Monday, 1 September 2014

How to Make a Model frigate (Napoleonic Era). For Virtually Nothing. Part 2.

Here are unfortunately some diagrams for the making of the masts.

I should add that for the main mast, the lower section is just shy of 20 cm, including the lower 2 cm that descends below the deck, and the top 3.5cm which is shorn to a square shape. The middle (called the topmast) section is 14 cm and the top section (called the topgallant) is 13cm. The other masts have similar proportions but the fore mast is shorter and the mizzen shorter again.

These 'T' shaped supports are 4cm along the top and not quite 2cm tall. There is a 2cm space beteen the notchs for the matches.

The 'D' shaped platform is 6.2 wide x5cm long in dimension.

The upper join has no platform as such but a sort of cross hatch shape, 2.6 long x 3.5 cm wide

A bit more painting including on the bow sprit, which is made much like the masts, except there are only two sections and there is no platform. A mast can be seen here with the undercoat painted. Also some more canons made.

Painted the hull reddish brown blow the waterline. In reality it would have been coppered, so I may do something about that later.

Also a figurehead of Athena has been modelled in DAS clay. Also the curved grating bit between the figurehead and the hull, which is made out of carboard shapes and strips.

Looking down at the part of the gun-deck that will be visible. Some little wooden buckets added by the guns. I actually cheated and bought some dead eye rigging blocks, pulleys and barrels from ebay. You can usually find that sort of thing quite cheap. First minimal expense in the project, but gives the lie to my title. Also made a stove to sit below the chimney. And cut down the stairway there is room for a canon behind/below it. The grille seen here is a piece of corrugated cardboard pierced with the head of a compass.

A bit more painting. I worry about the excess of yellow. Red on the interior walls would be another option (to hide the blood in battle).

Oh and we have a lantern. That is made of wire and DAS clay. Drilled through the stern gallery with a very fine drill (since lost) to slot the wire though.

The fore-mast has also been started, can be seen along with the larger main mast propped behind in a paintbrush stand.

Coiled rope around the bowsprit (binding it to the top of the keel, running through a hole pierced therein. A better look at the bow structure and details.

The bowsprit wasn't straight, in that the upper section was off to the side of the lower. This was remedied by diluting the set wood glue with vinegar, which apparently works. It loosened it enough at the base to rotate it around.

More interior details with added barrels, hopefully including some rum for the crew.

The weather deck goes in, and it is starting to look pretty ship-shape.

A ladder added to the side made of card and mountboard. The gunwales now have their caps also, and card infills framing the upper gun ports. Slightly screwed up in that the deck has to nearly bend and certainly sharply curve up towards the rear. The gun ports towards the middle therefore appear too high. But it is all too well stuck down to remedy that now and I will have to live with it.

Finnished off the top of the gunwale around the front. A rudder has also appeared, did I mention? Hinges are made from card strips and cocktail stick sections. 

Spot the difference... Well the mizzen has appeared in the background... Also found a diagram of knots to help with the rigging.

Catsheads (new versons complete with pulley holes and actual cat's head decorations) are added. The masts in the background are painted. The colour scheme is somewhat based on HMS Victory.

An inspection of the masts before they go in, showing the elements from the diagrams above.

And some string!

All three masts eagerly waiting to be installed.

And she has masts! Used drills slightly narrower than the width of the masts at the base to make the holes in the decks into which they slot snugly. Pegs below and liberal use of woodglue helps keep them sturdy.

The next things to add were the boards that support the dead-eyes, the circular wooden blocks with three holes in that are integral to the mast reigging. I also made the 'bits' on the deck below the masts, out of squae dowel and cut up bits of lolly-stick. Little holes were drilled along the shelf-like part of each, and pegs made from cut off bristles of a plastic hair brush pushed through. Probably merits a diagram, since I didn't get a specific photo...

These were slightly over-large for the scale, as it happend, but I'm past caring by this point... There ought to be more shelves with pegs around the insides of the bulwarks, but having lost the very fine drill bit, and having no desire to further denude my sister's hairbrush, these will have to do.

Painted the boards (undercoat). Made an anchor (which is somewhat big so I might not use it).

Dead eyes added to the boards. Attached by coiled wire, which runs through holes pierced in the boards to holes drilled in the side of the hull. 

Started doing some rigging (on the triangular bits called the shrouds, but I realised the string being used was too thick to be in scale.

So I took it off..

Live and learn.

Bought some thinner black chord for the shrouds, but still thicker than the white chord used to connect the rows of deadeyes. Although I notice that on the Victory the rope is actually black and white like this, I will probably stain it all black because I don't like how the white stands out.

Oh, and I made the wooden base, out of the lid of an old pencil box. Later added some foam strips to hekp support the hull.

I finnished adding the lower shrounds only to notice that the dead eyes are actually too large and quite out of scale. I have ordered some smaller ones for the upper section, where the scale disparity would be more obvious. Whether I will go to the bother of taking out the lower ones to start again, I yet know not. (Or should that be no knot?)

How to make a Model Frigate (Napoleonic Era). For virtually nothing. Part 1

I always had a thing for ships and the sea. Recently I had a break in Portsmouth, to get away from builders putting in new windows where I live. Visits to HMS Victory and other historical attractions inspired me to to attempt a model of a sailing warship from that era. A ship of the line seemed a bit ambitious, so I settled upon a frigate. I basically went by the bluprint of HMS Surprise (1796), the historical frigate as opposed to the version seen in the film 'Master and Commander'.

I used to make a lot of cardboard ships when I was little, but they were not very authentic, since the bottom was made out of one flat piece and the sides of the hull also being one piece each, so there was none of the contour. Still the main material this time around is the same, namely corrugated cardboard.

A good detailed model ship can cost hundreds of pounds, but (in the spirit of Napoleonic prisoners of war, who made models from bone and hair, I thought I would try to make a convincing model with virtually no financial outlay, using rather stuff that was to hand.

The first step was to trace the blueprint, below.

(I also gathered a lot of photo references for similar ships, and ships of similar eras (such as USS Constitution, which is preserved in Boston, Massachusetts, and HMS Trincomalee, which is in Hartlepool, as well as other peoples' models of the Surprise, and the similar vessel in the movie.)

Anyay, having made tracings of the blueprint (at such a scale so as the hull ended up about 44 cm in length) I cut these out to use as templates. I also made tracings of the rib contours, and templates so that the contours and profile of the hull would be accurate. 

The card profiles cut out from the templates were slotted into the cut-out hull shape at appropriate intervals, fortunately marked on the blueprint. Space was allowed for the dip in the section of deck addded to keep the structure rigid. The dipped section will form the bit of the gun-deck that will be visible through the opening and hatches on the top deck (weather deck) when that is added. Making a model ship, by the way, is a good way to pick up some nautical terminology. The photo above also shows some of the templates for the ribs.

The frigate appears to have only a single flat deck on top, without a poop deck. Again using a template from the blueprint, a piece of card was cut out for the upper deck (actually I made two, so that there was one to practice with). Also seen here are some experimental stairways made from strips of thick card (mountboard, about 2mm thick) glued together. The piece of card below the piece forming the stair tread is set a little back from the one above.

I also made a temporary cardboard stand for the model to use while I am working on it. A wooden one will come later.

Here can be seen the hatch holes cut in the weather deck. They are edged with strips of mountboard. The strips across the hach are (if memory serves) double-thicknesses of mountboard. The tracing of the blueprint is also visible here, useful to compare the model to as it progresses.

 I made some grilles for the hatches out of an old fly-swatter, that I cut up. (I later realised I didn't like these, and replaced them with a more suitable material.) Also a sky-light for the captain's cabin towards the rear (stern). I also made a chimney (from the cooking stove, not  steam engine, obviously) towards the front (fore) out of an old drinking straw, cut into the right shapes and glued together with modelling glue. (elsewhere I primarily used wood glue). I also made a capostan out of DAS air-drying clay.

I made a ship's wheel by cutting the shape out of mountboard with a stanley knife. The frame is also made from card, and it spins on a section of cocktail stick. 

The upper parts of the sides of the ship (called gunwales where they extend above the deck) are added, made from strips of card. Extra length is allowed for where they curve around to meet at the front. A but of guestimation is deployed here. Also in the shaping of the various strips along the sides. 

Also an experimental cannon is made from a section of straw with the ends made of das clay, on a gun carriage made from card. It is out of scale, though, so not used in the final. Provisional 'cats heads' (bits that project from the front to support the anchors) are also made. These will be replaced with more authentic versions with slots for pulleys towards the tips).

Card window-frames are made for the insides of the gun ports. these are done with thinner card, of the sort used for cornflakes boxes. (I used do a lot of cutting stuff out from cardboard boxes...)

Some 'planking' goes on the underside, strips of card going over the ribs. This is not intended to be seen in the final outcome, so there is no need to be too neat or to fill in all the gaps.

The card planking is covered over in papermahe. Torn up bits of newspaper are laid on in a couple of layers. I used diluted wood glue for this which seems to work, and dries nice and hard. However it is lacking something in smoothness of finish, the hull is all lumps and bumps at this stage.

I plaster over the bumpy hull using das clay. I also make the stern gallery, primarily going by the template, but also by existing examples such as that of HMS Implacable which is preserved in the National Maritime Museum. Several layers of card are used to form the details. A suggestion of decoration will also be made out of DAS. The bits that connect the stern gallery to the sidesof the hull are also made. Some silvery plastic strips left behind by the builders come in handy to suggest the glazed windows, formed of smaller panes. A provisional bowsprit is in place. The masts will be made from wooden dowel and sawn up old paintbrushes, eventually.

Those curtains are disgusting, I know...

The stern gallery stuck on, and more plastering done on the hull...

Adding various details , the raised strips along the hull, the gun port haches. The hatches are cut from card of middle thickness (not as thick as they would be if opened, since they are somewhat flush with the hull when closed. The hinges are made from tiny strips of masking tape, with tiny dabs of glue along them to suggest the bolts holding them on. Also some details around the bow. Holes are drilled where the anchor cables would extend, close to the keel, and re-enforcements are made around the lower parts of the holes.

Painting begins! Also some of the canons have been made. The canon barrels are made from sections of biro tube (the bit where the ink goes) with the end bits made out DAS clay. The wheels are made from smaller biro tubes cut into slithers. The deck is only positioned, at the moment, and it will be lower down when in place. Metallic silver paint is used on the chimney spout. Acrylic is used elsewhere over an emulsion base (except on the deck which only has an acrylic was, so retains a more matt finish and looks like untreated wood).

Black and yellow ochre are the predominant colours on the hull. I will not paint he gunwales until the deck is slotted into place, because they will have a capping piece, and the deck would not fit in if that were already added.

This shows the Bow sprit in place (not painted yet). Also the figurehead made of DAS clay and other work around the prow. 
A mast has appeared, too, waiting to be painted.
I really should have taken progrss shots of making the masts, because they are quite complicated. 

So I will backtrack, presently and include some drawn diagrams. 

Bear with me.

Meanwhile I never liked those grilles cut out from bits of fly-swatter, as they were too plastic, and the square holes were too big. So I made some grilles out of match sticks, which look a little more authentic.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Branded Brazilians...

At least two people in Brazil are now sporting tattoos based on my artwork...

So one way or another I'm making a mark on the world...

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Improving at sculpture.

Here is a head I have been working on in DAS clay. Running out of the stuff now, which is making it doubtful whether she will ever get any hair...

The beauty of DAS is that it dries in the air and doesn't need baking, which is just as well given the result of my first attempt with Sculpey, some seven years past. Just found these photos while sorting out the files on my computer...

There must have been some reaction with the foil interior. Came out bloated and reeking like hell!


Went to the Rimini area of Italy, this summer, which was nice...

Took in some castles and churches, saw some scenery, went on the beach, collected shells which might come in useful, and got sunburnt.

Speaking of the sea,

Had some of my older mermaid pieces featured in this...

Abra Zine, summer 2014 edition...

probably worth mentioning if you like that sort of thing...

Here is a more recent mermaid drawing...

And a cover commission for Ultimate Psionics from Dreamscarred press...

Thursday, 23 January 2014

The History of My Art Part 3- Back Again.

Sabrina Swan by dashinvaine et in arcadia ego by dashinvaine
swan princess by dashinvaineThe swans on the river Severn somehow reflected my feeling of wistful melancholia in my last days in Worcester.
Nat and I had seen the ballet 'Swan Lake' in London, and the tragic story had an appeal to me. I also enjoyed the novel 'The Black Swan' by Mercedes Lackey, which she leant me, not to be confused with the later work of that title, and the story inspired a painting of Odette... It wasn't any good, but was subsequently reworked as below...

I also wrote a poem on the theme...

house by dashinvaineI did this creepy house, at this time, too, which appealed to Raven, with whom I was back in contact...

Things didn't work out in Worcester, as noted, with my relationship with Nat drawing to a close. I was without regular employment and not earning enough to keep my nice flat, independently. Our border collie Odin died at about this time, leaving mum on her own, since dad had moved out, and since my sister was now away at college. So it made sense to return, like the archetypal member of the boomerang generation.

Before I left Worcester I stated this copy of Poussin's 'Et in Arcadia Ego'. I may never get around to finishing it...

et in arcadia ego -cs by dashinvaine

Expulsion of Demons by dashinvaine
The above is a depiction, probably post-Worcester, of the expulsion of demons from Mary Magdalene, an episode mentioned in the Bible but seldom depicted. It did not depict it very well, it must be said. The figure of jesus is all out of proportion. The demons are quite characterful.

One unusual painting from this time was inspired by a shocking newspaper cover concerning acid attacks in S. Asia:

Nasima before and after. by dashinvaineSometimes real life horrors bleed into my artwork, although generally I can't handle too much reality, and tend to escape into either fantasy or history. I don't agree with those who think art should reflect contemporary life or lived reality. All that stuff can be seen on the news. I tend to be fantastical and idealistic when it comes to art, realistic, objective, and (increasingly) cynical in other matters.

Lord Byron once wrote something like: 'at twenty three the best days of life are over and its sorrows doubled.'

grimling by dashinvaineI don't know if that entirely applied. I had a few things looking up, for example being back in contact with Raven, whom I met again in London on several occasions, for movies etc. (Including 'Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl' and 'Jeepers Creepers II', making this the year 2003). We also sent each other stories and such, and worked on joint literary projects. She was a very talented writer, and also a good artist. Unfortunately complications arose, we lost contact again and eventually she married someone else. C'est la vie. I still have the Nick Cave compilations she made for me, and she presumably still has Grimling...

Raven can also be thanked for persuading me to get a proper PC and for getting me online (I had been previously been making do with an antiquated and dying Apple Mac). She also introduced me to DeviantART, which has been my main online home, art-wise, for a good decade now. (I have now uploaded 1,688 images on that site, had 17,754 comments (invariably positive) and 376.066 pageviews.) The first PC I got had a knock-off version of photoshop on it, but I didn't have a tablet, only a mouse, so my early digitally coloured drawings weren't very presentable...
 Nefertari by dashinvaine Elfwood by dashinvaine lilith decaying coloured by dashinvaine
I laugh at my naivete. Trying to do hair etc with a mouse was a fool's errand. I also didn't understand resolution and the importance, the purpose of layers, the need for a pressure sensitive stylus pen and the need to use a hard brush for edges. I did everything with a soft brush at low opacity, relying on reducing its size to do any detail. All quite appalling! I also had a bad habit of making heads too big, and eyes too large.
carving of Templars by dashinvaine
I was still by no means imagining that I would become a professional artist. I was now a published author as an historian, and I imagined that this would be the way my career would go. I had also done drawings which were included in the book...

I also took part in history joining the protest against the invasion of Iraq, at about this time.
Went up to Scotland with my father at one point, and was so impressed by Glenfinnan that it inspired a rare forey into landscape painting from me:
Glenfinnan by dashinvaine

I also took in more history in foreign travels, including to Normandy, Malta and Venice.

Mdina by dashinvaine

Masked Figure and Nude by dashinvaine Nude with macaw by dashinvaine
I'm not sure if I painted 'Masked Figure and Nude' before or after my visit to Venice, but anyway the sinister cloaked figure in the venetian bota mask and three-cornered hat caught my imagination. Such a figure appears in the film 'Eyes Wide Shut', which also has some compelling visuals. I didn't deem this painting a success, however as the female figure always seemed awkward and disproportionate. I ended up obliterating the masked figure, cutting it down and repainting the female with an almost completely different woman (not nude, either) so I would have been as well to leave it alone and to start something new from scratch. Let that be a lesson, which bears repeating! 'Nude and Macaw' also features an enigmatic mask. It was done in 2003 or 2004. It was painted over a portrait of Nat, the only surviving original feature being the artist bear in the corner.

storm over giza cs by dashinvaineThis Egyptian scene suffers from bad paint, and even more form an ill-conceived composition. It's one of 2004's more disastrous offerings. It was inspired by the cover of the book 'Acts of God' by Graham Phillips, which is about the plagues of Egypt, and rather good, I thought at the time of reading. But I added the sphinx, and the way it is facing outward and vanishing off the edge isn't good. The painting is quite weak.

alien and girl -cs by dashinvaine
This painting 'Alien and Girl' was a forey into slightly erotic sci-fi. It ended up in an exhibition in Italy, called 'Baroque Blue', and I don't think it found its way back.

I had the good fortune to get a part time job as a picture framer at the local art gallery, in Princes Risborough. This suited me very nicely, and it was interesting seeing all the different stuff that came in. Perks of the job also included being allowed to keep offcuts of backing board for painting on, and offcuts of frame for framing them. The bits cut out of the inside of mount boards, meanwhile, were ideal for drawing on, which is how I filled my lunch break. I still have a box under my bed full of drawings on these boards.

Crusader by dashinvaine knight hospitaller by dashinvaine  Jeanne d' Arc by dashinvaine Mournrolt by dashinvaine
Drawings from 2003 including Templar and Hospitaller knights, my first attempt at Joan of Arc, and a troll.

At this time, meanwhile, I got involved with a group of people online writing a fantasy RPG (or multiple-authored story) called Haven. It was very entertaining, and I always thought the story was worth developing.
It was here that I invented my characters Arrizard the Druid, Asterith his fair apprentice, and Odo Paganus of the Knights of Esa.

Arrizard the Wizard by dashinvaine Asterith nude by dashinvaine Asterith and Odo. by dashinvaine

I worked framing (and sometimes serving customers) at the art gallery thee days a week, sometimes four. The manager's father was (and remains, at the time of writing) the artist David Aldus, whose influence helped my own art to improve over time. Contact with Steven and Dave Aldus gradually persuaded me that an art career might be viable, though I still had eggs in the history basket. (I was a moderator on the Templar History Forum).

I was getting some good feedback for my drawings on deviantart, but was not yet getting anything accepted on the moderated site Epilogue. Rightly the drawing below was rejected, although I apparently deemed it worthy at the time.

girl and demon reworked by dashinvaine

This 'Damnation of Venus' done in early 2005 represented an improvement, though the figure is all over the place anatomically. That was partially deliberate, since I was going for an El-Greko-esque style, but I don't think I got it. I struggled with believable forms and credible, deep shadows.

Quite a disturbing image, but this one actually sold relatively quickly, which was nice. Another one from this time that sold subsequently was this 'Collar Girl'.

Collargirl Fin by dashinvaine

Masked Ball by dashinvaineOne Carole Humphreys, herself a great artist, commissioned this 'Masked Ball' piece. She would later become a close cum of mine. The masked figures here aren't quite so threatening. I was pleased with how the marble pillars turned out. There are some unfortunate anatomy issues with the main figure, however, especially relating to how her head relates to her body.

I think my style became a little more sophisticated this year, and my faces a little more realistic...

African Head by dashinvaine Blonde Woman and Castles by dashinvaine Gondolas by dashinvaine Black and White Nude by dashinvaine Blue Eyes Fin. by dashinvaine INDICIUM AQUAE by dashinvaine

Nude with Raised Arm by dashinvaine The Melancholy Knight by dashinvaine Space Corsairs by dashinvaine reclining nude by dashinvaine
Rina skinless by dashinvaine the Butcher returns... by dashinvaine

in the red by dashinvaine The Cure of Souls by dashinvaine Death and the Maiden 2painting by dashinvaine
My subject matter ranged from classical nudes to gothic and horror imagery, also sci-fi and medievalism, which continued to feature in my output. Some of these pictures were related to stories that I worked on, including a medieval horror story somewhat inspired by Hellraiser, and a Star-Wars fan fiction. Others just came out of my head, where unfortunate damsels in slave collars seem to reside in alarming numbers...

Saint Mark's Square Venice by dashinvaine

This Venetian scene was somewhat inspired by a similar one by David Aldus, who was great at doing the steely skies and the puddles. I added period costumed figures for the sake of antiquating, and also because when I was actually in St Marks Square there were many extras milling about dressed like this, as they were filming 'Casanova' (a film that was released this year, 2005).

These two nudes 'Seraglio' and 'Amber' were my most successful to date, and I think they stand up pretty well. An article on the Topkapi palace in Istanbul inspired the former, also Orientalist painting, of which I was becoming a fan.

In the Seraglio by dashinvaine Amber by dashinvaine

This painting, 'Templar Mass' was one of my most ambitious projects at the time of doing. It was a commission for another esteemed associate.

Contemplation by dashinvaine Marie by dashinvaine A Reclining Affair cs by dashinvaine

Now into 2006. Experimenting with atmospherics, in colour and tone. 'A Reclining Affair' turned out quite nicely in terms of setting and overall design, although the female figure still looked a bit strange.

Asterith painting fin by dashinvaineCentaurion by dashinvaine'Centaurion' was an early forey into fantasy, inspired by a rather obvious pun. The composition is dreadful but the atrmour, male face and expression turned out quite well. 'Asterith' was a more convincing effort at fantasy painting. It was declined by Epilogue- I was not yet getting any luck there, but it sold anyway, for £265, which I was pleased with at the time.

Sith Witch was done while I was still feeling starwarsy, after watching 'Escape of the Sith'.

Sith Witch by dashinvaineLost Angel by dashinvaine

These two, and the similarly coloured profile face further up, were exhibited in Risborough Gallery, and the angel was subsequently in the 'Baroque Blue' exhibition in Italy. Unfortunately it's now lost to me. I like the face the angel ended up with, but the proportions of the body are still a bit off. The arms are a disaster.

Purple Melancholy cs by dashinvainecrypt goth by dashinvaine'Cryptgoth', a sexy tattooed nude in a crypt. Probably a vampire. I had the fortitude to rework much of her body just after the first go, to a correct perspective error. It just has to be done. It would probably be better with more shadows, so that the figure looms out of them. Her form looks very evenly toned. I like her languid, wasted, but hungry expression, though.

Harry Hill by dashinvaine
Here's Harry Hill...

And back to regular broadcasting...

The party and the girl by dashinvaine Now where did I put my... by dashinvaine St Marks Venice drawing by dashinvaine

The below was a commission from a floor fitter, who saw my other work while he was here, and asked for a drawing of his three boys. A challenge in accurate portraiture, and different subject matter from my usual.

Portrait commission three boys by dashinvaine

Kneeling Girl fin by dashinvaine
Kneeling girl, inspired by a photo in an advert that took my fancy, especially for the graceful, submissive pose.

Count Raymond by dashinvaine

'Count Raymond', inspired by the defender of Toulouse during the Albigensian Crusade. Note the somewhat improved, but still less than entirely convincing legs on the horse.

Water-colours based on Treasure Island, somewhat derivative of some pieces by David Aldus...

Yo ho ho by dashinvaine dead man's chest by dashinvaine

This strange piece 'Firesprite' has an adverse effect on my dad, for some reason...

firesprite by dashinvaine

Boudica by dashinvaine venetian canal by dashinvaine
A painting of Boudicca, and another of a Venetian scene, done in 2006, and soon sold. Overall I liked the Boudicca painting, although her figure looked a little stiff and her eyes could have done with having more of a gleam....

Bride of Sorrow by dashinvaine Bride of sorrows...

HMS Vanguard by dashinvaine HMS Vanguard, Neslon's flagship, returning to a theme from my early work.

Below, a Nosferatu-esque vampire in action. This piece was later reworked with more nocturnal colours.

The Visitation wip 2 by dashinvaine
pretty vacant psycho cute by dashinvaine Templar Sentinel by dashinvaineMM by dashinvaine

Alice by dashinvaine Haywain miniature by dashinvaine
The copy of the Haywain is actually tiny...

I started to put a bit more effort into some of my drawings around this time, in order to achieve more contrast and detail... We are now going into 2007.

The Instrument - cropped by dashinvaine Lust of the Sorcerer by dashinvaine Gothic Lady with Fan final by dashinvaine

Innocent Gothic by dashinvaine Shoulder Demon fin by dashinvaine Mermaid Cave by dashinvaine By the mirror. by dashinvaine
Das Wampyr Farternosfu by dashinvainePrey by dashinvaineJohn the Baptist by dashinvaineVampiric Thirst by dashinvaine
After P Collins by dashinvaineGothic Girl with Lace Gloves by dashinvaine

Dona Gracia Mendez Nasi by dashinvaineThis one, of Dona Gracia Mendes Nasi, led to a series, years later, of illustrations for a book on the lady.

King Fulk and Queen Melisende by dashinvaine
Fulk and Melisende, prefiguring a return of my interest to matters Crusaderly...


Hugues de Payens by dashinvaineAt the gallery, came to think that I was stagnating doing the framing job, which was convenient but not challenging. Just then Steve made me redundant, since times were worstening, economically, and he had to cut costs to feed his family. Again serendipitously, I had noticed that there was a Crusader Studies MA being run jointly between Royal Holloway and Queen Mary's University of London. I also received a small inheritance at this time that would cover the tuition fees. It seemed like a natural progression, since I had something of a speciality in that period already. I gained a place on the course, which proved a fascinating interlude. I got to meet such experts in the field as Thomas Asbridge, Jonathan Phillips, Susan Edgington and Jonathan Riley-Smith, and attended many interesting seminars. I wrote another book, 'A to Z of the Knights Templar' while also doing the course, and later expanded my dissertation, on the cult of Mary Magdalene, into an ebook.

This Templar was done at this time:
Templar standard bearer by dashinvaine

Some gothic beuties were also done:
Top Hat by dashinvaine

For Bocklin a Bride by dashinvaine

And some spitfires:
Spitfire Mk V by dashinvaine
among other things.

I continued to do a bit of framing work at the gallery, but due to the cost of learning to drive, had to take a full time job on a hospital reception desk, the least said about which the better. That occupied the year of dread 2008, allowing only a few paintings to be done, including this one of San Georgio Maggiore in Venice.

San Giorgio Maggiore by dashinvaine

This 'Beached Mermaid' was another picture done in this period.

Beached Mermaid Fin by dashinvaine

I was thinking that it might be nice to start my own art gallery, and discussed the idea with my good friend and fellow artist Carole Humphreys, from Swindon, whom I had met via DeviantART. My sister was living in Leomington Spa, and had set up a card shop, and there was a nearby property opposite a beautiful church, that would have made a nice gallery. Carole and I got so far as to attend trade fairs researching the venture. I also carted paintings up to sell on a stand in the Electric Ballroom indoor market in Camden, London, on one of these occasions jointly with Carole. Made a couple of sales, each time, enough to cover travel costs and to get a pint of guinness at the World's End pub after!

London Gothic by dashinvaine Stalker of the Deep by dashinvaine
A couple that sold in Camden.

Little came of the gallery plan, especially as my sister decided to close her shop in Leamington and to take a design job elsewhere. Still getting on the mailing list for these trade fairs, especially the Spring and Autumn Fairs in Birmingham, proved useful for my career as it developed, namely freelance illustration.

I continued drawing, too, including work on my visual stories 'Expectant' and 'The Blackguard'.

In early 2009 I secured a trial placement at Spiral Direct, potentially to be working laying out the calendars for their ranges of gothic teeshirts. The environment was much to my taste, and I was on the point of moving out to Croydon, before the placement fell through. During my time at Spiral I was introduced to the possibilities of an up-to-date version of photoshop, with a stylus for drawing rather than a mouse. Was given a bit of a tutorial by artist Andrew Dobell, many of whose fine works feature on Sprial products. This was a huge eye-opener. The manager of Spiral opined that I should pursue freelance illustration, and indeed after this taste of the milieu I would not have been able to return to a non art-related job. It was also nice not to have to leave mum stranded, (although by now we had been joined by the new dog, Buster). And there would have been the problem of what to do with the car.

This skull was something I did while at Spiral. Dobell's influence can be discerned!
Bonie Goes Punk by dashinvaine

So I got hold of a new computer, and did a home-learning course in dreamweaver and flash animation. The course also meant I was able to get Photoshop CS4 at the student rate. I redid my website, and also gradually shifted my output from traditional oil painting to digital art. Getting to grips with such mysteries as layers and textures. I began listening to the Ninja Mountain podcast, which gives many essential tips for functioning as a freelance illustrator. I also subscribed, to Imagine FX, and was featured in one issue.


 As time went on I found myself doing more commissioned work than personal pieces. I didn't go into web design although I redid my own site, and also made one for Carole.