A little over a year ago, I embarked on a trip to Italy offered through Sheridan College. A group of us went and had a marvelous time exploring Rome, Florence, Bologna and Venice. At the end of it all, we were challenged to come up with a thesis project commemorating something meaningful to us about our month in Italy.
Throughout the trip, we used journals to record our experiences. Going to a new place even for a month can overwhelming as you take in new sights and a new culture. I took my journal wherever we went and wrote in it as I was having these new experiences, and this way I could read over them later and collect my thoughts. Rereading the journal entries was like opening a window back in time, and so this is what I chose to base my thesis on.
The scene is based on the frequent visits I made to Florence's Giardino delle Rose (The Rose Garden). After walking all day in 40°C weather (it gets pretty steamy in Italy), gardens became my favourite places. The Boboli and Giardino Bardini are also nice to check out in Florence. Probably my favourite outdoor place was the Roman Forum, with it's great ruins and hidden crevices.
I chose the Rose Garden in Florence because it was such a rejuvenating place, teeming with flowers of all kinds and little green lizards. My one regret is that I did not place a lizard in the final illustration! The scene I illustrated was cut from paper (including all the little windows). The book itself was sewn together using the coptic stitch technique, with the "journal" pages hollowed and glued together to frame the inner paper world. The paper on the book covers also bears a traditional Florentine pattern.
It sounds selfish, but I believe travelling is one of the best ways to reconnect with yourself and your work. Seeing yourself and others in a new context and recording your responses to a new environment are invaluable ways of discovering the world around you and yourself. One thing I learned from the trip is to feed your passions, which in turn feeds your creativity.
That and gelato is amazing ;)
These are the ink drawings I made of the Lamprima Adolphinae beetle for my media course in second year illustration. The first was a stippled observational drawing, the second a more decorative piece (the music notes are composed of the Beatles' classic "Let it Be"), and the third is a messy media exploration of ink slapped on with toothbrushes, plastic bags, straw ends and sandpaper.
During this past summer, I went on a trip to Italy, and found myself in Florence's Giardino Bardini, a beautiful garden crawling with flowers, vines, and of course insects. While there, I was delighted to spot what appeared to be the little green bug I'd drawn months earlier, the Lamprima Adolphinae! The little critter was tucked into these delicate pink roses called "blush noisettes".
This is a clay sculpture I made a couple of summers ago. I was lucky to be able to go to Beal Secondary School for a year in London Ontario, where students can experiment in a variety of art studios located in the basement of the high school. One of my favourites was the ceramics studio, where you can make as much mess as you like as long as you clean up afterwards. My teacher was kind enough to let me come back to make something. At the time, I was inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert's Ted Talk "Your Elusive Creative Genius," still one of my favourite talks. I decided to create my own version of my "inner creative genius," who I affectionately named Sweet Tooth because of his love for candy.
These were some other experiments I made this summer. In year 2 of Sheridan, for our experimental media course, we were given an assignment involving observational drawings of insects. For two or three weeks, the instructors would bring in these cases filled with (sadly) deceased bugs, which had been preserved so that one day we could draw them. They were all eerily fascinating, and some of them (like the tarantulas whose legs were kind of crumbling away) were a little unnerving at 8am.
For mine, I chose a shiny green beetle called Lamprima Adolphinae (I might post some pictures), and my friend Jeannine chose a bumblebee (which probably had something to do with her love of a certain tv show, *cough cough* Pushing Daisies). We would draw these insects for hours, studying their intricate patterns through magnifying lenses. Jeannine's drawings of the bees (who by the way are very cool to see up close) inspired me to try making some bees of my own. I tried stamping small linocuts I made repeatedly to mimic their flight, sometimes overlapping them.
I guess I've paid a lot more attention to bees and other small insects since, to the point where if I see an ant or even a spider crawling around indoors, rather than introduce them to the bottom of my shoe, I will grab a jar and release them outside (or in the winter, the stairwell of our apartment, three floors down. shh).
These linocuts were part of some experimenting I did this summer with printmaking. The tortoise (or turtle, I'm afraid I'm not sure which) was modeled after a ceramic penny bank my mother has always kept. I decided to try to bring his character to life, and enjoyed carving out the details on his shell, although I'm sure I didn't do him justice. Definitely came away with a deeper appreciation for people who make printmaking their life's work! There's something to be said for slow and steady when it comes to printmaking.