Style Reference and Research
Obviously my main inspiration for the project was Paula Rego's paintings, but since they are still images, I wanted to look at animation styles and techniques that would work well with it. The main climactic moment of the film (which I also spent the most time on) is the section where the human figure splits in half and releases all these shapes and colours. It was more busy and ambitious visually than anything I had done before, so I took my time to look at styles of animation which have the psychedelic, chaotic, overwhelming feel to them.
An animator I was recommended to look at was Jake Fried. It's a very different type of motion than what I am going for, it is more constructing and modifying an image rather than making characters and shapes move around, but it was really great to look into in terms of metamorphosis and how images relate to each other and can stem from each other. More than anything, his approach to layering images and how those layers interact with each other so precisely is incredible, and it is so magical to look at the way he makes images evolve over time. (gif: Headspace)
Bruce Bickford's line animations were fascinating to me in their fluidity and the way they morph, they seem to flow like a visual train of consciousness that you can't keep complete track of, but that makes the overall shape and morphing even more exciting and impactful; and it's very random and purposeful at the same time. I wanted to try to have a similar fluidity with my separate layers, and to have a lot of varying motions happening simultaneously and over each other, to create an overall overwhelming sense of motion and metamorphosis. I also feel like Paula Rego's expressionist paintings, even without moving, convey a similar feeling. (gif: Beatnik Poet)
My work is also influenced by surrealist art, and the psychedelic art movement originating in the 1960s. In my film I try to look at internal processes in the relationship between the artist and their subject, and I have a surrealist, introspective approach to that representation. The bright colours, focus on the face and eyes and the exploration of subjective realities interacting with each other is something with which I can relate to these art art movements which focus on consciousness and the subconscious, striving toward a new enlightened reality which represents the internal, spiritual, personal perception of the world. Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington (top) and psychedelic artists like David Barnes (mid. left), Isaac Abrams (mid. right) and Mati Klervein (bottom) were my main points of reference for use of colour, composition, and interaction between shapes and characters (images: left to right). Takashi Murikami (below) is another influence in the symmetrical, staged composition and the flat, more exaggerated cartoonish style which I also use for the design of the characters and shapes.
I also adopted some visual tropes from simple explainer animations which are usually educational and go with a voiceover, visually supporting a concept that is being discussed. It's not really an overt reference, mainly the way the camera moves as if it's on a large board and follows the action, as well as the way a part (like the eyes) stand in for a larger idea (a person, artist, creator, god). This is more obvious in the non-textured version, but I suppose to me it is a little funny and ironic to adopt that more commercial, hand-holding approach usually used to accompany solid facts, science, technology, stories, to visually interpret Paula Rego's words which are so abstract and odd. I feel my visualisation is also quite strange and I think in a way I think this approach presents it as if it's so easy to follow and understand, like it's so normal and natural. And I see that in the way she talks so casually about a really abstract concept, so it's more the tone than anything else that I identify with the explainer animation style. As I said before, it is not as obvious with all the added textures, but I think it still carries that tone to some extent through the way the camera moves.