This project started off as being very frustrating. The brief was too illustrate the war poem Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen, using only objects,
and create a small book. The idea was to use the objects to portray what was described in the poem, but also to give the objects life, but without giving them human features. They had to still look like the object, but appear to be moving in ways that would represent the soldiers in the poem, for example.
It took me a few days of not doing much besides thinking to come up with anything that I was happy about doing an entire project on. I decided to use a needle and thread as the main characters in my illustrations.
It started out as being a sort of cheat, because I was like ‘how am I supposed to make it look like its moving, without just drawing it repeatedly across the page’. By using a needle and thread I only had to draw the needle once in an image, and I could have the thread trailing behind it, showing where it had been and how it had moved across the page. I think I decided on the wool being grey because it would be sort of like the ghost of where the soldier had been, and I didn’t want it to stand out too much against the page, more like it needed to blend and fade in to the background.
I decided to use wool instead of thread because each page had to be A3, so I think thread would have been too fine. I did this initial test for the line ‘Dim, through the misty panes’. I wanted to make it look like a soldier stumbling through the clouds of gas, unable to see where they were going.
I also got inspiration from another poem [poem title and author here] as a sort of interlude to the story, and also used this to introduce the character of ‘death’, represented by a pair of scissors.
The only colours I used for this were blue, black and green. I think the blue and the black gave it a very bleak feel, which I can imagine is how it would have felt to be in the trenches and in that situation during the war. The green came from the poem, the line ‘and thick green light, As under a green sea, I saw him drowning’, made me think of green as being the colour that represented death in this. It shows green as being the colour of the gas, which takes the life of soldiers in the poem, so to illustrate death in my book, I wanted to show it at the main character sinking deeper into this sickly green colour, until they’re faced with death.
It took me a while to get going with this but once I finished I was really satisfied with the outcome. There’s lot about the actual physical thing I would change but in terms of a concept, I’m really happy with it. I’d want to neaten this up if I ever revisit it, like the final product was very messy even by my standards. Despite the fact that in this case I think it supports the content, in the sense that the war was very chaotic and the trenches were muddy and dark and dirty, which is reflected in the way I painted it, I still think I could have reigned it in a little bit. I want to work on refining the way I paint in the future.