This is all about vulnerability.
When depicting the female form, most of the time there is an automatic sexual component to the symbolism.
What I'm trying to do with this piece is lead the viewer on a ride that looks like we're headed towards that end, but as the composition is dissected, the intended meaning is exposed.
When I happened upon Nathalie Mark's photograph (the reference for this illustration), I saw just that. And, it was very powerful to me.
In my view, one cannot stage the purity and honesty of an unguarded moment, no matter how hard one tries. One can come close, but there is a last bit of integrity that comes through in such true moments.
With foot rested on the window sill, her relaxed, yet partially deflated posture says she is not trying to be anything to anyone. Furthermore, she is staring back at you -- expressionless and non-judgemental -- daring you to draw your own conclusions, invoke your own expressions, and make your own judgements, while forcing you to see her as a person rather than an object.
My challenge was in capturing this dichotomy and making it all about vulnerability, rather than sexuality.
The emotion that I'm banking belied the taking of the photograph, channeled into me as I rendered the illustration with some of the most unguarded strokes I have ever used in an illustration.
I believe that sort of raw emotion seeps in, through the human mark left on the paper -- another bit of the power of illustration.
There is just the slightest distortion in the form to add an undefinable touch of awkwardness to the scene. My color choice further attempts to shift the mood my direction. And, the text brings communication -- the power of words -- into the equation.
What are you saying...what is she thinking? What was said to inflict the hurt and make her remove all guard?
Allan Burch is an award-winning illustrator and portrait artist, providing solutions for editorial, book, advertising, and institutional projects.
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