“For this Art Dare, I wanted to focus on the process, that is, doing thumbnails and making a finished image. I picked a medium/technique I’m already familiar with so I have fewer decisions to make as I thought about what to do with the background. The thumbnails were definitely important – sometimes the obvious choice worked but sometimes there were better options to convey the intent of the idiom at a single glance.
Additionally, intending to bring these drawings to a point of finish meant I had to be slightly more deliberate with composition at the beginning so I didn’t end up at the end with a ‘shoot, now what do I do?’ moment looking at a blank background. Like Art Prof says (repeatedly), the background is an element to be considered as well.:
Marijke De Belder
coloured pencil & ink on paper, digital
“The idiom ‘a cat in a bag’ goes back to the practice of deceivingly selling a dead cat instead of a much better tasting and more expensive rabbit/hare. I played with the idea that it is unclear what is being sold here: an animal, a drawing, a mysterious product called ‘maxi cat’, …
In my opinion, the real cat in a bag here is the company Amazon, which is a problematic company for various reasons. Amazon peaked in 2020 and I was able to smuggle in the date (‘reduced in Germany till 31/12/2020’). That text is real, as well as the price for the book ‘Peter Rabbit.’
The other options include rabbits of great quality and a dead sparrow, which goes back to the Dutch idiom ‘to be happy with a dead sparrow’ (to be happy with nothing special). The naive drawing shows that indeed, it’s nothing special.”
“I loved the idea of illustrating idioms and Afrikaans (one of the 11 languages in South Africa) is very descriptive so was a perfect match! I started with about 5 idioms that I liked and then narrowed it down to 3 (loosely based on subject matter at this point). I did thumbnails of all 3, from those chose the one I wanted to do more than the other. I really can identify with the Idiom I chose as I do it all the time!
I did a rough pencil sketch, then developed my lines, completed lines in Fineliner, and finished with some beautiful watercolour. Original Afrikaans Idiom: ‘Die bobbejaan agter die bult te gaan haal.’ Rough translation: ‘Fetch the baboon from behind the hill.’ Meaning: To think or talk about things that haven’t happened yet, and make them happen.”
“This image was inspired by the German idiom ‘Tote Hose,’ which means ‘dead pants’ in English. It is used to describe any place or situation where nothing is going on! Boring, lifeless etc. I decided to do a literal depiction of ragged pants in a ‘lifeless’ place, and deliberately chose dull colors and a complete lack of bright light, flowers or birds, in order to portray the meaning of the idiom.
However, all these choices risk the artwork itself becoming ‘boring’ and ‘lifeless,’ unless it’s put into context with the idiom.”
Veronica La Padula
ballpoint pen, colored pencils, black fine liner, watercolor
“I am passionate by languages since my younger age; for this reason, I followed a litterature-oriented high school where I learned Latin and Old Greek. At school, I learned French and English and, during my stay in Germany, some German too.
Linguistic expressions tell a lot about the ‘philosophy’ of the population speaking a language, enriching and adding colour to the communication. Some expressions are so visually engaging that I decided to put them on paper; I have a list of more than 100!”
“I had so much fun with this! I wanted to use a phrase I hear all the time, that feels very contemporary, but take it completely out of context. The ‘video conference’ gave me a perfect opportunity to shift eras back to the 1980s, when a ‘video’ was a solid entity that you recorded TV shows on then scribbled on with a Sharpie so you knew what show was on it.
‘So much physicality! Then the idea to have my videos attending a conference followed naturally. But it had to be an 80s conference, so they’d have an overhead projector instead of a PowerPoint. And what would 80s videos talk about?
Thinking about the difference between then and now brought the video store chain Blockbuster to mind as the obvious choice, but I didn’t want to be *too* obvious about it so I used my impression of the Blockbuster logo (which you know if you know, but otherwise it’s just a movie ticket stub) and I coloured the whole scene in the Blockbuster brand colours (blue and yellow) to evoke that context.”
Laura Suyapa Ramos
“On the same page– The idiom ” on the same page” is about people sharing ideas, that can be done through a book, a but is also an interchange, a play of ideas, thus we have two children playing ball, that is also a lightbulb, the idea. I came up with the concept and tried several thumbnails for composition and color schemes.
I wanted a limited palette. In the end I decided on yellow and gray because it gave the best contrast of thoughts in the written word in gray and a bright luminous idea in yellow. Under a good shade—This idiom is a Spanish one: ‘al que buen árbol se arrima buena sombra lo cobija,’ the literal translation means if you go under a good tree you will have a good shade. The traditional meaning for this is the advantages of having a good relationship with people or entities in power.
However I live in a tropical country, very hot, and every time we would go to the beach or a picnic there would be hammocks under the big trees and someone would say this phrase. So to me that is what it really means, on a hot sunny day, a cool shade under a tree to enjoy a good nap or a great book. The painting is from a reference picture and I wanted the color palette to be dreamlike, cool and restful to evoke a sense of peace and happiness.”
“For this particular piece I was originally was going to do ‘devil’s advocate.’ However, after going through and thumb nailing, I found I had a much stronger narrative and composition with ‘a deal with the devil.’ The scene I had in mind was when the gentleman had signed the contract perhaps he was tricked and now has to pay dearly, which in this case may be with his life.
I used a palette that focused on the compliments of red and green, red being a color typically associated with the devil and green to provide contrast. You could also say the devil’s client got himself into a hairy situation.”
pen & ink, gouache, digital
“The Icelandic Idiom ‘To Lay Your Head In Water’ means to think deeply on a situation or decision. I wanted to depict this idiom in a way that showed water having it’s own agency and actively calming the person by having them flow into the literal body of water.
I sought to make the background more subdued and not too overwhelming, and have this feeling of dripping down, almost matching the slowness of this interaction. I chose to use gouache because it would be easier for me to build up the values, and I used pen and ink to help create some spatial difference from the figures and the background.”
watercolor, markers, graphite
“I thought this would fun to do because there are so many idioms to pick from and you can represent them in any type of way. I looked up different idioms and whatever I instantly thought, I immediately did thumbnails. Whichever idea I liked the best, I did.”
We award prizes and honorable mentions.
To be eligible for a prize, your artwork must be an original artwork created specifically for this Art Dare, and follow all guidelines.
Artists in the US can choose either Prof Lieu’s book, or Cat Huang’s middle school comic, “The Comic Journal of Cathy Rox.” International artists will receive 3 months free in our Discord Voice channel.