Hansel and Gretel and Visual Metaphors
The final assignment of the Turbocharging Your Creativity Course by Lee White and David Hohn through www.svslearn.com was to create a visual metaphor based on one of three different fairy tales. I selected Hansel and Gretel and read the story several times through to pick up on all the little details. Then I set out to create a mind map of the story and the characters to come up with ideas way beyond those I would have thought of before taking this course.
After spending the time to mind map the entire story, I then began working on a series of thumbnail ideas. I then narrowed the thumbnails down to three concepts, which I took to a rough sketch stage with tonal values added in.
During the review Lee White and David Hohn selected the third rough sketch based on the pitch that the witch has disguised herself to look like the candy house by covering herself in frosting and treats as make-up. The foreground trees are cotton candy swirled around a hidden fork and knife. And the path leading to the house is the silhouette of a digestive system and the kids are in a clearing that is the stomach.
The feedback I got was to really work on the hungry and excited expression of the witch and to look at the architecture of candy houses.
I pulled up all kinds of reference images and found that in opera and musicals the witch is often depicted in a clown like make-up and very colorful and candy like herself.
So I went to work on a refined sketch and can not tell you how many different attempts are getting her face drawn I made. The problem was that I started to get too involved in turning her into a character and lost sight of the fact that she really needed to appear like a disguised house in the landscape. And that was precisely the feedback David gave me.
At the same time as sending in the refined sketch I also did a series of color studies. I tried to pull up candy colors and base the entire image off of them. But combined with the witch the entire image was starting to get too creepy looking for my taste and I was not really happy with the piece at this point.
With a week to finish the image, I went back to my original pitch and thought about it and started to change the image back to the house/landscape feel. I reworked the eyes, nose and hair of the witch. I created the illusion of shoulders and her stomach with hills in the scene. And most importantly I completely started over with the colors. I went with the types of cool/warm/vibrant colors I enjoy working in the most and I think something really magical started to happen.
The image really began coming to life and all of the visual metaphors were worked in but do not necessarily reveal themselves at first glance. I could not wait to turn this in and get feedback from Lee and David. And boy was it good. First word was an exuberant WOW! and it just got better from there.