These are the blog posts associated with this Assignment:
- Assignment 2 – POS Display – Which describes my main progress through the work
- Winter Aubergine and Winter Aubergine – Commentary – In which I develop a fictional scenario about extremist supermarkets and their extremist selling and marketing methods. The commentary is the non-fiction part.
- Media: Watercolour – where I experiment with watercolour painting pursuant to making fruit and veg pictures
- My Sketchbooks are all scanned and uploaded onto pages
- Sketchbook (Works A4) starts at the beginning of this course…
- Sketchbook (Works A4) 2 starts halfway through this assignment
- Sketchbook (Moleskin ‘Hobbit’ A5) starts at the beginning of this course and includes notes on this assignment
- Sketchbook (Loose pieces) miscellaneous loose work during this course
In the brief for this assignment it warned about making food look unappetising because of use of colour and /or shading that might translate as bruising, mould, etc.
I tried out…
- Watercolour paints
- Graphite pencil and coloured pencils
- Ink and coloured pencils
- Coloured ink pens
- Adobe Illustrator
- Adobe Photoshop
- Watercolour pencils using water to blend them
A lot of the time I didn’t feel that I knew what I was doing with some of these media – watercolour in particular was hard to control and the results seemed blotchy especially with the Aubergine. In the end I’ve put this down to inexperience with watercolour paints and it seems that other watercolour artists can produce the required results.
Conversely I found I had the most experience with Photoshop but I was hesitant at first to use it because I was equally unsure that I could get a look that was not obviously ‘computer’ generated. I was encouraged by my previous look at Robert Proch who would produce finished illustrations using black ink shaded art that was coloured on a computer. His work did not show any distracting artefacts of computer use.
I finally settled for producing the drawing on paper and the colour on the computer as a good fit for my own abilities.
The main point of this assignment is to focus on ideas generation. This became a hard slog for me – particularly for this topic is it involved POS in a supermarket. I loath supermarkets. If I could draw a supermarket it would be like Godzilla, but with much worse breath. I also find fruit and veg uninspiring – I’m too ambivalent about food to have a proper appreciation.
It took a long time for me to find a way to get around this… and eventually it was because I went deeper into my own ‘loathing’ – I painted the supermarkets as villains – not just the normal daylight robbery that we’re all familiar with, but like they were actual gangsters holding the veg to ransom in order to get the public to buy it. I had now created a fictional world for my fruit and veg to live in which combined the corruption and oppression of communism with the bun-fight of the ‘free world’ and their (our) obsession with demonstrating how worthy they (we) are.
I was trying to avoid personification or anthropomorphism of the produce – rather they became the pawns in a dirty game.
Arriving at the Final Pieces
I had settled on the Aubergine as my Winter veg… somewhat nervously as it’s not actually grown in a temperate or cold climate at all… but this led me to casting it as the foreigner, or immigrant… it is flown into England in the winter so that we can eat it all year round.
Through my fictional narrative I had come to the idea of propaganda where the message is distorted – truths are omitted and fictions can become truths. Also the idea of using ‘puppy dog eyes’ – a persuasive effect that bears no relation to the qualities of the product on sale.
Three things then came together in order to arrive at my final image…
- Big Eyes – a portrait style of Margaret D H Keane (now a movie!)
- Refugees – countries around the world are reacting in a variety of ways – harsh treatment of this years’ “boat people” is being portrayed as ‘tough love’ (refusing entry so that no more attempt the crossing).
- Star of David – I saw that the top part of the aubergine resembled the Star of David – another people were forced to wear a yellow star to mark them out as Jewish under the Nazis… and I had already been looking at Nationalism as the opposing faction to the ‘Aubergine Supporters’ in my fiction.
The final image became less about a portrayal of the veg and more about evoking a sympathy reaction that was connected to the produce. To prove that point… the aubergine’s leafs are simply changed to yellow in order to evoke the ghost of the holocaust more strongly.
The strawberry draw me as being the quintessential Summer fruit, and in my fictional inspiration it has been championed as the English fruit to wait for summer to buy… rather than caving in to emotional pressure to buy the aubergine now. The phrase “Pick Your Own” became central to my focus – it has a startling double meaning which I had never considered… that of choosing (picking) “English”… your “own kind”. This has a worrying resonance in today’s politics with the popularisation of groups such as the BNP, UKIP and EDL; the rise of Islamic fundamentalism; the European ‘crisis’ and possibility of ‘Brexit’ in the forthcoming referendum.
I explored these ideas from a number of perspectives and eventually came to the Punnet. A visual co-incidence allowed me to see the St George cross as fundamental to the overall structure of the punnet. I had been looking for a hard-hitting image that would evoke the same sympathies (in the opposite camp) as the aubergine image. Instead I discovered that I could use more subtlety.
The punnet itself recalls the childhood treat of going out to the countryside and spending the day wallowing in Strawberries… probably along with your closest family. It is the alternative to the great British day at the seaside.Although this is probably a familiar childhood memory for many Europeans we have ensconced the strawberry firmly in the kingdom of Wimbledon and it is treated like Royalty here.
I explored a number of ways to show the punnet and decided upon a low view that made the English flag look monumental.
The above is the very light and un-detailed pencil drawing being used as guide to create the finished piece in Photoshop.
The next image has been very quickly block coloured to show an overview of how the image will appear when complete. It’s taking me the best part of an hour to complete each strawberry… I may get faster, but I’m choosing to submit the unfinished work at this point rather than delaying.
This now looks like I need to think about the crop… theres a lot of space doing nothing at the bottom. I’m not as worried about the sky… it is ‘summery’ and creates a pleasant contrast to the red and white.
Summary of Thoughts
This assignment became frustrating for me because I was struggling with the client and the media. Looking in my local supermarkets today there is little deviation from photography in the fruit and veg displays; my attempts to use various media made me feel clumsy and inexperienced and I struggled to find a way to control what I was painting or drawing.
What turned this around for me was breaking free of the reality of my own supermarket experience and going shopping in an imaginary dystopian hell instead… or maybe that’s just letting out how I feel about our own system of consumption?!
The images that I have produced are not suitable for use, here, in the real world. They are part of an exaggerated imaginary world and would be in bad taste or too partisan for a retail business to use. Even United Colours of Benneton might have shied away from these.
So my solution has become one of divide and seduce – the customers are asked to choose a side and support it. This is not unlike some current systems of supermarket sales where decoy alternatives are on sale in order to make the other choices more appealing… my customers will be buying aubergines because they don’t want to be associated with the strawberry crowd… or vice-versa.
I’ve re-discovered Photoshop as a tool during this assignment. I am sure that if I spend sufficient time using watercolour, oils, inks or pencils that I could produce the intended colouring using those media but, for the moment, I’ve realised that I’ve already but in the hours to understand Photoshop so it has become a tool that I can turn to new uses – such as illustration rather than photo-retouching – provided I can see in my mind what I’m trying to achieve.
Finally… sorry this took so long!