Monday, June 11, 2012

Thesis, pt.I - Phoenix

For my final year at Ringling College, I had to put together and produce a themed senior project during the last semester. It was a completely free choice sort of project, the pieces just all had to relate to the central theme and look cohesive as a whole.

My theme of choice was illustrative costume design, based on creatures from myth and folklore. The general idea was choose a number of creatures from cultural myths, such as the Egyptian Phoenix(Shown below), the Norse Kraken, etc. I researched each culture and creature, finding symbols, clothing styles, and meanings behind each thing in the culture to put some significance into the designed outfit.

In addition to the final painted design, I filled several pages in a large sketch book for all the concepts and ideation behind each costume, and I'll be posting some of those concept pages with their respective painting as well.

And now, moving on to the Egyptian Phoenix, aka the Egyptian Bennu.

When I initially picked the Phoenix as my first piece, I had a couple more choices for it then I did for the other costumes. Countless cultures have some sort of phoenix/firebird myth. Egypt, Russia, Persia, Greece, Rome, and several others. I'm more familiar with the Russian version, the Firebird which is like a big fancy flaming peacock, but because I'm well versed in the fairytales for it already, and have made paintings of it before, I decided to go with a different culture's version, one whose appearance was vastly different from the Russian peacock. The Egyptian Bennu Bird is a type of stork, and the Phoenix is always depicted with a two feathered crest on it's head.

I think in terms of all the pieces for my thesis, this is the one I like the most. The amount of colors I put in, the values, the composition, it's definitely the one I'm happiest with. One of the things I tried to do with it was have the figure look more androgynous, as opposed to being overly masculine or feminine. The Phoenix is particularly known for engulfing itself in flames every thousand years, and then being reborn from the ashes. No mom, no dad, just bringing itself back, so I thought to show it as being neither male or female, just there. Existing, but not needing another person. 

I also super want the tights. I wanted to bring the flames into the outfit specifically on the leggings/bodysuit, having them come up from the feet and starting out white hot, and then cooling down and turning to the color of smoke halfway up. It may also be hard to tell, but the shall they're wearing has a texture of horizontal feathers all along it, to hint at the bird's wings.

The concept pages all start off with some sketches and reproductions of artwork I found depicting the creatures. I tried pulling in things from the original culture's art to put into the costumes, to make sure they would both tie together in a more recognizable manner. The sketches are all to play with different mixes and matches, to see what outfits might look the best, switching shoes, switching shirts, etc.

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