I did three of these in the past two days, and I'm really liking the way they're turning out. I think the first one is my favorite. There's something how the leaves and words play with the negative space. I'm certain it has to do with the fact that I had the words follow mathematical arcs. There is a lot of rhythm going on in each. The writing in the older man, "People make things ugly, not things" looks almost flacid. I treated the words like I did the content. In "Everyone is beautiful to someone" the words, "I'm right here" appear on the hands. In the first "Visions are seldom all they seem" the words spin out in concentric circles from the main figure like thoughts. The writing itself becomes part of a comic treated kind of thought bubble.
I'm really happy with the way these turned out. They're not overly beautiful, or overly ugly. Each painting has its own key. I think the figures are sharp without being over-produced. I enjoyed working with just a fine-tipped pen, pencil, and gouache.
I used the 5" x 5" format I print and hand my tree quotations on. I use that size because a human palm seems to be around that size, so when someone goes to handle it the work fits right in their hand. The familiarity of the size in relation to my hand and the viewer I find comforting, human, and warm. I like working with the gouache because I can go in and add layers over the ink lines, and gouache itself. It is more difficult to achieve casts of color and layering with straight watercolor. Gouache contains ash, and that ash acts as an opacifier to the pigment, allowing layers to go down.
The Icelanders have a saying, it goes like this,
"Beneath all old sayings lies the truth."
Try using old words, universal sayings connected and simple. Rearrange where they occur in the saying, substitute another word with a synonym. I find these combinations utterly powerful. All great and simple songs use them, all great and simple poems use them. The vocabulary we actually listen to, speak, and hear on a daily basis in reality is very limited. Try translating phrases from another language and see the new combinations that make sense. Example: "How are you having it?" The Icelandic literal translation of English, "How are you doing?" Literal translations give insight into word mechanics. I play with them in my art. A lot of the time I just put down what is freely spinning in my head.
People are possessed by the words they use and hear, meaning is entirely dependent on the listener. This includes the way in which words are pronounced and accentuated. Intonations are also perceived differently by every listener. I guess that is why words are so fascinating, it seems their meaning is always in a flux depending on the exact place and time they are heard.