Friday, 19 November 2010

Ainulindale Finished

The painting is now finished, I transferred the 'singing heads' then thinly added highlights with Titanium White. I await the final verdict (scary stuff)...

P.s Happy Birthday Emily :-)

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

'Not On The Rocks' Illustrations

I'm certainly not old enough to remember the highly detailed black & white illustrations that used to be printed in newspapers. I once was lucky enough to visit a designer who started his professional life inking furniture drawings for a local rag, he showed me some of his old work and we both lamented the disappearance of that old style.  Imagine my excitement when an offer of work came through asking me to pastichean old Whisky advert but include a few modern elements.

The article was about the Morrison Bowmore distilleries being a uniquely British affair that had customers all over the world. The main illustration and spot were to show the tradition of Scotch making and the modern machinery involved in the process.

Above is the main illustration which has some of the modern elements in the decoration (dials, meters, arrow diagrams and LEDs).

Below are the all the bits I did for the article printed in the final magazine.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Not your average Bonfire Night

As the large firework displays were just beginning over Swindon, Suzanne and I went up to Barbury Castle to get a spectacular and rather chilly panoramic. Barbury is what's left of a large Iron Age hill fort the impressive ground works are still there which includes a perimeter ditch roughly 25ft deep so making our way round that was a bit hairy in the dark however our trusty torch and flask saved the day - or rather the night.

Apologies for my poor photography. Left is a blurry view of the bonfire in the next field, Right is an even more blurry Swindon void of fireworks because I've never managed to time a photograph well. Unfortunately you can't see the smoke accumulating from the many fires lying low over the town which is a shame because it gave an ethereal quality to the view.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The blueprint for an heroic leader.

Above is a single page illustration I completed for Management Today that was published last month. The concept was reasonably straightforward but even so my small bit of training in technical drawing helped immensely, without it who knows how the piece would have turned out?

I was also asked to supply a couple of spot illustrations based on two well known business leaders. Fortunately for Tony Hayward his annotations didn't come from my pen. I don't think the feature would have made the print otherwise ;-)

  As they are meant to be seen.

Soon I'm hoping to put up the most recent bit of work I did for the same magazine. Mostly black and white and ridiculously detailed - my eyes are still trying to re-adjust.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Ainulindale in colour

I've been adding oil colour to the under-painting of 'Ainulindale' in-between other work, despite the slow progress it's finally coming together. Tomorrow I shall move onto the foliage highlights and then the faces can be added when the paint is touch dry.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Rockwell originals at the Dulwich Gallery!

This is incredible! For the first time in the UK you will be able to see in the flesh original Saturday Evening Post covers, advertisements and illustrations by Norman Rockwell. If you don't know who Rockwell is visit google images now.

The exhibition is being held at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London between 15th December - 27 March 2011, for more information click here.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Further development on 'Ainulindale'

For the moment I've had to put this on the back burner but that doesn't stop me from blogging about it. Above you can see my final drawing for 'Ainulindale' (see previous post) which gives me more information to work with when I pull out my brushes. I have however decided to leave out the singing heads until the background is painted, then I can overlay them which will hopefully add to their transparency.

The top image is a few hours in advance from the final drawing. Here I have added burnt sienna and ultramarine acrylic to give me an under-painting that has warm and cool areas.

After the paint dried I diluted a marvin acrylic medium into a milky consistency and began priming paper with a soft hake brush, sanding in-between four coats just to be on the safe side. When everything dried completely I ran some magic tape around the edges to keep them clean.

Recently I have actually been trawling the internet for information on mounting and priming paper for oils. There are useful tips and videos out there but so far I haven't found anything on stretching paper with gum tape and then priming it - the advantage being the finished oil would just be on a sheet of watercolour paper without any heavy board attached. That means they are easy to store and very lightweight even with a frame because you don't need the glass! It would be strange to think nobody else has tried this before but who knows maybe I've just invented a new priming technique although I seriously doubt it.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Scrap that reverse it... or sometimes it's best to realise your mistakes

In previous posts I've shown some WIPs for an oil painting I have been working on. Unfortunately my oil painting skills aren't up to scratch and I've made a complete hash of it, I might just have to install a 'gallery flambeau' (check James Gurney's imaginative realism). So after putting that aside with a bin liner wrapped around it I've attempted a re-run on the concept and come up with this sketch. Fortunately this has been approved by my friends who will be receiving the final artwork so I can now get on with the final drawing.

To try to explain the composition it is taken from the 'Ainulindale' chapter in Tolkien's 'Silmarillion' where the world is created through song. I have tried to focus more on the environments this time but also kept with the singing characters. Also the circular composition is designed to be hung any which way and evoke a pulse of sound spreading from the center.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Legal Business 100

Above are the recent editorial illustrations I did for Legal Business magazine called 'Legal Business 100'. The funfair brief was to contain certain elements to related to the performance of legal companies over the past year. I'm not even going to pretend I know who these people are on the rides I just had to make sure each person was in the correct place and every ride didn't encroach on the text, gutter and bleed. It was a challenge especially when I started work on the DPS in a small lake district village without any WiFi available.

Got there in the end though... hope you like it.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Work In Progress

I've been struggling with this oil painting in-between other work but will keep plodding away.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Ezmerelda drives again...

I wanted to try out mounting paper on board for oil painting and so used that as an excuse to paint this for Suzanne. The vehicle in question is her old camper van 'Ezmerelda' (that's how Suzanne likes to spell it) which now resides in a field next to her engine which is on a wooden palette. Despite this Ezmerelda will always be seen as Suzanne's ticket to the open road, even if it did spend most of the time parked on the kerb steaming.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Sir Gawain skirting a mountainside

Something for my friends... I had a lot of fun playing with inks on this one.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Something for HR Magazine

The dilemma a boss might face when on the receiving end of a 'phone in sick.' It's quite a small image so pencil crayon was called upon for the details, that's probably a direct result from browsing through C.F Payne's website.

Monday, 16 August 2010

The First Pond Life Finished

To follow up on my previous post about my planned series called Pond life I finally finished the first painting. I added a bit of gouache to give the painting depth especially around the leaves. Not too sure what I'm going to call it yet.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

I may be 24 but I still love...

Picture books. I  have 'The Clock Without A Face' to read in between my adult books without pictures (boooooo!) but I can safely say they are all great additions to my expanding collection.

Thanks so much for giving me them Suzanne and even though you find it amusing for somebody to love picture books at my age, I'm pretty sure that you'll be reaching for the bookshelf when I'm not looking.

Monday, 19 July 2010

New editorial work.

Soon after getting back from the lake district (which was marvelous) a recent DPS I did for Legal Business magazine dropped through my letterbox. I had a ridiculous amount of fun doing this, it's got explorers and medieval detailed maps - need I say more :-)

Below: A work in progress photo and underneath the finished artwork.

The man in the bottom right hand corner is Tim, the website guru who is waiting for me to get my act together and send him some meta tags (I think?).

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Pond life

The title 'pond life' could mean lots of different things to lots of different people. I always enjoy encountering a fantastical miniature world whenever I take the time to just crouch down on the banks and stare intently.

I was lucky enough to grow up next door to a stream. The memories I have of that place are incredibly nostalgic but I still think I'm not over-exaggerating when I say that the water had an energy. The best place to appreciate it was in the pools the stream created further down. The energy the water created would (in my child's eyes) pass onto the creatures consuming it and plants around it.

So why gabble on about streams and ponds? Well I've decided to start another series of paintings and maybe some etchings that the title 'Pond Life' will encompass. Ideas and images are incarcerated in my head just trying to dig their way out with a spoon and their constant scraping is becoming too much. I only hope they don't have to crawl out of the sewage pipe Shawshank Redemption style!

Here's a WIP. I can see a different version of this concept already on the horizon but for now this painting will feature on the local Swindon Arts & Culture Magazine 'Frequency' (fingers crossed).

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Discovering A Muse (or technique)

I finally got a bit of time to finish my ArtOrder submission for the 'Discovering A Muse' challenge. Mainly I stuck the the photos I took myself but just in case here's a link to the original model's site Veronika.

I tried to step away from the typically strong, sexy and independent heroine you find in a lot of fantasy based imagery (the kind where she's in a leotard toting a machine gun) and went with a more striking magical image. I thought a more subtle way for her to appear strong would be for her to be looking down on the viewer with a look of mild disdain. Hopefully I achieved this, in any case I enjoying creating this watercolour and discovered some fantastic watercolour inks when working wet on wet for the background. Maybe I should call this post 'Discovering A Technique.'

Monday, 24 May 2010


No it's not on grey paper, I'm just shocking at taking photos. Heres a work in progress for the ArtOrder Muse challenge complete with masking fluid. I'm not too sure where this is going right now but I'm going to have a play

Legal Business

I had a lot of fun working on this. The good people at Legal Business Magazine asked me to create a Savile Row Tailors interior for a double page spread (see top). I enjoy commissions that ask you to illustrate something you wouldn't even think to do in your personal work. You end up looking at things differently (i.e suit jackets) and in this instance it was a brilliant excuse to flick through some Norman Rockwell interiors. I even visited my local tailors with my camera in hand!

The finished illos was done in watercolour with the odd gouache and pencil crayon highlight.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Resurface for a while.

I haven't posted in AGES! Not good, must try harder. Here's a card design I finished last week, whosoever has a birthday next will be receiving this in the post I can tell you. Most of the icing was finished in Gouache so I could have more control over the pastel colours. 

Just to let you know there is a back log of work that I will be posting, some WIPs and another in which I am waiting to be published.

Until then, avoid the ash!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Scaling the shelves

The lovely people at Management Today asked me to create an illustration about certain successful independent products doing well in supermarkets. Obviously it's not easy for these small companies, so I decided to show their products literally climbing the shelves.

First I started with a pencil line drawing on some stretched watercolour paper. When there is lots of detail involved sometimes I work up an acrylic underpainting to establish the tonal values and effectively seal the drawing so it doesn't disappear when I apply watercolour. However I did actually shade certain areas in pencil beforehand because the medium offers more control and I can erase my mistakes!

With the acrylic underpainting I concentrated on the background to try and set this back from the characters.

The finished illustration with watercolour and gouache over the acrylic underpainting.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Here's some artwork.

After asking the Art Director I can now show you some artwork for the BBC audiobook (see previous post). The top image is my illustration done hopefully in a similar style to the two below. After studying the previous covers I decided to work up an acrylic underpainting to imitate the use of ink and then block in with watercolour.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The Further Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes Audiobook

I have no idea when this audiobook will be released, it is on pre-order at the moment but I'm unashamedly going to get a copy myself because I did the cover illustration. Maybe that's a bit self-indulgent but it is my first cover.

I was asked to create an illustration in the style of the previous three books in the series. This was something I've never done before but enjoyed the challenge immensely.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Still Life No. 01

7" x 10"

In reading Eric Fortune's blog I came across a passage that said something along the lines of 'doing a still life painting helps to improve your technique.' Good idea I thought, so here's my first ever still life in watercolour! Inbetween my other projects I hope to keep this up, I reckon by choosing a wide variety of objects it should help me depict an array of surfaces more convincingly.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

ArtOrder Challenge 'Rust'

12 x 15 1/2

FINISHED!! Still not sure if I like it or not but I did enjoy painting it so maybe I do!? I'm happy with the text border mainly because I got to try out the massive lightbox I was given by a friend - cheers Richard.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

ArtOrder Challenge, Progress Shots

An illustration to accompany the quote, "A sword, a spade, and a thought should never be allowed to rust."

Below are the initial compositional sketch, final drawing on stretched paper and then a days painting at the bottom:
The background is close to finished, but I might add a suggestion of golden light seeping through the mist. I'm wanting to make the crows, leaves and sword spade combo really punchy!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

This is probably bad luck...

This little fella featured on the Christmas cards I sent out last month (yes I know!). Even though we are well into the new year I still thought I should post this.

Note to self: No walking under ladders, avoid cracks in the pavement and definitely no umbrella opening indoors.