I had a childhood nickname of “Puss in Boots” so this seemed an obvious choice of fairy story to illustrate. I have always seen Puss in Boots as as a strong, resourceful character but also rather enigmatic. Puss in Boots is portrayed in Shrek as a rather Errol Flynn type character and I liked that portrayal too, so took elements of that image.
The essential ingredients of the story are as follows:
An impoverished son is left only a cat.
The cat tells him not to despair, just get him a pair of boots and a sack and all will be well.
He then uses the sack to capture a rabbit, some grain and other things which he takes to the King as a gift from his master the “Marquis of Carabas”.
Next he tells the son to go swimming in a lake, hides his clothes, then calls for help as the King and Princess are passing. He tells the King that his master has had his clothes stolen. The son is given clothes and they continue in the coach.
There is quite bit more deception and finally the cat tricks an ogre into turning into a mouse, which he then eats. He claims the ogre’s castle for his master who finally marries the Princess and all live happily ever after.
In the story, the only one with any sense seems to be the cat. The cat runs rings around all the characters in the story. I was thinking about the way the image could illustrate a scene from the story or it could show something in addition that isn’t present in the text. In this story there is very little about the actual cat’s character so I decided to focus almost entirely on the cat. I didn’t want to show a full scene, instead to have little bits and pieces that could decorate the text.
I thought I would do some action images with the cat climbing stairs, swinging from a rope like an Errol Flynn type character, hiding behind the bushes when he steals the clothes and finally confronting the ogre.
My starting point was thinking of collaging together the cat. I had used this technique before in creating a dog character .I made some initial sketches on some scrap paper and tried to build up a collaged image from them. I couldn’t get the pieces to work as a whole even though I liked the sketches, so I then tried to refine them.
I made the refined sketches and thought that I would put the figure together on the computer. When I had done this and scanned them in I tried to put them with some text. I felt very dissatisfied with the results. One of the problems I felt was that I had tightened up the drawing too much, and the whole thing felt too completed whereas I wanted a much more impressionistic effect.
I experimented with rubbings, again trying to build up a figure from all the composite parts.. Although I really liked the visual effect of the rubbings I still wasn’t getting it to work.