to th first two images, refine the third image and add better colours and effects.

I’m not sure, I put a lot of effort into it but it didn’t necessarily turn out as I’d have liked. I’ll live because every failure can help lead to a success but I do hope to not have the same kind of disappointment towards my last image with anything else I create this year.


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