Tuesday 30 January 2018

Watercolour covers for MDACC

Something a little different from the usual comic based stuff this time.
I was asked to paint some covers for the MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital early last year. These are the finished watercolours for the covers.
It was the first time I'd used watercolour (and some gouache, mainly for the whites) since, well, ever, really. I'd used gouache to do a couple of pieces for my GCSE art coursework and I did a sci-fi style piece for an advert for a car salesroom back when I was at Uni in the early 90's...Since then I'd used what few watercolour paints I had for washes over Copic marker sketches. So, it was a new thing, something outside my comfort zone.
I really enjoyed the speed and immediacy of the process. There's a lot more freedom in using watercolours than in oils, at least in the way I use oils. I found that the paint took care of itself, creating incidental shapes, colours and marks that I had no intention of making. It was like sketching but with paint. Basically I enjoyed it and after I finished the job I continued using them. Currently I'm experimenting with paper types and brushes. I probably need to use thicker paper as I'm somewhat inept at stretching it and it still warps anyway...so it's an ongoing process.

Here's the cover art (along with one cover with all the text on it!).

Cover to issue one. I used my second eldest daughter, who was 10 at the time, as the model. This was about the 4th attempt (and the bear was added in digitally) on this cover. I used four basic colours on this one along with a hand mixed flesh colour. In fact, I very rarely use colours straight out of the tube (or pan). I guess that's a holdover from my oil painting where I mix every colour I use.

Above is the preview, or mock-up, of the first cover. Each issue concentrates on a different stage of  the journey. This one is diagnosis.

This was my second attempt at the cover when the colour scheme was different. I was using pencil crayons at the time also. I wasn't there yet. I stopped using the crayons after this piece.

Cover for issue 2. Again, similar colour palette to issue one, a stark, limited range of colours. This issue is about Treatment.

Issue 3. I introduced more colour for this cover. I added the headscarf in digitally on this cover. It was needed to depict this stage of the journey correctly, Remission. The unedited painting is below.

I like this piece. But the headscarf was needed for this point of the journey through the stages of cancer. 
Relapse. This was the most difficult cover to visualise and went through many different ideas at the sketch stage. A return to the limited palette for this cover after the more upbeat and colourful remission cover. 

This was an earlier idea for the cover that didn't quite come off!

Survivorship. A pretty much full colour piece (yet it still has an undertone of the original green that I used on the first cover). I wanted this to look like an illustration from a classic kids story book, Famous Five, something along those lines, depicting a sense of adventure and a summer day.

So, that's the series of covers I painted in watercolour that kicked off my current interest in the medium. 

1 comment:

  1. As you know I spent 12 years in hospital work. These are powerful and brought a lump to my throat as I remembered my kids, some who made it to Remission/Survivor and others who did not. You capture so much in these images