Why I Made It: Flaurna

By Milana Zivanovic '25

Although Drawing and Painting has taught me to draw precise, realistic versions of what I see, I think my favorite style of drawing will always be the one I developed on my own: a semi-realistic combination of squishy cartoon shapes and small, defined details.

When I first started drawing, I was inspired by two very distinct art styles, both for very different reasons. I was always impressed by the photorealistic drawings that seemed to capture every detail. I, too, wanted to capture on paper the intricacies I saw so clearly in my imagination. On the other hand, the vibrant colors and fluid simplicity of more cartoonish art also appealed to me. In particular, I was impressed by how easy it was to recognize what was being drawn and how active the figures seemed with just a few pencil marks on the page.

When I had to choose an independent project for Advanced Drawing and Painting, it made sense that I wanted to do something that would allow me to blend my favorite aspects of both of these styles to make something of my own. By taking the vibrant, squishy, and active aspect of one style and combining it with the intricate details of the other, I had found something that allowed me to express what I saw in my mind’s eye. Similarly, I knew I wanted to use a combination of alcohol markers and fine-tipped pens to get both the color and the detail I wanted.

Funnily enough, I ended up knowing how I wanted to draw before knowing what I wanted to draw. My first thought was flowers, because I love drawing all the details with fine-tipped pens; my next was animals, because I loved to draw them in cartoony styles, often with crazy colors. In the end, similar to how I combined styles and materials, I combined these two ideas into what I like to call “flaurna.” Part plant, part animal, somewhat creepy, but mostly cute: this combination of flora and fauna ended up being a project I loved and one that challenged me in the best of ways.

Looking back on this project—or maybe just looking at it, since I’m not done!—I can clearly see the theme of amalgamations pop out. The combination of cartoons and realism, markers and pens, plants and animals, and creepy-yet-cute all come together in a way that intrigues people just the way I hoped it would. And it makes me happy to finally see my mind’s eye framed in paper.

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This article originally appeared in the summer 2024 issue of CM, Commonwealth's alumni/ae magazine.