Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jen reveals challenge #6, Zombie portrait

meet zombie jen! btw my inner zombie is a man. sorry if that didnt fit your project specs holly, the zombie was a woman until the last 5% of the progress, when i realized the gender had to be sacrificed for a better composition. ( i dont think gender is very important in describing zombies anyways, theyre sort of emotionless.)

i struggled on this project, because as holly alluded to earlier, i hate scary things. i hate heights, rides, horror movies, but most especially gorry art. yuck! so i was hating this for a while, not knowing what id do with a terrifying self portrait in my room. and then i shifted my zombie thinking from blood and gore to just people, people without hearts. and suddenly, hello exciting concept potential!

and sadly this is how i've wanted to feel for the past two weeks. after a recent breakup, i've reflected how nice it would be to send my heart somewhere far away, somewhere far away where i cant hear it mope. i've also reflected that it would be nice to be mature and set this person free to have a happy life without me. that sort of maturity comes from a very, very very selfless place, and i feel an almost borderline zombie place. because being truly selfless means ignoring your own wants and desires- your emotions.

(sorry for the rant, i normally feel very awkward writing feelings down- weirddd- but i guess its necessary in this case. )

and so my desire to be a zombie this week is how i justify this being my portrait!

technique: i origionally was sooo excited to bust out the paint and do a crazy realistic portrait that took lots of time, but time was scarce! and the more i thought about the concept, the more it felt appropriate to take a simple approach. no emotions= no complications.

also i wanted to play with the shape of the heart also being a bird (as per the saying if you love someone let them go), and the shape of the ribcage being a bird cage. the more i tried to draw this, the more i realized simple graphics were the only solution.

note: the feathers mimic broken heart lines!

colours: holly.... this is how i answer your request for scary. i feel the red, white and black give this a dark feeling. plus great contrast. and you specifically said not to make myself a pretty zombie. i think ive drawn myself so unpretty that i look like a man.

the cracking near the head were a happy accident. i worked with many layers of gouache and ink, over hours refining the shapes until they harmonized. (this took much longer then it looks!!! so long my drawing got wrinkly hehe!) but i like this effect, i feel it furthers my concept: zombies have bad skin. and being selfless and emotionless is really just a facade, a cracking one.

hope you like it!

ps: we spoke earlier about introducing a marking scale for critiques called 'the goosebump scale.' (whenever holly really likes something she says she has goosebumps) the scale is 1-5. do your worst!


  1. Jennifer Phelan,

    WOW, first off I must declare 4 Goosebumps!

    Why? The specks for this challenge was simply and I quote, “create something horrifying and nightmare producing.” This Illustration may not fully petrify me visually, but, emotionally the explanation for this piece, about break ups is truly heart breaking and I find them equally terrifying. Breakups, always necessary but they don’t come without heart ache. I can relate to the emotions within this challenge and that's why I particularly love it! Personally I would have loved to see more detail within the bird. It would have given necessary contrast between yourself and your heart and more interest with in the piece. Also notice the slimness of lines between your fingers. I find my eye travelling toward them, perhaps you could have used this to your advantage?
    Overall as it may not have been what I expected, you always surprise me and complete the challenges unpredictably. Thanks for keeping my on my toes!


  2. its too late/early in the morning for me to read the stuff
    beauty-full piece.
    i love it.
    its very special.