Wednesday 28 September 2011

Children's Book Rally

Short synopsis of 'Give Me My Bones Back' by Chris Dunn:

Walt is a small boy who lives in Shacottiby-on-Sea with his mum, his father died in a fishing accident involving a Blue Whale. The story begins with the appearance of a Blue Whale in Shawcottiby harbour who demands to have two bones returned to him. His bones are part of a large monument erected on a cliff top overlooking the town and are very dear to the towns people so they refuse to return them. A stand-off between the whale and the town ensues which last weeks. Walt is the only person who sympathises with the whale and decides to help him. He dodges the local bullies to loosen the bones from their brackets but has to stop to avoid being caught. He fails in his attempt to free the bones but that night there is a storm and lightning strikes the bones popping them out of their brackets and down into the sea. Walt doesn't find out until the morning that the bones and the whale have left Shawcottiby.

The above is a synopsis of a Children's book I have written. I have also finished two double page spreads which are the first four pages of the story. Why have I done this you ask? Because the blog Illustration Rally are holding a competition which ends this Friday that offers the chance to meet with some Children's book heavyweights. All you have to do is enter two DPSs of artwork and a synopsis of the story if it is an original manuscript.

I'm not going to release any of the finished artwork but for your viewing pleasure here are some quick sketches which I used to transfer onto Bristol board when working on the final pieces.

Shawcottiby is an anagram of Whitby Coast, somewhere I have regularly visited since I was young enough to be pushed about in a pram. Whitby's fantastic cobbled alleys and steep cliffs are a perfect setting for any kind of story, no wonder Bram Stoker first thought of Dracula there.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2011 Mini Review

This time last week I visited the private view for the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition. For me this was a lot of firsts. For a start it was my first private view, the first exhibition in London I have taken part in, my first entry in the competition and the first time I have seen a contemporary exhibition dedicated solely to watercolour.

The standard was very high, I still can't believe I was part of it especially when I saw the exhibition catalogue front cover. However walking around the room I quickly realised there was a distinct lack of figurative work. Maybe a large amount of portraits and such like didn't make it past the initial selecting stage or perhaps figures in watercolour paintings are not fashionable or don't sell? Who knows and who cares!? Next year I'm going for something with lots of figures - not too sure exactly what but there will be humans none the less.

Regarding the prizewinners, John Hunt won 1st prize (a pleasant landscape done in the purist watercolour tradition but not the best in show), Jonathan Pitts received 2nd prize (an arresting atmospheric painting of the river Avon, a worthy winner), Dennis Roxby Bott won the cityscape prize (a cracking name and an equally cracking watercolour similar in style to David Roberts, solid draftsmanship with a superb limited palette) and Philip Ciolina won the vintage classic cover art prize (not a lot of painting went into the piece but it suits the poetry book it will feature on). To view the winners and a much better write up click here.

A few other artists that stood in my opinion were Paul Birkbeck with his The Amorous Newt, David Forster's A High Wind Blew Over The Land, And The Colours Flew (Edinburgh) and Janet Kenyon's Manhattan. I should have taken photos but I'm afraid I was more interested in the free wine!

In other news I'm working on a couple of things which have to stay hidden for the time being, however I will post some of the loose sketches associated with these projects.

Monday 12 September 2011

'It's Raining, It's Pouring...

I finally completed my RWA entry over the weekend. The final artwork is roughly the size of A4 (29 x 21cm), maybe not the biggest but very detailed. I decided early on to include the rhyme 'It's raining, it's pouring,' in the painting. Below you can see details of where I hid the lyrics.

You might also have noticed that the painting seems very speckled. This was not an effect I wanted so I had to lay over some gouache especially on the old man's face to smooth the colours. I have a few theories as to why the paper speckled so much. Normally this only happens when I'm working very wet layer upon layer but in this case it could have been dust on the paper or more likely the grain was damaged. The piece of watercolour paper was actually an off-cut that had been sliding around in the paper roll packaging for a few months. So note to self be wary of cars, motorbikes, rabid dogs and old bits of watercolour paper.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Failed Sleuth

Here's a quick post for you! A complete break from the norm and I didn't get the job in the end probably because I haven't even begun to hone this style yet but I thought people might like to see it. The image below was part of a prospective commission that offered the job of illustrating a story in a Pulp Detective magazine. Here you can see one of the main characters sat in his office with some of his old boxing memorabilia from his past fighting career.

The artwork is comprised of a watercolour wash, black ink and then pencil crayon to lift some of the colours. I was reasonably pleased with the end result and I'm sure to expand on this style, for one thing I can have some finished art in a day rather than a week, which is a plus!