Okay so, there’s this little ‘zine that I’m following on tumblr, right?
It’s called “Nightlight Magazine” and it updates more or less quarterly, and its whole thing is just that it’s full of stories about and by neurodivergent individuals. I found out about it when Issue 2 was open for submissions, and I was honestly just absolutely taken with the idea of this little ‘zine, but I got there so close to the end of the submission period that I just… there wasn’t any time to put anything good together, you know?
And then Issue 3 opened up for submissions. It was on a topic (Faith as a tool for coping and/or healing) which is… not really something that I identify very strongly with, although I definitely understand and respect that sort of interaction with faith/belief systems/religion.
I couldn’t come up with anything, story-wise, that I thought would be worthwhile, but I did come up with some imagery that I thought would be meaningful.
I doodled something up in my sketchbook almost immediately. I had this vision in my head of reaching. The title of the issue is Halo and something about the idea of reaching for that- reaching for holiness- as a sort of metaphor for recovery sort of really spoke to me.
I sent a message to the editor to see if they still needed a cover image for the issue- they did, and a few weeks later I put together this tonal draft on my phone using Medibang Paint.
Once it was approved, I sort of sat on it for another little while. I really, really wanted to do it in watercolor- I felt like it would need the texture to really feel human, and I had some additional little things in mind that I wanted to try and hadn’t ever really had the opportunity to attempt in-depth before:
Masking Fluid and Mixing My Own Black!
I ended up only taking two WIP pictures of this-one just after the first pass of the black, while the paint was still wet, and then the next day after I had removed the masking.
I did mess up a couple things- notably, I hadn’t got as good a coverage of the halo as I had thought,
After I sat on it a little bit, I decided that the unintentional dark patches probably helped the symbolism. Faith isn’t a cure-all and it has its faults, but that doesn’t really change the effect it can have on you. I thought it fit, so I didn’t try to fix it.
Once the paint had dried and the masking was off, I let it sit for, gosh, I think maybe a week or so? I feel like it was A While.
I looked up some instructions on how to mix a black- I didn’t do a very good job on that front, but I do like the way the colors turned out, anyway!
The brownish tone that it ended up being is pretty nice, and honestly I’m pretty fond of the sort of vaguely shaped clay-person that the figure ended up being. I really wanted the figure to be sort of faceless, so that the viewer could project themselves onto it, and i think the earthtones (versus the grayscale that I had wanted to do originally) sort of help to draw the figure out of the dark- like this is a person. They’re in darkness but they aren’t the same entity as it.
It took a really long time and a lot of layers to get the shading on the person right. Doing gradients in watercolor is hard! I even went to far as to borrow the hairdryer from Mom- just so I could move the whole process along a little bit faster.
Once everything was all done and dry, and I was fairly happy with it, I went in with undiluted black and a paintbrush and really made sure that it popped. I wanted the black to be as powerful and uniform as I could make it, not to mention the fact that I needed to clean up the edges of the halo and the figure a little bit.
I think it lost a little something when I scanned it but, honestly, that’s true of most things, and I’m still pretty proud of it, overall.
If you’re interested in submitting a story or poem for Issue 4 of Nightlight Magazine, you can click here! This issue’s theme is “Monster” and they’re accepting submissions until September 15, 2016.