What does it mean to be a woman? From the moment she is born, a girl’s identity will start being forged. Elders, peers and social expectations will all assist in shaping her understanding and growth into the confusion that is womanhood. A confident sense of her self-worth is a bonus. But what if these guides had not been present? ‘Flower-Face’ by Ness Owen tells the tale of a grown woman – crafted from flowers – created with the sole purpose of becoming a wife. Alone and confused in a world of rules and traditions, she must meekly follow the wishes and guidance of her creators until a time when she has grown strong enough to start shaping her own destiny.
‘Flower-Face’ by Ness Owen is the eleventh story to feature in ‘The Forgotten and the Fantastical 3’, published by Mothe’s Milk Books. Visit their website for a browse of their reads :).
Imagination is an odd thing. It’s quite unnerving sometimes how drawings can take on a mind of their own. I find it impossible to draw an image that has already fully formed in my head – any attempt to replicate the mind’s-eye illustration in physical media will always end in disappointment, it’ll never be perfect to how I’ve seen it in my mind.
Therefore, I never think about illustrations in depth before starting them. Yes, in many cases planning in needed, but this occurs in the form of quick pen sketches on paper to remove the ideas from the mind before they can be overdeveloped. The development process and perfecting is then carried out on paper and built up with bits and pieces taken from the initial pen sketches.
In the case of illustrations I create at my own leisure however, I find it best to have little if no idea of what the end product will be. The illustration above for example began as a simple pencil study of orchids to practice drawing plants. But at some point the entity that is can only really be considered as ‘imaginative concentration’ kicked in. I’m sure all artists and craftspeople experience the same disconnected state of mind when they’re totally engrossed in their work – a quieting of the world, where time, emotion, reality cease to exist. There is only the piece in front of you, growing and evolving past anything you imagined at the start. It’s almost as if a second personality lays dormant inside, taking control of your physical form only in order to produce art. And at the end, you wake up from the trance and find that you have created something – an illustration, poem, sculpture – that didn’t exist until the very moment that you made your last brushstroke.
Of curse, not everyone appreciates the effort. Art will always be graded from person to person, some will love, some will hate. Looking back at a piece in the months or years that follow, you yourself may even come to judge your own pieces harshly. But that doesn’t take away the experience of creating it. For when you are in that creative state – where the mind and body share the same vision and become one – you know only enjoyment.
This trance state of creation truly is the only place that I find complete inner peace and it is extraordinary to experience, even if I’m unaware of it at the time.
This clearly shows that my brain cannot focus on a task for more than a few days. My original intention of this week has been to start a sketchbook of plants that I can use as reference material for future illustrations. However, after four days and only a few pages of snap dragon sketches I’ve ended up with this handsome monstrosity.
I enjoy creating character designs and concept art, even if it’s for nothing in particular and, to be fair, the snap dragon is just crying out for a mythical interpretation. I’ve loved these funny plants ever since I was a child so this illustration is probably long overdue. So here is my ‘snap dragon’, as accurate to the flower version as I can make him.
I think I’ll call him Ned.
Snap dragons from the front, the threatening maw!
The less scary, more grumpy side view.
Right, let’s see what other plants I can warp…
Didn’t actually know ‘botanatomy’ was actually a real word until I looked it up so I’ve learnt something new today. With the weather in England being as hot as it is at the moment, I am being nagged at constantly to go out and draw stuff in the garden while it’s ‘nice and sunny’. The problem is that I’m ginger and literally burn at the same rate as a vampire so I stay away from ‘outside’ as much as I can help it until a more agreeable thunderstorm comes along. However, I did manage a few botanical illustrations today focusing on my favourite garden flower, the snap dragon.
I suppose it’s my favourite because if you squeeze the flower’s ‘neck’, the petals move apart like a mouth opening. When you look directly into the flower you can readily imagine you are gazing into some bizarre creature’s maw (as seen above). I love learning about the natural world but while photography has revolutionised visual communication and our understanding over the last century or so, I think that it has also taken away the charm that old anatomical illustrations of plants and animals captured. Personally I’d like to see illustration-based reference books make a comeback!
(Note: To any biology people out there, please forgive me if any of my jottings are incorrect. I only did GCSE Biology so some of the plant’s parts may be incorrectly labelled. It’s been a while since GCSE and my brain gets rusty!)