Louisa Giffard

The most lavender of marriages

Ah yes, a title card! It’s been a long time since I’ve had an opportunity to a) put myself in a title card and b) make it kind of stupid.

Some movies are hard to turn into visual interpretations, because they’re not movies you’d really remember for their visuals. The 1990s gay comedy In & Out is one of those. You can’t really represent the irritating camp nature of I Will Survive in an image, so I took a different approach.

It's your wedding, I hope you're having a nice time!

It’s your wedding, I hope you’re having a nice time!

It’s rather fun doing something nearly in monochrome, and having the opportunity to draw a hundred near-anonymous people rather than fussing about likenesses. Doing everything in lavender does make me feel like I’m colouring a panel of The Phantom though.

I just realised this is the second time I’ve drawn a crowd of vague blurry people in a church.

Canada

I recently had the privilege of spending four weeks at the wonderful Spark Box Studio, a residency in Prince Edward County. There, I was surrounded by farmland and the sizzling sounds of cicadas, the shuffling expanses of cornfields and the cries of wheeling, screaming jays. Rural landscapes in Canada are very different to the countryside in Australia, in almost every conceivable way. The animals you disturb while walking are different. The farmland is different (crops, rather than livestock – I haven’t been to many crop-growing areas in Australia, and my city is slap-bang in the middle of what was historically sheep country.) The buildings are different, built for different conditions – huge barns like aircraft hangars, crumbling facades of historic houses where doorways end in midair.

I managed to complete a small series of works while there, working on and off while gathering visual information wherever I trampled on the island. As I’ll be having an exhibition in January, I won’t be showcasing all of my works yet (for all my non-local readers, I’ll put the works up online, in time.) However, here are a few that might give viewers an idea what I’ve been working on.

Canada house

The buildings especially really stayed with me. Here, finally, were the absurd Victorian dwellings that depicted in my previous work – and they were everywhere around me! Simply walking around the country revealed dozens of strange buildings, some needing a new context, others hauntingly weird on their own.

I didn't have to change anything

I rounded one corner and saw a caravan, isolated in the middle of the woods, windows boarded up and a pile of firewood next door. Needless to say, I got out of there as fast as I could.

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Some buildings looked as if they’d outlived their usefulness and littered the landscape like shipwrecks.

As well as my paintings, I did a series of objects. These are made of thermal plastic (what you might know as “shrinky dinks” ) kindly provided by one of my hosts at the residency. Each piece is less than 6 cm/2.5 inches wide

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(This is the distinctive milkweed plant that proliferates across the country)

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This last piece is a magnolia warbler I had the opportunity to see up close at the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory. This piece is particularly tiny – half the size of the others.

Of course, my trip ranged rather further than just Prince Edward County, and I was able to take photographs of a lot of very strange and unusual things. As a consequence, more work will probably come soon, featuring other aspects of the North American continent.

 

 

The Colour Scheme

When I walked into a second hand store and bought a ludicrous striped shirt in 2008, I had no idea how much that shirt would come to influence my work. Yes, whenever you see this incredibly obnoxious combination of colours, it’s because of that impulse purchase – of a shirt that was obviously far too garish for its original owner. Whenever I’m too uncreative to think of a good way to incorporate myself into a title card…out comes the colour scheme! It’s just a very convenient shorthand for my show.

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I think I’ve managed to employ it to new heights of hideousness this time! Hopefully a hideousness that’s so eye-burning, it becomes almost compelling. At least that’s my excuse. The picture still works if you convert it into black and white, by the way.

You’re tearing me apart!

Before that line was associated with the heinous antics of crater-faced Tommy Wiseau, it was said slightly histrionically by James Dean, in his most famous movie, Rebel Without a Cause.

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One of the main things I learned from this movie is that to be regarded as a chicken is the worst thing of all. (Kind of funny, considering that the director was a bit of a chickenhawk himself, so the constant chicken motif has an added dimension.)

Oh, and fathers who do any sort of housework are unmanly and terrible, and should be hitting their wives in the face instead. Hooray!

Gimme 20 dollars?

This is the title card for Sara Dane, which is a more than moderately horrendous period drama based on the life of convict businesswoman Mary Reibey – whom most Australians would know by face, if not by name. Yes, she’s the woman on the $20 note. Now, Australian currency has several sophisticated counterfeiting measures in place, in order to make it extremely hard to replicate. However, for some inexplicable reason, I decided it’d be a great idea to put myself to the challenge.

titlecard

I could have just done a pink/red wash, but why take the easy way out? It turned out a bit more orange and less red than I would have liked, and has a lot of the ever-so-wonky touches of something done by hand, but that’s part of the “charm” of traditional art, I suppose. Certainly one of the most complex title cards I’ve done, and it was an enjoyable challenge.

 

Redcoats

It’s been a long time in the making, and I’ve only just managed to get around to reviewing Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. And what image from the movie stuck with me more than other? Our main character carrying people (with little regard to our modern understanding of not aggravating potential spinal and internal injuries – which is unsurprising, seeing as this film is set in the 18th century.) So, it was my destiny to paint myself being lugged about like a sack of grain, along with a little hint of the beautiful idyllic pastoral landscapes the movie frequently depicts.

 

Barry Lyndon inspired more than just this piece of art though. Before I even watched the film, the idea of redcoats was the inspiration for a woodblock print. However, I’ve been locked out of aperture so I can’t access the print at this stage. I’ll put it up later.

The blue hour

The “sensual”, “erotic’ nude paintings in Blue is the Warmest Colour weren’t just an unsophisticated idea of the kind of art a lesbian artist would create, they were also not particularly creatively fulfilling to look at. But when it came time for me to review the movie, I thought to myself… what’s better than making a parody of bad art?

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Not nude this time because I think one nude self portrait is more than enough for this world.

Creative Bankruptcy

Ah yes, the title card. Sometimes I come up with an absolutely wonderful way of depicting a movie, while showing my spin on it. Other times…what I’m talking about is nearly impossible to turn into a nice little snappy image. Sometimes it’s because the source material is set in one room, so the shots are just people talking to each other, with flat lighting and boring props and nothing creatively inspiring. Sometimes the themes of the episode are too serious for me to be able to think of a way to jam my rainbow-clad self directly into the image (which is why I often use the colour scheme to represent myself instead, as a cheat.) Sometimes, in the case of this illustration – the camerawork is so tight and handheld that we don’t ever really get nice, classical shots of the actors, or crisp shots of the location, or anything that isn’t shot over someone’s shoulder or directly into someone’s nostril. Which brings me to Southland.

Southland

Sometimes it’s just easier to..just paint something. Creative? Not particularly. But it’s better than stick figures. (I added the “patented infamous queer colour scheme” to the work later, but I like it best in black and white.)

WHAT’S BEHIND THE FRIDGE, PEOPLE. Let’s just pretend it’s me, sitting there in my shirt, and they’re giving me this disapproving look, like “why are you hacking bits out of our show, Louisa, why.”

I know your job is hard, but I’m willing to make a few steps to make it work.

I recently watched a documentary on famous poster artist Drew Struzan – so this is my terrible attempt at making a Struzan-esque piece of art. And what movie did I choose to illustrate? THE WATCHER, of course!The Watcher

The fantastic movie drinking game podcast Alcohollywood is going to be doing an episode on The Watcher very soon, so I’ve drawn them something to show my appreciation for reviewing my favourite bad movie of all time. Let’s hope they have similar appreciation for the movie!

The Keanu density is very high in this picture.

The last of the musicians

Now, I know I should organise these in a proper post, but so far, I’ll just post the final few images. If you haven’t yet seen the other posts, the first is here the second here and the third set of illustrations is here.   The fourth set is here, and the most recent post can be found here. 

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The two cover images! Sorry, donkey’s rear hoof got a little trimmed by the size of the scanner bed.

And because it was neglected from the last post, the final picture in the book!

After this, the robbers were too frightened to go into the house ever again - but it suited the four musicians so well that they did not need to leave and travel anymore.

After this, the robbers were too frightened to go into the house ever again – but it suited the four musicians so well that they did not need to leave and travel anymore.

It’s a bit of a strange conclusion, and I probably would have worded it differently myself, but there you go. The animals may not end up in Bremen, but they end up somewhere else just as good, even though they hadn’t planned to get there. For me, this has been a lot of fun, but I myself am wondering if I’ll end up in Bremen or not!