Thursday, July 28, 2016

Inspired By Reading Book Club: The Fault In Our Stars

A friend of ours, Andrew Thornton, started up a virtual book club a few years back called Inspired By Reading.  Like most book clubs, each month a new book is read, but instead of just talking about the book the members of the group are challenged to create something inspired by the book.  Most of the members are artists--especially jewelry designers--so this is a very visual take on the classic book club.  I've taken part sporadically, but my wife pretty much gets every month's challenge done.

This month's book is John Green's The Fault In Our Stars.  The book was turned into a movie that was actually well done and kept very close to the source material.  But I suggest reading the book instead!  The book is told from the point of view of Hazel, a teen who is in treatment for thyroid cancer.  Hazel meets a young man, Augustus Waters, in a support group meeting and the resulting relationship is one of the most real and poignant that I've come across in all my years of reading.  Oh, and spoilers: you will cry like a little baby when reading or watching this.

As a pediatrician, I spent my share of time in residency taking care of families (not kids--families) undergoing cancer treatments and bone marrow transplants.  These are the sickest kids you will ever take care of in my line of work, many balanced chronically on the knife edge of life and death.  I would never give up my memories of that aspect of my training, but it was the most difficult thing I've ever done in my career.  The emotional and physical toll that the process takes on the patients, their families, and yes--even on their health care providers--is astonishing.  On the positive side, kids and teens are remarkably resilient, both physically and emotionally, often handling things much better than adults do.  I felt that the book really captures the emotions and situations of these teens in a way that feels true and isn't just calculated for cheap sobs.  The teens' take on their doctors and nursing staff isn't always complimentary, but this also feels very real to me.

So, how can I take inspiration from this book?

My first effort relates to Augustus' family.  His parent's home is littered with all sorts of cross-stitched samplers with inspirational sayings that they call "encouragements".  Taking a quote from Hazel's favorite book An Imperial Affliction, I made my own "encouragement" for her!  I had to first make a background in Photoshop CC to imitate fabric.  This took quite a bit of effort, but I figured it out via tutorials on the web.  I next downloaded and altered a cross-stitch font and made my own paint brush using one stitch.  I went a little overboard on it, but why not!

My next effort was related to Hazel's lungs.  She needs to be hooked up to oxygen because--in her own words: "my lungs sucked at being lungs".  I drew a pair of shoddy looking lungs and then did a clipping mask overlay with a shot of smoke that I had previously taken.  I then gave the lungs a bit of an outline glow and embossed texture to differentiate from the black background.  Not my best work, but I was trying new techniques!

I had other ideas, but ran out of time.  Read this book.  Seriously.


Alison Herrington said...

That is a fan-fricking-tastic image you made to resemble the cross stitch! I just love it!

Sarajo Wentling said...

Glad you played along this month! I love the cross stitch and think the lungs are really cool.

Ann Schroeder said...

I missed this when you first posted this. I like your interpretations, especially the sampler! I like that you challenge yourself to use new techniques as well.