A year of convolution
Following a comic book inspiration, the Fabuleux project started in April 2021. A movement, which we all know, leads us to the marvelous. Because movement is a challenge for the draftsman, he who is frozen in the moment. Make the impossibility of representing an animation an advantage through suggestion. I wanted to take this advantage of the artist further by taking the viewer beyond reality, literally to surrealism. The comic book format allows you to tell a story, as long as you pay attention to a narrative composition.
One page in comic book format
If all the comic pages do not have the same dimension, let's say they are in 2/3 format. I transcribed it on a format 82 cm high, by 56 cm wide. This makes a respectable poster, and allows me to use watercolor sheets that I can still stretch on a wooden board. Yes, you have to stretch the sheet so that it does not warp once moistened. If it warps, the pigments concentrate in the hollows and this is a problem when using a "wet on wet" technique.
The story told
A fisherman descends the rocks at sunset. Facing the ocean, he casts his formidable fishing rod as night falls. And from the sky he brings back a star.
The story is quite concise and boils down to a gesture. I made a first attempt in the spring of 2021, which I stopped and resumed 6 months later. Between the 2 versions, I lost my friend Benoît, who became my star fisherman.
At the end of the article, a few words about the clip .
You can download music and the full article on this link .
The blacks and whites
I composed each drawing on my digital tablet, but preparing the page as a single drawing. The composition axes are thus specific to each drawing, but are inserted into the page.
Here are the main axes of composition
- The 2 end images refer to the characters of the first image: the direction of the arms, the orientation of the fishing rod. It's a kind of X, to close the story on itself. I like this idea of a cycle rolled up on itself.
- On the first image, the view is slightly down, that is to say that the viewer is placed above the scene. Gradually, the fisherman becomes dominant by a counter-diving effect. In the horizontal of the 1st image, it disappears towards the horizon.
- The 2 transition images break down the throwing movement, in an axis that follows the reading from left to right.
Once the composition is in place, I work very precisely on the values of each image using a hatching system. At this stage of the preparation, I have in mind the final watercolor, the areas that I will leave almost white, and those that will be very dark or very bright. Hatching is easy to do, and it allows you to check the consistency of values on a black and white.
The fisherman is an ordinary man at this stage of history. The drawing represents 3 moments of the same character descending the rocks. Each of these moments is inscribed in a square, from left to right:
- He arrives, cane slung over his shoulder. All this part is hatched, to give strength to the design. The character is the full height of the drawing, the sun is reflecting on his skin.
- The fisherman steps over the rocks. He becomes an acrobat, and the cane serves as his pole. A seagull greets his Arrival. The seagull is a reference to Ricochet, for me it is a symbol of Casablanca. Find it in Head in the stars.
- Arrived at the end of the rocks, it is completely backlit and is nothing more than a silhouette silhouetted against the horizon
The colors are lemon yellow, permanent pink, cadmium orange, ultramarine blue, quinacridone violet + a hint of Van Dyck brown. It's a very intense palette, to set the sky and the ocean on fire. Ultramarine blue is a Moroccan reference (Y.St Laurent gardens in Marrakech).
On this 2nd image, the fisherman disappears in a gesture that can be compared to a martial kata. A step back to gain momentum, then a step forward, he disappears under his cane when he throws it forward. The colors on her chest cool with each movement, gradually dragging her into the night with each movement.
His lower body is gradually losing color. The loincloth forms a multi-legged animal that gives the direction of movement. By this symbolism, the xharacter we assumed as a plain fisherman turns out to be a sorcerer, capable of facing the elements.
the natural scene becomes totally abstract. It is replaced by dots and lines drawn with liner, on a watercolor background.
Colors: Night has set in.
It is represented on a pure ultramarine (upper part), which gradually changes to a gray (addition of Van Dyck brown).
The character is monochrome, to restore the nocturnal atmosphere - at night, the colors disappear. The gray is a blue obtained from Antwerp blue, cadmium-free orange and a touch of Quinacridone Violet. These are colors that can give a lot of luminosity, but which when assembled tend towards a grey, here dominated by Antwerp blue. For the watercolourist, keeping the balance is an arsonist's game.
The character is presented from the front for the first time, and slightly overhangs the viewer. He is on the tip of his left foot and raises his head which was bent the second before. The vertical momentum is marked by the fishing rod which points towards the sun of the 1st image.
Painting in monochrome with watercolors is a genre that has its masters (see Dasha Rybina, Watercolor Art #20). You have to place the light and dark, then work on the intermediate tones.
Of course remorse is not possible, that's the whole point of the genre.
Head in the stars
Here, the fisherman comes into contact with the stars. This is the fabulous moment of the page, when he reaches the sky at the end of his line. While everything was movement, the moment freezes. It's a narrative caesura.
- To suspend time, I used various visual devices:
- The composition of course: the angle of view from a low angle is unexpected. The shapes are very simple, following a triangular pattern. The axes of compositions are linked to the story: the seagull leads back to the character, the character refers to the 3th fisherman of the 1st image.
- The night turns from ultramarine blue to black. The dark areas draw a kind of star of which the character is the center.
- The watercolor texture is strongly expressed by the grain contrasts, echoed by the absolute white of the stars. In opposition, the characters (the seagull and the fisherman) are represented by hatching which brings back to the engraving. The monochrome grays of the characters take on the purple, yellow and blue hues allowed by the palette of pigments explained in the previous watercolor.
- The lighter areas symbolize the connection between the sky and man: the stars the line the handle of the cane The shape of the arms the torso.
- The allegory of the seagull: it is introduced on the 1st image. Here it takes the form of an arrowhead pointing at the man. Notice the pendant on the necklace: yes, it's a bird's skull. Life and death connect on this image, and ask the question: "did you not see it?".
The end of the story:
We are coming to the end of the story, I must conclude. As explained in the section Black and white, this last image leads back to the first, in a sort of cycle: the fishing rod is pointing at the very first character, the spectator's angle of view is reversed, going from a bird's-eye view pointed at the fisherman's right shoulder to a low-angle view under his left leg.
The inversion is also chromatic: the dark figure that stood out against the sunset is now adorned with the colors of fire.
Back to watercolor:
I did not spare myself for this last painting. No hatching, the luminous atmosphere is entirely rendered in watercolour.
I had worked on the drawing quite a bit, with a victorious but relaxed pose translated by a slight swaying of the hips. To know how to represent a Night Light, I went to visit Caravaggio, Georges de La Tour and Rubens. On the same selection of pigments as for the 1st image, I go from yellow to red then to black, with a predilection for permanent pink. If the color of the body is bright, the clothes are in white Light, and the left leg blends in blue. Shadows give depth and movement. I placed a red dot in the middle of the blue with a reflection on the reel handle.
It is deceptively simple. Only one color, ultramarine blue. The stars have disappeared from the sky, because the one fished out by our hero obliterates all the others. I say deceptively simple because I undertook a circular gradient. The lightest area is the star in the angler's left hand. It's not easy to do in watercolor. I made it over several passes, taking care not to mark the edges of pigments and letting the sheet rest with each pass. It took me a whole week.
Night, ocean and starry sky
I had placed an order with OAMM for a soundtrack of 2mn30s. We talked a lot, over a year from April 2021 to January 2022. At the same time, OAMM composed several other pieces for the rest of the pages of Fabuleux, you can find them on the blog.
Here is the structure:
- Sequence 1: sea, night, poetry, simplicity, twinkling stars;
- Sequence 2: transition between the normal and the fabulous, movement towards the vault of stars chromatic rise of the horn; cane movement (as in slow motion) electro arpeggiator;
- Sequence 3: swing into the fabulous, sidereal space (like the space sequences in Star Wars) return to the sea.
Today, I still have to compose the clip, which will tell in image and in Music the reading of the 5 images that make up the watercolor page.
With images, music and a concept, making the clip is quite easy.
I followed the cutout for 2mn31s, including the end logo and I edited from the images.
So few effects, just the sequence of shots following the thread of the story.
I still did a little more.
Since movement is at the heart of the painting, I reproduced it on two animations.
The clip on is here. Don't forget to make a comment.