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Dessous de la Taupe by Elthenstorm Dessous de la Taupe by Elthenstorm
In France we have a quite peculiar higher education system. Students that were particularly successful in highschool usually choose to attend a "prepa", nicknamed "taupe" (french for "mole") after getting their A-Levels. Basically it's a selective two-year program meant to prepare students for the admission competition exams of France's top scientific institutions. That are way more selective even. Well, actually the same system exists for humanities but that's pretty anecdotal...

The taupe is quite an experience. Not usually a very positive one. It certainly wasn't, for me.
Basically it's an extremely closed, self-sufficient universe where teachers and students perception of reality is utterly distorted and focused on academic selection. Of the senselessly elitist kind. It has its legends, its underlying concepts. It's a quite cruel world if you're not among the most brilliant of your class. Which I certainly wasn't.
When you enter the prepa you quickly start forgetting there is anything else to life. You wake up at school, work all day on maths and physics problems of which you don't even understand the first word, while listening to "elite" teachers explaining to you how much you suck and how bad you're going to fail, then eat and go to sleep improbably late, still at school. Every day. You spend most of your week-ends at school, too. And you keep on studying throughout the holidays. The competition exams come after two years of putting up with that shit. But, yeah, I'm out now. All that is left of that time are some rare nightmares, and the shadow of a regret... Oh, and a few amazing friends.

Anyway. This piccy would be the cover of a sort of guide of the "taupe" (which means, indeed, "mole" and not "taupe"), a booklet with useful info about the competition exams, work methods, and so on, created by students of my school (one of those school you get accepted to if you haven't failed your exams too bad) and distributed to first year taupe students nationwide (that's 21k copies).
There's a symbology of sorts going on, the details of which probably hardly anybody will notice. Main notions are hope (well, the poor dudes are only just entering the system, and the output can potentially be exceptionally beneficial), descent (cause it's fucking hell, come on), complexity overflow, helplessness, and guidance, or at least some semblance of it, all five interacting.
Most striking thing in the pic would be the girl's lack of eyebags. She's clearly only one week or so into the journey.

PS CS4, ~10 hours, no refs.
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Daily Deviation

Given 2010-01-22
Dessous de la Taupe by ~Elthenstorm is a wonderful scene painted in a unique style. ( Suggested by GreenSprite and Featured by ekud )
:iconjohngiannis27:
johngiannis27 Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2012  Professional Interface Designer
nice love it!!
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:iconfieveltrue:
fieveltrue Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2012
fantastic!
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:iconkgrsajid:
KGRSajid Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Nice
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:iconlovesnaturedigital:
LovesNatureDigital Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012
Excellent and creative image. Wonderful description also!
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:iconelthenstorm:
Elthenstorm Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the fav : )
Reply
:iconlovesnaturedigital:
LovesNatureDigital Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012
Excellent images. You're most welcome.
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:iconchikco:
Chikco Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2012
woa thats cold
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:icongeorgerudman:
GeorgeRudman Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
OMW - this looks beautiful!
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:icongooregan:
Gooregan Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2011
Very interesting insight to French schooling - and a really good picture. Enjoyed it. No wonder it´s a Daily Deviation. :D
Reply
:iconcoshipi:
coshipi Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2011
Que peut-on dire? Pourquoi s'inquiéter de la physique quand vous êtes un artiste de ce calibre? Oui, je sais, c'est difficile de gagner sa vie comme ça ...
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:iconsubjugatedsandwich:
SubjugatedSandwich Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
I can't accurately describe how much I love this picture! For both the reasons you created it and the stories it spawns in my mind.
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:iconostria:
Ostria Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2011
:3, this is an awesome picture. It actually reminds me of my favorite "The Twilight Zone" episode :3
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:icondol-dreams:
DoL-Dreams Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2011   Writer
LOVE this it so captures emotions and dreams in me ... I can see why you received a DD
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:iconrssdragon:
RssDragon Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
very, very nice indeed. :D
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:iconmonaparvin:
MonaParvin Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2011
:love: i love this work
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:iconizgorcore:
IzgorCore Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2011   Traditional Artist
This is amazing! :nod:
Gonna send request in some of my groups! Hope you don't mind :)
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:iconelthenstorm:
Elthenstorm Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
At all! Thanks a lot :)
Reply
:iconizgorcore:
IzgorCore Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2011   Traditional Artist
Sure thing, buddy! :)
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:iconherebellama:
Herebellama Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Loving the giant mole, but apart from that...
The composition, the colour scheme, the painting technique, and the story behind it all equal to a very an eye-catching piece. :)
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:iconelthenstorm:
Elthenstorm Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for the nice words :)
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:iconherebellama:
Herebellama Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
you're welcome. :)
Reply
:iconthinking-silence:
Thinking-Silence Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2011
"You wake up at school, work all day on maths and physics problems of which you don't even understand the first word, while listening to "elite" teachers explaining to you how much you suck and how bad you're going to fail"

I made the same experience here in Germany. The system doesn't support people with potential, it suppresses those who could have done great work later and if you start studying on university here, you start with about 120 people and end up with about 40 people, from that 15 may have good marks. I can say the same now "I'm out now" and it feels great. I don't want to be part of an elitist education system, all about money and having no life during studying for a thousand years.

Hope you found your way somewhere else.

My personal thoughts looking at your brilliant work;
It reminds me to people searching wisdom in knowledge, being able to understand the world and themselves. It's no solution and the more you see of this giant maze, the more you get frustrated about life and it's modern rules and systems.

It's a weird planet with blinded people that have no worthful aims, no own principles. Just following the words of the leaders, of the mass. Giant lack of individuality resulting in a giant incomprehensible system.

But just look at the sky, the most natural appearence, so close to that what life should be, free, natural and not forcing people to climb stairs of success and knowledge.

Greetings
Jan
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:iconelthenstorm:
Elthenstorm Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well, your thoughts are certainly interesting to read. Thank you for this insightful comment, glad you liked the picture :)

Senseless elitism is much of a nuisance in quite a number of education systems I guess. France's 'taupe' is pretty bad, but then again Japan almost seems worse. I didn't know about Germany...

But yeah, we're out now, and free to develop our own potential in ways that actually matter :)
Reply
:iconthinking-silence:
Thinking-Silence Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2011
It's my pleasure.
Yes, I won't dare to represent the whole German education system, it may be one story of thousands, each different, some similar.. :)

Japan must be horrifying, really.. It's good to compare oneselves to people who have worse situations, one of the few ways to get along with one's problems.
Reply
:iconkaedegirl:
Kaedegirl Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
il est superbe!!! j'aime beaucoup la compo et puis surtout la taupe!
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:iconelthenstorm:
Elthenstorm Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
La compo c'était du boulot ^^ Merci :D
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:iconkaedegirl:
Kaedegirl Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
j'ai vu ça oO très très intéressant en tout cas :")
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:icondacoldone:
DaColdOne Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2011
For some reason this reminds me of The Golden Compass.

Not sure why. Still cool though!
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:iconkrisvlad:
KrisVlad Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2011   Photographer
That's so awesome. 10 hours of majestic work.
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:iconvivid-funk:
Vivid-Funk Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2011  Professional General Artist
This a very amazing picture. I could look at it for days and days and find something new in it.
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:iconelthenstorm:
Elthenstorm Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you, that really means something to me :)
Reply
:iconvivid-funk:
Vivid-Funk Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2011  Professional General Artist
You are quite welcome!
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:iconverionj:
verionj Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Awesome=)
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:iconmaestro74:
Maestro74 Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
this must have required alot of patience and skill ofcourse :)
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:iconelthenstorm:
Elthenstorm Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
About 10 hours. Not so sure about skill though ^^
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:iconaprilmcguire:
AprilMcGuire Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2011   Digital Artist
I love the curvature of the background, it really makes this a dynamic piece. And I love that the foreground is covered in books, like the steps. This is awesome! Congrats on the DD :)
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:iconblubirdss:
Blubirdss Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Ah my taste..sometimes i impress myself 8-) i look at this art, thought impressive and here i see a DD...hat off to your imagination :aww:
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:iconjefrelaw:
jefrelaw Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2011
Wonderful! Reminds me of writer's block...
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:icondrdivine:
DrDivine Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2011  Student Digital Artist
Very well done!
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:iconmechanicalpancake:
MechanicalPancake Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2010   Writer
:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D *rolls over in laughter and joy* that made my day, thank you :3
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:iconelthenstorm:
Elthenstorm Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
何?
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:iconmechanicalpancake:
MechanicalPancake Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2010   Writer
the mole looks funny and made me laugh because it had the glasses on...
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:iconniaerdh:
Niaerdh Featured By Owner May 14, 2010
:clap: *is completely breathless* :clap:
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:iconeilidh:
eilidh Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
I read your description and sympathise with the harrowing experience. Why is it people can get it so wrong, and so off-target regarding education? It seems like the very last objective such institutions have is to teach people how to think independently (and hence creatively and productively).

I like your scene because of its contrasts. In the seemingly endless maze, the young woman seems hopeful and determined, in an "ok... let's start here" manner, while the mole, looking experienced and knowing (and worn), is looking more dejected, like he's being dragged into the whole ordeal.

And I love the whole set-up, the books, the colours, which are dark and dull in the lower part of the picture, but altogether rich and vibrant.

A beautiful work all around, well done!
Reply
:iconelthenstorm:
Elthenstorm Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Eilidh. I remember that you were the first person I ever watched on this site. It was five and half years ago, on my previous account. I think what brought me to your page then was your newly won deviousness award. At the time I had barely started drawing, and I couldn't produce decent stickmen.
Funny how time flies. It never ceases to amaze me.

Thank you for your kind and interesting comment. It made me sincerely happy. Your interpretation of the scene is precisely what I had in mind, and it's great to see that it has shown through!

And thanks for the watch, too!
Reply
:iconeilidh:
eilidh Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Figures indeed! :o

As for the watch -- no need to thank me. I like your works a lot. You have a great eye for colour, detail and atmosphere. I find it hard to believe you were ever at a stickmen-only stage, let alone a mere five years ago. But if that's the case, all the more reason to congratulate you. Really, really beautiful works.

Out of curiosity, do you by any chance remember which of my stuff drew your attention to my account (deviousness award aside) back in 2004?
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:iconelthenstorm:
Elthenstorm Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I remember that I liked your work, in a general way. And still do ^^
But I think it was this portrait that particularly caught my attention. Because I remember saving it on a hard drive that died last year. It played the role of an ancestor in my first art folder, that kept growing over time to eventually include thousands of pieces.

But why would that matter anyway --my taste in art mainly developed over five years spent browsing online art communities. My vision of these things was very different back then. Though I still like this portrait a lot, it's probably for quite different reasons now.
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:iconeilidh:
eilidh Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
It was a question for the sake of history, apart from curiosity. :)

On one hand, it doesn't matter; because, exactly as you say, tastes and preference develop and are constantly refined.
On the other hand, it matters to me as it gives me some insight regarding the development of my own work, and how it is received over time by certain people. It was an important thing, what you said, that you like that piece for quite different reasons now.

At any rate, thanks. :)
Reply
:iconelthenstorm:
Elthenstorm Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Why, thank you. =)
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:iconloyse:
loyse Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2010
Superbe travail! J'adore!:heart:
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