Monday, August 29, 2016

Behind the Scenes: Be The Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story


I am so excited to announce the release of the companion book to Grandfather Gandhi, Be The Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story. I was so thrilled to go back into this world and illustrate another beautiful lesson, this time about how our actions have repercussions and our power to change things for the better. Arun, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, lived with his grandfather for 2 years in adolescence, and these two books have been "crystallizations" of lessons he learned during that time.


My first step for a new project is always drawing people, so I went to the South Asian part of my neighborhood, Jackson Heights, to draw people and observe their body language.



It's always exciting for me to be able to try and transport myself to another place and time for a project, and nowhere is better for that than the many different neighborhoods of New York City.


I had a fun time chatting with this boy and his sisters from Bangladesh, who reminded me of Arun and his sister Ela in the book.

Since I was working in a similar style to the first book, I wanted to find a way to introduce new symbols and visual elements that tell this particular story.


Much of the book focuses on Arun's confusion regarding his grandfather's lesson that "waste is a violent action." This confusion comes into the illustrations in the form of the swelling black monsoon clouds that begin to dominate the pages. As his grandfather begins to illustrate the lesson, the monsoon clouds burst.


For the teaching scenes in the center of the book, I used a surreal, swirling background and color palette to emphasize Arun's dawning understanding.

Images from Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur

With the flooding of the monsoon, this sequence in the book was inspired by Indian miniature paintings depicting the infinite cosmic ocean.


As Arun begins to comprehend the lesson, the colors begin to return to normal. And as Arun and his grandfather return to the ashram after it has been renewed with the monsoon rains, the bright colors return. The whole book follows this arc of color, which you can see in these thumbnail sketches I used to plot out the color palette.

Preparatory thumbnail paintings/collages

Another aspect from the first book that I wanted to continue and build upon was the idea of thread. In the first book, the thread became an example of raw cotton being turned into something useful, in the same way that anger can be turned into useful energy.


In this book, I expanded upon that idea by using the thread more and more as the book progresses, embroidered into the illustrations, as a way of showing how that channeled, useful energy begins to permeate everything around you.

Kantha Quilts (Images from University of Nebraska, LACMA, and Honolulu Museum of Art)

Inspired by the Kantha embroidered quilts of Bengal, I machine embroidered the pages with intricate patterns. Sewing the paper like cloth, the images become more and more embroidered as the book progresses.


Once you realize that your actions affect everything around you, you can see that we, like patterns in a quilt, are all pieces stitched together in the same design.

Be The Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story is available wherever books are sold! It is a beautiful story, and I am very honored to be a part of it. Please check it out at your local independent bookstore, or use one of the links below.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Italy: Venice

 

Venice! From the minute we stepped onto the water taxi at the Venice airport, it felt like we were wandering through a fairytale. It is a city so beautiful and improbable that it feels like it could have only been designed by artists.


Every view, archway, bridge, window, and pattern, is worthy of a painting, and becomes even moreso as the evening light begins to hit. Once I sat down to draw, I found it hard to focus on the reality of one view. The whole city felt more like a montage, with layers upon layers of beauty.


We decided to indulge in the romance of the city and stopped to have a cocktail in St. Mark's square at sunset, while a string quartet played behind us.



The whole city begins to feel like Venetian glass, where everything is reduced to layers of color, light, and pattern. As I was pondering the extravagant beauty of the scene, a seagull dropped a half-eaten pesto sandwich into my drawing bag. Ahh romance! Nice to be reminded that this place actually exits in reality.


People complain that Venice is touristy, but if anywhere deserves to have millions from all over the world come to visit, it's here.


And nothing captures the romance of Venice more than the gondolas. The tourist trade is a far cry from the days when the dramatically shaped boats were the main method of transportation. But the elegant sweep of black as it glides across the water is still a miraculous sight.




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This week central Italy experienced a devastating earthquake. If you appreciate these drawings and the beauty of Italy, please consider donating to help the relief effort:
Italian Red Cross
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This post is part of a series of travel illustration from a three week tour of Italy. For more of Evan Turk's travel illustration, check out the link below: 

Friday, August 19, 2016

DisneyWorld with Dalvero Academy!


I just got back from another great workshop in DisneyWorld with Dalvero Academy and instructors Veronica Lawlor and Margaret Hurst. It was 5 days of drawing, experimenting, and working all day on-location in the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and EPCOT. Can't get enough!

Below are a few drawings and thumbnails:


The Victoria Crowned Pigeon in Animal Kingdom 


 People around the Magic Kingdom


EPCOT China


EPCOT Morocco


Harambe Village in Animal Kingdom


EPCOT Italy's Flag Throwers


Eating lunch in Animal Kingdom

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

New York Classical Theatre: The Winter's Tale


I recently went to see the New York Classical Theatre's production of Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale" in Battery Park in Lower Manhattan with my good friend Julia Sverchuk, who is an associate artist for the Theatre and does brilliant drawings of all of their productions. (See her beautiful drawings for A Midsummer Night's Dream here).

I had never seen The Winter's Tale before, but it was a fun and silly soap opera that I really enjoyed. The story begins with two kings who are childhood friends. King Leontes of Sicilia tries to get his friend, Polixenes of Bohemia, to stay longer, but is unable to convince him. When Leontes' wife, Hermione, is easily able to convince him to stay, Leontes begins to suspect that they are having an affair.


His suspicion and jealousy balloons and he orders Camillo to have Polixenes killed, despite his protestations.


Camillo instead warns Polixenes and the two escape together to Bohemia.


Leontes discovers their escape and is furious. He accuses his wife of the affair and that the child she carries is Polixenes', not his own, and imprisons her.


Hermione gives birth to a baby girl, and her friend Paulina, tries to convince Leontes to free Hermione, hoping the sight of his daughter will soften him against her. But he is not convinced, and instead orders Paulina's husband to exile the baby and abandon it somewhere.


Hermione pleads with Leontes, proclaiming her innocence, but he cannot be convinced.


Hermione faints upon hearing that their son has wasted away because of the stress of these accusations. Paulina then lets out a cry offstage and comes back to report that Hermione has died as well. Leontes laments his decisions and resolves to atone for his crimes.


Meanwhile, Antigonus goes to abandon the baby in Bohemia, naming her Perdita. He leaves her in a basket with trinkets suggesting her noble heritage. He is then eaten by a bear! Two shepherds then take the baby to raise her.


The character of "Time" is played by a bard, who announces that now sixteen years have passed.


We find out that Polixenes' son, the Prince Florizel, has fallen in love with a shepherdess, also named Perdita (!!).


Polixenes and Camillo conspire to stop the Prince's wedding to Perdita, but with Camillo's help, they flee to Sicilia in disguise.

"Time" switches his clothes with Prince Florizel, and posing as a nobleman hears how the shepherds are going to prove that Perdita is of noble birth by showing Polixenes the royal trinkets she was abandoned with in the basket.


Everyone ends up going to Sicilia, and after everyone's true identities are revealed, everyone is friends again and all is well.


In even more exiting news, Hermione has apparently been pretending to be a statue of herself for 16 years, but is actually still alive! So, that worked out well! She also forgives Leontes, I guess. And now everyone is reunited and happy. Except for Paulina's husband, who was still eaten by a bear. But she gets together with Camillo in the end! Hooray!

It's an absurd story, but it was so wonderfully brought to life by the actors and the production of the New York Classical Theater. It's so beautiful seeing these plays staged against some of NY's most beautiful backdrops. The expressive actors always make it so satisfying to draw! Definitely go check out this production, on through August 7 at Battery Park, and from August 9-14 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Dumbo. 

More information below:

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Italy: Cinque Terre


After Florence, we traveled to Italy's western Ligurian coast to see the famed Cinque Terre villages, a series of five impossibly quaint villages dotting the rocky coastline. We stayed outside the industrial hub of the area, La Spezia, overlooking the Golfo dei Poeti (Gulf of Poets), where poets and artists (including Lord Byron!) have come for centuries to absorb the beauty. Our first night, we went to Porto Venere, an honorary "sixth village" of the Cinque Terre, at the tip of a peninsula. Less secluded than the "Cinque", but also less touristed, it was wonderful to spend time in this charming and beautiful town.


It felt more like a beach town for Italian tourists, rather than the international hotspot that the Cinque Terre have become. It was fun watching the Italian families gather, nap, chat, and relax under the shady, seaside trees.


A nearby wedding brought glamorously dressed guests, mixing with the older locals who sat and watched the sea and the visitors pass by.


We enjoyed a perfect sunset over the marina as boats bobbed in the tide and seagulls soared overhead.


The next day, it was on to Manarola, one of the Cinque Terre villages. It's not hard to see why the towns are so heavily touristed, as you see the gorgeous, brightly-colored houses tumble down impossibly steep streets into the lapping waves of a grotto at the seas edge.


Up the inclines, the town dissolves into sweeping hills of vineyards that surround the city.


The bustling town during the day is a far cry from its quaint, isolated former days as crowds of foreign tourists pour in every hour on the trains.


Although Manarola is without a true beach, dozens of sun-worshippers plop themselves out on the hot, steep pavement near the grotto to soak up the rays. Chris and I dubbed it "walrus-ing".


Both men and women donned their teeniest bathing suits to display their tanned and toned physiques. No complaints!


As the sun set, the crowds began to thin, the walruses departed, and the town began to feel small and cut off from the modern world again. I made this last drawing inside the grotto, perched on a rock as I watched a group of girls swimming and jumping from the cliffs into the water below. What a magical place!

This post is part of a series of travel illustration from a three week tour of Italy. For more of Evan Turk's travel illustration, check out the link below: