When this Friday's topic for Illustration Friday arrived in my inbox, I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to do.
The topic is '80s'. (Note to Illustration Friday... there's no apostrophe in '80's'. The apostrophe indicates the possessive. Not the plural or collective. It's simply '80s'. See?)
My interpretation of this was to hunt for someone in their eighties, and paint that person.
So I did what any self-respecting supporter of the Creative Commons movement does...
I went to the web, and found pics that are released under the CC 'Attribution' license. I did this by using the beta version of the 'Flickr Photo Finder'.
I typed in my keyword, which was 'elderly' (click on this link to see the results). And found the pic of my dreams.
It's titled 'Christian Nursing Home', by sheilaz413. (That's top left in my composite pic.)
That's an old woman, an Altzheimer's sufferer. She's tied to her bed with a sheet so that the nurses can administer her medications. Wow.
Part of the beauty of the original photo is that Sheila has soft-focussed the woman's face. And if you squint, you can see her youthful beauty. This old woman was one unbelievable hottie in her day. And it's still there in her face.
I've made two versions of the pic...
There's a painted colour one (click on each of the pics to see the full-sized original), which for me is very atmospheric, and really captures something fierce in her face. And the crazy knot around her wrist! Sheesh.
I purposefully worked in purples and blues for the room and bedclothes, with a washed out brownish palette for her skin. I wanted to indicate the emotional coldness of the space. And the life-force still in the old woman.
And there's a line-art version, which is deeply unsettling for me. It looks like one of those 'Tails From the Crypt' illustrations. I'm kinda expecting the old woman to rip herself free from the bed and tear people apart.
I remember my dad's mom when she was in an old-age home. I was around 11 or 12 when she went in. And if I visited her four or five times, I'm probably bloating that number. The place stank of piss and rubber. Old people were playing rummy and farting. And my bobba was babbling in Yiddish, cos she couldn't speak English anymore. And my dad babbled back, but she didn't know who he was.
My lineart version brings that back to me quite vividly.
My usual style is to start my pics with strong lineart, proceeding to the colour beneath that. In this case, when I did the linework, it looked strong enough as a standalone. And when I started colouring, I realised that the colour work was quite haunting without the lines. So I simply used the lines as a kind of brush guide, and then switched that layer off entirely. Only at the very end of my colour work did I decide to actually take the linework further.
Under the terms of Sheila's Creative Commons 'Attribution' license, I (and anyone else) may:
- Use the photo commercially and non-commercially.
- Copy it freely.
- Distribute it freely.
- Modify it freely.
- All as long as I give clear attribution to the originator of the pic, and insist that anyone else downloading the pic also makes that attribution.
In other words, if you like my versions of the pic, and you want to do something with them, you're going to need to attribute it to both me and Sheila. Something along the lines of:
'My pic is based on Roy Blumenthal's modification of Sheilaz413's original photo.'Something like that.
All of my paintings are released under a Creative Commons 'Non-Commercial -- Attribution -- Share-Alike' license. Which means you can basically do whatever you like with my pics, as long as you don't make money off them, and as long as I'm attributed.
I made these paintings using ArtRage 2.2 on my Toshiba Tecra M4 tablet PC, while listening to Elvis Costello and Joseph Arthur.