Monday, 31 March 2014

Paul Weeks: A Missing Passenger of Flight MH370

Through reading many articles on the missing Malaysian Flight MH370, I came across a touching article on the Daily News America online about how one New Zealand missing passenger, Paul Weeks, left behind his ring and watch to his two children before he went away. 

 Daily News America

The article introduces with the line "It may be their last gift from daddy". The use of the word "daddy" puts the viewer into the perspective of the children and how the loss of their father has affected them. 

Below, I aim to portray this sense of emotion of the children and their vulnerability towards the situation. The boy is playing with a toy plane in reference to the missing flight, but also to convey his youth and naivety about his missing father. 

To create the next two images below, I have used white oil pastel to draw the image and text with a wash of watercolour over the top. This creates a rustic, child-like effect giving a sense that a child has contributed to the illustrations, making them more personal.

The use of watercolour reflects on the sensitivity of the tragedy. The motto 'when is daddy coming home?' is an attempt to connect the viewer to the child relatives and empathise with them. However, I feel including this text in the illustration is too literal when, in fact, the image is self-explanatory on its own.

These illustrations are effective in portraying the relatives trauma throughout the event, in particular the children. However, it also demonstrates the distress of how a question like this could affect the mother who cannot answer truthfully, and is grieving the loss herself.

This watercolour illustration portrays Paul Weeks' sons in his arms, an image included in the Daily News America article, with himself absent from the image, conveying the mystery of the missing plane and how it has not been officially found. Weeks still wears his wedding ring and watch as he left those behind, however he has been left out of the image as a blank space, not portrayed as alive or dead, just 'missing' along with Flight MH370.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Reportage Illustration: George Butler and Evan Turk

As a direction for my latest University project based on the missing Malaysian flight MH370, I have decided to look at several illustrators who use a method of reportage through art to depict certain events and locations of places around the world. My aim for my personal project is to portray the main events which have occurred since the flight went missing on the 8th March 2014.

For inspiration, I looked at some illustrators who practice the art of reportage themselves:

George Butler Repotage Illustrator

George Butler is a reportage illustrator specialising in travel and current affairs. His main choice of media include pen, ink, and watrcolour, a similar medium which I love to work in. He has published works in several newspapers such as the Times, the Guardian and the Evening Standard. Butler offers a unique style which captures the emotions of each place he visits. Sitting amongst the landscapes, he draws from life which give a sense of authenticity in his work.

George Butler Repotage Illustrator Goats
'Goats' - Ismail, Syria
Here are some examples of his work:
George Butler Repotage Illustrator Battle Scene
'Battle Scene' - illustration of remains of war in Kilis, Turkey

And here is an interview with the artist himself giving a true insight into his work:

Evan Turk

Evan Turk is a New York based artists who uses his blog to document his reportage illustrations and animations from all over the world.

Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem 

Morocco: The Tanneries

Turk's illustrations are loose and sketchy, though provide detail and information about the scenes he has encountered. 

More of his work can be found on his blog: 

Friday, 21 March 2014

Self-Initiated Project Brief: Missing Malaysian Flight MH370


For my self initiated project, I will focus on looking into the current news event of the missing Malaysian flight MH370. Keeping up to date with several articles, I intend on recording past, current, and on going stories about the missing flight. This will be recorded through illustration to depict the most important aspects of the news story. My main focuses will be on the missing passengers and their relatives, perhaps using photography from news articles to depict the events.

Summary of Missing Flight MH370 so far...

The Malaysian Flight MH370 went missing on the 8th March 2014 along with 239 victims on board, including passengers with various nationalities. As expected, there was much anguish and frustration felt by the relatives on board the plane. Helicopters and Navy vessels have gone to a calculated search zone in the Indian Ocean. Debris has been found but so far none of it has been identified as part of Flight MH370.

Initial Ideas

Initially, I have began looking into current and past news articles about the Malaysian Flight. This has led me to look at online UK based news sites such as Sky News and BBC News to give me a better insight into the story so far. However, I felt that when I looked at several articles I was very unsure what was a portrayal of truth or speculation. This has made it difficult though I can use this as part of the reportage of events I will illustrate. 

One article I came  across of Sky News showed the faces of some of the missing passengers on the flight, including reports on some of the backgrounds of certain passengers. I feel this connected the audience with the story on a deeper level rather than using only statistics to describe the traumatic event. 

Here is a link to the article:

 Sky News Article 18.3.14: Missing Plane Mystery: Faces of Flight MH370

As soon as I read the article I was touched at a deeper level by the story. From this, I realised that I wanted to portray this same deep level of meaning in my own illustrations which would create a reportage of events relating the missing flight through various articles I find. 

Malaysia Airlines messages for family
Source: The Guardian newspaper online
Here are a couple of illustrations I created on post-it notes to focus the attention on the missing passengers and the anguish faced by their relatives. The post-it notes reflect on how many of the relatives and others have written notes of prayers and wishes for the missing people on Flight MH370. By illustrating the faces of the passengers, it draws attention to the real crisis of the event; the unknown whereabouts of the plane leading to speculations about whether the passengers survived. This conveys the idea of hope which many of the relatives hold on to.

Missing passenger: Ju Kun
Missing passenger: Paul Weeks

I have also illustrated the 'void' in which the relatives may feel due to the traumatic event: 

Missing passengers: Muktesh Mukherjee and Xiaomo Bai

Here I have illustrated the silhouette of two missing passengers to reflect on the unknown whereabouts of the missing flight. They are not portrayed as deceased nor alive, it is just a mystery. The blue tones are symbolic of the speculative search areas in the Indian Ocean.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Final Proposal for 3M Buckley Innovation Centre Commission

Here is my PowerPoint presentation I created to explain my final proposal to the 'judges' (University tutors). The imagery demonstrates my thought process I underwent to explore the theme of biomimicry for the 3MBIC commission. It includes a mock up of where my imagery may fit into the building, and many of my watercolour illustrations based on biomimicry itself.

Carla taylor powerpoint from Carla Taylor

Unfortunately, my presentation was not adequate enough to be short-listed for the commission and I never have or will get feedback to help me improve for future commissions. This was very dis-heartening as I expected some kind of critique especially with the amount of preparation I put into rehearsing the presentation.

However, I won't allow this to knock my confidence completely! I felt that my watercolour illustrations were effective and would fit better in a different context, perhaps an article about biomimicry in a magazine.

For those of you knocked back by situations like these, just remember, your work won't fit into every context and in such a difficult and judgemental industry as the arts, it is very much expected! I havent't let this get to me, so neither should you!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Abstracting Watercolour: Biomimicry

After my initial watercolour illustrations, it was suggested to abstract them even further so the viewer could interpret them in their own way:

Vulture to represent inspiration taken by The Wright Brother's to invent the plane.

This illustration reflects on how the kingfisher inspired the bio-mimetic invention of the Japanese bullet train.

Paralympian represents the way in which the 'Flex-Foot', a prosthetic leg invented by Van Phillips, was inspired by the hind leg of a cheetah.

Another illustration focusing on the inspirational side of bio-mimicry, reflecting on the invention by Van Phillips.

An abstract illustration representing how termite mounds have inspired the architecture of buildings.

Overall, I am pleased with the outcome of these illustrations and believe they meet the brief of the commission. They are subtle and delicate due to the watercolour, and are effective for exploring the many aspects of biomimicry which the viewer may be familiar with or unaware of. These illustrations are almost like a 'celebration' of the current biomimicry which has been created and make people aware that this method of invention is the future.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Watercolour Artist: Jean Haines

After being told at my formative assessment that I must look at other watercolour artists who inspire me, I came across this lovely illustrative work by Jean Haines.

I am just really inspired by the fluency in her work which makes her artwork look delicate and quite abstract in places. It was definitely hard to pick some images to show you so here is link to her website as well as some pieces which stood out to me:

Flying Colours, 98 x 120cm

African Gold, 61 x 79cm

Especially 'Flying Colours' stood out to me as I am looking into the biomimicry of the 'Flex-Foot', a new design of prosthetic leg, which was inspired by the hind leg of a cheetah. Therefore, I love how Haines has captured the dynamics of the jocks which I would love to re-create in my own work to illustrate how the 'Flex-Foot' is being used by about 90% of paralympian athletes today!

Haines also depicts animals beautifully in her work allowing them to emerge subtly through dynamic watercolour marking, creating unique and innovative pieces of illustration.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Biomimicry in Watercolour

Using the loose technique of watercolour I had adopted earlier in the project, I used this to re-invent previous known products and inspirations of biomimicry. I decided to illustrate previous inventions of biomimicry in order to 'celebrate' the innovations we already know, or may not be aware of, so that the future of biomimicry can be supported and admired as a process of innovation.

Nature has inspired and keeps on inspiring innovations with a title of biomimicry, and I feel that it is important that everyone understands how important nature is as part of the future of innovation.

Here are some initial watercolours inspired by various inventions of biomimicry:

The Wright Brothers invented the plane in 1903 after studying the movement of birds, in particular turkey vultures. This phenomenon has enhanced transport centuries later, all studied from the movement of birds in nature.
The Wright Brothers invented the plane after being inspired by a turkey vulture.

The 'Flex-Foot' was invented by Van Phillips in 1984 after he lost his foot in an accident at just 21 years old. Today, the 'Flex-Foot' is used by 90% of Paralympian athletes therefore I have illustrated this innovation in watercolour as a 'celebration' of biomimicry.

Van Phillips invented the 'Flex-Foot' after being inspired by the hind legs of a cheetah.

The Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe was designed by architect, Mick Pearce after being inspired by termite mounds which use a complex ventilation system, enabling natural air conditioning and heating of buildings without installing costly systems.

Mick Pearce inspired by termite mounds for his design of the Eastgate Centre, Zimbabwe.

After showing these illustrations at my formative assessment, the tutor, Christian Lloyd, suggesting that they could be a lot more abstract and less literal to become more effective as stand alone pieces. The paper was also an issue of quality, so for future watercolour paintings I will use watercolour paper as it can hold the colour and water better than standard cartridge paper. It was also suggested that I look at some more watercolour artists to gain inspiration and knowledge about current trends in watercolour illustration.

Photoshop Manipulation

Putting the cheetah/ paralympian watercolour image in Photoshop allowed me to define the line and brighten the tones to make it stand out more. However, manipulating the image this much has made the watercolour lose its subtle edges and blending of tones.

Using Photoshop, I was able to create a larger image with a mixture of all 3 images. To create this, I used the layer mask tool so I could overlay a gradient over the layers to make them blend into each other. This could be used as a mural in the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre, printed on a large scale and placed on the wall as a mural sticker so the watercolour wouldn't lose its subtlety.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Project Statement for Formative Assessment

From the initial starting point of innovation and creativity, I instantly knew that I would work better with a subject which I am both familiar with and interested in. Therefore, my initial approach led me to look into nature and the way this subject has been used in innovative ways. I didn't focus on creativity so much as I felt I could explore that aspect later on with my own unique development of the project. Through research, this led me to innovation inspired by nature, which in its more complex term: biomimicry. Instantly I loved how specific aspects of nature were already taken to invent new products and ways of thinking. This seemed to be the perfect entrance into the commission brief.

Once I had visited the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre and listened to Liz Towns-Andrews who is the primary client, I decided to stick to my original idea of biomimicry as it turned out that the client had a personal interest in this already. From this, I tried not to think too much about the clients personal interests as I wanted to present her something entirely new and different. This led me to take my own primary source nature photography to gain direct inspiration from nature itself.

After experimenting with the photographs in Photoshop, I felt that this approach was too generic so therefore brought some traditional media into my approach. The use of watercolour is very fluent and I feel this reflects the delicacy in nature so would be ideal for representing my work. Once I had experimented traditionally, I was able to put these works into Photoshop to manipulate them digitally. This brings in an aspect of technology which is very forthcoming in the 3M company and also the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre itself.

From that point I have chosen to concentrate on using watercolour as my primary media of choice for this project and use it to create more abstracted and simple imagery. I used this technique to illustrate existing forms of biomimicry as I felt that trying to invent something from nature in a technological way was near impossible for me, so decided to re-invent existing biomimetics with my use of watercolour, as my style captures a variety of images in innovative ways. I have also started to experiment with animating my work as it is a new approach for me personally and it challenges my abilities.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Biomimicry: Cheetah Morphing into Paralympian

As one of my final development ideas I decided to look into a current example of biomimicry. I chose to focus on the innovative invention of the 'Flex-Foot' by Van Phillips, who was inspired by the hind leg of a cheetah. Phillips focused on this invention as he had lost a leg himself due to an accident in his early years and was determined to run again.

Therefore, I painted a short storyboard with watercolours, defining the image in pen, to see how I could morph the inspirational cheetah into its product of biomimicry.

The main focus of the storyboard imagery was the wash and transition of colour and the shape of the cheetah morhing into the athlete. I kept the shapes as simple as possible, avoiding detail to make the images more abstract and unique.

Below is a very short animation of how all the slides look together. (0.2 second gap between each image)

Overall I am happy with this technique. Even though my drawings were originally meant as roughs, I feel that the abstract versions work well and are more interesting in the sense that the audience have to think more about what is happening.

A longer animation made up of several abstracted images could be used as a final piece, presented on one or more of the televisions in the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre. The vibrancy of colour meets the brief of the client who asked for the building to be 'brightened up'.