UPDATED - Illustrating for Charity Molly Olly's Wishes
- Published 13-03-2017
The box of excitement and frustration
On a shelf in my studio sits a black box that fills me with both excitement and frustration. In it is a collection of paper sheets and scraps, each containing the essence of an idea - a fleeting pang of inspiration hastily scribbled down the instant it occurred to me so as not to be lost to the carelessness of time. Website, artwork and illustration concepts all chaotically thrown together awaiting the day I pluck them out of the box and craft them into reality. It really is a very exciting trove.
The frustration aspect comes from the very notion of needing the box at all. It's a storage solution first but it's also a dark and foreboding monument to all the creativity pouring from my mind that has nowhere else to go. I'm so busy working on projects to pay the bills that personal work has to take a back seat in what is metaphorically a very long multi-storey stretch-limousine. The contents of the box are entombed, perhaps, forever.
It was foretold in legend however that a day would come when the bitter winds of winter would subside and more favourable light-jacket conditions would prevail; that the first sunlight of spring would break through the lid of the box, washing those hopeless pages in a liberating warm glow. A chosen idea would be freed from destitute and would discover its true calling. A couple of weeks ago, that day had come.
Whilst thumbing my way through
Twitter I came across this tweet in my feed:
It seemed the Twitter Art Exhibit was on a mission to secure a round number of participating artists. Participating in what, I had no idea, but I decided to help them out and register all the same. It's just as well I did as, true to their word, the organisers closed the registration form shortly after I'd submitted as I was the 1700th applicant. Now then, what had I just signed up for?
Molly Olly's Wishes
Every year the Twitter Art Exhibit, founded by David Sandum, calls to artists across the social network to donate a postcard-sized original artwork to be sold at an event held internationally. This year the event is being held on 1 April 2017 in Stratford upon Avon. With 1700 artists donating and the cards carrying a £30 price tag, the event stands to generate quite a bit of income. And where will that money be destined? That also varies annually. For 2017 all the money raised (100% of the sales; there are no deductions and the event is managed, run and staffed wholly by volunteers) will be handed to Molly Olly's Wishes, a charity that supports children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.
So once again I'd pledged to create an original piece of artwork for a charitable cause
and I had around ten days in which to produce it allowing for a few days in transit. The brief for the postcard was pretty straight forward; the piece could be anything of the artist's choosing and was valid so long as it was hand crafted (no digital shenanigans) and correctly sized. So what exactly did I want to create?
I took up a very small shovel that I keep handy for just such occasions and used it to dig away the inch-thick layer of dust that had gathered upon my black idea repository. Heaving open the lid, I reached inside, sifted the shreds through my fingers and extracted one at random. On the chosen page was a simple, abstract illustration of a desktop inkjet printer spitting out sheets of A4 paper. On the papers were printed birds that peeled away from the tumbling sheets and took flight of their own accord.
Though I don't recall when I came up with this concept or how long the scribble had been languishing in the black box, it was a perfect choice for the postcard project and I was elated to be bringing it to life for a worthwhile cause.
I decided to draw the artwork in black ink and use a sponge to apply a stippled texture of colour wash around it, leaving the 'paper' sections bare to utilise the actual paper quality of the postcard. I'd also flipped the artwork horizontally because in the original sketch the printer was expelling paper towards the left, yet in terms of visual narrative, it made more sense that they'd travel towards the right. The eagle-eyed (pun intended) among you will also have spotted that the birds taking flight from the leaves look a lot like fish. This is because they are indeed fish. As I was sketching the illustration out before inking I had trouble appropriating birds with fully open wingspans (landscape in proportion) onto the A4 pages (portrait in orientation) and having them discernible at postcard scale. Not only was it more convenient therefore to swap the ill-fitting birds for more suitably proportioned fish, but in doing so I also increased the surrealistic quality of the piece (all the more so when you consider that fish/bird interplay was once a focal point for Escher
). In order for fish to peel away from the leaves and swim freely into the ether we are perhaps now looking at a printer inexplicably functioning while submerged in water. I feel the piece is stronger and more surreal for all the unanswered questions it poses.
I'm very happy with the finished artwork and have titled it Mottle - a term applied to both spotty, non-uniform defects in ink printing and also the spotted and blothcy colouration present in some species of fish. The artwork has been posted to the organisers at Twitter Art Exhibit who have confirmed its receipt. I'll update this blog post if I gain any further details regarding its sale at the event.
To find out more about the event head over to the Twitter Art Exhibit website
. You can also visit the Molly Olly's Wishes website
to find out more about the charity and learn of ways you can help the children they support.
The opening night of the Twitter Art Exhibit
has now passed and an impressive 1024 original artwork postcards were donated by artists world-wide to line the walls of the gallery. On the night, a huge turnout of viewers arrived and raised a massive £8288 through postcard purchases - a huge success for the charity. The event will remain open in the Arts House gallery until the 19th of April and any unsold postcards at that time will be moved to online lots via the Molly Olly's website.
Take a look at this video
of the event shortly after launch to see a lot of the artwork on offer.
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