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Helen Capewell
OCA Learning Log
Student Number: 522802
Degree: Illustration
Current Level: 2

Assignment Three

Illustrative People and Places

I really feel as though I've had an absolute nightmare working through this unit. With limitations on places to go, lack of crowds and the restrictions that have ran our lives the past year, I've just not done very well gathering drawings. Due to the time and limits, I decided to return to videos and photos I had collected whilst on a trip to Krakow, Poland during October 2020. Amongst the protests that were happening daily for women's right to choose, I managed to collect content from when I was in the crowds, the video is like being on location, with the action happening. Although the process throughout the course touched on photography as a form of gathering information, I think video might also be a strong source to work from.

Since this trip, and being amongst a powerful movement, I felt inspired by protests and what they represent. During the past year there has been many organised protests for many different causes around the world. BLM, Anti-lockdowns, civil rights, asian hate crime, equality, global warming and more. It's extremely sad to see so many reasons to protest, and witnessing the voice of people being silenced in the process. Having not attended the protests in the UK as of yet, these would be an incredible opportunity to be amongst the march for reportage illustration. Seeing as the next organised event is in a few weeks, I won't have time to cover it for the initial tutor feedback, but I do plan to continue this assignment when the dates arrive, in time for assessment! I think it would be really great to include more than one protest in this as we've witnessed so many in such a short space of time.

Sketches from Poland

As I made these drawings from clips in a video, I was able to consider the composition, plus decide what information I would put in and what to leave empty. I felt as though I was finally able to think like Veronica! I wish that my drawings had been this successful when on location.

The amount of police that had been involved in the protests in Poland was sickening. Around the country, police were deployed to protect leaders and churches with the Army not long joining them. Lined up side by side in small groups that almost barricade the protest in to a populated area, with a warning message echoed out across a speaker. It felt surreal to witness the intimidation and scare tactics that were being performed. Groups of riot police wearing shielded helmets, carrying shields and others carrying pepper spray, as if prepared to use at any given moment. Just their uniform is enough to intimidate! I really wanted to capture this in the above sketch as the police line up facing the protest in front. This moment was particularly early on in the protest where groups of people were starting to gather in the town main square, preparing to march through the streets.

Because the police was so heavy during the entire protests, and continue to be during protests we see around the world with attention pointing on them and their powers, I feel it is necessary to include them in this piece.

Content Gathered

I found the image above to be most interesting. The group of police marching through a crowd that seems unfazed by their presence, can be seen carrying cans of pepper spray. Of course harmless in this moment, yet the idea of carrying some kind of weapon means there is an intention to use it.

Using Media To Support

I found these two videos whilst searching through YouTube for possible news coverage on the protests. As I was only in Krakow for a few days, I wasn't able to be present in the daily march which gathered thousands and thousands throughout the country. These videos help remember the scale, and the importance of what this protest meant.

An incredible image I found whilst searching through Google really stood out to be quite a powerful shot. I love how the red smoke fills the space, and the sheer volume of people that fit the frame and how many more that don't. For me it feels full of emotion, anger, passion determination, disappointment and power.


I wasn't really sure how to piece this together or what direction I wanted to go down, until I came across a piece by Veronica Lawlor. The piece is a collage of elements from a protest, including a mix of printed and drawn lettering, and illustrations of people. It also includes what might have been an image that was used for the movement, where a muslim lady wears a hijab with the American flag on it. It's this piece that made me realise what might actually be required in this exercise, and what it means to create a narrative based on an event and the illustrations collected. It really inspired the direction I wished to take on this piece.

Feeling like I now had a clear idea of what needed to be done, I looked back on the sketches I had made, the images I had collected and the videos I recorded, to pull out key information that I thought were important. Like the muslim lady in the hijab above, this protest also had a symbol to give identity to the movement. The red lightning bolt covering a silhouette of a woman was plastered on protest signs, masks, walls, windows, social media and more with the words Strajk Kobiet (women's strike) in bold, I think this definitely needed to be included.

Image from Google - Abortion Protest - Poland

I decided that my first step in creating a piece was to print some of the words and symbols from the protest and piece them together in some form of composition in my sketchbook. I would use this as a base for a concept and then combine my sketches.

At this stage I wasn't ready to commit on a particular layout, so had only laid the images down rather than glued them. In fact, I wasn't sure I even wanted to work in this book, I think I wanted to work bigger, it felt really nice to step in to the A3 book in the previous exercise, and so felt more inclined to return to this.

After shuffling the images around to create a few different layouts, I thought it might be a good idea to play around with it more on the computer, but this very quickly felt to go against the needs for this course. What's strange, the more I work traditionally, the less digital work I wish to do. I just don't feel as though I can experiment the same way I would like to, so this stage was cut out from my process and in the end went straight for the A3. I gathered the best way to tackle this was to just go straight in and commit. The piece almost felt as if it needed to be instinctual, so it still held the essence of being drawn on location.


I didn't want to just retire to the one piece for this assignment, and so aimed to create at least two different pieces that are loosely similar. They both were going to be mixed media, but one I kept somewhat simple with a few textural elements, the second I really wanted to build a surface to work on.

First Piece:

Second Piece:


Once I had gotten into the swing of things for this exercise, I was able to enjoy the process. Using SCAMPER to combine drawings, printed text and paint, I feel as though I had fun in producing a narrative in the works. Were they successful or not, might be a different story. I think yes they were in the sense of building from previous drawings. I wanted to capture the powerful emotion that was buzzing through the crowds as they marched through the streets. With acrylic paint I was able to build a textured background that was thick and erratic to symbolise the energy of pure anguish.

I focused on red being the main colour, along with some blue, black and white. These colours not only play on the anger that was felt by the thousands, it's also part of Polands flag, and the symbol many carried around them. Red is a powerful colour with many meanings or representations, blood being one and anger being another, both of which stand importance in this particular protest.

I felt I could have explored the composition a little more, and also turn the page to be portrait instead, perhaps a change in format could express a different narrative? Maybe I could have added a landmark to signify the location, this might have also contributed to the narrative. My other thoughts on what I could look to differently or in another piece, is to maybe not make them so dark. Perhaps less is more in some sense.



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