Monday, 30 December 2013

2013 retrospective

Here is a little slideshow showing some of this last year's output...

I wrote up most of the year's doings here: 

Not much to add except for a trip to Kensington on 7th December where I popped into Dragonmeet 2013 and met a few fellow artists. Also went to nearby Leighton House, late home of the late Lord Leighton. (I had a date who I thought was late, but the clock on my mobile was actually fast, so I rushed off from Dragonmeet sooner than I needed to, as it transpired...)

Had a good Christmas, presents included Brom's art book, imaginatively entitled 'The Art of Brom'. Very worth getting if you like that sort of thing.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013


Awful of me to so neglect this blog. Have been busy with one job and another... I recently thought I was coming to the end of my to-do list when it came to commissioned projects, and could see the light of the end of the tunnel, but then I had a load more requests, so they built some more tunnel, so to speak... All good, of course, but I will have to shunt my personal projects to the bottom of the list again. 

One thing I have managed to squeeze in is a calendar of pin-up girls and exotic animals, mostly wild animals that you wouldn't normally hang around with. It can be found on my cafepress store.This was somewhat inspired by the Philip Pullman concept of daemons in animal form.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Armour and such

But if a medieval/armour theme going on at the moment. Earlier in the month I went to the Wallace Collection. I'd been particularly aware of that gallery and museum in London, but I saw it in the background of a magazine where it had played host to some celebrity-ridden glitzy bash, and thought it looked like it deserved a butchers. It was well worth going, as it happens. Aside from many palatial rooms, the attractions included an extensive armoury, with many suits of plate armour (mostly from the War of the Roses and Tudor eras, horse armour, and intricately decorated weapons from around around the world.

This is a sketch I did of one of the suits of armour there:

Have been enjoying the BBC series 'The White Queen', about Elizabeth Woodville, wife of king Edward IV, and the politics of the day, dominated by the 'Kingmaker' Earl of Warwick. The era of the War of the Roses was never one I was too keen on because of the convoluted and internecine nature of the dynastic struggle, but I still love all things medieval. History seems to be quite accurately portrayed in this, too, which is nice. 

On a related note, an exhibition that I went to the other day at the fairly local Obsidian Art Gallery included the work of Graham Turner, whose images I had seen before, but who I didn't really know of before now. One of his main themes is the War of the Roses. Apparently he's a jouster, too, which must help him get a feel for the subject.

I have a number of projects on that are keeping me busy, including more medieval borders, and a medieval, Lady Godiva themed deck of cards. I'm also working on a cover illustration for author Jack Wootton, whose work is well worth seeking out. Other illustration work that I have lined up includes images of fantasy characters, and WWII soldiers for card games. 

Friday, 31 May 2013

Saints Preserve Us!

I have this week put my book 'Mary Magdalene: Biography of a Legend' on Kindle. I'd been revising it, wearing my long-forsaken historian's hat, having generally concentrated on art for a couple of years now. I also went into London, today, and happened across this Saints Alive exhibition in the National Gallery, which I found amusing and rather Pythonesque. It seemed fitting after delving into some peculiar saintly myths in the course of my Magdalene piece.

I went to the National Gallery after deciding against going to the Conceptart Workshop event near Elephant and Castle. The price just didn't seem to justify it, and I have things to be getting on with over the next few days anyway. Still I'm sure it will be a great experience for all who are attending.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Are Arts and Humanities Degrees Worthless?

Do not go $50,000 in debt and waste four years of your youth pursuing a degree that just isn't worth it. Take the time to buy and read "Worthless." It may prove to be a better investment than college itself.
The above, the premise of Aaron Clarey's book 'Worthless' got me thinking...

From personal experience I can't say that arts and humanities degees are entirely worthless. I did a joint BA in art and history, and some years later went back to get an MA in Crusader Studies, a rather niche area of medieval history. I have had two careers, as a historian and as an artist. I wrote a couple of books on the Knights Templar, but am now concentrating on a freelance illustration career, mostly with historical and fantasy themes. I daresay I am in quite a minority in having had some modest success in areas relating to degrees like the ones I did. These sort of courses are interesting, and good for the contacts you make while doing them, but in hindsight I see them as something of an indulgence. I don't know many other people on these courses who are still in related fields. (Someone from the Crusader course is now driving trains for a living, which in the scheme of things, is undoubtedly more useful and honourable as a thing to do, since people need to get to work more than they need to know about Zenghi of Aleppo's motives for attacking Edessa in 1144).

Although it was good and interesting to have contact and interaction with scholars in the field, in truth I daresay I could have learned everything I did during my historical studies from private study in libraries and online, and spent much less money in the process. So that is something to think about if you are considering doing a course like this.

Regarding art courses, I can't say that I learned much during my art degree that was of vital use as regards my present illustration work. It was a good time, though, and perhaps looks good on the CV, (and I grew as a person and learned a great many things unconnected to my coursework) but I'm not sure that I would recommend doing a general art degree rather than teaching yourself while avoiding costly tuition fees and  incurring student loan debts.

In general terms I would advise people to seek out courses that teach practical skills and knowledge. Avoid anything with a lot of critical theory or psychobabble. If you want to be a figurative artist/illustrator, seek out an institution that teaches technique, draftsmanship and composition. Seek out an institution that has churned out artists of the sort you want to be.

A degree should have a useful product. If the only thing you can do with the specialist knowledge is teach it to others then some might call the whole discipline essentially parasitic. Books that inform and interest the general public might be considered a product of the academic discipline of history. Thus the area of endeavour thus just escapes the stigma of being something without an end-product desirable or useful to society. As for art, the teaching should  be as practical and technical in nature as that which would be on offer on an engineering course. Artistic vision can't be taught, whereas no artist's work has ever suffered because the artist had an excess of technical ability to express their vision.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

'Wolf Temple'

Here is 'Wolf Temple', provisionally finished. (Thanks to those on CA who had some advice re lighting etc.)

Friday, 1 March 2013

Wednesday, 27 February 2013


Some sketches of a character.





Game of Thrones: Ascent

I was pleased to be involved with art for the facebook game 'Game of Thrones: Ascent', created by Disruptor Beam for HBO, and based on the well-known medieval fantasy franchise, ultimately derived from the splendid books by George R. R. Martin.

The game can be found here, ( why not join?)...

I have made some youtube videos showing the character pieces and the item artwork I did for this project.

Just a few more of these things...

Here is the backlog of 'daily' sketches...

Richard III.


Gabrielle d'Estrees

Schloss Neuschwanstein

Leep Castle, Ireland

John Howe. 'Celtic Myth'

John Howe. Balrog

John Howe, 'Knight'.

Whitby Abbey.

William Dobson 'James Graham'

Queen Elizabeth II (ish).

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Sketch dump

Hi All. Just in case you think I've been letting the daily sketch thing slide, here are what you've been missing...
They include some souvenirs of Les Miserables, which I went to see and which was very good.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013


Mortuary temple of Ramesses II, known as the Ramesseum. 

Ramesseum, Ram-you-don't.

Monday, 21 January 2013

A couple more sketches...

Klimt's 'The Kiss', and Ingres' 'Orpheus and the Sphinx'.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Wandered off.

I missed a day, but I have two relatively valid excuses. 1. I lost my sketchbook, and 2. I was busy drawing stuff that someone's paying for. Anyway, here is today's:

Sketched copy of Friedrich's The Wanderer.

Thursday, 17 January 2013


Axel Williams of Axel Will Airbrushing produced this  bike tank decoration

based on my artwork. Nice rendering I think! I could never get to grips with an air brush, so I have much respect for anyone who can do it.

My original digital piece:


Winston Churchill, during our 'finest hour', from a photo by Cecil Beaton...

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Bonus Nude

Ta da!

Female Knight

This is based on this photo, by kuskostock or at least the figure/pose is. I thought it was suitable to form the basis of a piece requested by mdkBlackWolf of their female knight character Terra d'Arcy.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

St Paul's Cathedral

Saint Paul's Cathedral, from one of my photos, and from an old image of the Blitz...

Audrey Hepburn and Picasso, copies from photographic portraits by Cecil Beaton.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Couple sketch

This was drawn from this stock.

Sort of lends itself to a maiden riding a centaur, I'm thinking (a theme I've visited before)...

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Watts what?

This was done from a photo of Naomi Watts. I'm going to try to improve at drawing recognizable likenesses of individuals. I suspect there's no particular trick to it- it's a matter of observation, and paying attention to the  angles of the various lines that define a form, and the relative lengths of these lines, and distances and  angles between key points. Also a matter of overcoming preconceptions about how things look, or should look.