By Nina J P Evans

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Audrey Hepburn's childhood drawings

Lovely childhood drawings by Audrey Hepburn. I think that they are almost as irritable as Audrey herself!

On May 10, 1940, six days after Audrey’s eleventh birthday, a year after the childhood portrait. The Wehrmacht invaded the Netherlands, (known as the battle of Netherlands) having already come through Luxembourg and Belgium. It was during this five-year occupation that Audrey found her way into the arts. Supported and encouraged by her family, to help raise money for the Dutch Resistance, this creative freedom gave her, and family friends who enjoyed her performances a much needed reprieve from the circumstances. It was through Drawing, plays and ballet  that she ended up staring in the films such as The Lavender Hill Mob and Roman Holiday. Her talents were discovered in 1951 from there onwards she did look back. Her childhood personal experiences of World War II  later led her to become involved in UNICEF.

Audrey Hepburn quotes:
Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering — because you can’t take it all in at once.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A beautiful hand-Illustrated take on the film Melancholia

This is a marvellous idea for a sketchbook! Hand drawn typography with pencil illustrations inspired by using a film for visual and script reference and then making the finished piece back into a film again, perfect! This beautiful sketchbook is made by Debbie Millman writer, educator, artist brand consultant and host of the radio show Design Matters, animated in such a way. Her chosen study is Lars von Trier’s film Melancholia. The theme is about two sisters with a strained relationship showing events from both individuals perspectives, Justine (part1) and Claire's (part2). The two main characters stories overlap and interweave, leading up to the dramatic ending of a distant planet’s collision course with Earth. The textual cut ups of the script are perfectly selected and the typographic hand renderings are beautiful and evocative, reanimating the emotional tangles with a questioning, hesitating hand drawn lettering style. The attention to detail improves the effectually of the dialogue overall.

The sketchbook is illustrated with objects such as chairs, vases, spiral patterns. These objects help create the atmosphere of the film and aid the story. A few of the illustrations look familiar, like the night nude scene on the rocks next to a river is a stunning pose. The sky at night appears and reappears in the sketchbook, is more prominent during the second half of the film as the planet grows closer to the Earth. The cinematic tension builds as the characters perspectives shift, here the sketchbook is lacking a sense of dramatic tension. However, there’s a refreshing and surprising sense of individuality to the sketchbook. These background objects may have gone unseen whilst seeing the original film, due to the excessive amount of information the mind is capable of focusing in on at 24 frames per second. Exploring the sketchbook’s richness of symbols is delightful, the patterns and objects that pair, echo and interweave are held together by the multiplying treads of text between them.

The most notable craft work in the film Melancholia is by the gorgeous cinematography Manuel Alberto Claro and the classical music by composers Wagner and Beethoven. These pencil drawings and typography have a touch of that beautiful cinematic elegance combined with a stark bleakness. The illustrations and typography are very minimally composed and detached from the films scenic environs. I like the way that the sketchbook pages are turned by Debbie in the short film, accompanied with the original film musical score. This pacing and technique allows the textual dialogue to be read and fluctuate, flowing within the white page space as a whole. If the film flicked through the pages like a flicker book, the text would become void of meaning and appear abstract. This has the right pacing, merging seamlessly with the background music itself. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sky Series

My last blog post had a black and white graphics style these abstract photographs illustrate the full spectrum in the most glorious colours imaginable. As seen by New York based artist Eric Cahan’s breathtaking Sky Series of photographs taken at sunrise and sunset in NY and CA. I’ve selected from his online portfolio website a few pieces to showcase in portrait format, there’s also a horizontal and diptych/triptych series, but these verticals seem to allow enough space to draw the eye downwards in infinitely subtle colour variations. Sometimes revealing hints of land mass and sea scape whilst remaining mysteriously familiar. Compositionally they are not about places and landmarks, but a sense of watchfulness, utilising real low lighting conditions, rather than flash lighting photography. The sky series is similar in an evocative sense to films Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, directed by Richard Linklater staring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, as lovers they trace a moment of time together forming and reforming discontinuous connections. These pictures abstractly enable the viewer to form emotional connections from feelings of graduating vagueness to intense richness of hue. Like the films in context, they could be tracing the lives of the two characters across two continents, possibly showing a doomed love affair that lingers and yet remains open-ended.

By way of repetition, the series captures a greater sense of renewal and change according to different factors such as, the location, the classifying sunset and sunrise and the precise time. Acknowledged by the photographic titles. Graduating harmonies and colour contrasts are all subtlety variable. The series looks and feels surprisingly soft with disappearing horizons and colours that may at first appear to be symmetrically balanced. There’s a vivid cadmium yellow in one piece and a pale cobalt green sky with a soft curve of muted yellow in another.

Sunsets are at risk of looking like visual cliches with inclusions of silhouettes surfing and lovers strolling. These scenes are all too familiar and reminiscent of stock photography's contrived poses. This quote by Eric Cahan clearly describes his creative endeavour: “My work is meant to capture a moment in nature, asking and empowering the viewer to be fully present, involved, and uplifted. I want the viewer to be drawn in, and be completely absorbed by, rather than separate from that fleeting moment in time.” These are more spiritually and visually engaging, all about colour nuances and the timing of natural light. The clouds not always, but sometimes dancing across the surface like a brush stroke adding textured marks as soft and sometimes as similar as a dramatic pause. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Steal Like An Artist

Austin Kleon’s new book titled Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told Me About The Creative Life looks like something for the desk rather than the bookshelf. The black and white graphic styling has free flowing textual information with handwritten visual presentations. Kleon’s illustrations have a talent to amuse and entertain, interplaying with the narrative style aptly with their honest hand drawn integrity. Interestingly the book was published after presenting a guest lecture to students at Broome Community College, upstate New York. The book is about everything with nothing new, really… it's sage wisdom and lists are useful learning methods for the designers consideration. This is a manual for students and professionals alike, as the funny thing is, that mistakes are made equally. Feedback and testing is a vital part of any design process especially considering the viral nature of the web.

The title of the book: Steal Like An Artist can be helpfully explained through the visual diversity of graphic styles, ranging from Saul Bass’ iconic inspired illustrations to cute though sometimes menacing Japanese graphics. These are just two styles out of many… that could complement each together. Though designers adding graphic styles to project pieces, should take note of Kleon’s advice: “Steal from many, not one!” As with other industries research is key, a designer needs to compare and contrast design genres. Below are some further quotes from the book.
You are the consumer. Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use - do the work you want to see done.
It’s the side projects that really take off. The stuff that you thought was just messing around. Stuff that’s just play. that’s actually the good stuff. That’s when the magic happens. Bounce between them. when you’re sick of one, switch to another.
Don’t worry about unity from piece to piece—what unifies all your work is the fact that you made it. One day, you’ll look back and it will all make sense.
The messages are simultaneously direct and poignant with visual presentation that is delightful.