Nature Of Motherhood Revised

In recent posts, I examined fragmented femininity and Delaunay triangulation. I was inspired by the work of Anna Kövecses, who combines photography with hand drawings. I became curious how the narrative and style of my existing illustrations would change if I use fragmentation and photo collage. I applied Delaunay Triangulation to the illustration The Nature Of Motherhood and incorporated photos of me and my daughter Emma. The artwork has a personal, intimate feeling. The geometry adds an abstract quality to the picture and the message of "motherhood" is encoded in the maze of elements. The photographed gazes survey back the viewer. It is an interesting transformation of my style.

Nature of Motherhood Illustration Process

My research on the depiction of femininity has led me to various feminist texts, like the groundbreaking The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (Friedan 1965). She used this term to describe the unhappy fate of women in the 1950s, who were pressured to assume the roles of homemakers as the ultimate fulfilment of their potential. Friedan discusses numerous illustrations in women's magazines, from early 20th-century, which idealise the motherly role. Recently I created an illustration for my practise, which depicts motherhood. Friedan's discourse prompted me to look with new eyes at this illustration. I think the feminine role is idealised to some degree here. However, the emphasis is on the emotional aspect of the mother-child connection, without limiting the female potential to that role alone.

Sabina Radeva, Nature Of Motherhood, 2015.

Sabina Radeva, Photos and sketches from the Botanical Garden, Oxford, 2015.

I was inspired by the works of Carmel Seymour and Simón Prades who create multiple stories within a scene, visual narratives which expand the boundaries of the canvas. The Botanical Garden in Oxford is one of my favourite places to visit and inspired me to incorporate flora and fauna elements. I imagined a conceptual illustration of a mother and child where their connection is represented by nature.

The clothes of the mother and child serve as a vignette to a botanical scene. The technique is not novel to me, as I have applied it in previous works of mine. However, here it is used more deliberately. The emotional, as well as biological connection between the mother and child, is communicated more clearly with the use of nature elements.

My work is detailed and decorative, influenced by Surrealism and Naturalism, similar to the works of Bosch, Teagan White, Carmel Seymour and John Buck. The visual language and style is now established, after several years of practise. However, I would like to try new techniques and transform my style.


Friedan, B. 1965, The feminine mystique, Penguin, London.

Automatic Drawing

My recent post on automatic drawing prompted some experiments on my own. Automatism was practised by surrealists like Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí, Jean Arp and André Breton. The purpose of this technique is to evoke the creativity of the subconscious. My work is carefully planned and sometimes lacks spontaneity. Therefore automatic drawing can aid in breaking my routine and creating more expressive images.

A state of trance is usually required before one can begin automatic drawing. I closed my eyes and spun several times. With closed eyes, I drew random lines on the paper. Then I scanned and processed the image. I could distinguish feminine forms in my drawing, which I colored digitally. There is a sensual aspect that could be an expression of my subconscious. However, it could also be an acquired meaning due to the many sexualized interpretations of automatic drawings which I observed previously.

Sabina Radeva, Automatic Drawing Sketch, 2015

Sabina Radeva, Automatic Drawing Processed, 2015.

Sabina Radeva, Automatic Drawing Processed, 2015.

Body Art - Illustration Process


The illustration below is my response to the body art and modification research I did recently. I was influenced by the tribal lip-plugs and neck extenders, that I saw in Pitt Rivers museum. Further, the concept of the female body as a canvas, in addition to being represented in art, is fascinating to me. The figure of the woman in my drawing is inspired by Rolf Armstrong's paintings. His glamour girls from the 20s are synonymous with the American "Good Girl" art (American Art Archives). I imagined how such pinup girl would look with body modifications typical of an African tribe. As discussed previously, such modifications may seem extreme to our Western culture, but are comparable to extreme plastic surgery, corset binding etc, found in our society. 

Sabina Radeva,  Body Art & Modification , 2015.

Sabina Radeva, Body Art & Modification, 2015.

Further, I was inspired by the "Hand Marks" fashion and surface design trend and the work of Laura Slater. I painted ink lines, dots, geometric elements and mixed those with tribal art elements. This idea shares similarities to Terry Hays's fashionable tribal patterns. However, my patterns are less dense and are stylistically different. One could also trace my inspiration to the YASCO nudes covered with Henna designs. Unlike these, the final look of my illustration is rather close to Pop Art.

My influences and inspiration, documented previously in this blog, can be recognised in the language of the final artwork. However, the illustration feels distinctly mine and departs from any of the examples that I collected during the visual research. To that end, I am satisfied with the process and will use it further in other self-directed projects.

Sabina Radeva,  Illustration Process - Sketches , 2015.

Sabina Radeva, Illustration Process - Sketches, 2015.

Pitt Rivers,  Haida tribe lip-plugs.  Photo by Sabina Radeva 2015

Pitt Rivers, Haida tribe lip-plugs. Photo by Sabina Radeva 2015

Sabina Radeva,   Illustration Process - Patterns  , 2015.

Sabina Radeva, Illustration Process - Patterns, 2015.

Delaunay Triangulation Experiments

Following my reflections on Cubism (Picasso) and the fragmented femininity, I wanted to incorporate geometry in my illustrations. The main objective of trying new techniques is to make my artwork more spontaneous and transform it in unexpected ways.

Recently, I found the work of Jonathan Puckey, who uses Delaunay Triangulation in Scriptographer to create fascinating abstract images. Scriptoghrapher is a plugin for Illustrator, which uses JavaScript language to create graphics. I applied Delaunay Triangulation to some of my existing artwork using a script by Jake Rathmanner and Dan Borufka. The minimalistic images, which resulted, are not typical for my style.

Triangulation of classic painting resulted in interesting compositions (see Surreal Odalisque below). I would like to continue these experiments and create surreal geometric scenes where I combine together various triangulated elements from different paintings and my own drawings.

Sabina Radeva, Lady Bug, 2015

Sabina Radeva, Lady Bug, 2015

Sabina Radeva, Lady Bug Triangulation, 2015.

Sabina Radeva, Triangulation Woman Portrait, 2015

Sabina Radeva, Triangulation Woman Portrait, 2015

Sabina Radeva, Surreal Odalisque, 2015

Sabina Radeva, Surreal Odalisque, 2015