Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Moon Caterpillar

Last week I finally finished a print I've been working on for ages. I wanted to do an illustration that told the story of the Butterscotch & Beesting Moon. She's very important to the circus, as it's the moon who announces its arrival to a town.

She's already appeared as a necklace in her caterpillar form, on pocket mirrors peeking out from paper clouds pockets, and on hand-painted clay brooches

To work alongside these, I wanted to make a print that told her story. Here is her tale: When the Butterscotch & Beesting trains pull into the station and the distinctive diamonds, triangle and stripes of its flags are raised, the moon celebrates by painting her face like a clown, letting the whole world know that the circus is in town. In the morning, when she is no longer needed in the night sky, the Moon transforms herself into a caterpillar and crawls under the Big Top canvas to watch the wonders of the Butterscotch & Beesting show.   

So I started by imagining her as a caterpillar, watching the acrobats, clowns and animals performing under the big top. I imagined her being so consumed by its wonders that she became the circus, with tiny zebra feet and the flags of the circus tents as spikes on her back. This is the original drawing I made using ink on paper...

After messing about with some different colouring options, I decided to colour her digitally to get a flat offset effect, which you can see here...

I also added blocks of colour for her legs, which I felt gave her a bit more motion, as if she was crawling over to the circus. 

I wanted to compose the print so she you would see her first high up in the sky as the moon, and then follow her down to the ground. So I added strobes of light and triangles pointing downwards to lead your eye down. 

I filled the sky with roughly drawn circles that also formed eyes and drew a bird on a trapeze, as a reference to her watching the aerialists in the tents. 

The part I struggled with most was how to add the story, and actually whether to include it at all or leave it as an illustration. I tried a few alternative fonts, but felt that using that kind of text made the whole print into more of a book cover or a poster, which would be great but wasn't what I wanted here. So instead I drew my own writing. That bit was lots of fun. 

I kept going backwards and forwards on colours too, so in the end I made two versions with different colourways. Indecision = solved. I'm not sure the colours look exactly the same as the prints in these photos. On the actual print, the pale blue is much more of a turquoise/jade (more like the large image below I think).

So here are the two versions of the final print.

Details from the print

You can buy both version from my Etsy Shop

And look out for a four-colour screenprint of the Moon shining over the Butterscotch & Beesting Circus, which will be coming very soon too.