Thursday, May 5, 2016

It Sounds like SMOKE on Illustration Friday!


It's FLASH BACK Illustration Friday! Yay!

     DISCLAIMER FIRST: Just so you all know this piece is not recent... It is very  very old. lol

     Once again, I wasn't going to participate originally in Illustration Friday this week.  However I saw that this week's word was SMOKE and it made me instantly remember this illustration.


     I created it many many moons ago when I was in my first year of the Illustration Program at SCAD.  This was well before I chose a focus in illustration or even knew what focus to even consider.  I figured  eventually a niche would reveal itself; one that I fit into pretty well.  That niche was Children's media  illustration, but that came much much later after I illustrated the piece I want to discuss today.  It was the first project for my Editorial Illustration class.  The assignment was to illustrate a sound.  I don't  think any sounds were particularly assigned to us. If I recall correctly we got to choose our own.  I chose  the Smoker's Wheeze, though in hindsight I think that I should have illustrated that "froggy" voice that  smokers acquire  after years and years and years of smoking. I think that would have been more fun, but  oh well... I didn't think of that one at the time.


     I think I chose the wheeze because at the time I was a smoker and, ironically, just this past year, I picked  it back up again after I had been quit for 6 years... I know. It's bad, such a bad habit to have.  I do feel bad about it sometimes and then others I really really don't feel bad about it. lol.  I will quit again soon, but only when I'm ready. Cold Turkey is the only way to really quit, but you have to be truly ready to.

Anyway... I digress.


     SO... I chose the smoker's wheeze out of some morbid fascination with the subtle almost silent sound that you hear when a heavy smoker breathes.  I think I secretly was hoping to, in some way, ward off the eventuality of me being a wheezer, like some sort of magical spell or perhaps a talisman of protection from this horrid eventuality... Unfortunately for the wheezers, everyone notices how badly you are breathing.  I would feel embarrassed, if it were me wheezing, because it was my bad choices that led to it.  Fortunately, I do not wheeze. I have been diligent to do cardio daily to try to keep my lungs as healthy as possible, even when I have them navigating like boats through a thick fog.


     Even though the sound is audible, it's not entirely too loud. It's almost quiet, I would say.  You'd really only hear a smoker's wheeze if you were in a quiet room with someone who has one.  I thought it would be interesting, conceptually to turn the volume up, so to speak, in my visual.  To be a bit ironic and over the top.  I imagined how I would personally feel if I was wheezing around others.  I would feel like the sound would be so loud that it might be deafening.  I compared the sound to a set of bagpipes.  I chose this because... well, firstly, bagpipes are just awesome and I've always thought they were very cool and had an interesting sound to them.  I have a very positive association with bagpipes, as I would venture to guess that most  others do also.  I wondered how people would react to them if they were visually compared/associated with cigarette smoking.  How would they feel about bagpipes then?


     I admit, my execution on the image is not the best in the world and in my defense, it is student work.  I was going through an experimental period artistically at that time.  I didn't really know what medium I preferred more so than others.  I will say, at the time, I had been creating portraits and figure work with conte crayons [fancy chalks for you non-artists out there ;0) ] on colored or hand dyed drawing papers.  I really wasn't into drawing anything in it's local color [the color something actually is.]  I was really enjoying playing with outrageous color combinations and preferred bright and vibrantly saturated colors for everything.  At the time, it was mostly in my figure work.  I was drawing a lot of celebrities (because photo reference was easy to come by and other students would rarely pose for you to draw them.)  I also was drawing a few self portraits as I remember.  The figure you see in this illustration was taken from a magazine photo of Leonardo DiCaprio.  One of my favorite actors, then as well as now.


     This illustration in particular began my interest and long journey into collage and mixed media work.  A journey, I might add, that I am still on. The piece was created using collaged colored drawing papers, photocopy print transfers, colored pencil, oil pastel and printed clear transparencies.  Some of you may remember this old archaic office supply material.  lol  My decision to use Lucky Strike Brand is that their logo is circular and represents the cyclical habit of smoking that leads to the cyclical nature of the sound of the smoker's wheeze.

     It evokes a sickness and definitely amplifies the idea of that particular sound.  It certainly will make you think about it in a new way, should you hear it in future.  I have always liked this piece.  I keep it around because, even though it's not the best work I've done, there's just something interesting and intriguing to me when I look at it... and not just because it was I who created it. lol.  I hope, in some way, it intrigues you all today.  I don't have any work in progress pictures for this piece as it is from a time when I didn't think about taking them.  I just did my work, turned it in to my professors, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. lol  ;0)


     In any case, I hope you all take something from it with you to enjoy the rest of your Friday and weekend
with.  Thank you all for joining me on this little time machine back into my artistic past.

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