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3.1 Concept Development for Surreal Art

What is surrealism? In this lesson, we'll not only answer this question but also dive right into the concept behind this meaningful surrealistic painting. Learn why it's important to create art that reflects your opinions and how you feel about the world.

3.1 Concept Development for Surreal Art

Hello, and welcome back to Surreal Digital Paintings. My name is Melody Nieves, and this is the first lesson of Chapter Three. If you've never created surrealistic art before, you may have a few questions. In this lesson, we'll tackle those questions head-on. While developing a strong concept idea for our digital painting. So, what is surrealism? The official definition describes it as "A 20th-century avant-garde movement in art and literature that sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind, for example, by the irrational juxtaposition of images.". Now what could this possibly mean? As someone who not only loves the realistic art, but has been creating it for many years. I see it as creating a reality that can only exist in art. Painting from life can only achieve so much. We have this tendency to always want to make things seem realistic in nature. But surrealism allows you the freedom of being a little irrational or a little unrealistic. And by having this freedom, we can reinforce our opinions on the world around us. Or how we're feeling at that particular time in our lives. Even the simplest paintings have the power to evoke emotion. And I believe that some of the best work you can create is the type of work that is incredibly personal. As I previously mentioned, Frida Kahlo is my favorite artist. Who is mostly known for creating surrealistic self-portraits. Her work is intense and full a lot of personal pain. And her art lives on today, simply because pain will always be relatable. Now, for this painting, I also want to create something with a powerful message. Coming up with the right idea can sometimes be very tricky. But there are several different ways you can go about it. The first way you strike gold is with a random a-ha moment. Either the painting idea itself or the visuals come to you randomly. But if you're having trouble developing an idea. You can always create a web diagram to draw one out. You might have seen me previously do this in my last course, Fantasy Digital Portraits. The last way to develop a concept is to simply be given a simple idea by someone else. Like for work or a commission. Well luckily for me, I had a random aha moment. While casually surfing online, I came across this story about street vendors in China. Who were selling real life animals as keychains. The animals are submerged in a liquid that helps sustain them nutritionally. But it only keeps them alive for so long. I wouldn’t exactly call myself an activist, but I found this story very shocking. And the shocking part to me, was that because people were actually buying the keychains. They were inherently creating this market, where live animals could be sold as accessories. Now, it didn't take me long to realize that I wanted to turn this idea into a painting. And while searching for references, I stumbled across this great free photo from Pixabay. Immediately, I visualized her large pearl necklace as small fish bowls with trapped fish inside. And maybe, if I was able to break one, the fish could get out and be free. In that moment, I knew I had my idea. Now, this photo contains almost all the elements I would need for my painting. However, I do have a couple of details missing that would help reinforce this idea. Let's go over some references I found, that could add even more to the painting. First, I definitely wanted the subject to wear a blindfold. By wearing a blindfold, I wanted the subject to appear blind or ignorant to what she was doing. By wearing this live animal necklace. Hiding her face but making her still very beautiful, can help illustrate superficiality. And this reference works perfectly, because both subjects are in similar head positions. And I love the way the blindfold falls all across her face. The next references I chose were the goldfish. I collected a couple of different beautiful shots that would help me understand their movement and color. Sometimes looking for free photos means that you'll have a hard time finding anything you like. Since I wasn't able to find good photos of fish bowls. I decided to reference pictures of wine and alcohol instead. Always be resourceful when looking for references. These shots provide me with enough information about liquids. That I could definitely use for this painting. Last but not least, you'll notice in the final piece, that I included a Lotus flower. Lotus flowers are hugely symbolic. They're often seen as a symbol of rebirth. Which I thought would be an interesting perspective for this painting. You can think of this sense of rebirth in two ways. The fish escaping from the necklace can be seen as getting a second chance. But I also thought that this could have an even deeper meaning. We make plenty of mistakes as humans. Even doing things that disrupt other species on this planet for our own personal gain. Which is often sometimes, for purely superficial reasons. Not to get too preachy, but perhaps this lotus can symbolize our own rebirth by changing how we think. After all, there wouldn't be a market for purchasing live animals as key chains. If people didn't actually buy them. Just that easy things get really,really deep, but that's the magical part of creating surrealistic art. Let's take a quick look at how this concept was applied to the final sketch. You can force the eyes of your audience to follow a particular path. By creating very fluid and directional movements. Like in this instance, with the water and by playing with depth of field. The most important and symbolic aspects of this painting are in the foreground. As the composition moves further back into space. There is never just one way to tackle a painting. Some days you'll be lucky. While other days you really have to work hard to retrieve a solid concept from your mind. Now that our concept is in place, let's see how we created the line art for this sketch. So join me in lesson three point two, to see how it's done.

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