Sunday, February 17, 2008

Being green... and heading out West

Here's the fourth of my Hamlet backgrounds. While this is in some ways the simplest one so far, it was actually quite tricky to do - not least because after a few hours all those circles cease to look like cute little wasabi peas and start to pull weird optical illusion-type tricks on the eyes.

Painting all those dots gave me plenty of time to think about the connotations of particular shades of green. Green is traditionally thought to represent poison - perhaps because arsenic was used to make green pigments. And of course green is the colour of envy. It's the colour of many, many lovely things as well - not least being my first love, Kermit - but for this picture (the King's private rooms) I wanted to choose shades of green that suggested bitterness, poison, scheming, envy and unwholesomeness. So if you feel a bit queasy just looking at this image, then all is as it should be.

Here's a detail, which is quite pretty (but please excuse my blurry flashless photography):

Once again, those opaque acrylic inks amaze me. I originally painted a few other props into this picture, which took me ages because they involved lots of fidldy colour and detail. But I then decided that I didn't like them at all. These inks have such good opacity, and therefore covering power, that I just painted over the top of the unwanted items with my background green, painted some more wasabi peas over the top, and - magic!- you can't even see the joins.

However, after all that, my eyes were doing something very like this:

In other news, on Wednesday this week I'm off to the Perth Writers Festival, which is part of the Perth International Arts Festival. It looks like a fabulous program, and I've never been to Western Australia, so I'm looking forward to it very much. I'll be talking about Gatsby in a couple of sessions for older students in the schools program, and will be on two panels in the general program.

So hand me my party frock - I'm going West!


Greg G said...

Ahh... so green...

Good to see it finished! I can imagine it was alittle goggle-boggling to paint, but looks lovely. Want to see them in action!


fabulous heretic said...

The symmetry reminds me of Rorschach ink blots.

Stephen Warne said...

First of all, what does it say about a person if s/he sees Rorschach ink blots in art, rather than, say, a woman's breast in a Rorschach blot??

Secondly of all, this new prequel form of '... the Making'documentary is cool. I think I'll like it even more than reading the book.

I wonder if there are any other writers out there, discussing their plot developments online. I'm not sure that it would decrease sales by taking away the surprise element. Rather, it could give rise to a whole new form of meta-fiction, where the enjoyment of the book could be governed by its references back -- implied, or even explicit -- to the interactive prequel's discussion. Or imagine if some especially witty blog reader's comment got a cryptic crossword-like cameo in the plot.

What if we readers started commenting, and buying into the creation of your book, Nicky? What if I said 'That's a lovely, non-poisonous green.' Scary stuff.
Italo Calvino could dream up a lovely story involving Marcovaldo with it, I'm sure.

spacedlaw said...

Yickes! My eyes hurt just looking at that last picture. Once more, I admire your patience.

Nicki Greenberg said...

Mr Warne! How nice to see you here. Funnily enough, I also had a little giggle about the twist of seeing Rorschach blots in art or nature.

It's interesting, the idea of a book being shaped by readers' comments. I do find that when I'm really engaged in a project (like now) I am very open to suggestion and inspiration. Everywhere I look, I see things that spark ideas about how to tackle particular things in the book. I am constantly scribbling notes and sticking cut-out pictures into my sketchbook - everything feeds in. So don't be surprised if you find yourself glimmering through one of the characters' eyes!