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

Visual Distortion

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

This exercise was fun! I really enjoyed experimenting and exploring different styles based on some very cool artists that I discovered. I realised how much I love works that are inspired by pop culture. So I let my hair down a little in this, and probably spent the most time on this exercise than any other in Unit 4. I just kept going! Until I realised I was running out of time to complete the other exercises before the deadline... Still I think it was worth it. I started the unit with this exercise, which really impacted the way I worked on others. I didn't shy away with painting, collage or working at different scales. I even pulled out the neon colours which have been sat unused for quite some time.

The brief asked you to begin with drawing out a cat or dog as realistic as possible. It also asked you to try and draw the same using only 5 lines. I did this once, and I didn't really use this any other time. It was an interesting small challenge to force you to limit yourself and see what results you'd get.

Then you are asked to recreate the drawing as a collage. I haven't done this in a LONG time! I began with finding anything that would match the colours of the cat. It's a black and white cat so wasn't too difficult to find images to fill it. Once the cat was filled with images that had a really nice textured look once built up, I was left with a big white page. Deciding to put it in the middle wasn't the best idea. I found a few street images that I thought would add perspective, making the cat seem larger than reality.

I wasn't the most satisfied with this, let's call it the warm up! I wasn't sure what I would do with it to progress the piece. So I tried something different, this time keeping full images from magazines cut into block shapes to fill the cat. This felt more interesting. I also really liked an advert that I found with the words "The Voice Of Street Culture" In bold lettering. It spoke to me, and the cat I had filled with a skateboarding scene seemed to work with it. I ended up going down an urban direction for this and it became the theme that stuck throughout the exercise.


I stumbled on the below artist in a magazine I was cutting up. It felt pretty coincidental and a wild chance to discover whilst attempting to create art in a similar sense. I googled the artist and found an online portfolio with other great collage artwork. This became my first inspiration, and a test on whether I can achieve the same for my cat.

I enjoyed making it, however I had learnt a few things I could have done differently to better achieve the look. First observation being that it might have been better to have not completely cut the silhouette of the cat out. Unlike Andrea, my cat doesn't blend in with surroundings. But you live and learn, and to be honest, I wasn't feeling this anyways!

Somehow I found myself in a black hole of pop culture inspired artwork. I didn't realise it was possible to use or take reference from old classic cartoons etc. Mickey mouse hands are pretty iconic, yet you can see them in a lot of artwork. You grow up redrawing your favourite classics over and over again, so why stop being inspired by these?

The next artist I found really inspiring is Hattie Stewart. I love those cartoon eyes and quirky montage style that combines illustration with photography. It felt painted and retro. I attempted this style with my cat, the results were... different!

By now I had a spring in my step and could see where I wanted to take this piece. I already introduced the street / skate scene in my collage, it felt like the pieces of the puzzles were coming together.

I just ket discovering really cool artists! Next was Kervin Brizzeaux. His style felt perfect for what I was feeling to be the direction I wanted.

I decided to return to the first drawing I did of the cat with just the head. It had a look about it that said, don't mess with me! Tough cat ready to take on the streets. I went back to creating a collage and this time painting on top of it the wording and a little flame. It's fairly simple of this idea, but I actually really like it! This would be something I would turn in to a final piece!

The smaller image with green on the left was a digitally made collage. I took the a few photos of the cat in front of images from a magazine in hope of creating a scene.. In this image, I then decided to take the 5 line idea and drew on top an outline of the cat face in white. The image was created before discovering Brisseaux, but found a way to connect it by painting the background. Is it good? Not really, but it's there to show what I tried!

Below is the second image I created on the computer before discovering the Brisseaux. Here I was more inspired by the Grime art style and a different artist called EUGENIA LOLI, who's work is a wild trip down surreal alley! Full of humour, and totally whacky combination of things collaged together that really shouldn't - but work so well!

Adding the statue head and another skateboarder made this piece more random but kind of balanced. I changed the colours to match the entire piece and suddenly it belonged. I added the melted look from Grime on the statue head and layered paint splats on top. For this I wanted a colour that would really stand out, and yellow worked perfect.

I was almost going to abandon this image after feeling like it didn't belong with my newly gathered research, but I thought... it's already pretty busy as it is, adding more wouldn't hurt! So I continued the yellow into a background that would frame the digital collage. Added pink to balance it all up and over all I'm pretty pleased with the result of this.

The collection of sketchbook work for this project felt like a natural development of learning. By finding artists that I resinated with, I was able to take the necessary steps forward in personal development. It was a very interesting experience to be able to step outside of your own comforts and really allow the process to lead the way. By including collage of found treasures in magazines or newspapers, you are almost forced to make things "weird". And by allowing things to get weird, I felt as though I wanted to welcome the more unusual combinations. Be it through colours, through distortion, or just through fantasy, the unusual daydreams sort of snowball into many ideas. I guess this is why I enjoyed the exercise so much, I learned of a new technique to overcome creative block. The exercise helped me explore styles and combine them in a way that became hybrid. I still feel I could keep developing more ideas through this process, all including the same initial sketches of the cat, which shows me how this technique can really help generate ideas.

I sketched some very rough concepts on a piece of paper with the intention to progress all that I had collected, developed and learnt into one final piece. I knew I wanted to go into this with a loose concept so that I could allow for natural developments to surface on their own.


Since completing this exercise, we have come to know a new normal. Well in a way we're now learning of a new normal which is post COVID-19, as places begin to reopen! I took my cat in to this world using the styles from above.

The result:

This is a combination of collage, painting and digital illustration. Starting with the background, I wanted to work on creating a larger piece as the final illustration for this exercise. I filled a page in my A3 sketchbook with the flowing fluid shapes in strong contrasting colours. Wanting to stay true to the process, I decided to then take a photo and place it into Photoshop. I took the illustration of the cat head and placed it on top. I was going to make a digital collage.

Before knowing what the outcome would be, I started editing a photo from my holiday collections which was of a long winding road through the beautiful vegetation in Vietnam. I really enjoyed how a pervious piece came out where I had pushed colours far from reality, and so hoped I could recreate a similar effect with my own photo. Still not really knowing what I was doing, I put the edited image over my ready painted background. I referred back to my conceptual sketches for inspiration and started to draw on top of what I had put together in Photoshop.

I was initially going in a sci-fi direction, until I then decided to add a mask and call it COVID-19. I then began adding similar elements from the previous work such as the cartoon eyes and the yellow slime (which looks like melted cheese). It's a bit random, but strangely I found a connection with the elements and the sudden direction in theme. The eyes linking to track and trace, the idea that eyes are watching you. The cheesy slime perhaps being a bacteria? The toilet roll in space, well it may have been the only place that had some at one stage during lockdown! Space, and the lonely road represents the social distance we are all having to get used to. Ironically, I also found a connection with using a cat within the piece, as in the early stages of lockdown, a lot of questions were floating online regarding our pets and whether they can carry it or spread it. Overall, I really like the representations used within the piece.


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