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


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...



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!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Miscellaneous II

Long time no post, I'm afraid.
Several health-related things have been happening that's hindered my productivity of late, but I'm pretty much over that now and am back to the usual work, and so thought it was high time for an update.


I did. I'd been very worried it would go wrong in so many different ways, but I loved it right from the Opening Ceremony to the Closing (though that particular ceremony wasn't nearly as good as the first!)
I was lucky enough to get tickets to watch the White Water Slalom, and for the rest of the duration spent every single day watching the various sports on tv.
I hate sport, but the BBC managed to make it hella entertaining! I applaud their efforts, and of the organisers, the army and the volunteers.


Have been working on some stories and things recently. Continuing the search for a 'style' to produce some specific works in, which was touched upon in the last post. So, this post is a bit of a mish-mash of things.

First up, a tester illustration for short story of mine about the Lions of Venice and the books they guard.

"I can't read. I'm a lion. Not even an organic lion. I'm made of stone. To be perfectly honest, I shouldn't be talking to you at all. I don't quite know how I'm doing it. Saint Mark's Beard! This is a very perplexing situation!"

Next, an old, abandoned concept of an antagonist in another story, based on Erebus the Greek personification of Darkness. He started out as an 'Indistinct Shadowy Thing', but has since changed dramatically. 
I found this image half-finished of his early appearance and decided to finish it off because I still kind of liked it:

I bring the shadow that treads with you always
The night forever chasing the day from your skies
Light is a fleeting moment in time
The rest, I can assure you, is dark.

He's a moody bugger.

And finally, an image non-story related, but rather an interpretation of my favourite answer to Lewis Carroll's famous riddle:

"Why is a raven like a writing desk?'
"Because Poe wrote on both."

Get it?? Because Poe wrote on both? ON?

Ahem... yeah.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Magpies and Shrews


I've been doing a lot of balck and white ink work lately, as it's been a while. I love doing it; it's very therapeutic, much like pencil drawing. Of course, I have a particular fondness for it because it was one of the prime forms of illustration in the Victorian era, featuring in adverts, penny dreadfuls, children's books etc.

I thought it a good time to show an old advert I came across on the internet once for ball point pens. I used ball point pens for some of the work I'm going to show you today, and so thought this a fitting example of the crosshatched illustrations common back then:

So, now here I present to you two rather silly images - well, one slightly silly and the other very silly.

I think it's best to get the sillier image out of the way first! This, if you can't guess, is a... rather literal interpretation of Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew". This is what I thought the play was about when I was a child. Was I disappointed when I found out that the play in fact contained no shrews whatsoever, large or small? Yes. Yes I was.
There are not enough shrews in this play.

Miserly Magpie. 
The Scrooge of magpies, you might say.
The expenses-fiddling MP of magpies, if you will.

And now an experiment in ink with colour for a project I am attempting soon, but I first have to find and settle on a style and medium to work in. I keep changing my stupid mind over it. Practically on a daily basis.
Here is the most complete 'test piece' I've come up with so far in ink. I had planned on painting over the linework in watercolour, but realised halfway through drawing it that, like an idiot, I was using non-waterproof ink, so digital colouring it became. Oh well, I like how it turned out anyhow, and it does still look vaguely watercolourish.

I do love me magpies!

I've been coming back to this picture thinking it's not quite right. the magpie didn't stand out enough from the background. it was all too busy. So, I've blurred the background so that the magpie is (hopefully) more in focus. Here is the result. I think I prefer it:

And to finish off the general magpie-y theme of this post, a very small, very simple picture, again while experimenting with art styles for this project. It's very insignificant but I do like it.

So yes,  more experiments in styles may well appear before long. And I'm sure I still won't have made up my mind.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Natural History I

I've been on a brown paper frenzy lately. As stated in earlier posts I collect whatever bit of brown paper I can find to draw on later, and I've been putting some of the nicer pieces to 'good' use.
As you may or may not have guessed by now, I rather like animals. And drawing them is one of my favourite things to do.

Here are some of the more recent results of this hobby:

The Thylacine - one of my favourite animals, and unfortunately driven to extinction by Man just 80 odd years ago. Known also as the Tasmanian Tiger or Tasmanian Wolf because of it's dog-like appearance and the stripes on its back, it is actually related to neither. A marsupial, it's closest relative is the Tasmanian Devil.
(It's difficult to draw thylacines, as the only references anyone has to go by are a few very old, black and white, grainy photographs, or taxidermy specimens - most of which look like roadkill.)

Some smaller sketches of thylacine anatomy. They could open their jaws wider than almost any other known mammal, and could jump on their hind legs, similar to kangaroos. 

The Bongo. A rare tropical antelope native to various countries in Africa.

Cross Fox - an unusual partially melanistic colour variation of the Red Fox, once thought to be a separate species.

Common Genet - cat-like mammal, related to civets and similar species.

And that is all my 'brown paper animals' used up for now! More will follow eventually, though.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Needs More Beige.

I've suspected this for a long time.
I've thought it through late at night, questioned it, wondered if there was something wrong with me.
I've spent many hours struggling to change my ways by trying different things, different ways of doing things, but I always return to my old habits.

I can't deny it any longer. I must be true to myself.

I'm ready to admit it.


What the hell does that mean, you ask?
It means I have an obsession with making everything I draw beige. Like, seriously.
I can't help but add beige (I like to call it 'foxed' - the natural ageing process that causes paper to turn a faded coffee colour - but really, it's just beige, isn't it?) to everything. Even if I don't end up actually having a picture with a beige tint, I always at least TRY it.

It comes from my love of old papery things. Books, parchments, paintings. An old book can be about Pythagoras' Theorem for all I care - if it's an old hardback book with foxed pages I want it. Desperately. (And maybe part of the obsession comes from the word 'foxed'... maybe on some subconscious level I like coffee-coloured art because the word for it is based on my favourite animal?? Who knows.)

This isn't really a revelation of any great significance if you're familiar with my work, is it? It's probably been abundantly clear for many months that I have a tendency to nostalgia the hell out of my work. I was aware of it, of course, but I thought it high time I acknowledged it in human words.

Well now. Let's celebrate my officially coming out as a beigeaholic.


An illustration based on Aesop's Fable 'The Lion and the Mouse'.

Silly Greek Chimera character. These things always boggled my mind. A lion with a goat head just... stuck on its back. Plus a snake for a tail. No wonder it rampaged and destroyed things.

A trapeze artist sketch I decided to expand into a little vaguely 1920's poster-like picture.
No reference was used, so her anatomy is maybe a little off. I blame artistic license.

And finally, to finish off the decidedly beige and nostalgic theme of this post, have an internet meme I added a moustache to.
I call it 'Bitch Please Internet Meme with Moustache'.

Well, I think that's probably quite enough beige for today.
Hah! What am I talking about? One can never have enough beige!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Valle dei Templi

I went on holiday last week to Sicily, a proper relaxation holiday at a villa right on the south coast. It was the first real holiday I have had in about 6 years, as ill health has limited travel, but it was lovely to finally have a holiday like I used to as a kid, with a pool, sea and sun!

While it was mostly just an excuse to enjoy some sun, I was able to visit the Valle dei Templi at Agrigento, a beautiful collection of Ancient Greek architectural ruins scattered over a valley area. As of course may be evidenced by past blog posts, I adore Ancient Greek mythology, and I also adore the temples, and being able to walk around and get so close to such spectacularly intact examples of them was wonderful!

Temple of Juno

Temple of Concordia

Remnants of the Temple of Hercules

Remnants of the Temple of Castor and Pollux

I also did a few studies of the ruins - nothing of great detail:

Also did some teeny acrylic colour studies. No larger than 2 inches wide, so only rough and crudely-done. The blue sky is marker pen.

Also drew an olive tree. Just 'cause.

So, yes! I'm so glad I got to see those beautiful, yet sadly crumbling, structures. It was wonderful to walk through what would have been ancient streets.

And, yes, it's rekindled that obsession with Greek myths, as I'd anticipated. I knew the reprieve would only last a couple of weeks...

Tuesday, 15 May 2012


I've been sorting through sketchbooks and loose papers the last couple of weeks, uncovering stuff I never finished, sketches of ideas, random drawings etc. There are lots I really like, but many of them are in sketchbooks that are really difficult to scan or photograph. Anyway, I've collected together some of the more successful scans of animal drawings (my favourite things to draw) I've done over the last year or so:

I like moths. I don't like how they hurtle around, apparently giving no thought to the giant face in their flight path, but I like their patterns. And some of them look just plain cuddly!
I drew some:

(They aren't to scale)

Next up is a pheasant I painted for someone fairly recently.

Some hare studies from earlier this year when they were EVERYWHERE:

General studies of British wildlife that I quite like. Red fox, weasel, roe deer, rabbit (technically not a British species):

My version of a mythological Simurgh; a cross between a dog, a lion and a peacock.

Awful photo of a painting of a wild boar and young. (No, I don't have fuzzy walls, it's on the carpet here!)

And finally, a watercolour cheetah study.
Aaand that's all for now! I am going away soon for a week. I hope to do some drawing on my short travels, and might hopefully return with some nice photographs, too!