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.
25. No Remorse, by CG Thompson, February 25. This story is a suspenseful one with a main character who takes the situation into her own hands when things go bad at an ATM. I included elements mentioned in the text – the red sign, the mugger, the dark night – in both paintings that I did.
For the first one (Image 51), I was influenced by a phrase in the story – “kaleidoscope of half thoughts”. It seemed to me to describe how a person in a stressful situation would view things – everything whirling around – while reality went on in a straight line.
For the second image (Image 52), I emphasized the elements of the car from inside looking out through the windshield: the steering wheel, the mugger in headlights, the yellow flower, and the red sign. Same elements, different look. Perhaps in that moment of clarity that leads to the conclusion of the incident?
Fictive Dream editor Laura Black’s comments:
Sweet revenge! I couldn’t help but to be on the protagonist’s side in No Remorse by CG Thompson. As you said, you created two artworks using the same elements but with different looks and both support the story very well. For me though, image #51 encapsulates the horror of this story. The emphasis on the headlights shining forcefully on the mugger brings the image to life. Also, I feel the details on the left with the turquoise reflect the inner chaos of the young woman. Fabulous.
26. Cuddle Inc., by Steve Carr, February 26. For this story of wanting to make connections, I used blue as the main color as it was present in different ways in the text – the TV set, the dark sky and stars, the symbolic color of water via the fish tank. I made two images for the story.
The first one (Image 8) reflected my feeling that this story presented one “reality” and then flipped it – the comforter in the end being the one needing to be comforted. I divided the picture into segments and reversed the columns, darks and pales, with a nod to the night sky and the orange fish in the aquarium.
The second image (Image 9) was done in the same colors but focused on the idea of the fish, with his change in status from favorite and comforting presence to dead and of no use, and in fact, another something to mourn over.
Laura Black’s comments:
The colour blue suits Cuddle Inc. by Steve Carr perfectly. It’s a sad story with lonely characters looking for human connection. I chose image # 8 because I like your idea of the reversal of roles – the comforter needing to be comforted. The dash of orange really lifts the artwork and, of course, is relevant to the story. Image #9 employs the same colours and would have worked equally well but I thought #8 with its ‘blocks’ would stand out more among the thumbnail views.
27. Ab Ovo, by Iris N. Schwartz, February 27. The author included this note with the story: Ab ovo: Latin: “from the beginning” (Collins English Dictionary); also, “the origin, the egg” (Wikipedia). It’s an affectionate story of a family, lots of mentions of laughter, but tinged with some sadness. Food, family meals, and eating food is the focus. The egg is the image that recurs throughout the story and ties it all together.
I used this idea to create two paintings with similar colors but different arrangements. I was clear from the beginning how I wanted to represent the story but I also wanted to try a couple of different compositions.
Both pictures include four “eggs”, one for each family member, and the background is made up of the colors of other foods mentioned:broccoli, yams, ketchup, orange juice, melon, and coffee.
I also put some biggish speckles to represent freckles, as mentioned in the text.
Laura Black’s comments:
What can I say about these two beautiful images? I loved the colours you used, I love the dominance of the eggs, and I love their energy. You presented me with a difficult choice but, in the end, I chose image #60. Two points influenced my choice. Firstly, the four eggs in #60 seem more anchored than their counterparts in #59. Strangely, this gives the eggs a certain movement whereas in image #59 the eggs have a floating quality. I like how the eggs engage with the family member at the breakfast table. Secondly, the banner is positioned above the eggs so that all of them are in full view.
28. Malachy, Niamh McCabe, February 28. This story concerned the death of a beloved family member from the perspective of the niece who had a special relationship with her uncle who is now about to leave her.
For the first image (Image 53), the girl is outside in the garden playing with the dog while the family waits. I used a green background to represent the garden and created a house full of people in black and white, mourning colors. I represented the uncle with a little bit of red, for his warm presence and set the narrator out in the yard, with the dog, surrounded by sunny colors, to represent the kind of relationship the uncle and narrator had had.
For the second image (Image 54), I focused on the uncle and narrator’s relationship – a
happy little memory of everyday things that is now enveloped in the solemnity of death and death rituals, separated forever now from daily reality by his death. I represented the two people by the green circles and put them in a small green garden – the memory of their relationship living on fresh and alive for the niece.
Laura Black’s comments:
Malachy by Niamh MacCabe is set in Ireland. You said you had a little difficulty in engaging with some of the references in this story and, that in order to create the artwork, you placed it in a context with which you were familiar. Then you said, ‘I guess any way into a story is a good way?’ I think this is absolutely right. Both of your options would have done justice to this story. I chose image #53 because it focuses on happier days with its beautiful green grass and blue sky. I very much like the contrast between the mourning taking place in the house and the undertones of happier days that are reflected in the garden.
And there you have it – the seventh four stories and their images. We are at the end of the stories for Flash Fiction February 2019. 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.