The Other Mother

As you can see from my portfolio, I am a big fan of Neil Gaiman's book Coraline. I'm in love with the visuals and the way it is written. 

I wanted to do a spot illustration of the other mother when she is first introduced to the reader.

It sounded like her mother. Coraline went into the kitchen, where the voice had come from. A woman stood in the kitchen with her back to Coraline. She looked a little like Coraline's mother. Only...
Only her skin was white as paper.
Only she was taller and thinner.
Only her fingers were too long, and they never stopped moving, and her dark-red fingernails were curved and sharp.

'Coraline?' the woman said. 'Is that you?'
And then she turned around. Her eyes were big black buttons.
'Lunchtime, Coraline,' said the woman
'Who are you?' asked Coraline.
'I'm your other mother," said the woman. 'Go and tell your other father that lunch is ready.' She opened the door of the oven.

I've gathered a lot of inspiration from Dita Von Teese

I've gathered a lot of inspiration from Dita Von Teese

Brain storming sketch.

Brain storming sketch.

             One of many 1950s references for "the perfect mother, wife, and home." Yick.

             One of many 1950s references for "the perfect mother, wife, and home." Yick.

Coraline Spot

"Coraline wondered if the other mother wasn't interested in trees, or if she just hadn't
bothered with this bit properly because nobody was expected to come out this far.
  
  She kept walking.
  
  And then the mist began.
  
   It was not damp, like a normal fog or mist. It was not cold and it was not warm. It felt to Coraline like she was walking into nothing. "
                        - from Coraline, by Neil Gaiman

This particular spot is when Coraline is walking through the woods in the other mother's created world. I always loved the imagery of this passage and was inspired to do my own spot illustration for it. Below are close-up and further down is some of process my work.

 

I knew I wanted an illustration of Coraline walking through a forest that rapidly had trees started turning into "an idea of a tree." I usually already make my backgrounds suggestive and loose, so it was a fun challenge working with my style and still having my illustration read as a forest turning into nothingness rather than an illustration that isn't finished.

My initial sketches and media test:

Coraline Spots

"Coraline closed the old wooden door, turned out the light, and went to bed. She dreamed of black shapes that slid from place to place, avoiding the light, until they were all gathered together under the moon. Little black shapes with little red eyes and sharp yellow teeth. They started to sing,

We are small but we are many

We are many we are small

We were here before you rose

We will be here when you fall.

Their voices were high and whispering and slightly whiney. They made Coraline feel uncomfortable..."

 

Then there is my favorite character Cat.

"...Coraline also explored for animals. She found a hedgehog, and a snake-skin (but no snake), and a rock that looked just like a frog, and a toad that looked just like a rock.

There was also a haughty black cat, who would sit on walls and tree stumps, and watch her; but would slip away if ever she went over to try to play with it.
"


One of my favorite sayings from the Cat:

“We...we could be friends.'

We COULD be rare specimens of an exotic breed of dancing African elephants, but we're not. At least, I'M not.”

AshlyLovett cat.jpg

Coraline and the Other Mother

She looked a little like Coraline's mother. Only...

Only her skin was white as paper.

Only she was taller and thinner.

Only her fingers were too long, and they never stopped moving, and her dark red fingernails were curved and sharp.
-
From the novel Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

 

AshlyLovett - Coraline.jpg

I love this book. The visuals are amazing and honestly its super freaky. I could have made the "other mother" much much scarier, but in the end it is a children's book. There are a lot of subtle metaphors describing her like a spider and Coraline as her prey. That is something I'd like to explore further in future Coraline illustrations.