Saturday, 27 February 2010

Mary Magdalene youtube thingy

I made a little historical overview of story of Mary Magdalene, from the Bible and apocryphal traditions to medieval legends and relic-veneration. It can be seen here:

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Girl with a Pearl Earring

I made a quick monochromatic copy of Vermeer's famous 'Girl with a Pearl Earring', only using ivory black and titanium white with a little burnt umber and Payne's gray. I did this following en exercise recommended in 'Classical Painting Atelier' by Juliet Aristides.

Girl with Pearl after Vermeer by ~dashinvaine on deviantART

Monday, 22 February 2010

Mad Drax

I came up with an interesting scenario for a fantasy/science fiction/horror story. (The provisional title 'Mad Drax' springs to mind.) The idea was that a vampire grows weary of the world and the drudgery of killing and feeding and destroying anyone who gets close to him. So he goes into a deep hibernation, in some deep crypt
and wakes up in the distant future, which is post-apocalyptic. Somehow or other he encounters a beautiful woman, and one thing leads to another, and to the inevitable neck chomping... But instead of blood there is an electric spark, and in that moment they discover each other's secrets...
i.e. that neither is human, that she is a droid.
The interesting possibility being that in this relationship an odd purity can flourish. he's finally found a woman who is safe from his bloodlust, she a man who is not driven to use her for the purpose for which she was created (which can be imagined). Maybe she resembles his lost love from centuries in the past, and it turns out her creator modelled her on a painting that survived. Maybe the painting was by the vampire (of she who was his love and the victim to haunt him most) and the roboteer also saw the painting and fell in love with her.

It's the germ of an idea. After that I'm a bit lost, how to fit it into a wider story. It has potential either for a written work or maybe a graphic novel.

I thought about the twist that the mortal human race is actually extinct, and he has no-one to feed on, so is doomed, or whether to have something else dominating the planet...

Maybe the future is inhabited by zombie-like mutants, whose blood would now be poisonous to him, but who are so aggressive and destructive that it would account for his finding her in hiding. I think it should be a world of threat. Or esle maybe I could make that future dystopia something like the world of 'The Matrix', with intelligent machines using humans as an energy source. In order to keep her new friend alive the droid woman has to lead him through whatever defences to where the 'energy source' is stored. I also considered some allusions to the Biblical apocalypse. maybe I could have both ideas, with biblical references (the euphemism of choice for the perverted AI machines. The 'left behind' could be the toxic mutant zombie types, who are not of use to the machines. 'Heavenly Jerusalem' could be the energy farm, the facility where the yet more unfortunate 'saved' are stored.

This would be nice and ironic if the vampire had been a member of the medieval crusades in his mortal life. (I invented such a character in the past-
'D'Ashinvaine' was originally a character of mine who was a crusading knight turned into a vampire. I daresay I'd have to rename him now, if I resurrected the character, having recycled that name as a web identity.)

Unfortunate that someone's already written 'The Matrix' the idea of the inmates of that hellish power station being fed a dream of being in heaven would fit nicely here.

Some more Youtube videos.

I've made a couple more slideshows for youtube including the one here embedded with all my pictures on a Templar and Crusader theme...

Or if you prefer looking at Goth girls...

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Maya mania.

I watched the film Apocalypto today, catching it on BBC I player. Nicely done, but so gory that I wouldn't want to see it again too soon. Mel Gibson, the director, seems to be the man to go to for beautifully-shot, ultra-violent historical films in obscure languages. After some character-establishing scenes (involving the impaling of a tapir ) the action gets going when a small army of villainous Maya warriors come raiding the hero's forest village for slaves and sacrifice victims. Amid this violent backdrop, the hero, a hunter called Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood) lowers his wife and son down a deep, unescapable hole (for safety) before rushing off, as it appears, to single-handedly take on the elite Mayan death-squad. Self-confidence is a grand thing but it seemed a bit ambitious for him to think he might still be around later to fish his loved-ones out. Having been dragged from the jungle to the city, the Jaguar Paw is all ready to have his heart cut out by the priests.(The blue pain the sacrifice-victims were daubed in seemed to be making use of left-over woad from Braveheart (along with plenty of fake blood from The Passion. ) The unexpected solar eclipse that saved him seemed a bit of a Deus Ex Machina, especially considering that the real Maya priests were said to be great astrologers, who would presumably not have been caught out like this. Interesting culture, not often seen in films, with none of the brutality left to the imagination. The villainous Maya warriors were a fearsome looking bunch. Normally you have to go to Camden Town to see that many tattoos and piercings. These movie Mayas managed to look pretty warlike even with their bare buttocks on display, a fact that lends new meaning to the term 'Badass'. In short, don't watch Apocalypto if you like tapirs and namby-pamby cultural relativism, or if you don't want to go on a particularly unpleasant walk in the woods.

The arrival of the Spanish in the final scene ended things on a reflective note about whether it wasn't just as well in the long run- even though the colonization was just as dangerous, implicitly, to the more sympathetic, forest-dwelling tribespeople of central America as it was to the cruel urban cultures that raised the blood-soaked pyramids.

The film provoked me to do a little reading about early Spanish contact with the Maya. I discovered a personality who had not made much impact on my consciousness before, namely Gonzalo Guerrero. This chap would be the good subject for a picture, or even a story. He was a sailor with the Spanish Conquistadors who was shipwrecked on the Mexican coast in 1511. Captured by the local Maya, most of his comrades were sacrificed to the Gods. Gonzalo won his freedom, however, on account of his bravery and became a warrior serving another Maya lord, in which capacity he did rather well. He must have been a resilient character, with qualities the natives could admire. By the time the Spanish next encountered him he had 'gone native'. He had a married a Maya lady and had fathered three children by her (the first individuals ever born of mixed European and Native-American race. This in itself is quite a thought. The human race completed its circumnavigation and joined up the circle of the globe genetically in the Guerrero family). Gonzalo even had a tattooed face and pierced ears, as he wrote to Cortes 'what would the Spanish make of me now?'. He had risen to become a respected commander, and went on to champion his adopted people in battle against his former compatriots. Gonzalo's example goes to show that there must have been something to be said for the culture to which the Spanish conquest put an end.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Fantasy Art Youtube Video

I've just figured out what Windows Movie Maker does, and have made a slideshow for youtube, presenting my fantasy related artwork. Check it out if you care for that sort of thing...

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Spring Fair 2010.

I'm a bit tired now. I went to Birmingham's NEC for Spring Fair international 2010. Last year I went as a potential art gallery owner, this year as a freelance artist and designer. As usual there were great halls filled with aisle after aisle of stands art and framing, gift and home, greetings cards, knickknacks and fragrant things. Quite quickly I found the stand of Image By Design Licencing, for whom I am doing some traditional Christmas card designs. Met Lucy Brenham in person, which was nice, and had a chat. Soon after that I bumped into my sister Katie and her friend, who were there with their card company Danilo. Looked around some mileage of show, and got a snack. I made a few more contacts subsequently, including speaking to some people from a couple of companies I've beeb interested in working with. They seemed fairly interested in the little portfolio I'd brought along, so hopefully I'll have more to report in the forseeable future.

An interesting day and hopefully fruitful, though I will gloss over (and hopefully blot out) the train journey, and the fun getting the frozen car going from the station.

On an unrelated note, thanks to Elandria on DeviantART for letting me know that some of my artwork was featured in ImagineFX magazine- last month, the one recent issue I didn't buy! I've now ordered a back issue as it will be nice to see how it was presented.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Celtic Gladiator finished.

Just about got this image finished in time for the contest on

Friday, 5 February 2010

The Spirit of Spring

It was a beautiful morning this morning, a bit cold still, and mucky under-boot, but the sun was shining. While out walking the famous ginger dog, I heard the sound of flute playing, a timeless melody lilting down across the fields from the woods. It was quite enchanting and drew me closer, and I stopped to listen for a while. I didn't go close enough to see who was playing. I like to imagine it was a woodland nymph, or a fairy, or Pan, or Puck, or a beautiful Celtic maiden in a green dress. Who knows? The spirit of spring stirring life back into the world.

Monday, 1 February 2010

A Critique of Notional Geometry in Painting Composition

I've always been suspicious of the idea that great artists of the past deliberately routinely used Pythagorean/sacred geometry underlining the compositions of their paintings. I've been reading on this subject in the excellent 'Classical Painting Atelier', by the excellent realist painter Juliette Aristides. She wrote about how the natural harmonious points can be established by drawing lines dissecting a rectangle, making the pattern or 'armature' pictured above. The pattern finds the divides the plane up into half, thirds and quarters, and these divides are the visual equivalent, supposedly, of the perfect pitches of the musical scale. She went on to show how various key features of Velazques' Las Meninas, (and other paintings by Raphael, Vermeer and Ribera) were defined by these lines and dissection points. Still I was left with the slight suspicion that there may be little more than co-incidence to these correlations. I noticed that plenty of other significant features of the given works bore no obvious relationship to the diagonal lines and intersection points, and those that do could be the result of unconscious judgement or co-incidence. (One remembers the nonsense about the supposed 'Bible Code', and how it was shown up as nothing more than random chance). To test this suspicion, I decided to apply the armature to my own paintings, which I know result from no geometrical pre-planning. The first one I tested was my Amarna Princess. Various key points are defined by the armature. Various key features are contained within the diagonals, in precisely as Aristides described concerning the Old Masterpieces she discussed. Similarly with my Red Dragon piece. (The bottom of the circle sits 1/4 of the canvas height from the bottom, and various other key points line up, none of which was planned). Similarly with the Centaur, where the diagonals appear to define many of the important lines and boundaries within the painting.