I've been working on a new drawing for the last few weeks and I (finally) finished it. I don't have a photo of the completed image ready for this site yet but when I do I will post it and a "Stories Behind the Art" post about it. This post is probably going to be a little more comprehensive than that one though.
Until I get that photo taken and ready for posting, I wanted to share the progression of the drawing with you.
Sometimes it can be easier to see some of the details this way (if you see it all completed and not in steps there can be an over-load and things get missed). Plus I'm just really excited to share it.
1. The concept. The concept for this drawing came partially from my mom's request for an Invisible People's drawing that expresses Autism.
I don't have Autism and don't know what it is like to experience it. I have heard that it is related to Schizophrenia (which I do have) and I know what it is like to have mental illness as a child and not know how to make sense of your world or express yourself.
I used this sense of not knowing combined with the conflicting messages received from the world (ie "What's wrong with you?" "It's not your fault, you're sick", "Something is wrong with you.") and expectations that are hard to live up to ("act more normal", "try harder,").
This is the outline I began with.
2. Emphasizing the fore-ground details
Because markers are not opaque, I like to start with the fore-ground details (unlike when I use acrylic and start in the background).
During this stage I wanted to words and phrases that were most important to be filled in (so that I didn't accidentally cover them later).
The largest and most noticeable word is "you". I did that for a couple of reasons. One is because childhood essentially begins with an innocently ego-egotistical comprehension of the world. Since children can only see from their own perspective and since they are the center of their own perspective they often assume that they are the center of everything around them. This means that if something goes wrong they feel at fault for it. When I started to have my psychotic symptoms I should've been exiting this stage of development (or long past it-- I can't remember) but since Autism strikes at around age 3 the child is usually still in it (or maybe just getting ready to move beyond it-- really can't remember).
Anyway, as a child when something goes wrong you might feel that it is your fault. When you are noticeably "different" then this is emphasized even more. Most adults who don't feel well or have some noticeable difference (say a scar on your face) feel sub-conscious. Children do too and even if you don't know what is wrong with you, you can get the message that it is You who is wrong. I don't know if this is true or not for individuals who suffer for Autism. As a child with a severe (in the sense that doctors consider it severe) mental illness it felt this way for me.
3. Clarifying and filling in the background
This is where I start to add outlines and shading and filling in the parts that are going to be less detail orientated (top left) so I can get a view of the whole composition.
I don't have much more to add in terms of concept here. If you want you can take a second to look at the world "listen". The letters are being tied to balloons and floating away. Once again, I don't know what it is like to have Autism, but I know that when I am in the middle of a psychotic episode it is difficult for me to comprehend what people are trying to say to me because I feel like the words are floating away as they are being spoken and people might feel like I'm not listening or wonder why its so hard for me to understand. The same thing happens when I try to read while I am actively psychotic (and sometimes if I'm not). The words become hard to understand and it feels like they keep moving around so I can't keep track of them.
From how I've heard my mom describe working with children who have Autism, I get the idea that they also might have this kind of difficult with comprehension. I know that people get frustrated when they have to repeat themselves, but when someone can't focus or comprehend what you are saying, then.. sorry. I guess patience and remembering that everyone's experience is unique so what might seem easy to you is not necessarily easy for someone else, goes a long way here.
4. Cleaning up and Filling in White-Space
In this picture I've almost completed the illustration (I think it was another hour or two-- with breaks--before I actually finished).
I don't like leaving white space because there is already so much going on in these drawings that the eye doesn't know where to focus. White space that isn't purposely used to enhance lighting in this case makes it even harder to focus on the image. Usually when I am getting close to finishing a drawing I start at one side (in this case the bottom) and work to fill in the unnecessary white spaces while adding shading/ outlining to make sure that the important parts of the picture are visible.
Sometimes I mess up and details I wanted to to be visible (like the red person standing by the shoe) get lost--- oops. It's marker so its really hard to fix if I mess that up. Sometimes outlining with a darker color helps and sometimes it doesn't.
Hopefully the overall drawing is still impact-full enough to get the point across.
I know this was a little long, but thanks for reading and I'll try to have a better-quality finished image and "Stories Behind the Art" done for this image soon.
Have a great day.