Leaning From The Steep Slope

The aim of this project was to focus on the use of colour in an image and how it can effect the mood and story. Before I was given the brief I did a colour workshop to get started, which I’ve written a bit about here. The brief was to read ‘Leaning From The Steep Slope’ by Italo Calvino and choose 3 scenes to illustrate using a particular colour palette for each one, either colour palettes that were all very similar or very different.

I personally found the story kind of weird. For a lot of it, it sounded very normal, like it gives you no reason to suspect something big is happening, but every so often there are little hints at things that I personally didn’t really pick up on until revisiting the text. Like reading it a second time I was like oh that makes sense of course that’s what’s going on, but I just missed it the first time. I spent a lot of time when I was reading it trying to visualise what was being described. Things like the observatory and the ‘municipal garden on the edge of an escarpment’ had me sat there thinking for a while and googling images to try and piece the whole scene together. I don’t even know why I got so hung up on trying to work out what exactly this place would look like. I sort of gave up in the end, I was just like ‘whatever’.

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How could you even have a municipal garden on something like that? I have no idea.

The first scene from the story I decided to illustrate was

‘isolated on the edge of an escarpment in the municipal garden, against the pearl-gray sky’. 

I initially chose this quote because of the ‘pearl-gray sky’ part. I really wanted to use that sort of colour. I liked the idea of isolation as well, which is something I really tried to capture in my illustration, both with the palette I used and the images I actually chose to use.

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DSC02203I chose to use a very blue palette for this, with small hints of purple and turquoise. I considered doing the land green and adding bits of red and yellow to make it looks more like it was a proper garden, but I decided against it. I wanted to keep the colours all very similar in this.

DSC02206Final image 1/3

The second scene I chose is

‘today I reached the belvedere from which you can glimpse, down below, a little stretch of beach, deserted, facing the gray sea.’

I pretty much straight away decided that I wanted to use some kind of muted yellow for the beach, and any areas of light in this image. Where as in my first illustration I chose not to use ‘accurate’ colours for bits of the scene that should have been green for example, but instead stuck with the colour scheme, for this second illustration I wanted to use a colour that would more obviously represent what I wanted to depict. I still chose the colours very carefully though.

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I really liked the archway idea, to really give a sense of looking out and being able to see much more then what was right in front of you.

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Final image 2/3

I ended up doing 2 versions of this scene. I did one that was just a flat image and then thought a bit more about how I could try and create a sense of looking through something, so I did another version and painted the background and the archways on 2 separate pieces of paper, and cut out the shapes of the archways, then layered them together.

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I did this one as an after thought so its not as neat as it could be, and paper cutting isn’t something I’ve ever had the patience to do, and I’ve never really felt the urge to practice, but it works okay for the time being.

The last quote was

huddle between the steps of the platform and the supporting poles was a bearded man, dressed in a rough, striped tunic, soaked in rain. He was looking at me with pale, steady eyes.’

This one definitely ended up being my weakest illustration out of the three, partly because it was the last one I did, and also because it doesn’t fit in with the other two I did in terms of composition. The first two I did were very focused on looking at a broad spread of landscape, whereas in this last one it just focuses on the man’s face. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing with this one either, like I couldn’t quite work out how to get down on paper what I was visualising in my head and I don’t think its a good representation of the quote. I think it looks quite unfinished, partly because I never drew a mouth, and also because of the lack of background. I made a concious decision to leave these out, but I regret doing that now.

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I decided on a completely blue palette for this quote, but I didn’t want to use really vibrant blues. I mixed up a few quite muted/greyed-out blues, with tiny hints of turquoise in them.

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I wanted to replicate the stripes of the prisoners clothes without actually painting his clothes, like I really wanted to focus on his face rather then anything else. I thought about making a collage of blue paper in stripes as the background and working of the top, and also painting the stripes. I preferred the painted stripes, the paper just seemed a bit too harsh to me. Although maybe that would have worked better in the end, but at the time I went with just painting them. I also wanted to give the idea of it raining, so as I was painting the stripes I was dripping water from the top of the page and making the paint run. This is one element of this illustration that I really liked, and I think it worked well.

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Final image 3/3

I quite like it as a standalone piece, but when you put it next to the other 2 its quite weak, I think.

Over all I really enjoyed this project. Using colour has always been one of my strengths, and something I enjoy using in my work. While I do enjoy creating my own stories and characters, I also really like being given something pre existing and having to illustrate that, and its not something I’ve ever really done before, especially not as an actual project, more like something I’ve done in my own time for fun. I’m quite pleased with my outcomes, although I think I could have experimented a bit more with everything, probably. I tend to get an idea in my head as soon as I’ve given a brief and I find it really hard to make myself try out other things for committing to something so that can often really limit what I produce and sometimes its fine, but sometimes I come out with something that’s not as good as it could be, like that last illustration perhaps.

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