Saturday, 13 November 2010

Marian finished.

I've finished my painting 'Marian'. It's also been added to my store, in the 'light fantasy section.

Marian by ~dashinvaine on deviantART

Friday, 12 November 2010

Marian, nearly finished

My latest oil painting revealed itself to be of Maid Marian, of Robin Hood lore. Coming on reasonably well, I feel, and nearly done. Stylistically I'm aiming for something inbetween those immortals J. W. Waterhouse and Keith Parkinson. (I only said 'aiming'.)

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Tate Britain

I popped into Tate Britain today, and some changes have been made. No sign of Draper's 'Lament For Icarus' or Waterhouse's 'Saint Eulalia' anymore. Instead we have more rooms than ever of minimalist blank canvasses, Damian Hurst's stupid dotty offering and some photos of the tights bunny thing. On one wall, something resembling a crooked ladder was stuck up. Another room was sealed off, with a real ladder lying in the middle of the floor, glimpsed through a tear in some plastic sheeting. The sign read 'room closed for installation'. I LOLd. I'm still not sure if the ladder was waiting for some workmen or whether it was itself the installation.

There were a few interesting new things, like a Harrier jet hanging from the ceiling, and I did yawn once or twice looking at some of Constable's paintings, by contrast. Obviously the spectacle of a jet fighter hanging nose down inside classical building is novel and visually more impressive than a painting of trees, but I don't call it art and I don't buy all the artist, Fiona Banner's pseudo-intellectual justification for the idea, which I suspect was made up after the idea was thought of. (There was another jet further on which was parked upside down. Upside-downness is a favourite theme of modernists, as Burdick observed).

By and large my opinion is that if you want to call yourself an artist, what you exhibit should be a product of your hand as well as your mind, and it shoud involve skill in composition and execution. Recycled aircraft and simplistic abstract paintings don't qualify.

Galleries like this tell the official story of art history, yet seem to conform to a particular ideology. People profess to appreciate this stuff and find it profound because they have been conditioned to, more often than not, and because they don't want to commit artistic heresy, or be labelled 'Philistine'. But of course only a fool can't see the splendid cloth of gold from which the naked Emperor's glorious costume is made.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

More WIPS on the Mermaid

Painting mermaids seems to be a good source of solace from the continuing problems afflicting on the surface of the world. Not that I suppose all is well at the bottom of the ocean. It seems to be mankind's greed for oil that has caused a great deal of carnage in two different Gulfs. It is one of the reasons why I am considering not replacing my car, (fond of it though I was).

A couple more sessions of work on the Red Mermaid painting result in the following...

I'm fairly pleased with how this painting's progressing. I've used a bit of metallic gold and silver paint in the face to add a bit of sparkle, not that it really photographs. I quite like the way the unfinished hair already seems to blend into the depth, and hopefully I'll be able to retain this effect.

I've got another mermaid on the go, too, but I didn't like the face I gave her yesterday (as per below) and today only got as far as scrubbing it out. She is une sirene sans visage, maintenant.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Illustration Process

An Example of a little illustration job for 'In From the Cold', part of the Dragon Warriors series from Magnum Opus Press.

- ½ page of the PCs – Male Sorcerer, 2 male Knights, male Assassin, Female Mystik, female Barbarian.

It was initially suggested that I might put the characters in a tavern scene, so my earliest sketches reflected this idea...

This being given approval by an assistant editor, the sketch was worked up to this in photoshop...

However it was ultimately decided that it would be desirable to have more of a focus on the characters, and it was suggested that they could be assembled in the Sorcerer's house at the commencement of the quest. I therefore redid the scene, managing to reuse a few elements of the earlier version...

Several other illustrations were done at the time including one with the following biref:

- ½ Page of the Melech demon breathing fire at the demonologist who is protected by the pentacle of protection. (These demons are tall, muscular, bronze-skinned humanoids, with malevolent but not unhandsome features and dancing flames for hair. They can breathe fire up to 10m)
I submitted quite a few different sketches for this one...

The assistant editor chose the strongest image and I sketched out the final composition...

The first version of the image submitted was this:

I was asked to revise it making the magic protection from the pentagram seem less like a glass dome. I duly submitted the following, which was signed off.

The other images done did not require revisions...

Monday, 1 November 2010

WIP Red Mermaid

Something else I've just started on. Looking a bit like a De Kooning at the moment. I don't think that's such a good thing, so I will be trying to refine it a bit. Still not entirely sure whether to have her underwater or in a grotto on the surface. We shall see.

Sunday, 31 October 2010


Here is a peek at a work in progress, started yesterday, one of a couple of personal pieces I have on the go...

I'm quite pleased with it so far and am letting it develope organically. Sometimes it's nice to start painting and see who or what appears on the board. I originally thought that it might turn out to be a character from one of my visual stories, Asterith the druidess. However she's turned out a somewhat more wistful figure, and a brunette (because there was brown paint on the brush), so probably not. As she has a medieval air (and looks less of a tomboy than the character I had in mind), I'll probably change it so she's riding side-saddle. Maybe a more precise theme will emerge as the piece progresses.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Portraits, Copies and Studies

I just made a little youtube slideshow of some of my studies and portraits...

Thursday, 28 October 2010

The Accolade

Finished my copy of 'The Accolade' by E B Leighton. Survived the killer chainmail!

The Accolade, after Leighton by ~dashinvaine on deviantART

Place of Memory

Unbelievably, it's 20 years to the week since our family holiday in Brixham, the little fishing town in Devon that made such a lasting impression on me. I was eleven at the time my sister eight, and we were both entranced by the place. We stayed at a former fisherman's cottage called Bay View, in North View Road. The view of the harbour at night was especially beautiful, with lights reflecting in the water. A photo I recently saw on DA reminded me powerfully of it.

Brixham-Tilt Shift by ~devincisharky on deviantART

We went back the two following years (1991 and 1992) but I haven't been back since. Brixham is picturesque place and I hope it hasn't changed. I have fond memories of the replica Golden Hind, the ship in which Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe, and of Perils of the Deep, the shell shop, the aquarium, the fishing boats...

At the end of the long pier was a strange industrial platform called Longbow, the function of which was a mystery at the time. I've lately looked it up and apparently it was a former salvage barge, converted into a missile testing platform for the Navy, and since put back into service.

Also in the harbour was a statue of William of Orange, who landed there and went on to become William III. It was and presumably remains a favourite perch for a Jacobite seagull who poops down the Dutch usurper's collar. Trips we had from Brixham included to Drogo Castle on Dartmoor, and to Dartmouth. We also went to Paignton, where we saw the Disney film The Little Mermaid. Ariel was the subject of my first crush. Silly, I know. (She'll never leave Eric...) This brief moment from my childhood explains the continuing fascination that I have with the nautical, and also why mermaids occasionally appear in my pictures. It taps into nostalgia for these times.

Mermaid's Perch by ~dashinvaine on deviantART

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Copy of The Accolade (WIP)

I've started a pencil copy of a painting I much admire, 'The Accolade' by Edmund Blair Leighton (1901). Full of gravitas and chivalric spirit, this has long been one of my favourite paintings, though I have not seen the original (in a private collection somewhere, apparently). Getting a likeness of the queen's face was a challenge, given that the whole face is literally smaller than a thumbnail, but it's coming on ok...

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Influence Map

I was inspired to complete one of the 'influence map' things that have been cropping up on DA.
Worcester Cathedral by night, Due South, Burne Jones's 'The Fall of Lucifer', Winona Ryder, Don Quixote, Bouguereau's 'Dante and Vergil in Hell', Vlad the Impaler, Royal Holloway University of London, a spooky mask, the spooky church from 'In the Mouth of Madness', a lemur, the replica Golden Hinde at Brixham, John Collier's 'Lilith', Lady from E. B. Leighton's 'The Accolade', Waterhouse's 'A Mermaid', Red Dwarf, Waterhouse's 'The Lady of Shalott', Guinness, Canova's 'Penitent Mary Magdalene', Knight from E. B. Leighton's 'The Accolade', HMS Victory, Howard Carter examining the mummy of Tutankhamun, the old Fella from the old DeviantArt back in the good old days, Father Ted, the Knights Templar, Kenneth Brannagh as Henry V, cup of tea, Lord Byron, San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, and Zurbaran's 'St Francis'.

Influence Map by ~dashinvaine on deviantART

Painting plans

Awaiting a call about a book presently, which I've propposed writing, and which the publishers seemed enthusiastic about. That will keep me occupied for a while. I've been working on the last few scenes for a web comic today, and have some backdrops for a game to do before the month is out. I'm hiping to get some traditional painting done soon, as well,soon, for a change from photoshop. I was thinking of doing a Lady of the Lake scene, for instance. I see recently has that as a subject for a character of the week contest but I was too busy to enter. I also thought about doing Shaijar al-Durr, the Sultana of Egypt and wife of the Mameluk sultan Aybeg, who first helped him come to power and then stabbed him (or had him stabbed) in the bath.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Tulip Bubbles

very busy on illustration projects of late, though found time today to go see the movie Wallstreet II. Quite good film, not the sort of thing I'd usually make the effort to see. The Michael Douglas character's allusion to the tulip bubble in Golden Age Amsterdam seemed a timely parable, considering the current economic climate. Also reminded me of the commodification of modern art.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Pietro Annigoni

I found this, the artistic manifesto of Pietro Annigoni (1910-1988), on on ARC, which reflects some of my own views, and which bears repeating. Annigoni was one of the generation of realist painters who confronted the shift towards abstraction, which came to dominate the international art scene. His portrait of the Queen of England is an admirable piece of work. Unfortunately half a century after the following words were written, realist painters are still shut out from the galleries and art schools that should be their natural place.

Manifesto of “Modern Painters of Reality”
(Pittori moderni della realtà) Milan, Italy, November 1947
We, “The Modern Painters of Reality” are gathered in a brotherly group to show our works to the public.

The favor and understanding with which the public has accompanied and supported our efforts over the last few years, our certainty to be in the right and that the others are wrong, have convinced us of the advisability and necessity of this exhibition.

We stand united with our strength, our faith, our ideals and our absolute mutual esteem. As opposed to the Ecole de Paris, born in France, but representative of a universal tendency of decadence, our art born in Italy represents an event of hope and salvation for art and this exhibition is meant to be a first effective contribution to the fight that is about to blaze.

We are neither interested nor moved by the so-called “abstract” or “pure” painting, procreated by a decaying society, which is empty of any human contents and has retreated into itself, in the vain hope of finding a substance in itself.

We disavow all contemporary painting from post-impressionism till today, regarding it as the expression of an age of false progress and a reflection of the dangerous threat that looms over mankind. On the contrary we reaffirm those spiritual and moral values without which painting would become the most fruitless exercise.

We want painting to be moral in its most intimate essence, in its style itself, a painting that in one of the dimmest moments of human history should be filled with the same faith in man and his destiny, that had made the greatness of art in times past.

We recreate the art of illusion of reality, the eternal and primeval seed of figurative arts.

We do not lend ourselves to any comeback, we simply keep on with our mission of true painting, which is the image of a universal feeling, which we want to be understood by many, not just by few “sophisticated ones”.

Long before gathering, each one of us had deeply felt the need to research in nature the leading thread that would allow us to find our true nature in the labyrinth of schools that have multiplied over the last half a century.

Each one of us has spontaneously addressed himself to reality, the first and eternal source of painting, confident to find his own expression in it.

In the face of a new academism or conventionalism, made up of the remnants of cubist formulas and of a standardised impressionistic sensuality, we have exhibited a way of painting that, mindless of fashions or aesthetic theories, is striving to express our feelings through the language that each one of us, according to one’s temperament, has found by looking directly at reality.

Signed by: Pietro Annigoni, Antonio Bueno, Xavier Bueno, Gregorio Sciltian.'

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Scott Burdick on the banishment of beauty.

(Above) Modern ART by Scott Burdick.

I'm a great admirer of the classical/romantic realist tradition, and an admirer of the great artists of the pasts, such as the Waterhouse, Burne-Jones, the two Leightons, Bougureau and Gerome. This is what I aspire to in my fine art, and though I hopefully edged slightly closer to it in paintings like 'The Lady of Shalott' and 'Tell Me More or Tell me Less', I'm under no illusions of being on that level yet. The frustration is that in the current art world, there is no incentive to pursue this ambition. Still I try, and by doing so gain a greater appreciation of the dedication, discipline, patience and skill that went into paintings such as those I was admiring in Oxford yesterday. I should do some more traditional painting, but I've been kept so busy lately with digital illustration commissions, not that I'm complaining.

I've just been pointed to Scott Burdick's discussion in a set of youtube vids, contrasting this tradition to what prevails in the Modern Art establishment.

He's preaching to the totally converted as far as I'm concerned. There are living artists every bit as skilled as the artists of the Renaissance and 19th century, as able to evoke elegance, beauty, emotion, grandeur, poignancy and deep humanity with masterful technical skill.

In many galleries, traditional art is represented up to a certain time (around the turn of the 20th century) and then disappears with only the modernist avant garde movements being represented. This, as Brudick argues, leads to the false impression that no one (with the possible exception of certain Surrealists) retained the ability or desire to produce technically compitent and aesthetically beautiful paintings.

The criteria of what makes art are held as valid up to an arbitrary point when experimental alternative ideas came along. This is well and good but we are led to take for granted that the experiment of modernism was valid in every respect, and that it was legitimate to rewrite the definition of art, which had essentially held good since the renaissance. Therefore none of the founders of the English Royal Academy for instance, would be considered serious artist by the present art establishment. Conversely, I doubt the founders of the RA, or subsequent members like Millais, Leighton and Waterhouse, would recognize the present members as their true artistic heirs. Contemporary traditional painting is only really well represented at somewhere like the National Portrait Gallery, presumably because abstract and conceptual artists don't excell at portraiture, for the most part.

Duchamp was significant in so far as he inspired a certain manifestation of existential philosophy that uses visual props and calls itself art. The thing is that nothing new has been said in conceptualism since Duchamp but conceptualists still rather dominate the art scene. This is a bit odd when you think about it. There are still people painting like impressionists and preraphaelites, or whatever, who are dismissed as obsolete and unoriginal and historically irrelevant by these same conceptualists who are themselves only churning out variations on a now-antiquated theme. So what it really boils down to is the establishment preferring a style than to any real progressiveness, and pretending that it is philosophically superior to classical painting. Part of the false premise is that beauty equates to cheapness or triviality, whereas in fact beauty is rare enough, hard won, and can be profound in its own right.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Pre-Raphaelites at Ashmolean

If anyone is anywhere near Oxford over the coming months the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition at the Ashmolean museum is worth checking out. If you like that sort of thing, it will be just the sort of thing you like. Focusses on the Italian subjects chosen by the likes of Rossetti, Hunt, Burne Jones and Rushkin and Noel Paton. Some brilliant paintings and drawings to be seen. One of the paintings that is really striking in the flesh is Burne-Jones' 'Fall of Lucifer', which anticipates the art movements and the tragic history of later centuries and is full of defiant melancholia. Another impressive exhibit was 'Dante meditating on Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta'.

The encounter with the shades of Paolo and Francesca is one of my favourite parts of the Divine Comedy, and is a subject I've attempted once myself in a picture. other things in the expo that were a pleasure to see were Italian landcapes and architecutal drawings by various artists (especially Ruskin in the latter case) which reminded me of my own visits to Venice, Verona and Florence.

Also had a brief look at the rest of the museum, which I haven't been too since I was little. Unfortunately the two main Egyptian galleries were closed for refurbishmet, which was disappointing especially as I'm having a bit of an Egyptian phase.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

An unusual gathering.

There is an unusual gathering on top of my writing desk... Bonie, Woodie Bagpus and Chalkie. Chalkie is latter a head thing I started carving. Bonie and Woodie were vital business investments. Bagpus is an old cloth cat.

Hellraiser Comics, Vampies and Egyptians.

Greetings gentle readers. Had a cheque for some chiristmas card design sales in South Africa today, from my agents at Image By Design, which was nice. I'm presently working on some darker stuff, another comic involving vampires for a certain website. Here's a wip of a section of the first scene as a taster.

Here's a sample of the Hellraiser comic I did recenyly on a favour for an associate, which will hopefully have portfolio application... been doing it in between other things and it's finally finished. Should be going online soon.

And here's a glimpse of the Egyptian characters done for a facebook game, quite a cool project to be involved with.

More details

Speaking of facebook game commissions, may be some more pirates on the horizon. Meanwhile may be going to Oxford next weekend, to see the Preraphaelite exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum, and maybe check out the Egyptian stuff. Last when there when I was little, and it's all been rebuilt since then.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

A Storytelling of Crows

I was just walking the dog around a big field nearby, where more crows were about than I've ever seen before. On the yellow stubble agains a sky where a storm might be brewing, I was reminded of Van Gogh's painting 'Wheatfield with crows', which has an ominous atmosphere. I've always been fond of crows, and their big brothers of the corvus familiy, the ravens, some of which I saw at the Tower of London yesterday. I was brought up with a superstition about magpies too, which was hardwired into me. It is supposedly bad luck to see a solitary magpie and not say 'Good morning Mr. Magpie, how's your wife today?' This was mainly something I got from my dad. It seems a magpie on its own could be the devil in disguize, or else that these birds are unlucky becaise they are the only crows that did not wear all black to Jesus' funeral! I tried to break out of this superstition lately and have been saying 'It's just a bird, whatever you've heard.' This was turning into an alternative superstition, however, and I managed to ignore the single magpie that I also saw on my travels just now.

I like the idea that the collective noun of crows is a 'murder' or a 'storytelling'. That adds to their gothic appeal. You also get a storytelling or an 'unkindness' of Ravens. I've experienced that. Magpies come in tidings, if you're lucky.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Tower and BP Portrait Awards

A messaged out of the blue this morning led to my going in to London to meet up with soneone I knew through deviantART who is on holiday over here from the US. Think it went well, met at the Tower of London where saw the Crown Jewels, armour and swords (swords make her happy). The punch bowl that is part of the crown jewels is no trifle either.

Prior to meeting up with them, went to the BP Portrait Awards 2010 at the National Portrait Gallery. A lot of stunning paintings, as there was last year. Many a 'wow' escaped my lips.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Brum and Coventry

Out and about today. I went to the Autumn (trade) fair in Birmingham with the usual incredible array of stands full of stuff. Hopefully made a few more useful contacts, and didn't break anything. Stopped at Coventry on the way back, where I have never been before. Had a look at the Cathedral- the gutted old one with its surviving magnificent tower, and the new edifice adjacent designed after WWII by Basil Spence- a concrete tunnel leading to the Graham Sutherland tapestry of Christ with his waspish abdomen and pharaonic feet.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Update + Autumn Fair

It's been a while since I've updated on here. Been busy with an Egypt-related illustration project which was well up my street. Also had to fetch my father from hospital the other week after his hip op. Have sold a couple of paintings lately and bought one which I've yet to collect. Will probably go to the Autumn Trade Fair at the NEC in Birmingham tomorrow, so see you there if you are going.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Draw, Antonio, draw, Antonio; draw and don't waste time!

Went to the British Museum yesterday to catch an exhibition before it closes: 'Fra Angelico to Leonardo: Italian Renaissance Drawings.' Quite busy and with drawings everyone wants to get their head up close. Worth seeing though, particularly intrugued by some of the allegirical pictures by Giovanni Antonio da Brescia, with whom I was not very familiar before.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Critique and Technique.

I went to the second of two day art classes today, given at the Rebecca Hill Modern Art gallery by local artist Ali Cockrean.
I was quite inspired by her work in acrylics, and learned a bit about applying paint with more texture. It's always useful to find out about other artists and their different styles and ways of doing things. We did a bit of colour mixing this morning which was something I needed to learn more about. Later I produced a quick painting of a dragon flying over some mountains. It's only small, but this is my first vaguely presentable picture done in acrylics in a long time. I was always fonder of oil and have made the transition to digital of late, though I like to keep my hand in with traditional art.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Gerome and Knight's review

I'm not local or loaded enough to see the Gerome show at the Getty.

I was just reading the below-linked rather scathing review by Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times. Knight accuses Gerome of inventing the 'sword and sandals' genre that is now has its home in Hollywood epics. There is some truth in this although the implication that this is somehow a low-brow 'populist' manifestation represents only modernist critical snobbery, and a warped set of artistic priorities. Why should drama, history, spectacle and narrative content be banished from the art gallery and exiled to the cinema? It makes no sense to me. I have often said, indeed, that the movie industry is the true heir of the great western art tradition, that which the modernist artists and critics consciously sought to bring to an end. Contrary to Knight's opinion it seems to be this lot rather than the classicists who lack a clue. Thanks to the denigration of the likes of Gerome a world of skill and knowledge was all-but-lost.

Knight accuses Gerome of a 'disengagement with art's possibilities.' A prejudice aginst the academic painters is revealed throughout Knight's review. An example is the irrelevant note that the winners of the Prix de Rome were always males. In fact one of the most notable winners, Bouguereau, would later do much to open up academic studios to female students (and eventually married one). There were as many female classical painters as there were in any other movement, many of them very successful.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Andromeda Finished.

Put some finishing touches to Andromeda today. Goes quite nicely in an old fashioned frame that's been waiting for a picture... Feel free to get in touch if you are interested in purchasing original works or know of any suitable venues for exhibiting. I would be much obliged...

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Andromeda wip

Something I started today is this painting of Andromeda from Greek mythology, who was nearly eaten by a toothsome beastie from the deep on account of her mother's boasting that she was prettier than the Nereids. Nice. It's time to break out the old oils and give myself a break from digital media. (The only bamboo involved is a component of my maul stick!)

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Kick It!

So England tie 1-1 with the USA in the Football World Cup. Jolly good this is, meaning we all retain some dignity and I don't lose any customers across the water! Most of my recent illustration clients have been based in the States lately (with the notable exception of Magnum Opus Press, which I seem on course to debut with). I'll confess, I'm not hugely into football, which oddly seems to capture the imagination of the females in my family more than the males. (My sister, who lives in Tottenham but supports Manchester, has a job designing footie merchandise). I get more of a patriotic stirring watching things like the Trooping of the Colour, which was this morning. For the last couple of years I've happened to actually be in London on the day and to get myself to the Mall to catch the parade return towards Buckingham Palace. This year I had a better view, from the living room. Here are a couple of photo from a previous year...

In so far as I take an interest in the world cup, I now look forward to supporting both the Brits and the Yanks. Any fellow Englanders- whose patriotism isn't compromised by their pragmatism- may be interested in some of the designs I've added to my cafepress shop, especially the Crusader section, where there is a range of stuff with the shield of Saint George.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Pirate Wench wip.

A pirate I'm working on...

Just been listening to Ninja Mountain, the illustration podcast, episode 67 (again some relevant discussions went on, including what to say and not-say online). Sorry to hear Jon Hodgson is leaving it due to work commitments. His wit and enthusiasm contributed much to the show. Still, if it means more art that's a consolation. Thanks to all the 'Ninjas' for their past and continuing efforts.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Dashinvaine Designs: Shop from the comfort of your own home...

Done more consolidating on my big main shop on cafepress, which now has a wide range of my stuff in several sections. If you like that sort of thing, it should be exactly the sort of thing you'd like. It can be found here:

Friday, 28 May 2010

We're All Doomed!

This struck me as amusing and suitable twist on the 'Keep Calm and Carry On' poster from WWII. Get it on teeshirts and stuff...

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Crusader Tattoo Design

This week I've had time to complete a commission to design tattoo for a brave soul who wanted a crusader battle to cover his whole back. Ouch! The design can be seen here:
Crusader Battle by *dashinvaine on deviantART

I was initially a bit reticent, as my comment makes clear, about the idea of putting an angel and a devil with the Crusader and Muslim sides, as there wasn't much to distinguish the two creeds in the era in question. I would have preferred to leave supernatural participants out of the equation.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Cafepress shops

I've recently opened several more cafepress shops...


Assassin Demon

Board to Death

Older shops linked to from here

Saturday, 22 May 2010

All's well that ends well.

It always puts things into perspective when terrible things happen or almost happen in real life. Concerns about what an illustration of a ship's reflection should look like, or gripes about the new interface on deviantART suddenly seem relatively trivial.

A female relative of mine was jogging in a park in the city where she lives, early this morning, when she became aware of a man seeming to follow her, matching her speed, stopping when she stopped, pretending to walk. And then he dropped his stuff and started running after her as she tried to get away. Fortunately there was a knight (on a shining bike) who saw what was happening and intervened. Something unthinkable might have happened had not this other guy been around. Thanks to him, and to whatever fortune or providence caused him to be there. I feel an abstract gratitude beyond the personal and am greatly relieved that the outcome was not worse. I would say 'thank God', but for the knowledge that many other victims have found themselves cornered by perverted predators only for no saviour to appear in the nick of time, with consequences that don't bear thinking about.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Hare today gone tomorrow?

In between working on a game project, I've started this odd oil painting based on the mysterious motif of the three hares joined by their ears. The intention was to get it done for a local exhibition on the theme of nature, but that starts on this coming Friday and there's no way it will be dry. I've been more experimental with this one (intuitive even) but I think it might be a failure, and I can see myself wiping all that wasted paint off tomorrow. There really is no substitute for proper planning and having a clear idea what you want to depict from the offset.

Saturday, 15 May 2010


Went to London again yesterday. The day included a picnic in Hyde Park, and the discovery of the source of the Serpentine. Then we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, sketched a pretty statue of Eve by Thomas Brock (indifferently) then visited the Strawberry Hill exhibition, with some of the artworks and artefacts collected by Horace Walpole for his extraordinary gothic revival house at Twickenham (which is currently being restored, and which will be worth visiting). We then looked at some authentic gothicry in the medieval bit. After an unplanned detour we ended up at an Italian restauraunt in Leicester Square.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Recent Stuff

This week a fairly major, on-going illustrati project on got going, and I'm quite pleased to have my instructions. Meanwhile the UK had an election. I spoilt a good walk by going in and voting, so some I have to take some of the blame for what transpired. There again it's probably for the best. Labour need to be put out to pasture for a while to get their act together. (Governments are like nappies, as someone said, they need to be changed regularly, and for the same reason). The Liberal Democrats should counteract the worst excesses of Toryism, and vice versa with some of the sillier aspects of the Liberal agenda. The coalition's the best that could have been hoped for, and I wish it well.

Speaking of crooks and unlikely alliances, I've started reading a book about Barbary pirates. I was interested to discover the career of Sir Francis Verney as a renegade, apostate and corsair in Algeria. I visited his family home Claydon House last year, but he was evidently not the ancestor they liked to talk about. They are keener on Edmund Verney, who had his hand cut off while holding Charles I's banner during the Civil War. (I went to Bradenham also this week, with another big manor house that was apparently the home of Benjamin Disraeli's father. Some beautiful woodland around there, good sniffing country for the dog.)

Also rather enjoying the new series of Doctor Who, which has so far treat me to the spectacle spitfires in space and (supposed) vampires in Venice. What more could anyone possibly want? Thanks BBC! I'm toying with the idea of getting a tweed jacket.

Sadly the world of fantasy art lost its granddaddy Frank Frazetta this week, famous for his conan illustrators, and his death dealer horseman, who has finally come for his maker...

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Hats and art

I've had the three paintings I entered accepted for an exhibition at a new art gallery in my home town, the Rebecca Hill Modern Art Gallery. The Old Vicarage, Market Square, Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire UK. HP27 0AN

The exhibition is themed on Hats and Shoes. It opens on Fri 7 May.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Sergeant Dan

I spent the day racing to finish the latest Character of the Week contest on, in this case the indomiatble comic hero Sergeant Dan. There have been some very good entries for this contest, really capturing the spirit of the old pulp comic covers. Mine is here...

I was pleased yesterday to confirm the sale of a couple of older pieces, actually from the old version of my website . A link to the archived pages and the more extensive galleries of older work can be found from the new site by going to the links section.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

New Website

I have spent the day finishing off my website (interrupted at one point by the Speaker of the House of Commons turning up on the doorstep). Got the new site uploaded just now. There is room for incremental improvement and expansion, but in general I'm happier with the slicker, simpler and more specialist nature of the new-look . I decided to keep the name, obscure and made-up as it is, as I've used it in a number of places besides online (including this blog) and may as well stick with it. I was worried I had too many sections in the previously thematic portfolio, meanwhile, so I've redone it grouped by medium.

Monday, 26 April 2010

AA come down!

The AA are trialling rocket packs. The future is here:

Sunday, 25 April 2010


An old drawing of Leonidas (the Spartan king) which I've started to colour. I'm still undecided whether to go with the enclosed Corinthian helmet from the original drawing or to go with a helmet showing more of the face.