Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Ipswich Museum

Apologies for the long silence on here - there hasn't been a great deal of 'stuff' to report on recently, but a couple of weeks ago I and a dear friend decided to take a turn about Ipswich Museum. I'd visited once or twice years ago with my high school, and I've been meaning to go back for... well, ages!

It's a very small museum, but I think it's absolutely beautiful, and so I just have to share some of the photos I took of it - permission has been granted by the museum, of course.

It's a general museum with various exhibits, but the part I wanted most to visit was the Victorian Natural History gallery that greets you as you step through the front doors - once you get over the mammoth towering by the doorway.



All the animals are Victorian mounted specimens and hunting trophies from all over the world, including the world's only fully-intact specimen of a Rothschild giraffe, highly endangered today.


The rhino that stands next to the giraffe was the victim of a theft a couple of years ago. Ivory thieves broke into the museum and hacked off its horn. They never found the culprits and the horn it has now is a replacement - with a little tag indicating that it is a replica.

Not even stuffed rhinos are safe from poachers!!!


Separate from the main Natural History gallery is another gallery dedicated mostly to British wildlife, in which there is a very nicely-made fox that I of course thought was far more interesting than most probably would!


It's just as well I didn't bother bringing my sketchbook with me as it's quite dark in the Victorian gallery (and i didn't want to make my friend stand around waiting for me to draw stuff!), but as the gallery has retained its old-world look the dimmed lighting just adds to the quiet, elegant feel.

Instead, I made some studies of animals from the photographs I took afterwards. Not exact copies of the specimens, as many of them are old and very... well... 'taxidermy-looking'. But I used their poses to make my own copies.
Red Fox and American Cougar

Great Blue Heron and Osprey
Male Muntjac skull


It's not a famous or large museum, but I think the Natural History gallery is wonderful! I hope they never even TRY to modernise it because it's just lovely!
If you're ever in the vicinity of Ipswich and like animals and old-style decoration, I highly recommend giving the museum a visit - with Christchurch Mansion also worthy of a gander a short distance away.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Natural History II

First post of the new year!! Right? *checks*
YES!

I hope everyone is sticking to their new year resolutions. My resolution to 'do art more good' is, I hope, progressing at a steady rate. I've been doing a lot of art this month, but most of it has been of the 'large images done in dribs and drabs that don't get finished for ages', so I don't have that much to show for this month's arty accomplishments at the moment.
BUT, I have, over the past couple of months, been drawing prehistoric creatures! Mammals, specifically. Mammals are my favourite group of Animalia, and who can resist the bunch of prehistory mammalian badasses that used to plod around where you buy your groceries and walk the dog?

So, here they are, in no particular order:

1. THYLACOSMILUS


These things. These things were like saber-tooth tigers. But way cooler. They were metatherian predators, which means they were marsupials - or part of the group of animals that modern marsupials developed from. They had weird plates jutting out of their lower jaws that their teeth slid against when they closed their mouths. The name suggests a close relation to the modern, but unfortunately also extinct, Thylacine, and I of course based my Thylacosmilus's coat pattern on a Thylacine, but since they went extinct a good 20 million years ago... the possibility of them having roughly the same coat pattern is probably unlikely (though if that coat pattern proved a particularly successful asset, then it could have been passed down largely unchanged). Anyway, because of the 'thyla' part of the name, I always pictured them as being pretty much Thylacines on steroids.

And so that's what I drew.


2. WHALE ANCESTORS

Whale ancestry is one of my favourite evolutionary things. Tiny deer/rodent-like animals becoming some of the world's largest creatures? Hell yes.


I started out with a Pakicetus, which is thought to be a very, very early basal whale. Their skeletons don't tell all that much about what they could have looked like in terms of fur and body build, but I always pictured them as similar in build to capybara, but with some serious teeth!

And after this, some slightly less detailed sketches of a couple of other early whales came about.




3. IRISH ELK


One of my favourite prehistoric mammals. Otherwise known as 'Megaloceros'.
Very, very big deer. With very, very big antlers. I always thought that if these deer shed and regrew their antlers every year like modern deer do, then it must have been a messy old time for them when they lost their velvet. Walking around with horrifically bloodied antlers like they'd just gored a mammoth.


4. SIVATHERIUM


Ancestors of the modern giraffe family, of which there are just two species left: Giraffes (with several sub-species) and Okapis.
I of course based my Sivatherium's coat pattern on Okapis.
I'm not sure how accurate I was on anatomy for this one. I have a feeling he's not 'giraffe-y' enough, and it was very difficult to get a good view of the shape of their horns. But, I still like him.


5. HYRACOTHERIUM



Early horses. Artist renderings of them always put me in mind of Chevrotains and mouse-deer, very sweet little species of deer-like ungulates. They are so adorable! So of course, my own interpretation is based on them, too.
Modern horses often stand and scratch each other's shoulders with their teeth, grooming each other simultaneously as a form of bonding, which is what my two Hyracotherium are doing here.

And... that's all my prehistoric mammals for now.

There will probably be another collection of them some time, as I have many more prehistoric monsters that I'd like to tackle - I haven't drawn an Andrewsarchus in a while...

Monday, 31 December 2012

End to 2012

Welp. Here it is. The final blog post of 2012!

I hope everyone survived the Apocalypse successfully enough to enjoy a very pleasant Christmas!
I know I did.

I thought I'd take this opportunity to show off my hard work since the summer - reconstructing my study area into a little Victorianesque office!
It will of course be an ongoing project to add to - I still plan on eventually getting a nicer (and bigger) bookshelf. The one in the photo contains only a fraction of my book collection!! But for now, it is essentially complete!


The first paintings to be completed in the new study were commissioned pieces that are now safely in their new homes. But, i can show you some horrible-quality photographs of them.


Aand finally, a watercolour painting I've been working on the past couple of days after messing around with drawing mountains on some scraps of paper.



I'm still trying to compile a list of New Year's Resolutions centred around art, and struggling to make it more specific than "Get more good at art".

Here's hoping for a successful and fruitful 2013 for all!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Miscellaneous III

Time for a new post!

A collection of illustrations, mostly experimental or free-time work done over the last few months. But also two recently finished paintings - painted in my new refurbished study - I did it up all Victorian-eque, with an old leather top desk, red curtains and ink bottles everywhere! Just in time for winter to sit and ponder, looking out the window at the snow-covered fields, twiddling my imaginary moustache (It snowed last night so I totally sat at my desk doing exactly that this morning - except for the twiddling of the imaginary moustache. I didn't do that...)

Anyway. On to the art.
Experimental piece - partially watercolours and partially Photoshop.
Based on my previous Venice-based single-page comic of masked river spirits beneath the Venetian canals.
It's night time, so they're coming out to play. I wouldn't join them if I were you.

Next up, a vaguely Bonfire Night-based image I made while fooling around in Photoshop. I wanted to draw a gargoyle, or more correctly, a Grotesque, since gargoyles have water spouts.


And now; A fawn!! Because FAWNS!!! Fawns are pretty.


Here are two commissioned paintings I've just finished. They are the first two paintings to be painted in my new refurbished study, so I feel the moment should be documented photographically.
(Yesterday I put on the first layer of acrylic varnish, and there was a horrifying few minutes where I thought I'd got washing up liquid on the brush because the varnish went cloudy and bubbly. So panic ensued where I thought I'd ruined about 6 weeks of work, but it appears the varnish was just trolling me as it dried perfectly fine on both paintings. Varnish does that, apparently...)



Aaand finally.
Two characters I came up with a while ago and have just rediscovered and decided to expand.
Jack and Maggie, two strange little thieves who like to hang around with magpies and jackdaws.



They may well pop up from time to time in the future.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Happy Halloween!

A quick Halloween-ish post today.
Mainly because the two images I want to show are of the 'spooky' genre, and so I may as well tie them in with this particular holiday.

I was doodling a picture of Black Shuck, East Anglia's resident Hellhound who prowls the fens and fields, bringing death to all who gaze upon him, when the most famous story of his demonic behaviour was featured on the tv show I happened to be watching (The One Show). Spooky coincidence!

Anyway, here is the resulting drawing. "Raarrr!!"



The second image is one I made a few weeks ago. An acrylic painting.
Meet Dog, Boy, Fox, Cat and Rat.
They're a family, don'tcha know.

(Dog is very Black Shuck-looking. I suppose there was a little influence from the legend, since I do rather enjoy it. Ghostly dogs are pretty rad!)



So, yes! I hope everyone's Halloween was a good'un, and you all survived the night unmolested by unsavoury demons, ghosts, zombies, monsters, and general murderous and scary individuals.

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Anyone who follows my work will probably be aware that I am rather obsessed with the Victorian era. I bloody love it! Aesthetically, in terms of interior and architectural design, it is just beautiful - all that brass and mahogany!!!

I draw Victorian-esque things quite a lot, and have cobbled together enough of them to post in their own little themed blog post.

First up, an image that occurred quite spontaneously while messing around in Photoshop. (I'm still getting used to this 'digital painting' malarky!)
Rather 'Wuthering Heights', no?



Next up, an animation. I haven't touched animation since two rather gruelling animation commissions over a year ago - both for stage productions to be projected on the background screen. But, one day I decided to open up Photoshop's little animation tool and take it up again. And two hours later, this was the result.


Finally, something I've finished very, very recently, but I started... 6 months ago. I had an idea for a single comic spread, and around April time I began it, but I had very little idea of how I wanted the thing to look, and so two panels in I realised I hated it. I abandoned the project for other things, but it stayed in my mind, and a week or so ago I decided to try it again after experimenting with indian ink. Again, I only had a vague idea of how I wanted the final thing to look, but I had a better idea than before, and with the magic of indian ink coupled with Photoshop, I settled on a style I thought suitable.

The comic is based on a character I devised last year, called The Lamplighter.



"He walks through London's streets every night lighting the lamps. As the new day arrives his black, sweeping coat snuffs them out again. you know he's recently been through your street in the morning if there is a thick mist hanging low over the cobbled ground.
No one knows where he came from, or where he lives. He will politely decline to answer if you ask him. He's just there. Every night."


The paper I used the ink on was a nightmare to draw on, so most of the details are Photoshop-applied, but the paper worked well with the ink, so I stuck with it!
No, I'm not telling you what exactly is going on. :)

I'm in the process of redoing my study into a little Victorian artist's study - so hopefully, within the month, photos of that shall surface on here! In the meantime, I'm going to continue my Victorian binge by watching recorded episodes of the BBC's 'Paradise'!

Good day to you!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Arrimals

Long time no post.

Animals are the focus of today's post.
I've been drawing them a lot lately, and have collected enough images I feel adequate to show.

Firstly, a little bunch of headshots for 3 characters of a silly little story of mine that is a subtle vent of my frustration in the fact that people can't identify very different animals. The animals in question in this story are Cheetahs, Jaguars, and Leopards. I see and hear people so often getting these species mixed up, and it really annoys me, as to me they look so very obviously different from one another.

In this story, Cheetah, Jaguar and Leopard are sworn enemies. People keep getting them mixed up, and they do not find it amusing...


And low and behold, the day after I make this image, what appears in the news but the story of a LION  roaming free in the fields of Essex. A massive police hunt was issued to search for this lion before it killed anyone, but no lions were found. Several days later, the photos taken by witnesses of this lion emerged, and it looked so UN-LION-LIKE I couldn't believe it. It was a house cat. A rather large house cat...

*RAGEQUIT*


Ahem...

Following on with the 'cat' theme, another little illustration-based picture, though this one isn't related to any story. It is just a storybook-like illustration I came up with while doodling. A Clouded Leopard crosses a river.



Next a hare watercolour and tea painting I made after I stroked a wild hare in the stubble fields while walking my dog. It crouched right at my feet, so I knelt down and said hello to it (as is the proper action to take upon encountering a wild animal - strike up a conversation.)



Next up, a random little watercolour fennec fox encountering a scorpion. I'd be running a mile if I came across one of those things (the scorpion, not the fennec!)



Aaand finally...

A bunch of animals native to America.
These were a bit of an accident. I drew the bison out in ink, but didn't realise the ink wasn't waterproof, so when I began painting it, it merged with the watercolour, but I liked the shadowy colours it produced, so I carried on doing it!


And yes, that is all I have to show for now!