Sci-fi with feeling
Using emotion and perspective.
Being both an avid science fiction fan and a devotee of the Brandywine School of illustration, I welcome any chance to make the two collide. In this painting, Spacelift, I want to explore the sci-fi conceit of Palaeolithic man in contact with alien starfarers. Our would-be ancestors are departing Earth, unsure whether they will ever return, experiencing a mix of ambivalence, anxiety and pangs for the old country.
To do this, I need to get close enough to my human subjects to convey emotion, yet also display the alien presence somehow. It must also be clear that my humans are embarking.
Assigning myself this subject matter has put some of my favourite things in my path: space aliens. However, I’m unsure of their anatomy or whether I will even show them, although I’ll need to design elements of their technology. I’ll also have to imagine prehistoric man, their clime, race and culture. And there’ll be a culture clash – one of my favourite topics, rife with possibilities. And there’s the era itself, either in landscape, biota (such as sabre-tooth tigers) or both.
I’m a realist painter, so I need to do some study on all these elements to put across a scene that’s superficially plausible, but also has an undergirding of truth that convinces the subconscious.
To get myself rolling I bracket my possibilities: the time is 100,000 years ago and the place is Africa. I soon discover there were no sabre-tooth cats in Africa at this time. Furthermore, the people there didn’t resemble Neanderthals, but probably native Africans of today, dressed for a colder climate. The discipline of realism demands making treasure out of unexpected knowledge.
WIPS • final image