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Spring Break Book Week: Illustration Day!


sbbookweekid2Jess Fields, current artist mentor and zinester stopped by today to help us illustrate our book in an octopus of a workshop lead by Andrew Oesch! Thanks Jess for the descriptive blog!

The day began for me shortly after Noel made breakfast. The group was gathered at a communal table, playing hand clapping games and spouting the same inside jokes I have come to love, though not necessarily understand. I was offered waffles, green bananas and something Bridgette kept calling “zombie oranges.”

Then Emmy started us off with a break-in game to nimble our minds for the activity of the day. We gathered in a circle, so close our shoulders were almost touching. The game sounded simple enough. There were only two rules. “When you hear your name touch someone next to you.” Cool, got it. “When you are touched say someone’s name.” Awesome. Easy enough to process. The game began. Emmy said “Noel.” “Jori” Noel said, as he touched Divine’s shoulder. “Nope! Wrong,” said Emmy. She repeated the two rules. What? Wait …. what? I felt like the third implied rule was “this game is meant to make your head explode many times over.” It was weird. The plot thickened. “Ok so when you mess up now,” Emmy said smiling her beautiful glowy Emmy smile, “you need to die a horrible death.”To give you the highlights, Divine stabbed himself in the stomach, Noel was beheaded, and Emmy’s entrails fell out. I lost because I got confused and said my own name with a question mark at the end when someone tapped my shoulder. It was a little sad. I had Sherly shoot me with a musket. It gave me that warm fuzzy NUA feeling.
Then Andrew Oesch took the floor. He is a current artist mentor, past Artist Mentor Fellow, and past Artist Mentor before that. He started by having us read aloud some excerpts from The Little Prince, a favorite of mine, in which the author describes drawing an elephant being digested by a boa constrictor, first from the outside and then with an inside view. We all took time to draw our own versions of these drawings. Here’s a list of what people included in their versions: bones, ribs, science diagrams, tunnels, and details.

What comes next may be difficult to read or digest. I assure you it is not half as difficult as it was to describe.
First we chose a short story from yesterday’s writing exercizes. Then we highlighted the main images in it that we wanted to illustrate. We took notes on each image and what we wanted to capture in our illustration. Then we had five minutes to get up and grab 5 props each from the studio to use in our illustrations. Then we went into a ten foot tall tunnel-ish cave space which had appeared in the studio overnight. This is part of Andrew’s future installation for the RISD Museum’s“Big Draw” event coming up on April 30th. There photographed lines from our stories. Then we created dioramas using our props about our first image from our story. At this exact moment it occurred to me that this project had 
been Oesch-ed out from under our very feet, and that we might not be returning to any concept of illustrating that I had in my head. My suspicions were confirmed as Andrew came around with a small hand held projector and helped us project our photographs of text onto our dioramas so we … could … photograph them…? There’s that brain exploding feeling again.


But we weren’t through yet! We were given sharpies and transparencies and asked to trace, expand, or accentuate certain elements of our photographs onto the transparencies. After that, the transparencies were held in front of the projector, which was projecting the photograph of the diorama with the photograph of the text over it — you dig? Then we photographed that. I’m pretty sure at this point Divine started singing some sort of group song, the room began to spin, and blood started dripping out of my ears. I love art.
After a glass of water and a trip to the bathroom to clean the ooze from my ears, I returned to see a fuller and more complete aspect of the process. Drawing, objects, text, photos. Text as objects. Photos as text. Objects mirrored a re-mirrored. I had an epiphany. It came to me in slow motion as Andrew waved his hands in the air and said something to Noel like “gggooooooddddd nnooowwww eexxpppaaaaaannnndddd oonnnn ttttthhhhaaaaattttt ffffeeeellllliiiinnnnggg.” My epiphany went as such: we are not looking at the boa constrictor from the outside, nor the inside. We are inside the elephant, seeing inside the snake, who is feeling the elephant who is reading the little prince. Pretty messed up, right? But also kind of mind boggling and prolific. In a few short hours we had created sculptures, photos and drawings — seemlessly at once.

I then reloaded my musket and had Sherly shoot me again. Just for good measure.

Thanks Jess for participating and blogging! Thanks to Jori for being so quick to hang out and throw down with us on such a crazy technology day and giving us an initial layout for the book, to Priscilla for her grace, calm and helpfulness. Thanks Noel for continuing to make us wonderful breakfast and to keep us from finishing off the whipped cream already.

Big thanks and mad props to Andrew for bringing super huge magic cave parts, new processes for making, and a complex, technical and exciting day. I’ve also got double big gratitude for this dude as he spent the all day with us, then all evening artist-mentoring me in the mysteries and shortcuts of InDesign. Thanks Buddy!

Tomorrow… It’s printing day!!