Wednesday, 21 October 2015

'Barging Through' Rough Drawing

'Mason's Joy' is causing a lot of disharmony on the canal.
This will be the final painting in my series of animal characters influenced by 'The Wind In The Willows'.

The setting is based on Horton bridge, on the Kennett And Avon canal near Devizes. In order to get the appropriate photographic reference, I took a very nice five minute drive, with my son Arthur, down to the bridge. Then with my two year-old in a harness on my bag, I trooped around the tow path with my camera in hand. While I took photographs, Arthur commentated on his surroundings - he especially liked the boats but he didn't think much to the police-badger.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

'Warming Up' Finished

Warming Up
Watercolour & Gouache
51 x 39cm
After a break from painting to work on other jobs, I have finally finished Mr Badger's kitchen. I'm very pleased with the final result but it does feel like I took longer on it than I should have. A possible reason for the drawn out painting process could be I decided to have red and black tiles, and a complicated Persian rug on the kitchen floor.

Below you can see a few photos I took as I painted. Sorry about the blurry shots, what can I say, having a wild badger model in your studio while painting can make your hand shake.

The beginnings of my rough drawing, getting the basic layout and positioning of the characters.
The finished rough - notice how I have changed the perspective, especially the fireplace horizontals. I realised I had to use two point perspective to create realistic diagonal kitchen tiles and so the two vanishing points positively affected the rest of the composition.
Once the under-painting was completed I then blocked in colour with a medium sized round brush.
I had nearly finished at this stage, I just needed to fully render the wash bucket, fireplace, food stocks and rug.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Peacock Arts Trail 2015

I'm very pleased to announce I will be opening my studio to the public during the Peacock Arts Trail this year. The trail is an artists open studio event encompassing Corsham and surrounding towns and villages. For more details on the trail and other exhibitors, visit the website -

My studio is at the Pound Arts Centre, Corsham, SN13 9HX. I am in studio number 2. From the car park, walk through the black peacock gate, to the left of the main building, and enter a small courtyard and look to your left and you will see my place of work!

Where I draw and paint things.
I will be open to the public on these days:

Sat 3rd Oct    -  10am-5.30pm
Sun 4th Oct   -  10am-5.30pm
Mon 5th Oct  -  10am-5.30pm
Tues 6th Oct -   CLOSED (sorry but I want to visit the other 55 artists exhibiting too!)
Wed 7th Oct -   CLOSED
Thurs 8th Oct - 10am-5.30pm
Fri 9th Oct     -  10am-5.30pm
Sat 10th Oct  -  10am-5.30pm
Sun 11th Oct -  10am-5.30pm

Entry is free and you will get the chance to see all my artwork from the past two years. That's everything to do with my animal watercolour series, plus the sketches and the individual magazine and private commissions I have worked on during that time. You will also be able to meet me and discuss art or whatever topic takes your fancy (except Star Wars and country music).

An artist's interpretation of what you may encounter when visiting my studio, subject to weather conditions on the day of your visit.
 I look forward to meeting you!

Monday, 24 August 2015

Artist Appreciation Month

August Is Artist Appreciation Month

Recently, I was informed by the folks at Patience Brewster about a project called 'Artist Appreciation Month,' in which artists are invited to talk about an artist(s) who has inspired them to create. Patience is an artist as well and designs ornaments and unique gifts for Christmas and year round d├ęcor. I knew straight away this would be the perfect opportunity to share with you a FANTASTIC artist and hopefully shed light on my early days of struggling to find my ‘way of painting’ - notice I didn’t say ‘style’.

John Howe

My first major inspiration, and the man who made me aware of illustration as a career, was John Howe. Everybody, whether they know it or not, has at some point seen his artwork, either on book covers, board games or in every single Peter Jackson Tolkien film.
Make-up artists working on the Fellowship Of The Ring, stuck this image on the mirror opposite Sir Ian McKellen as they turned him into Gandalf
I’m not going to do a great big biography or go into any detail about John Howe (you can find that on his website) in this post, instead, I’m going to concentrate on one single publication featuring his artwork - the 2001 Tolkien Calendar, published by Harper Collins.

I have been a big fan of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth since I was 9, when I read the Hobbit for the first time. Not surprisingly at such a young age I didn’t know anything about the huge wealth of Tolkien inspired artwork in the world, so there was a big gap between reading the stories and finding visuals. That happened at the age of 14, when I Christmas shopping in a local independent book shop (remember those!) and I stumbled across John Howe’s calendar. My world suddenly expanded as I bought it, got home and started to flick through the 13 wonderful pages (13!? - there was a pull out poster).

In my eyes, John Howe, had depicted the aged and menacing atmosphere of the Lord Of The Rings perfectly. Even the painting of the Black Riders in the Shire had a wonderful subtle creepiness and the gorgeous trees and environments just topped the whole thing off.
Black Riders In The Shire
Throughout all of the year 2001 (a Tolkien odyssey) I lovingly marvelled at each month’s artwork and I even scrawled on the days, which is something I had never done before or since. These days I just keep a diary - not as exciting but easier to fit in a rucksack.
This poster of Sauron's forces attacking Minas Tirith remained on my wall until I left home for University.
So how did this calendar inspire me? Well, for me it was the ‘Big Bang’. Quickly following the calendar I found books (and websites) about John Howe and other related artists. I started to use watercolour and I began copying John’s paintings (no I won’t be posting those!), and even when, during my foundation year, I had a hiatus from watercolour in favour of oils (because w/c is just so hard), it was John Howe who brought me back into the light and I picked up watercolour again determined to crack it.
Gollum Flees The Elves Of Mirkwood

The Argonath
 Since that first year of discovery, I have found other wonderful artists and maybe I will post about some of those in the future. But because John Howe was the first BIG inspiration, and the man who inspired me to paint and attempt a career from my own artwork, he will always be at the top of the pile. I’ve been fortunate enough to see his originals in a small show at the Illustration Cupboard, London, but unfortunately I just missed meeting the man himself that day. Hopefully in the future our paths will cross and I’ll get to be the awkward geeky fanboy I know I really am.
Legolas And Gimli At Helms Deep
To think about how I paint now, my first concern when beginning a new illustration is ‘atmosphere’, be it based on temperature, weather or emotion, I always want to convey some kind of atmosphere before the viewer notices what the main character is doing. For that major prerequisite you can thank that flipping calendar (it did actually flip over you know)!

Below are more illustrations from the calendar.
Horsemen In The Night
Gwaihir Rescues Gandalf From Orthanc
Shelob About To Leap On Frodo
The End Of All Things
The Grey Havens

Friday, 7 August 2015

School Playground

 'School Playground'
Watercolour & Gouache
66 x 50cm
After working on other jobs and taking a week off to teach a summer school course, I have finally finished 'School Playground'.

I'm pleased with the overall result but I do think I could have developed the relationship between the characters and first school further. Maybe by depicting a young animal going through the doorway or a few heads poking out of the windows? I'm not sure, but it is certainly something I will keep in mind for future similar paintings.

Enough of the internal soul searching... here are some pictures showing my progress.
Rough Drawing
Concentrating on the background after finishing the sky and trees
For this passage I was closely copying a photograph I had taken a few days previously
School finished, working on the playground now.
Bit by bit I worked through the characters
Keep painting...
... and painting
... and finally pull out the gouache paints.
The school is based on the old Corsham Primary school which is now the Pound Arts Centre - where I have my studio! Next door to me are two other artists, the superb Penney Ellis and the extraordinary Caroline Rudge. We have an open studio every Monday, so please feel free to drop by and say hello if you are in the area.

See if you can spot any of these animals in the playground. The two young rabbits might be hard to spot.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

School Playground WIP

No painting today as I am preparing for my upcoming illustration workshop at Marlborough College Summer School. However here are a couple of photos of the painting so far.
The drawing has been transferred and cleaned up with a 2H pencil.

Here the sky and trees well on their way and I've just started to block in the school and playground.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Picnic By The Lighthouse

Picnic By The Lighthouse
Watercolour & Gouache
70 x 50cm
Here is the most recent of my large paintings. It was surprisingly quick to finish, mainly due to the vast sky and relatively small amount of characters.

My aim was to produce an accompanying image for 'Rescue From The Storm', maybe depicting the day after - I'll let you decide.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

More WIP

I've spent the last day and half working on this and it's finally starting to come together.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Picnic By The Lighthouse WIP

Day One: Drawn up, masked and wet in wet blue sky
Day Two: Defining clouds, more masking fluid on the grass and blocking in
This is the sister painting to 'Rescue From The Storm'. The same lighthouse from a different angle and much more pleasant weather conditions.

I'm hoping to pick up my brush again on Saturday, which seems like an age away!

Monday, 8 June 2015

'Rescue From The Storm'

The finished painting.
'Rescue From The Storm'Watercolour & Gouache
70 x 50cm
I thought you might appreciate seeing the whole thing and a crisp detail, rather than the blurry excuse for a photograph I posted previously.
Detail: I might develop the Torchcliff setting in future paintings.