Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Behind the scenes: Ubume

see, she's totally creepier in b & w

So,  I was checking some comments on dA on japanese folklore on the Ubume thread, and thought it would be a good opportunity to explain the process behind my work.

Yes, this will be almost technical, if my way of working were technical at all :P

 I am not an expert on Japanese folklore, nor pretend to be one. Ubume is an adaptation, and breaks many of the "classical" aspects of her. 
I mean, I do pride myself on mah knowledge of ritualism and Greek mythology. Pretty confident on many more. Feel my rawrness at mah myths-mad-skillz and my forever love and respect due to them being an endless fountain of inspiration. 

But when it comes to India, Japan, Pre-Columbian civilizations -yeah, shame on me-, and the Arab world, my knowledge is kind of lacking despite my true love towards all things religious and mystical  :/

So how do we get to Ubume, you might ask? We get there through the most direct and dramatic way! A hunch! Yes! FEEL THE KOSUMO

(also, my love for myths, legends and ancient religions is indiscriminate. Polyamorous lovelove, enhanced due to all cultures producing extremely aesthetic manifestations of their beliefs. Style everywhere, I tell you)

See, the topic was monsters. And of course I didn't want to draw any of the traditional monsters, because I like the roads not taken and all, so vampires and Frankenstein and werewolves were out of the picture. All the creatures that are considered monsters just because they look different from the norm were also out of my list. Adieu, adieu, heraldry *waves goodbye* .

Monsters, to me, are something that hurts, something that's been twisted or is immoral. In me-land, a true monster is a person who is totally capable of great damage to others, someone who places no value in human life at all. Like politicians and governments and most owners of pharmaceutical companies and people who use their skills to develop new illnesses and new weaponry :) That's the top of my "oh my fuck, a monster!" list. 
The real world, and society and mankind are full of bigger monsters than any creature collective imagination was able to conjure.

Unfortunately, for the mystically inclined me, that sort of monster is totally boring to draw. I mean, just turn on the tv. You can see them there. Or google them. Watch the newwws and vomit at the monstrous prevailing injustice!


As I was saying, first row of "monster definition in the land of self" was not for grabs. Sooooooo we end up in row two, looking for the twisted ones in mythology, which is always so nice and loving to my dearest self, because there we have the REGREETTTTSSSS and SORROWWWW and VENGEANCE  and STROOOONG EMOTIOOOONS *.* *thunders and lightnings* Monsters with a reason! RAWR!

(Here I also start to find the topic sexy o.o)

Greek and Norse were unconsciously out, because 1. I did Brauronian last year 2. I did the Mimir last year. Known playground.
I wanted Japanese monsters. The bakemono and yokai and the lingering spirits! There's quite a list of ghosts in Japanese folklore, looooots to play with <3

Even when I typed all those previous paragraphs, this process took seconds, and somehow I stubbornly knew that "monster will translate to someone from the monogatari scrolls, yahr! " 

So we (me) searched for Ubume, whose name called out to me, and used the magickal mystery tool called "google" to learn more about her

here is ubume, the classical way, yet always creepy.

Things we learnt: 
1. That Ubume is kind of a relative of La Llorona and that sort of myths. A spirit of sorrow, mostly, who turns vengeful -even when Miss Ubume in particular doesn't seem to be thaaaaat vengeful- after the loss of her children. (As a side note, it is very unsettling the amount of female spirits that have to do with child loss among the creatures in the monogatari scrolls, either because the children were stillborn, died from sickness, from hunger or due to the wars. Having such a big amount of spirits on that subject usually means that it was pretty normal for children to die that way. *That* disturbs me)

I also read a version in which thanks to the Ubume people find a crying baby inside the tomb of a dead lady o.o (but that version doesn't worrrrrk, nonono *shakes fingers*)

2. She appears like a crying/begging/whimpering female, wearing red from her waist down (I kneeew that would translate in red hips and legs, yes, yes, that would look nice and pretty and fuckety fucked)

3. She asks travellers to hold her crying baby, which starts to weight more and more till the traveller is forced to drop it/traveller drowns. Lo and behold, baby was a stone/bundle of leaves! 
(at this moment, I knew I was on the right track, because OH MY FUCK THIS HAPPENS IN SAINT SEIYA AND IF IT HAPPENS IN SAINT SEIYA THE MYSTICAL FORCES APPROVE *level up* )

But the stone wasn't creepy enough :(

4. It was a stone or it was Jizo! YAY! A bodhisattva statue! Now we are talking ;)

Jizo being cute, awww

Jizo army!

Creepy Jizo. We approve. We totally approve and whoever came with the climbing babies was brilliant. BRILLIANT *respects*

There ends the investigation part *detective derruka mode off* and starts the adapting. I wanted her to have the baby/Jizo inside because I find the organic side of the human body interesting, same with her open kimono/tunic/thingie, to add both a hint of vulnerability, taboo and sexuality. I also wanted to keep her face mask-like, so we went sort of Noh-like, with painted eyebrows and an exaggerated expression. In my personal interpretation, the despair in her face is more a luring device than a reality (but feel free to read in it whatever you please!)

 The colours are just the usual "trial and error, testing everything till satisfied". Getting Jizo not to get lost in them and remain somewhat of a focal point was pretty challenging, though. 

After that, it was done. Gosh, that was long o.o Hope you weren't bored to death!

Conclusion: follow your instincts, they will lead you the right way ^.^  (or at least will lead you somewhere XD )


Ningun Records said...

los verdaderos monstruos vienen en traje y corbata.

Irene Flores said...

Sabes, hace un rato, buscando lyrics de Suzanne Vega terminé en una página que incluía, además de las lyrics, comentarios de Suzanne V. sobre las lyrics en cuestión.

Había casi un comentario para cada canción. Me la pase un buen rato leyéndolos compulsivamente porque nunca había encontrado algo así.

Muchos autores o creadores escriben sobre el proceso creativo de una manera tan... no sé... prescriptiva. Tienen una idea muy clara de como se DEBE crear y no tienen miedo de informarle al mundo.

Pero esto... encontrar algo que te explique, no el cómo debe desarrollarse el proceso creativo, sino el como de hecho se desarrolla.

Siento que te quita mucho miedo. Demistifica. Puedes darte cuenta que la cabeza de todo el mundo es tan caótica como la tuya y que no por eso el resultado no será genial!