Monday, October 17, 2011

Les Berceaux - Illustration in pastels

This is an illustration I did at the weekend inspired by the lyrics to the Faure song "Les berceaux" (right click on the link and open in a new window to hear the song). I've been playing the piano accompaniment to this hauntingly beautiful French song for a singer friend. The lyrics are all about the sailors going off to sea, but being held back by the rocking of the cradles of their children back at shore. The music conveys not only the rocking of both the cradles and the boats on the waves but also the sadness of the reality that the sailors may not return home. So I've tried to capture this in the illustration. 

I started off with a pencil drawing of the composition I had in mind. Although the song refers to cradles, I interpreted this as being cradled in a mother's arms, as I thought this worked better visually. I wanted all the components to blend in to each other, so the tears reflect the waves, the waves mirror the locks of hair and the skirt becomes the landscape. Once I was happy with the composition, I tested out a few of the pastels on a separate page to get the a colour combination I was happy with, then coloured in the pencil-drawn picture. 

This was the first time I have used pastels since school but they were surprisingly quick to work with and I love the way they blend so easily and provide a really soft feel to an image, although your hands do end up pretty filthy! The sharper details I did in coloured pencil.

These are the lyrics, including an English translation:

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