Ajax in Iraq: a large idea on a small scale.

I've begun work on the second image for Flux Theatre Ensemble's fifth season of spinning tales about realistic characters in magically dusted situations. As you can imagine, it is easy to over-think a grand concept in your sketch pad and on your screen while forgetting that all the audience of your final result may know is the 6" x4" version. And this image is especially laden with potential pitfalls because Flux's second play of the season, written by the venerable Ellen McLaughlin, involves a mash-up of these two things: Sophocles and the Iraq war.

A challenge, for sure. Two meetings later and hours spent combing through images from books, The New York Times (before the new subscription rates kicked in) and then double-checking those against image searches of what soldiers are actually carrying on their bodies at any given moment, I am knee-deep in the final composition. My primary concern is that the emotional upset be front and center. However the details may change, this won't. I plan to build the image around the expression of the main character, and I plan to fix that overly fat finger on her right hand. Etc.

Get your tickets for Ajax in Iraq here.

Below is the sketch approved by theatre ensemble. Secret but important changes will be revealed in the resolved drawing. It's time to push forward.

As Flux describes the play, it "follows the parallel narratives of the ancient Greek military hero Ajax and a female American soldier, both undone by the betrayal of a commanding officer. Originally developed over sixteen months in 2009 with the graduate acting students at A.R.T. and inspired by material collected from interviews with Iraq war veterans, Ajax in Iraq explores the timeless ways soldiers struggle to make sense of war."

After reading the play and perusing this blurb I'm excited to explore how the two characters act as a mirror for each other's internal conflicts even as the physical environments in which their feet are planted begin to unravel in similar ways.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic! I'm constantly awed by the expressiveness that a single line can have when drawn by a talented illustrator. This is something I've tried to learn myself, but I've always failed. Human faces, in particular, are sensitive to variations in line. The difference of a millimeter can change a face from innocence to menace. I'm pleased that you share your work process here ("Two meetings later and hours spent combing through images from books, The New York Times") I'm always interested in how artists work.

--- lawrence