Sunday, 15 January 2017

Paisley Rabbit Cover, Leaf By Leaf (Part 1)

The approved rough design for the book cover
Last week I started work on the final painting for the book cover of Paisley Rabbit and the Treehouse Contest. Naturally this is one of, possibly the most important illustrations for the book, so I decided to enlarge the painting even further than normal to give me maximum room to create a really detailed and luscious watercolour illustration. Now, as I am still in the process of throwing paint at paper, there is no guarantee the finished piece will be luscious, at least I have given myself plenty of room to succeed (or fail).

As I type this, I'm probably not even halfway through the painting so I could be documenting a monumental flop. However I'm going to risk airing my underwear in public and if you don't like what you see, you can always 'unfollow' me and set fire to your PC, laptop, or whatever device you view the great worldwide web on.
Exhibit A - fuzzy photo of fuzzy pencil line
Above is the line drawing on stretched watercolour paper (Arches HP). Before I begin painting, I always email an image of the linework to my client to make sure no major changes are needed and I am good to proceed with colour. After all, pencil is much easier to erase than paint!

This linework is slightly different than normal in that I have been very selective in what I choose to outline. Normally I would treat the whole area of the image the same and outline all the aspects of the composition. However if I were to be so thorough and draw every single leaf, you can imagine how much longer the process would take. Instead I opted to draw the leaves that were pivotal to the cover (such as those interacting with Paisley Rabbit and where the title box would appear) and leave space for the others that would gradually appear organically from the shapes I created with the watercolour.
Wet-in-wet watercolour fun
Once the pencil drawing was approved, I began wetting the whole surface of the painting and then grabbed a large flat brush and started to slap lots of Prussian blue, cobalt blue, cadmium yellow and lemon yellow around the paper. This is my favourite stage in most paintings as I start to see things emerge as the wet colours interact. I juggle between what naturally happens with the paint and how my reference is telling me what the tree should look like.
During a reference trip in October I found this great oak near my home
This ivy was climbing up a gatehouse at Stourhead. I took this photo nearly 7 years ago!

Blocking in - choosing what to put in and 'leave' out.
After the wet-in-wet stage, I dried the paper with a hair dryer and started to block in the basic shapes and colours for the whole image. For this I used the same colours and also scrubbed out lots of paint too, especially where the blue sky was too dark and thus competing with the leaves for attention (I should have refrained from using cobalt blue!). I'm very concerned about creating depth in this image as the composition is very cropped with a very shallow depth of field.

The next job is to block in the basic colours for Paisley Rabbit and the birds (flycatchers). Once they are reasonably defined, I will return to the tree and really work hard on developing darker tones and form in the branches and upper leaves.

Until next time...







Monday, 2 January 2017

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Here's a little New Year's gift to you all.

In other news I have recently completed this illustration for 'Paisley Rabbit & the Treehouse Contest'.

31 x 39cm watercolour and gouache
Here Paisley is meeting the site manager and architect as they, and the construction team, begin work on building Paisley's treehouse.

As you can see, I started out with a cobalt blue underpainting, in the hope all the shadows would remain cool which would create a nice contrast with the warm spots of dappled light. I must confess, once the watercolour painting was completed, I did introduce some pastel cobalt gouache to the shadow areas on the trucks.


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Merry Christmas

Watch out for that tree, Santa!
Polar Bear Santa would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas (and so would I)!! If you decide to leave out some biscuits and milk for the big bear, please remember Mrs Claus has put him on a strict diet, so the vittles will have to be digestives (without chocolate) and skimmed milk only. Do not, under any circumstances, serve mince pies or sherry - you have permission to save those for yourself.

Here's the linework on watercolour paper just before I started to paint. See if you can spot any changes I made later on as I painted (there is extra holly).

Thursday, 1 December 2016

'Paisley Rabbit and the Treehouse Contest' Continued

My last post on 'Paisley' gave you a sneaky peak at the huge treehouse cross-section I was working on - click here. Thankfully I eventually finished it and I'm going to show you the whole full colour version, including lots of details hitherto unseen on the web!
The Treehouse Cross-Section, watercolour and gouache 53 x 102cm
This took me roughly 30 days to complete and really pushed my studio's capabilities. For example the painting, when stretched on board, didn't fit my easel so I had to work with it propped against the wall. Also most of the time I was stood with my back against the opposite wall trying to take in the whole image as it progressed. You will see in the shots below, it was very easy to get lost in the details of this illustration and forget about how the whole painting should be knitted together with a consistency in colour, tone and level of detail.
A ball pool with individually painted plastic balls. Why, Chris, why!?
A well stocked cellar ready for Christmas festivities.
No treehouse is complete without a cinema
An American diner, because it's the 1950s (and America).
I think we'd all love an entrance hall like this.
Paisley's on personal library, with a secret staircase running through a hollow branch.
 










Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Christmas Card Packs

This is the card design I will be using this year.
Lovefromtheartist.com are now doing special Christmas card packs of 6 cards for £10 (£1.67 per card) and UK postage included. Click here to see the pack. You also have a choice of seasonal messages to pick from, for the inside of the cards. Please take a look.

Monday, 31 October 2016

More illustrations than you can shake a stick at...

'Hey, Toad, look over here.'
Recently I have been updating my new website www.chris-dunn.co.uk . Please take some time to browse the site, as it provides links back into archive of this blog and highlight blog posts in relation to individual illustrations.

The most recent of updates is the full collection of 'The Wind In The Willows' illustrations I have painted for Guomai, a Chinese publisher. There is quite a number and I will be adding more in the next year, as I illustrate more scenes from the book. To see the collection, click here.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Flying Monk Arts & Crafts Trail 2016

It's time to make plans.
I'm excited to be taking part in the Flying Monk Art Trail, this year in Malmesbury, Sat 24th and Sun 25th September.

I will be exhibiting with Claire Baker Ceramic Art and the painter Mary Ray Smith, in the Burgess's Room, next to the Tourist Information Centre in Malmesbury town centre. Like all the other exhibitors during the trail, we are open 10am - 5.30pm. However unlike all the other venues, myself, Claire and Mary will continue to exhibit until Friday 30th, so if you miss the weekend, you have the rest of the week to drop in and say hello.

There is so much to see this weekend, just take a look at the programme / map below and start making plans:




Saturday, 10 September 2016

More Paisley Rabbit And The Tree House Contest

Here's a short follow up to my even shorter post last month. Below you can see the completed single page illustration of Mr Otter sat in a muddy puddle after failing in his first tree house building attempt.
"All under control - nothing to see here."
The next illustration I have been working on (and expect to be still working on it for weeks ahead) is the cross section of Paisley's magnificent tree house. The rough design for the tree house was a challenge, so goodness knows what state my brain will be in when I complete the final illustration. I can see myself sitting in the corner of the studio floor, staring, slack-jawed and unresponsive. Some people would probably not notice any difference in me!
One tree house to rule them all...

Propped up against my studio wall, and measuring over a metre in height. This watercolour is a challenge on all levels.


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Bear Mountain Books

Maria Schneider at Bear Mountain Books, has very kindly posted about my artwork. I also gave her a little bit of extra information regards inspiration for my characters. Please take a look - link 

In other news, here's the line work for the next 'Paisley Rabbit And The Treehouse Contest' illustration I am working on.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The Wind In The Willows

Over the past 3 months, and in-between other jobs, I have been working on a collection of 30 watercolour illustrations for 'The Wind In The Willows', to be published by Guomai in China.
Mole's house is getting a bit of TLC
It's a dream job for me, Kenneth Grahame's book has been a rich source of inspiration over the years. I just wish I had more time available to me to produce large illustrations instead of mainly spots. I think I will keep adding to this image bank in the hope I can get another book published in the future containing even more artwork.
Ratty sets out in the winter air to find his friend
You can see many more of these illustrations on my new website - click here