I enjoyed the ‘Death’ exhibition at Wellcome Museum in London so much, I was really pleased to discover that in my home city of Bristol, the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery were now also hosting a temporary ‘Death, the human experience’ exhibition.
I’m not sure I can put my finger on why I find the symbols of death so interesting. Perhaps it’s because it seems in equal parts mysterious and scientific. Perhaps because it’s shared globally, and has generated a wealth of interpretations, art and narrative.
As we busy ourselves with Life, it becomes richer for recognising Death.
I made my way to the exhibit and spent so long drawing and studying each artifact that it closed before I could see it all. I’ll be back to take in more. In the meantime, I’d like to share with you some of the sketches I did manage to get down on paper. The exhibition runs until 13th March 2016, if you’re in the area.
In my travels I’ve picked up and visited some interesting death artifacts of my own:
Sedlec Ossuary, Kutna Hora, Czech Republic
The Old Operating Theatre, London
The Last Laugh, Mr Jones Watches, London
Tin sugar skull, Mexico
Doorsteps of cat owners the world over.
Illustration from the book Duck, Death and the Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch
Valentine’s is a tricky road of cliches and panic. And love. Yes, there’s some of that too.
If you’re looking for a slightly more creative way of showing some adoration, here’s a tip that I like to work with:
Do you have a favourite hobby/food/place/activity? It’s a little unconventional for sure, but telling someone that you love/like/fancy them more than a particularly prized object or activity gives a tangible comparison.
For example, I LOVE granola. So much so that I took to eating it for breakfast every morning. Then I started lovingly baking my own. Sometimes I’ll even eat it for not-breakfast. Now and then, for a treat I’ll keep a shot glass of granola to hand so I can nibble on it whilst I’m working…
Anyway, if I’m to tell my partner that I love him more than I love granola, then BOOM: that’s a mighty comparison right there.
I also like this technique from other perspectives too. This was the line of thought behind these pictures:
Doorsteps of cat owners the world over.
I’ll confess, I’m not the most technically minded person. So making a website from scratch on a certain software that is much more expansive than my limited knowledge is a bit daunting. However, to combat this I find the challenge appeals to a stubborn streak of mine when faced with problems. With some help from the mind behind Gui Creative to point me in the right direction, I crafted my new website: www.lauraelliottillustration.co.uk
You’ll be able to clearly see my portfolio of work which ranges from children’s narrative to editorial to promotional, adapting my style to both watercolour and digital methods. You can view a choice selection of my sketchbook imagery that supports my way of working and hones my skills.
Not only do you get to see my work but you get to play with robins too! I like how the nature of the robin images changing reflect bird like movements. It seemed to come together well.
My blog will continue to be updated with news, new work and my various creative thoughts and my website will be a platform for viewing my best work. I hope you enjoy them both!
Machete Rose is a character that’s a little dark. Well, very dark. I like to think of her as a love child between Tim Burton and Quentin Tarrantino. Macabre but endearing, a fighter for the misunderstood underdogs of the world. An elegant girl with a hint of lethal.
Inspired by gothic, nautical and mexican dia de los meurtos references, I worked on a logo and font that represented her. The following is what fell out of my brain:
I like the mexican sugar skull imagery but felt the human skull was a little predictable. I felt the dainty but sharp bird skull drawing suited Machete’s personality. I came to this via the swallow birds that are often used in sailor jerry tattoo art. I love the way and style they are drawn but felt they needed something to make it blend as a whole with the logo. Essentially saying many things in the one image.
That’s what I love about illustration.
Having created the character logo, I thought, damn, that’s a sexy font. So I went the whole hog and created this:
Whilst playing with the mexican day of the dead/bird skull imagery, I came up with this fella too:
Okay, so on a scale of one to cool, how cool is this?
A little time ago, I painted an image of an American garden bird. This cardinal was used on my blog as a starting point for a fancy dress costume, which you can see here. Little did I realise that a certain Jerome Travis would be looking for just such a picture.
Jerome is a hiphop artist from Kansas working on his solo album ‘The Cardinal Rule’; when, after trawling the internet for the perfect cover image, he happens upon my picture he set out to get in contact with the artist, yours truly. It’s really great to see my image used in a context that I hadn’t originally planned for it, for the meaning of a piece continues by others’ interpretation of it. Jerome told me he believes in his music as an art form so using a painted image seemed representative of his musical and artistic values. Below is the final cover image.
I went to a burlesque/cabaret show the other night and the dress code was along the lines of ‘the birds and the bees’; a theme representative of the imminent arrival of Valentine’s Day. Having already once dressed as this American garden bird I thought it may be useful to reuse some of the things I had for that. For those of you not familiar with Cardinals, they look like this:
It turned out that the only item I reused was the mask – shown here:
I cut out a mask shape from thin stiff card (whilst also cutting out the eye-holes), papier mache’d a beak and painted it red. I bought some red and black feathers from a local craft store, cut them to size and glued them on. The stick, randomly enough, came from a firework.
I had red trousers and a red top that I planned to wear but if I wasn’t holding the mask I thought ‘the look’ wouldn’t be complete. So I set about making some wings, the finished product you can see below…
I cut out a large cardboard shape and spray painted the whole thing red. I cut out a stencil to indicate feathers and spray painted those bits black. Some of the writing on the cardboard still showed through the spray paint so I made some feathers out of paper. A close up can be seen here…
I stuck on the feathers with a small piece of double sided tape at the tip so that the feather would be free to lift a little from the cardboard. I then pierced holes in the central back piece to thread through some red shoelaces. I got a friend to tie them round each arm so they would be the right length for slipping on and off. When the wings are folded over, you can see how the laces are tied.
Thus, with the wings finished, I added a black feather boa around my neck, gave myself the biggest quiff imaginable to match that of a cardinal’s crest and my cardinal look was complete!
Here’s a quick magpie sketch for you; he intentionally looks a little evil – I imagine him to be eyeing up someone’s jewellery…
He wants your shiny things