Making impressions


21/11/08

Spirits in summer - designs on demand

Filed under: Ghostly Inspiration — loretta @ 06:38:31 pm

The bright sunny days (mostly) of an English summer are definitely not the best time to be thinking about ghosts and the supernatural. I am looking for inspiration for my new Christmas card designs for 2008 as the green Hereford country side rolls by my train. With summer in full swing it is not easy to get yourself in the spooky mood and certainly not a Christmas one.

From my carriage window, the low saddle shape of British Camp stands out on the horizon, a reminder of antiquity and antiquarians. I would dearly love to create Christmas designs based on the stories of the antiquarian academic and writer of ghost stories, M.R. James.

This would be no simple task however. His words have brought terror to millions with subtle turns of phrase that make hair stand on end. Although many images came into my mind when I read his stories, I am not sure they would readily lend themselves to a picture in the real word. With these stories I would want to capture some of the sinister sensibility they give - no easy task.

M.R. James’s stories are popular because they are very good at conveying horror and transfering fear from the page into the mind of the reader. But his ghouls are rarely seen directly or in their entirety, rather their unspeakable nature is hinted at. They are normally half seen, at a distance or hidden and by the end of the tale they may be only half understood. It is this mysterious quality which makes them more terrifying and it is this that makes the designs much harder.

How would you approach creating a design for something like ‘Casting the Runes’? There is not much seen of the actual entity and you might be tempted to just draw the demon. If you have ever watched the film adaptation ‘Night of the Demon’ (or Curse of the Demon) you will know that openly displaying the source of the fear can remove all sense of scary from a viewer.

I think the demon shown in the film (see below) was kind of cute:
Rather sweet monster in Night of the Demon

Still, I intend to create a set of four images based on some of my favourite stories. I have sketched a few design ideas based on events in the following which I hope will be suitable: ‘The Rat’s’ and ‘A Warning to the Curious’ will provide two designs. ‘O’ Whistle and I’ll come to you my lad’ is probably my favourite and I hope to extract two designs from the story.

If the designs look like they are possible and I manage to create something worthwhile then I will post the results within this blog. I rather suspect many will end up being scrapped and I will be casting around for more tales to draw from.
James - The cause of all my troubles
James - The cause of all my troubles

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