Monday, 31 December 2012

Daily Sketch 31/12/12

This was drawn from this

Daily Sketches

A new year is upon us. I thought it might be a nice project to do a daily sketch thing, to keep my hand in with pencils and to make use of some of the stock images I've stockpiled on DeviantART (among other reference material). I then thought it might be nice to turn the blog into a virtual sketchbook for the world to see, so here are some to be going on with...

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Nymphs of the Sword

No basis for a system of government...

My latest painting...

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Dragonmeet, Witchfest and pseudo-Queen.

Today I went to Dragonmeet. Wasn't able to meet the dragon, but met some very fine fantasy artists. Matt Dixon, Andy Hepworth, Ralph Horsley, Scot Neil, Sam Manley and Ben Wootten all had great stands in the artist bit, and were good enough to have a look at my portfolio and offer some useful feedback. Jon Hodgson was also there with Cubicle 7, and hopefully I made a few new contacts. Congratulations to all involved with organizing the event.

The other week I went to Witchfest. Thatfest. There were also artists' stands at this event, including the enchanting work of

And also had this Mercurial interlude recently, which was kinda magic (for Aylesbury).

Aside from that, still working hard...

Friday, 26 October 2012

More (Post) Preraphaelite Lushness.

I went to the Love and Death exhibition at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery today. I didn't know this was on until James Ryman mentioned it, there hasn't been much publicity, it seems, at least not that I'd noticed.

It was really the icing on the cake, after recent culture-vulturing, especially having half a dozen of my all-time favourite paintings hanging in one room. To wit:

Picture the scene; on one wall, Lord Leighton's 'Bath of Psyche', and 'Medea' and 'Morgan le Fay' by Sandys.

On the second wall, Waterhouse's 'Magic Circle', 'The Lady of Shalott' and 'St Eulalia

On the third, 'The All Pervading' by George Frederic Watts, and 'Love Locked Out' by Anna Merritt...

On the fourth, works including 'Lament for Icarus' by Herbert Draper.

Also in the room (where I would happily have set up home) was a beguiling bronze figure of Circe by Edgar Bertram Mackennal, who has a new fan in me. Photos of sculptures seldom convey much of their presence and power...

Elsewhere some pretty intricate works by the likes of Alma-Tadema.

Burne Jones was also well represented...
as was Rossetti and Albert Moore, but they don't do it for me so much. (I find the absence of narrative subject matter in Moore a bit unsatisfactory, but there we go...)

Many of these are borrowed from Tate Britain, and I had missed them there. The rest of the museum at Brum is pretty interesting, including the Staffordshire hoard of broken up but intricate Saxon treasures, more paintings from various periods, Ancient Egyptian stuff, a room full of Buddhas, and a little display about Olaudah Equiano, a former slave who became an abolitionist after some interesting adventures.

On the way back I found a cheap book shop, and bought among other art books 'Magic and Myth, the art of John Howe.'

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Preraphaelites, Grail Castles, dragons, and the treasure of the Knights Templar

On 3 October I went to the Preraphaelites exhibition at Tate Britain in London. A very impressive, very comprehensive exhibition featuring pretty much all the great works by the brotherhood. (So much so that it took up the whole day and we didn't get to see the Edvard Munch exhibition across the river- Preraphaelites win over Munch, it seems.) I made a souvenir slideshow for youtube which can be seen here:

Some of the exhibits were very up my street, especially those with a medievalist flavour. There were some specimens of the Holy Grail (Morris and Burne Jones) tapestries, the complete sequence of which I had seen previously in an exhibition in Birmingham.

Last week (7-13th) I went on a trip to Bavaria. Visited medieval Rotehenburg, which is a mixture of pretty quaintness with a slightly eerie atmosphere, like something out of a gothic novel. especially on a slightly gloomy day.

Also went to Nuremberg, and Ulm, and Blaubueren, where there is a pool of extraordinarily blue water, called the Blautopf, with a mill on it and overlooked on the other side by an abbey. It is the source of the river Blau, and is said to be the home of a water nymph (who pours a pot of ink into it on a regular basis).

Perhaps best of all Neuschwanstein Castle- the fantasy construction of the much misunderstood King Ludwig II.

Was treat to a spectacular glipmse of the beautiful castle above the mist, from the bridge that spans an awesome gorge between the mountains, ajacent. The castle itself contains exquisite murals featuring scenes from medieval legends, including Tristra and Isolde, Tannhauser, Lohengrin and Parsifal (Percival).

Very, very me, once again! And when I left the enchanted castle vanished completely.

On a slightly related note, I have gotten hold of the treasure of the Knights Templar. Eastgate resource have send me samples of the range of Templar-inspired jewelry that I designed for them. I have also seen a dragon. Nemesis Now have sent me pictures of the architectural dragon lamp that I designed for them, and I am very pleased with what they have produced. It has gone down well with the good people on Deviantart, too...

Monday, 3 September 2012

Autumn Fair, Templar Jewellery and Zombie Guzzlers.

It was that time of year again for getting the trains up to Birmingham for the Autum Fair at the NEC. Had two particular reasons to go this time: to see the good folks at Eastgate Resources, and the prototypes of my Templar jewellery range which were on display. And very impressive they looked too, if I do say so myself. They have been made in platinum, gilded in places, and inlaid with enamel. Here is a scan of the promotional sheet:

Here is a little promotional video I have made for the range...

Also visited the Nemesis Now stand, where I had a chat with the new buyer, and saw the finished product of a zombie wine guzzler (bottle holder) that I had designed. Unfortunately they are still waiting for the finalized model of the dragon lamp that I've also designed for them. Here is what it should look like:

Possibly generated some interest with other companies besides, which was nice. 

Also met artist Anne Stokes, whose work I've long admired. 

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Tattoos based on my artwork.

Always interesting to see when someone gets a tattoo based on one's artwork. Here is one I've just been shown...

Based on this drawing of mine...

I have had several tell me about getting my Cernussnos design as a tattoo. 

(And found a few online who didn't tell me about it...)

And ages ago someone got this Templar one done based on a drawing of mine.

If you're into that...

Monday, 20 August 2012

Bonie and Bunnies.

Eastgate Resource are producing cards featuring my images 'Three Hares' and 'Meeting of the Dark Angels' (their title for it is 'Illusion'). I've just received these samples, and they've come out very nicely. They should also be producing some Knights Templar themed jewelry of my designing in the foreseeable future. Which is nice.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Not dead at time of writing

I am not dead at the time of writing, but have been very busy with a number of ongoing projects. I also took on a painting commission recently, a portrait of a certain client as a knight. It was worth squeezing into my schedule as the subject matter is in keeping with the direction I wish to take my art, and I also welcome a change from digital, and a chance to keep my hand in with oil paint. To help keep myself inspired, I also made two youtube videos lately paying tribute to the artistic tradition in Britain (the apotheosis of which occurred during the 19th century). Also one especially on Waterhouse, who is my biggest painterly idol. Speaking of Waterhouse, I recently had someone contact me over facebook, about my Marian painting, which they had mistaken for a Waterhouse, and which they wanted to make a copy of. This was doubly flattering. The results of their labour can be seen here.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Rise of the Zombies

Here is Dan Verssen's promotional video for the card came 'Rise of the Zombies', which features my artwork. Looks like a jolly good game. Hope it does well...

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Damascus Steel Tutorial

I came up a technique for reproducing the look of Damascus Steel, useful for up-market swords. (Damascus steel is forged in such a way as to result in liquid-like, rippling patterns or shapes within the metal itself. It was a technique known to the Vikings but subsequently abandoned in the West, but it was continued by the Arabs during the era of the crusades, hence the name.) (Valyrian steel in the Game of Thrones world is supposed to have a similar look). I thought I would share it in my first tutorial, having benefited in the past from other tutorials that people have made and posted online.
1. Draw a plain blade, making the outline with the lasso tool and filling it with grey. Suggest the fuller (groove) down the centre, and make one side slightly lighter, to suggest the profile of the blade, with one edge catching the light more than the other. 2. Create a new layer above the blade and draw some squiggly lines across it in two shades of grey, one lighter and one darker than the original blade below. 3. Go to 'Filter' and then 'Liquify', and then smudge and push the light and dark grey lines around each other until swirls and patterns are generated. 4. Crop off the edges so that the pattern is only within the blade, and reduce the opacity of the layer to about 30%, or whatever looks best. (I'm told that a clipping mask could be used here, alternatively) 5. Create a new layer with the mode set to 'vivid light' and add highlights with the colour set to a very pale blue.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Keeping busy

I've been busy of late with two main projects. One is a facebook game based on a well-known fantasy title, about which I will probably have more to say later, all being well. The other is a series of illustrations for a biography of a certain lady who lived during the renaissance and who had an interesting life in interesting times. Recently I also did some alchemical illustrations as props for an indie film. Alas I am unable to show this stuff as yet. Also sold four more existing paintings. They are presently on their way to Florida, which is nice for them! The sold paintings are the following: Tamlina, Pensive, Top Hat, and Brown-Eyed Girl and Candle.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

RIP Simon Marsden

Saddened to hear of the death of Simon Marsden, my favourite photographer. I've got two of his books, he was quite a visionary.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

New dimensions

It transpires that my work is going into new dimensions, a third dimension, to be exact. I've just seen the prototype for a wine bottle holder shaped like a guzzling zombie, which one company will probably be producing from my design. I've also had a range of Knights Templar inspired jewellery approved by another company, and prototypes should be made up from my designs presently. Exciting times.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Tonal underpainting and artistic mindsets.

Doing tonal underpainting is something I've taken to doing of late in both trad and digital media. I'm not entirely sold on it but it's got definite benefits when it comes to making things stand out, and it also means you can put off worrying about the colour scheme, and can make changes without needing to match colours, which is a particular benefit in traditional painting. It also enables shapes and volumes to start taking over from lines, although I am still a line person at heart. I would rather look at a detailed architectural drawing of a, say, Rouen Cathedral, than a fuzzy impressionist painting of it. I think there are three default artistic mindsets when it comes to image making:
1.medieval- most interested in outline,
2. classical- most interested in form and volume,
and 3. Turneresque/impressionist- most interested in atmospherics.

I am conventionally line orientated, but am coming around slowly to the other things.

On a fairly unrelated note, I've had the benefit of a critique of a piece by the good people at Ninja Mountain. The piece was 'Retours', which evidently contained some faults that I failed to pick-up upon (or about which I entered into a state of denial) at the time. One lesson of importance was to establish perspective at the offset, otherwise the only solution is to introduce a lot of shadow to hide mistakes. I've also got to try to vary facial expressions more. I've got in the habit of painting fairly bland expressions. Sometimes, however, the subject calls for a bit more warlike of a look.

Here's some additional encouragement, from Gilbert and Sullivan:

His nose should pant
and his lip should curl,
His cheeks should flame
and his brow should furl,
His bosom should heave
and his heart should glow,
And his fist be ever ready
for a knock-down blow.

And from Shakespeare:

In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility,
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger:
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favored rage,
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect...
set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height...

Here is 'Retours' before and after the critique. (Normally I wouldn't tinker with a commissioned work after it was approved, but in this instance it required it, and the original client has been given the option of using the revised version, for which time should still allow).

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Joan of Arc finished...

I think this painting is about done now. A 600th birthday present for la Puecelle.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Google's 'visually similar'

I learned of this feature just now from reading an entry on it on the Gurney Journey blog.

Very interesting, and a good way of printing some nice wallpaper. I tried it out finding what the computer thinks is 'visually similar' to my 'Adderbite' piece. Here are the results...

Monday, 23 January 2012

Today's progress on Joan of Arc, impeded slightly by a visit to the pub after picking up the prints of my latest images for my portfolio, (which I will probably take along to the Spring Fair in Birmingham).

The halo is painted in gold metallic oil paint. The face also gains colour.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

The Contemporary Realist Movement.

Interesting article here...
I'd pretty much sign up...

Never permit conceptualists and abstractionists to appropriate the terms 'contemporary' and 'modern' for their style and their ideology. These terms are propagandistic, claiming a monopoly on what is valid in the present. Conceptualists and abstractionists are entitled to no such monopoly. Their art is based on experiments and revolutions that are old-hat, now, and which were never great successes. The 20th century avant-garde never produced greater art than that which went before. I don't believe most abstract art is even as good as much of the figurative ('traditional') work, produced by artists and over the same period (however marginalized they were by the art establishment during the years when 'modernism' reigned supreme).

The idea that non-figurative or anti-aesthetic art is somehow more progressive is baseless. We who advocate figurative art as a valid and virile movement should reclaim the language. We should avoid any terms which imply that figurative art is stick-in-the-mud or obsolete. At the least we should put distancing quotation marks around the term 'modernist', when speaking of a particular style related to a badly-aging cultural movement. No artist today should feel obliged to work within any tradition in order to be taken seriously. Choosing to draw inspiration from the Renaissance is certainly no less worthy than choosing to build on the questionable achievements of the 20th century 'avant garde'.

The only reservation I have with the 'contemporary realism' label is that it might seem to imply a focus on the contemporary world, and a mundane focus on the here-and-now. My own commercial art, however, is primarily fantasy. My personal work often reflects my interest in the past, and a certain romanticism and mysticism. 'Neo-Romantic or Post-Pre-Raphaelite', as it were, is more my thing.

Anyway. Here is how my 'Joan of Arc' is coming along... As you see a start has been made on the colour. I have some gold paint for the halo, the yellow is an undercoat.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Joan of Arc progress

Here is how Joan of Arc is progressing. Not too much done as had to go out to post Brigantia off, and to attempt to get some prints made up. I also bought some new brushes. Such is my rock n'roll lifestyle. (Also thinking about ordering a medieval knight's helmet off ebay, for reference, and to stop my dog miting my nose when I try to cut his claws).

Painted the chain-maily bits today. Not as difficult as some make out, but somewhat laborious. If I was doing this digitally I could use a photoshop 'brush' I've made which is quite nifty for instant chainmail, but as it's oils that's not really an option.

Planning to add colour as the next stage, the black and white underpainting being nearly complete now.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Warrior Women

Warrior women seem to be the flavour of the month. Recently I sold a commissioned piece 'The Windigo' featuring an under-dressed heroine slaying an alien.

And yesterday I confirmed the sale of my 'Brigantia' piece, a Celtic warrior goddess who is marginally better dressed.

I have also made a little progress working on my latest painting 'Joan of Arc', who actually has proper armour.