Thursday, 21 April 2011

Literal Eyes...

London Miles Gallery have an new show on soon called 'Literal Eyes'. To quote the press release: '30 artists from Europe translating their favorite works of literature into visual masterpieces'. Im fortunate enough to have been asked to submit a piece alongside some great artists and i chose to interpret Shakespears 'A Midsummer Nights Dream'- more specifically the queen of the fairies herself, Titania- the title of this piece.

I always thought Titania was actually a much darker character- at least in so far as you usually see her portrayed. Originally i wanted to do a big epic piece, full of the characters lounging around- akin to my favorite painting of the story by Edwin Henry Landseer but unfortunately i just didnt have the time for something so complex (just too much to do over the next few months!) so i chose to concentrate on Titania herself. I wanted to include some fairies but stay well clear of the usual sugary sweet variety that has become all to familiar over the last few years. Hopefully the darker edge i wanted to portray together with a contemporary feel have come through enough.. anyway, there you go, a little background for you!

Heres my piece, a few details and the show flyer. You may have noticed that London Miles have a new venue for this show so if youre going- make sure you note the new address! Show runs May 12th - May 16th, 65 Hanbury Street, Shoreditch, London.

The Enchanted Forest...

'The enchanted forest' is a forthcoming show at the Strychnin Gallery in Berlin that i was asked to participate in. Heres the press release:


Every single minute forest regions with the size of 36 football fields disappear from our planet. Such a massive removal of trees without sufficient reforestation results in biodiversity loss, habitat damage and aridity. Deforested regions typically incur significant adverse soil erosion and frequently degrade into wasteland. Nowadays, deforestation accounts for about 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emission which drastically affects global warming and climate change.

In concordance with the United Nation's International Year of Forests, Strychnin Gallery presents 'The Enchanted Forest' an international charity group show curated by Yasha Young and Giovanni Cervi that is dedicated to the forests and their inhabitants all over the world. The show should remind people of the drastic damage that is constantly done to our forests as well as their beauty, uniqueness and importance. Many lovingly and elaborately crafted sculptures as well as paintings and photographs by over 30 international artists will display both the desolation of deforestation and the forest‘s magic and liveliness that we have to save.

The long list of participating artists includes: David Hochbaum, Luke Chueh, Mia Araujo, Caitlin Hackett, Travis Lampe, Tom Bagshaw, Bethany Marchman, Mimi S., Seymour, Lindsey Carr, Skeleton Heart, Daniel van Nes, Christina Graf, Miraschi, Raf Veulemans, Lisa Black, Lisa Mei Ling Fong, Annie Bertram, Francois Escalmel, Wee Flowers, Squp, Tamara Ferioli, Fernanda Veron, Lost Fish, Angela Singer, Elmer Presslee, Lucy McLauchlan, Auriea Harvey & Michael Samyn (Tale of Tales), Sage Vaughn, Suzanne Moxhay, Yumiko Kayumawa and many more.

10 percent of the price of every sold artwork will be donated to a project of the WWF!


Of course i was more than happy to be involved and had a pretty strong idea of what i wanted to do almost immediately. Heres the final artwork and a little walk-through on the process behind it.

Quite unusually for me, i started out with a pencil sketch, yes- real paper and pencil! I didnt need a brilliant reproduction of the sketch as i was just going to be painting over the top so i just took a quick snap with my phone...

The next 3 shots are the quick greyscale forest painted in Photoshop over the top of the sketch, next up is a rough placement for the characters in the scene. Once i had these elements established i put a solid layer over everything and lowered the opacity slightly, then started sketching in the characters in more detail with a default round brush...

Once i had the sketch completed and given the characters some basic tonal work i did a few rough color tests then took a flattened high resolution file into Painter and began the long process of painting!

The final painting is 640x450mm minus frame (approx 25x18"), mounted, varnished and framed. The show runs from May 13th, for purchase enquiries please contact the gallery.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Imagine FX 69...

The latest issue of the fantasy and sci-fi digital art mag Imagine FX is now on sale and in this issue theres some great articles on painting fantasy landscapes along with the usual tips and tricks from some great artists. I was asked to the artist Q&A section with some advice on creating wavy / natural hair and also giving a character ghostly translucency. Im pretty bad at expressing myself through writing (which you can probably tell if youve spent any time on this blog) so hopefully the tips are reasonably easy to understand! Heres a few quick shots of the mag, if you see it on the stands make sure you check it out.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Kate Middleton...

I was recently approached by the guys at the Daily Telegraph Magazine with the possibility of doing a portrait of Kate Middleton for an upcoming feature. Everything was a little shaky as it needed to not only get approval from the nice chaps at the magazine but also by the big guys on the Telegraph itself, as this was the first attempt at having an illustrated cover (and to my mind- also of impending royalty) i wasnt holding out much hope that it would get in.

I really had no brief, just to produce a good likeness / portrait of Kate and to bear in mind the usual constraints of editorial work- room for copy!

My first piece came out really well (i thought), i wanted to try and get her hair up off her shoulders- shes always photographed with her hair down and i wanted to move away from any preconceived views. Although (minus a couple of small edits) this was sounding pretty good- when it came to the big meeting the fact her hair wasnt down- was actually a problem and she needed to be more identifiable! So back in with long hair! Fortunately the rest of the image was good so i was able to salvage the facial portrait and edit everything else. When i got a quick mockup of the cover it became evident that it needed something else in the background, a right to left diagonal which darkened the top left for the type to appear as knockout fitted the bill nicely!

Many thanks to Gary Cochran at the Telegraph for commissioning this piece via CIA and for pushing to get an illustration onto the cover of the Telegraph Magazine, with any luck this will get some good feedback and allow a few more through!

Heres the final portrait, closeup details and a quick shot of the cover (she got scaled up a bit on the cover!)