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.