Visual storytelling

notes - studies


Enough technical exercises for now.

I found plenty useful painting tips on youtube from professionals and amateurs alike.
Good resource -- the videos are saturated with technical advice.

I can hardly find anyone talking about visual storytelling though.

Sounds like it's time to start cooking my own meals, as it were.
Time to change the rules a bit.
Time to play.

I thought I would start with this formula:

familiar environment + imaginary detail

Familiar environment could be a sketch from life.
Like this cafe sequence, in Payne's Grey.

bike cafe fly | painting studies by Cat S.

The imaginary detail is easy to make up once I've set my familiar environment.

troll in lake | painting studies by Cat S.

In this study, I discovered another utility in Google's street view --

street clown vandal bird's eye view | painting studies by Cat S.

I needed this specific viewing angle from a particular street,
to 'complete the story' as it were.

street clown vandal | painting studies by Cat S.

I also played with this combination:

photo reference + imaginary detail

With a little music playing in the background,
I could stumble upon peculiar juxtapositions.

lady and bear listening to radio | painting studies by Cat S.

Eventually tried all three:

familiar environment + photo reference + imaginary detail

I was practicing a skill that'll be useful for comic book panelling,
but I intentionally avoided word balloons and captions in these studies.

Wanted to practice the 'show don't tell' aspect of visual communication.
Emulating a similar experience when I listen to a piece of wordless early music.

violinist and trolls | painting studies by Cat S.

Word-thinking makes me focus too much on what I'm thinking,
or worse -- what I'm wishing.

I know now this is not desirable when creating art.
Comparing my past works -- I cringe looking at sketches I did that were based predominantly on
what I was thinking (or rationalising) at the time.

The more desirable approach I thought was to look to nature and the world outside my head.
That tends to produce visuals that are convincing and substantial.
The imaginary detail I insert could be what I'm thinking,
but it would be recognisably figurative.

Well, I enjoyed this exercise.
Ready for the next step.

The short story...

Materials used:
Winsor & Newton Artist & Cotman watercolours
Synthetic and sable paintbrushes
Clairefontaine Paint On Mix Media kraft paper 250 gsm
Spiral bound scrapbook 165 gsm