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.
21. Pupazzo, by Salvatore Difalco, February 21. This story is about a man trapped by his inner turmoil and how it affects him even to how his own body moves. He has become one with his fears. There is great sadness and lack of hope.
In the first image (Image 18), I used the falling snow as described in the text, employing cold colors. I was thinking of the apartment building (from outside) and how the narrator is trapped in it with the persistent images of the accident, the transference of what he saw into his own body, and the resulting stiffness and immobility that he experiences. I used the bent shapes to represent the jerky movements and angled postures always present – even at home there is no refuge.
In the second image (Image 19) I reversed the perspective and thought of the view of outdoors from inside the window, again using snow spatters and cold colors, representing the narrator trapped in his home. He is seeing the traumatic images outside that are keeping him in, and once again they are transferred into his own body and manifest themselves through it.
Fictive Dream editor Laura Black’s comments:
In Pupazzo by Salvatore Difalco the protagonist witnesses an accident and, apart from some spasmodic movements, is rendered immobile. He cannot leave his apartment, no more than he can leave the memories of the incident behind him. Of the two options you provided I chose image #18 because it keeps the reader within the apartment with the protagonist. The rectangles and squares, the cold colours and the encroaching ice all work together to give us a sense of being trapped.
22. On the Border of Twilight, Annie Q. Syed, February 22. This story juxtaposes the living and the dead the past and the future, against a backdrop of everyday life, the present. In both paintings I included the pink and periwinkle mentioned in the text against black, to represent the dead, and white, for the living. I made two images for this story.
The first image (Image 57) includes the couple in the story represented by pink, alive and moving into the future, under the periwinkle sky, with the past and the dead ranked on either side.
The second image (Image 58) includes a periwinkle and pink sky with a stark landscape in front of it, broken into pieces, the dead and the past underfoot, their day ended. Yet life is going on nonetheless for everyone in the story who is still alive – though they are living in and with the past, literally, even as they go forward.
Laura Black’s comments:
On the Border of Twilight by Annie Q Syed opens with a reference to a pink and white flower arrangement, a celebration of love, it would seem. Yet, the backdrop for this story is a war zone. The alternative artworks you created both reflect the conflicted emotions that the couple feels. That said, there is a sense of optimism in the story and, for me at least, this is reflected in image #57. The lovers may be surrounded by the dead, but the sky is open to them; they can move forward to some sort of future.
23. February 23, Baptism at Venice Beach, Jaime Balboa. This story features the saving of a girl surfer with a lot of uncertainty surrounding the situation. Is there a religious overtone here? How reliable is the narrator’s mental state? Does the girl need saving and in what sense? The conch/oracle’s message is ambiguous. Friendly or murderous or something in between?
There was a sense of menace and an uncertainty as to what will be the outcome that I wanted to put into the art. I did two images that address two different parts of the story.
The first image (Image 28) is drawn from the daytime section of the story, when the girl is in the water in her turquoise surfing suit. I painted colors representing the girl, the surf, and the beach on top of a pink/red underlayer which represented the conch and its message.
The second image (Image 29) is set earlier in the story and is drawn from the nighttime section when the narrator encounters the conch. I painted the night surf in dark colors on top of a black gesso layer that added more depth to the colors, even the brighter ones. I included a pink/red area to represent the conch and also a bit of turquoise spreading into the sea, to represent the girl who is the subject of the conch’s message.
Laura Black’s comments:
Baptism at Venice Beach by Jaime Balboa, which incidentally uses language in a most original way, is a dark and intriguing story. Its setting is the cold ocean on a dreary February night and image #29 encapsulates the setting perfectly. Even through the black of the image we get glimpses of colour, which represent important aspects of this piece. Image #28 with the focus on pink, red and light blue is very eye-catching. That said, I preferred the more sinister approach.
24. Altercation, by Matt Kendrick, February 24. This story was just packed with descriptions, imagery, and color, giving me plenty to work with in this story of a slice from a couple’s relationship.
I made two paintings. The first one (Image 42) relates to the fact that the story was very red to me. There were several different references including the wine, flowers, etc.…and red is traditionally the color of anger. I included the knife and the onions next to the sink in the kitchen, with the dripping faucet and its ripples, once again, to me, an expression of anger emanating out and expanding. Because I just didn’t think these people were finished with being angry.
In the second image (Image 43), I included two vague figures; I was taken by the description of there being ghosts of the people (in other moods and times) in the room. The man is defensive, the woman is accusing. I added the wine flowing around them, as it is mentioned at the end of the story as continuing to soak the tablecloth. And I also painted the crack in the ceiling, as mentioned in the text, the crack that doesn’t stay fixed. Like this relationship.
Laura Black’s comments:
Your take that Altercation by Matt Kendrick is about a relationship in which the cracks refuse to remain fixed is pretty accurate. We meet the couple during a temporary ceasefire and, with this in mind, I chose image #43. The sombre palette suits the mood, I feel. It’s testament to the story’s richness of imagery that you created two very different illustrations. You say image #42 engages with the anger that pervades the story, and you used the colour red. This illustration would certainly have supported the story but the more subdued approach seemed right for the story.
And there you have it- the sixth four stories and their images. Thank you for reading.
Notes on the project:
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.