You may know that I am an artist as well as a writer of poetry, and that I have an art blog, Claudia McGill and Her Art World , in addition to this one. Recently I’ve completed a set of illustrations for a writing project, 28 days of flash fiction at Fictive Dream, an online magazine devoted to the short story.
The event is called Flash Fiction February and is going on right now, with a new flash fiction story each day. I’m showing you the artworks and presenting a short analysis of how I interpreted the story in paint, inks, and collage. I hope that once you look over what I’ve set out here, you will visit Fictive Dream and read the stories!
If you want to know more about the artwork side of the project, my art blog is currently featuring the artworks I did plus some posts outlining the ins and outs of my illustration process.
All right, here we go. Note: each painting has an image number, done for my record-keeping purposes, and is referenced so in the writeups.
5. The Wine Lover, by Kate Mahony, February 5. To me, this story was about people connected by only one thing and they don’t even see that one thing in the same way. They inhabit two very different worlds and the one point of intersection is not enough to build a relationship or friendship although maybe the narrator likes to think so for a while. Wine is the motif here, the substance carries symbolism in the structure of the story, and the obvious influence to my artwork was the colors of the wine.
I decided to use vague bottle shapes and the red and white colors of wine in both images. In the first one (Image 16), they are placed next to each other but the red one is divided, half in the white bottle world and half in its own hemmed-in existence.
In the second one (Image 17), I was thinking of the moment when the two characters met at the ATM, with the red bottle coming up behind the white bottle mirroring the people’s actions. I gave contrasting backgrounds to the shapes, to represent the different worlds the people live in that they stand in for.
Fictive Dream editor Laura Black’s comments:
The Wine Lover by Kate Mahony steered us towards certain colours and it was easy for me to choose between your choices of artwork. I was very much taken by image 17 with its representations of red and white bottles of wine. I like also like the textures in this piece of artwork. I also found appealing the darker background behind the red bottle and the lighter background behind the white bottle.
6. On February 6, Baggage, by Anne O’Leary. From the description in the story, I interpreted the bird as a peacock and so the colors of blue and green guided the color schemes. I did a little research on the actual bird and learned it can fly, but not too long or too high.
I saw the narrator wishing to give this bird, and what it symbolizes to her (in fact I think there was a kind of symbiosis between them) which to me was the state of being earthbound and wishing to fly, figuratively, but being held down. There is room and air and the ability to be free but instead, forced by circumstances, they have to move around by prosaic bus and stay on the ground.
I made three images. Two of them (Images 46 and 48) were takes on the same idea – the ground is represented but the sky is full of the bird and by extension the narrator – they fly.
The third one (Image 47) refers to a passage where the narrator describes the bird as a cloak – referencing the idea of being anonymous in a crowd and yet standing out at the same time – being something that separates and gives some distance but does not allow being overlooked, either.
Once again, I felt there was a kind of synthesis of two opposing things. I painted a birdish cloak shape for anonymity and lines of people crowding around for notice – two opposing things in the same painting, inside the same frame.
This unusual story features a beautiful bird, a peacock no doubt, although that’s never said. Of all the choices it was image #46 that felt was right with its greens, blues and gold. I very much like that it takes us into the sky which is where the protagonist would so much like to bring her bird.
7. Vetted, by Sheree Shatsky, on February 7. I thought this was a funny story with a tart tone and I enjoyed the knitting allusions, as I knit myself, or, to be more truthful, I did lots of lots of it for decades, but not so much these days.
I did two scenes including the two people in the story, lady on left, man on right, dog in between, including knitting and newspaper and a little bit of muted blood for the (diaper-pin) stabbing. I felt these people would even bleed in muted colors. I set the two characters inside their own color areas to mark the separation they are living within the same overall frame.
In this story, color carries the theme. These people are washed-out colors as opposed to brilliant and glowing, symbolizing where they are in life. Everyone seems to be in a slow slide to the end, sooner or later, as the dog’s condition predicts. I could imagine these people sitting in this same scenario for years.
And then again, maybe not?
Here is Image 33:
and here is Image 34.
Claudia, you described these characters as ‘sitting in this same scenario for years’ and that’s exactly the sense I have of them. The palette you chose works perfectly for this story and I was particularly taken with image # 33. I very much like the way in which the dog sits between the two figures. Also, I like the muted spots of blood on the male figure. Image #34 would have worked but, for me at least the two figures are not as distinct.
8. On February 8, Bear, by Barbara Lovric. The heroine of this story is a toy bear, but there is nothing cute or cuddly about her. Instead she is fierce and protective, like a real-life bear defending her cub. Bear got hold of a bad situation and took care of things. And how.
I focused on her in both pictures I made, using the same motifs of teeth and claws and using brown for fur and red for blood. I used sharp shapes and bold colors to reflect the intensity of feeling in the story.
Here is Image 55:
and here is Image 56.
This is disturbing writing in which not a word is wasted. Both images focus on the bear of the story and no wonder – the bear is a powerful motif. I could have chosen either of the images as they would have worked equally well. In the end, I chose image #55 because of the emphasis on the red and the marginally more defined spikes. Here again, text and artwork support each other.
And there you have it- the second four stories and their images. Thank you for reading.
My practice with each story was to read it very carefully, making notes and small sketches about elements that sparked a visual image. Fictive Dream editor Laura Black also gave me her input for each story. All the artwork is non-representational as outlined in the specifications Laura had for the project. The paintings are about 11.5″ x 7.25″ each and are primarily acrylics on watercolor paper, although there is some collage work as well. I usually made a couple of images per story and Laura chose which one would be displayed with the story.