Keeping it unreal

When I started out with my Essex Crystal Project, a few people, whose opinion I really value, said that I should concentrate on making the figures more convincingly naive.

Essex Crystal of girl and goldfinch in tree

Even though I value what these people think, I found myself absolutely not wanting to make my figures more naive, and it’s taken me a while to work out why not and to be good enough at the technique to be able to actually create a more refined, more real figure and see that it does do what I want it to.

Picture of woman in a cat mask and a ginger cat

I felt from the start that these tiny crystal worlds and the people in them should be really taking themselves seriously. If you see an illustration, say in a children’s book, of a big budgie next to a small child, you just think: OK, that’s a big budgie next to a small child, the magic of the illustrators pen allows it to happen. But you know it’s not real; it’s a work of imagination.

picture of glass crystal with a boy in a tiger onsie and a kitten

I am trying to slip more realness into my cystal worlds in order that their unrealness might give the viewer a little bit of a jolt – that feeling of not being quite sure if it’s real or not real. I want the characters to be taking themselves in their little glass stories, really seriously.

picture of a glass crystal with two cats on a carpet - one ginger, one black, holding a sprig of catmint

That’s all well and good but at that point I wasn’t really good enough at the painting to try out my theory. I feel that after 6 months of intensive practice I am getting better and I am really pleased that these characters do, I think, do something of what I wanted them to do.

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