When I was in high school I made a lot of drawings of figures floating in space. So much so that someone mentioned I should go into fashion design. I don’t particularly want to design clothing. I just found it easier to draw a figure without worrying about pesky little things like perspective. But AP Studio Art made me realize that figures need to be in an environment. (I got a 3/5 on that AP exam btw.)
Above: Examples of high school work in (roughly) chronological order 2001-2005.
The idea was further impressed upon me in my illustration classes at SCAD. I learned that putting a figure within an environment helps to further the narrative. It helps tell the story.
Left: In this illustration of The Princess and the Pea you have the prince in the foreground holding the pea, the princess atop a pile of mattresses (ruffled and disgruntled), while the chandelier and window denote an indoor setting.
You understand immediately what this painting is illustrating because of these elements (hopefully, I mean, I got a good grade on it and everything).
This is still something I have to remember to do though. Recently, in my Little Red illustration I put the character in front of a simple, graphic background. Hopefully that conveys the eerie woods she walks through to get to Grandma’s house.
Buy a print of Little Red in my shop.