Here's 'Pied Piper' finished, he seems to be playing a jaunty little number to go with his outlandish get-up.
Again this was another challenge for me, to date I have never completed a satisfactory medieval street. I can only guess the multiple storeys each one overlapping the one below is the main architectural detail I tend to struggle depicting. However reference is key and I managed to use a few old illustrations for guidance and a photograph of St John's alley in Devizes which I took years ago.
Lots of gouache went into the chickens to help define their features and bring the wing forward on the front hen. I was also pleased with the shadow being cast over the brood of chickens in the middle-ground which contrasts nicely with the birds farther back in bright sunlight (but also a lighter tonal range to suggest atmospheric perspective).
I've started work on two of these ideas this week, the lamplighter and the pied piper fox. The others are an old fashioned rag and bone man (these days it seems scrappers looking for metal have taken their place) and a record keeper which will be loosely based on Autumn Scribe.
The top two are for later on but first I have to master multiple hens dancing and the awkward perspective created by medieval buildings on a hill in the pied piper. With the lamplighter the difficulty will be snow in misty London and the soft glow of a gas lamp. I'm ready to accept the challenge!
Here is another painting I finished last month and a bit of the process behind it.
I started off with a few thumbnails that I eventually worked up into a more rounded rough (see previous post). Then I did the usual sizing up and transferring onto stretched watercolour paper but this time I only did a slight underpainting on the background, leaving the characters of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in white. The main reasoning was to let the local colours of the figures be a bit more punchy, I didn't want a sepia underpainting to mute them.
I started with the sky first but quickly realised I was never going to to get a smooth finish in watercolour. I generally try to stay away from masking things because you tend to get some nasty hard edges and tide marks that can be really difficult to lift out with the brush after the masking fluid is taken away. I decided to move onto the rest of the painting and then come back to the sky at the end with some gouache.
Above you can see the majority of the watercolour work finished. Note the painting is sharing a the stretched watercolour paper with another painting but don't worry I've protected that one with acetate (top tip!).
On to the gouache sky:
Hmmmm, not great. I was going for a flat graphic look but the challenge I had set myself was to make the background the lightest tone, the sky the mid tone and the characters the darkest tone. However because the background is not actually that light I had to compensate by darkening the blue sky more than I would have liked which then challenged the darker characters for supremacy. It was an epic battle and it wasn't resolved until my client said 'lighten up'. So I did, I lightened the sky on the horizon with white gouache.
Retreat From The Windmills
Watercolour / Gouache
24 x 31cm
It was really hard to go back into a dried flat sky, rework the bottom half and keep an even transition with the top half. Next time I'm putting clouds in.
A few weeks back I finished 'Bedtime Story', I'm sorry it has taken me so long to post the final image. This scene is the type of thing I will hopefully be experiencing with my son very soon and therefore this painting is already dear to my heart. Having said that hopefully his bedroom won't have tree roots built into the walls.
As a quick aside, the lamp is real and it's on a sideboard illuminating my keyboard as I type this post. I've been meaning to get it into a painting since we bought it 3 years ago.
A blast from the not so distant past. I was given the a brief to create the phrase 'In The Pipeline' (the question mark was added later on) using about 5 stock images of pipes. Below you can see the trials and tribulations I went through trying to get the words to be legible and still all join together realistically.
The first attempt, took a lot longer than I expected and I hadn't accounted for perspective when I said yes to the deadline, even a single pipe with a different viewpoint to all the others would stand out and ruin the overall effect. I had to do endless amounts of cloning and jiggery pokery in Photoshop, the screw caps and joins were a godsend for hiding an perspective or pipe-join issues
Above you can see the second version which now has corrosion on the copper pipes and they have also been darkened in the hope of bringing the PVC pipes forward. It worked to an extent but the art director wanted another solution so...
...the copper pipes were removed and the white PVC was sprayed bright yellow. I also painted in a few cracks and leaks and changed the question mark period to a plughole.
Visit coverjunkie to see the final illustration on the cover.
This may not be my usual style but I enjoy trying something new especially when it's successful.
A quick shot of what I'm working on at the moment. I'm keeping the sepia under-painting light so as not to overpower the shadows as I feel this subject matter should be treated with a lighter touch than normal.
I have only just realised I never posted this finished painting on the blog.
Watercolour / Gouache
24 x 31cm
This painting was partly inspired by the moonlit paintings of Atkinson Grimshaw and with any good night-time scene you have to have the moon silhouetting the branches of a gnarled tree in winter - it's the law.
The pub which the sly fox is running away from is base on the Wagon & Horses at Beckhampton which is about 7miles from where I live. It has the most fantastic thatched roof and stonework, much better than anything I could have imagined.
This painting as ties in with 'The Card Game' which I recently finished. Thankfully the fox managed to escape the nasty looking stoats at the end of their game, however you can see the chase has only just begun.