Thursday, February 6, 2014

You've Got Friut On Your Head.... Did you know?


     Yay! It's, once again, Illustration Friday. The day we all wait the entire week for; making Fridays quite special.  This week's topic is EXOTIC and I really had a bit of a tough time with this one.  In the end, it took me working on a completely different project and then going to sleep, to wake up from a dream of inspiration.  I, honestly, was going to participate this week until I had the idea of this week's submission.

     I wanted to illustrate something that encompassed what I personally found exotic as well as drawing an iconic representation of the word on a larger more universal scale.

     For me, personally, EXOTIC lies in the depths of the Caribbean and of the Wild Plains of Africa and certainly in the jungles of South America.  These environments so foreign to the suburban life in Southern United States.  My initial exposure to these worlds, Brazil and South America specifically, was the Chiquita Banana.  I know that at this point, you are probably laughing out loud, literally, at my first introduction to what I personally felt as the Exotic Worlds Abroad.  Often American children never leave their hometowns or states, let alone the country to travel to foreign lands.  So our exposure was tropical fruits available at the local grocer and definitely and even more excitedly, National Geographic Television Specials. I remember being glued to the TV when they would air. You must remember that this was before the birth and existence of information at your fingertips (the Internet).  Kids today are so fortunate to be able to travel the entire world from the comfort of their home computer.




     To me, the Chiquita Banana Woman is so very iconic.  The sight of her on a banana sticker brings up fond memories for me.  SO I knew I wanted to use her in this week's challenge.  The Chiquita Banana woman, otherwise known to the world as Carmen Miranda, was a famous Latin American actress and stage performer.  She charmed the world with her beautiful and lusciously colored costumes that she wore.  She became most known for her Fruit hats or hair pieces.  She was America's Sweetheart and she led the way for many of today's Latin American Actors, Singers and Performers.  Carmen Miranda became the icon of EXOTIC to Americans during the height of her career.  She inspired a Brazilian travel and culture craze in the United States during the 50s and 60s.  There is even a museum devoted to her in Rio De Janeiro.



     The last element in my concept was to decide: Human or Animal?  I love illustrating animals.  I suppose this might be attributed to my love for Disney's Animal Allegory Production of Robin Hood.  To me one of the most exotic creatures that walk the Earth this day is the peacock.  So beautiful and elegant.  The Peacock seemed to be the perfect match conceptually and visually with Carmen Miranda.




     I began just having some fun caricaturing Carmen Miranda and Peacocks.  It was a fun evening.  The best part about participating in this weekly challenge is that is low pressure.  Other than a definitive deadline and working under a deadline that is rather quick,  I feel like this weekly project is my cut loose project where I can relax and just do... whatever.  There is no real wrong answer and I can just illustrate for the simple pleasure of illustrating.  I think that's why I get so excited about these... not that I am not excited about other projects I work on... I think there is just a special place in my heart for Illustration Fridays. :0)


The rest is pretty much the usual: Sketching, inking then putting the final digital-collage color.  One more behind the scenes tid-bit: In creating a color scheme that would work with such a detail rich subject, I researched contemporary Brazilian art for inspiration.

     I will leave you with my other remembered exposure to the Exotic World I dreamed about when I was little.  I had 2 Muppet vinyl records that were a compilation from all the current, to that date, Jim Henson television and cinematic productions. I would LOVE to own them again.
They were such a joy to listen to. One of the Songs on the Albums was a Muppet Performance of Lime in the Coconut. The tune was SO catchy and those records were the first time I ever heard it... I found myself going around singing it.  I have been kinda-sorta singing it in my head all week as I worked on this illustration.  Now I want to share it with you so that it can play in your heads. Happy Friday, Everyone.  I wish you all an EXOTIC Adventure this weekend. :0)


 The Muppet's - The Lime in the Coconut


until next time...
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art. 
Cheers,
LEWIS









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