ILLUSTRATION

Eleanor Finlay-Christensen

@elschristensen elschristensen.co.uk

'I 💙 Berlin.'

A4 Book, 600dpi, digitally illustrated using Procreate.

For my Final Major Project, I created a book which documents a day I spent in Berlin - roughly a month before lockdown. These illustrations are a selection from my book. I chose a non-naturalistic, blue monochromatic colour palette to evoke the sense of slightly faded memories. I wanted to focus on things about Berlin which caught my attention as I travelled, such as the people, places and striking objects I saw. This was drawn digitally in Procreate using the 6b pencil and 6b compressed charcoal brushes.

 

Having realised after the college closure that I had lost access to the means to produce a huge part of my work, I had to refocus and change my ideas, in particular for my final piece. I had intended to further my knowledge of both etching and screen printing and had planned to spend a lot of time in the print room at college. This was obviously no longer possible. Having recently purchased an iPad and an apple pencil as an investment in my future career, I set myself the challenge of drawing on the iPad and focussed on creating a piece of digital sequential illustration. Lockdown forced me to focus on a new area of illustration and I am very pleased with the new skills that I taught myself.

‘Behind the Curtain’

This work is the final culmination of my exploration of people who were stigmatised as ‘freaks’. My intention is not to be offensive in any way but rather to highlight how differences are normal and that appearances should not be judged. 

 

My research extended to contemporary life and to people with medical conditions or other visible differences, but I was drawn to historical ‘Freak Shows’. I read articles about P.T. Barnnum and watched the movie, Freaks (1932), which was an important step in helping me understand lifestyle and how performers lived. This in turn led me to exploring specific individuals including Koo Koo, the Bird Lady whose real name was Minnie Woolsey 1880-1960.  She is the subject of my final sequence of prints which show Minnie in her private moments doing the things she enjoyed before descending the steps to give her public ’performance’. This emphasis on the private, prior to her performance, was an opportunity to see her as an individual and to see something of who she really was.

 

I tested all sorts of different possibilities but lino-prints added a personal touch.  I achieved what I set out to do in celebrating these people who were famed as performance freaks by revealing their humanity and making them more relatable and normal.

'Dina'

My Major Project was an opportunity to explore the the marks and colours with which to communicate the experience of a range of mental health challenges such as anxiety, stress and depression. The intention was not to create a self-help book or to offer medical advice but to give insight and voice to the feelings we normally keep hidden and which are hard to express vocally. This culminated in a small printed book. 

 

The initial mood drawings were created using brush pens, watercolours and later adjusted digitally. This was a struggle, letting myself work laterally without having a prior knowledge of the desired finished result. The addition of limited text as random thoughts, feelings and expletives found proved to be successful.

 

The aim of the book is to provide a more immersive and emotional experience for the reader. The title is Javanese for Mayday. I wanted the title to be in a foreign language as asking for help is like learning a new language – difficult and challenging and something I still have to conquer.

'The Throne of England'

A series of portraits showing the monarchs of England and the dates of their reign (in brackets) from 1042 until present day.

 

For some of the earlier monarchs no portraits exist which presented an opportunity to 'invent' characteristics and to give them each unique personalities.

‘Butchers’

My final major project is focused on how tattooed women are regarded by others. As part of this, I researched the many reasons why women get tattoos, whether because of insecurity, to conceal scars or because they are beautiful. In addition, I looked at slang associated with tattoos.

In approaching the work I chose to use sampling and collage techniques and enjoyed mixing up drawings, textures and type. Generally I worked digitally. I finally decided to place the tattooed body parts in a Butchers. I wanted the message to be hard and strong whilst still having the element of a feminine beauty as well as the beauty of the tattoos themselves.

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