Sunday 29 December 2013

'The Card Game' Idea

The last of my small roughs that has been approved (below). I still have a lot of working out to do (not in the gym, on my drawing board) before I even think about reaching for my brushes.
I hoping to give the viewer a bit of a shock in this one. At first glance it looks like a nice civilised game of cards in a warm pub, that is until you spot the stoats accusing look and small knife in his paw which he is about to brandish as the fox picks up is purse of winnings.

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Two New Sketches

I have to wait for these drawings to be approved but hopefully I'll get the go-ahead.
The first I like to call 'Retreat From The Windmills' and it is loosely based on the exploits of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza who are represented as an old wiry lion and a plucky meerkat.

The second rough shows a father mouse reading a bedtime story, I can envisage the warm glow of the oil lamp and the big patchwork blanket lending a very soft feel to this painting.

Merry Christmas everybody!!

Monday 23 December 2013

'Captain Seadog' Is Ship-Shape

I finished my latest animal painting last week, 'Captain Seadog'. He's now fully rigged and ready to set sail and aim cannon against 'Captain Ratbeard'.
Captain Seadog
Watercolour & Gouache
24 x 31cm
I found this piece challenging because there is not a lot of fussy detail and lots of open spaces in the composition. I kept going back to N.C Wyeth's treasure island paintings as I worked trying to grasp his wonderful sense of design and colour. It might not be up to his lofty standards but at least I successfully framed the otter's head with a light sail behind a dark hat and cast shadow over the eyes.

Thursday 12 December 2013

Open Studio This Saturday

If you are in Corsham please come in and say hello to me and Claire Baker. Apart from prints and originals I will also be dishing out slices of stollen which as the day goes on will probably get thinner and thinner as I start to run out - so come early!

Captain Seadog

Here is what I am working on at the moment:

This is Captain Seadog the navy captain sworn to guard the seas and coasts against Captain Ratbeard.

In other news I am now a father to a lovely little baby born called Arthur! He was born early morning Thursday 5th December and both him and mother are doing great. Hopefully that explains why I haven't posted much recently. For Arthur's first appearance on this blog I plan to do a small pencil portrait which I think will be much more appropriate than a photograph.

Friday 22 November 2013

Last Night At The Portrait Drawing Session

LtoR: Caroline Rudge, Chris Draper x2, Sue Webber, Chris Dunn, Isla Russell

Yesterday I spent a great evening sketching with a small group of artists in Biddestone, Wiltshire. It was the first of hopefully many portrait drawing sessions organised by Chris Draper, he also got his friend, Dave, to model for us. It was his first time and I have to say he did an excellent job, he hardly even blinked.

Friday 15 November 2013

Captain Ratbeard

Captain Ratbeard
Watercolour & Gouache
24 x 31cm

Ahoy m'hearties! Shiver m'timbers and host the main sail (blimey I don't I'll keep this pirate talk going), if it isn't Captain Ratbeard and his pi-rat-ical crew (get it?). I nearly had as much fun painting the Captain as writing this blog post. Here is one of those few examples of when the finished piece is very similar to the fleeting image I had in my mind's eye.

The sea spray was achieved by flicking masking fluid with a toothbrush and a lot of the glossy highlights were with prussian blue and white gouache. I struggled with the wet deck but by studying lots of Wyeth and Howard Pyle pirate paintings I eventually found a simple way of suggesting a thin layer of water. 

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Cheetah Chase (Past The Finish Line)

I recently finished two paintings, here's the first.
Cheetah Chase
Watercolour & Gouache
24 x 31cm

I had a right old time trying to get just the right colour in the stonework, I think I painted the column about 4 times. I have always struggled with lighter values in watercolour because there is so little room for manoeuvre when you use the white of the paper to act as your pastel white. Darker values are much easier as you can keep applying lots of layers until you get it right but lighter values are often a one hit wonder.

Overall I am pleased with the result, the cheetah has some nice reflected light on his chest (not that you can see it at this jpeg quality) and the dust cloud spurting from his hind leg was very enjoyable to paint. I'm also satisfied with the amount of characters and their facial details I managed to fit in such a small painting.

Next post... the other painting, brace yourselves!

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Captain Ratbeard

This is a bit of a jump from my previous post 'Cheetah chase' (more on that later). Below you can see a detailed rough of the next animal painting to go with my recent series of work.

I've decided to call him Captain Ratbeard, his long beard is braided but unlike Blackbeard it's not smouldering - I didn't think his hairs would stay lit in such a terrible sea storm. I introduced a tilt to the composition to add a bit of tension (see Dan Dos Santos post on tilting), I especially like the fact his body is counterbalancing the roll of ship as any good pirate with sea legs (or leg) would do.

The rat in the background, ropes and swinging lantern also provide a contrasting diagonal to the lines of the mast and wooden deck deck. I am yet to decide which direction the rain will be falling, with the wave or opposing.

The strongest contrasting in value will be focussed on Ratbeard's face. He'll provide a strong silhouette with his dark fur and hat against the foamy wave beating against the stern in the background.

Above is the transferred and outlined pencil drawing on watercolour paper ready to be painted. Below you can see it is on the same piece of stretched paper as 'Cheetah Chase' which is why I have not scanned that finished painting and posted it on the blog. Instead I have taped a plastic sheet over it as protection and been very careful to cover any gaps that might let in stray watercolour as I paint Captain Ratbeard.

Friday 25 October 2013

'Cheetah Chase' Progress

I took this photo on my mobile a couple of days ago. I'm now close to finishing but I have to wait until Monday before I'm back in my studio rummaging in my drawers for gouache paints. *Frustration*

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Apes Chasing A Cheetah In Ancient Greece

No I'm not having 'an episode', it's the detailed rough for my next watercolour painting which I developed using my perfectly 'rational imagination'.

Sunday 13 October 2013

Cotton House - Marlborough College

My first house portrait completed, although it's not a private home but a boarding house instead.

Cotton House is named after George Edward Lynch Cotton a well known victorian bishop and former headmaster of Marlborough College. Bishop Cotton left the college in 1858 to take up the office of Bishop of Calcutta, India. While in India, Bishop Cotton organised for shipments of clothing especially socks to be delivered to the poor Indian children he encountered on his travels. He would bless the crates of socks as they came in which gave birth to the phrase 'bless his/her little cotton socks'.

The original is now in the ownership of the current house master.

Saturday 28 September 2013

What's On My Drawing Board?

The preliminary drawing for a watercolour of Cotton House in Marlborough College of course, I can't believe you didn't get that!

Monday 23 September 2013

Peacock Arts Trail 28th Sept - 6th Oct

I'm getting all geared up for my open studio.

I have over 100 pieces of art, all available to buy at seriously low prices. I will be tweeting individual pieces regularly so you can get a flavour of what I have to offer so please follow me @chrisdunnillos to be in the know.

I am based at the Pound Arts Centre, Corsham SN13 9HX, next door to Penney Ellis and Claire Baker who are also taking part. My opening times are:

Sat 28th    10.00 - 17.00 (I will not be present but you will get to meet my wife, Suzanne)
Sun 29th   10.00 - 16.00
Mon 30th  10.00 - 17.00
Tues 1st    10.00 - 17.00
Wed 2nd   10.00 - 17.00
Thurs 3rd  10.00 - 17.00
Fri 4th       Closed
Sat 5th      10.00 - 17.00 (I will not be present but you will get to meet my wife, Suzanne)
Sun 6th     10.00 - 16.00

Link to Peacock Arts Trail website

Monday 16 September 2013

Night-time Reading

My wife was browsing through my website yesterday, it didn't take long before she started to exclaim, "where's the mole in the library?"
"What do you mean?" I replied.
"You know," then she gave me that look I only get from her when I'm being particularly dense. "The painting of the mole in a library, it's not on your blog."
"Isn't it?"
"Well, I can't find it"
"Oh, I thought I'd posted that already." I'd better point out I have a notoriously bad memory.
"You'd better do it before you forget - again."
"Yes dear" 

Surely not many married couples can have this conversation, normally it's where are the car keys, or have you put the bin out. However I'm glad Suzanne spotted my lackadaisical approach to blogging, so after a lengthy build up here is that mole in a library painting

Night-time Reading
24 x 31cm
Watercolour / Gouache

Thursday 12 September 2013

The Orator

 The Orator
Watercolour / Gouache
24 x 31cm

Hot off the easel, watercolour painting finished and scanned this morning! 

I had a bit of trouble with the values in this painting. I have attempted to increase them on Mr Toad while letting the background level out slightly in the hope that the main character will stand out sufficiently. Now, that's not easy to do when you have an open fireplace crackling merrily in the background as it forces you to develop contrasts so the flame look suitably bright. A lesson learned I think.

In terms of process I did the usual sepia watercolour under-painting, glazed local colour then worked the values in watercolour. Finally I added mostly highlights with gouache but I did darken his velvet lapels with a deep brown umber gouache paint.

Thursday 5 September 2013

The Orator - Work In Progress

I have to put this aside for the next few days but I finally think it's starting to come together.

Friday 30 August 2013

The Orator Work In Progress

Chris what are you working on at the moment? Why haven't you be posting regularly? Do toads drink whiskey? All these questions can be answered by the image below.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Messing About

I have just finished this painting today and now I want to hire a boat and go rowing on the river Avon. In fact I've a mind to take a picnic basket, rug to sit on and maybe a sun hat too - anybody care to join me?

Messing About
Watercolour / Gouache 
24 x 31cm

As with every painting in this series of work I have worked on top of a sepia underpainting in watercolour and then added the odd speck of gouache as highlights such as the holes in the straw hat and pesky midges skimming above the water.

Tuesday 13 August 2013

My most recent and best purchase...

is this stunning watercolour by top class illustrator Sam Weber.

This is the character Zoey from the cover of 'Fair Coin', a young adult novel by E.C. Myers. You can see how she appears on the book jacket here.

I always thought one day I would like to own a Sam Weber original, maybe a sketch that I could afford when I've started to collect my pension - if I was lucky. Now I have an original, for a superb price, direct from the artist and I still have my own teeth!

Mr Weber still has some work up for grabs on his website if you are interested.

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Freddie's Patrol

Here we have a painting I finished today. 'Freddie's Patrol' is the final painting of a set of three pieces, 'King Louie' and 'Lovely Day For It'. I enjoyed painting the dog's slobbery mouth although I'm sure I wouldn't enjoy it if he licked my face.

Freddie's Patrol
Watercolour / Gouache
24 x 31cm

Saturday 27 July 2013

More Painting Ideas

Below are two ideas that I will be working up into paintings next month.

'Messing About'
'Quick Getaway'

Monday 15 July 2013

Lovely Day For It

Just in case you ever wanted to know what a group of snails having a picnic in the rain looks like. I learnt a heck of a lot doing this one such as I've got to be really careful with the paper when wet. Suddenly out of nowhere marks started to appear as I painted which means I must have scratched it when I was stretching it or maybe let the paper get too wet and therefore vulnerable to the slightest indentation.

Lovely Day For It
Water Colour / Gouache
24 x 31cm

Number two of three for a private commission. The first was King Louie, the brief being the painting had to show lions and puffins. 'Lovely Day For It' was a barn owl and snails and the last painting will be depicting a basset hound and mice (see below).


Tuesday 9 July 2013


I have just put the finishing touches to 'Masterchef' this morning. You can see the odd highlight on whiskers and fur with gouache but the vast majority of the painting is water colour.

Water Colour / Gouache 
 31 x 24cm

Hopefully the narrative in the painting is very clear. I wanted to bring across a nice homely feel to this image which be in a contrast to some of the other ideas I have down the line for this series of work.

Thursday 4 July 2013

More new paintings...

Below you can see two paintings I am working on right now, even as I type this my other hand is holding a paintbrush, one eye is on the screen and the other eye is overseeing my brushwork. I'm also playing 'The Entertainer' on an old upright piano I have in the corner of my studio, I really hope the wind doesn't change or I'm stuck like this forever.

In order of appearance, sepia underpainting and corresponding initial sketch below.

Monday 1 July 2013

Frederic Lord Leighton Capri Paintings

I was in the Ashmolean in Oxford yesterday and I stumbled upon these absolute gems!

These are associated but not confirmed as a series of first oil sketches painted by Frederic Lord Leighton during an early summer 5 week stay on the Island of Capri in 1859. He was influenced by his friend Giovanni Costa.

The above painting and detail is my favourite, it stopped me dead in my tracks as I was trying to find a route back to the Egyptian and Nubian department. Going by size and style I'd like to think these are plein air paintings, according to the museum they were studies not intended to be seen by the public.

I hope to find out more on Leighton's Capri sketches.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

King Louie

King Louie
24 x 31cm
Watercolour / Gouache

I put the final touches to my private commission 'King Louie' on Friday at the opening of the Guildhall Arts Centre in Bristol. I was one of the artists demonstrating their craft in the gallery spaces as visitors manoeuvred around us. Unfortunately the scan above was done just before I took the painting Bristol so their are a few things missing which can be seen in the original (which is not in my possession). The original has a slightly more detailed tapestry and the contrasts in the kings skirt (if that's what it's called) are heightened.

As usual with this type of piece I produced a sepia under-painting and then began glazing colours but maintaining the details underneath. As a finishing touch I added gouache on the smoke from the brazier and the odd highlight on the fur, throne, hats and silver egg.

Saturday 22 June 2013

Iconic Britain 2013

I had an email recently containing this link for a new painting competition perfect for any realist painter. Iconic Britain 2013 is looking for iconic images of Britain, it could be buildings, landscapes, people or culture so long as it British.

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Progress, progress, progress.

 Two more days left to finish, I'll go into more detail about the process once it's completed.

Friday 7 June 2013

'The Art Of Storytelling' Exhibition At The Pound Arts Centre

I've been helping to put this exhibition together for a while now and finally it's ready to open. The private view is tonight and I cannot wait to hear what people have to say about the work on display. There is also a large stock of prints alongside the excellent originals all of which are available to purchase.

For more details click here.

Thursday 6 June 2013

Louie The Lion

Here's the next painting I have planned which needs to be finished in two weeks. I hope to make a start tomorrow.

Saturday 25 May 2013

The Bristol Art Prize - Call For Entries

The Bristol Art Prize is a new competition set up by the people who have been running the Bath Prize for the last few years. The Bristol Prize looks to be even bigger, anybody can enter and if your work is selected you have the opportunity to be part of a massive exhibition at the Guildhall in the centre of Bristol. The main award is a purchase prize for £5,000 and I believe more awards will be added to the website very soon. Entry deadline is Sunday 8th September.

Why not take a look -

Tuesday 21 May 2013

'Settling In' & 'A Winter's Guest'

Finished, scanned and packed all ready to be shipped.

A Winter's Guest
Watercolour / Gouache
24 x 31cm

Settling In
Watercolour / Gouache
24 x 31cm 

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Hedgehogs Progress

I've made a start on the next in my series of whimsical-animal-based-fantasy watercolour paintings (I need to think of a better title).
I'm really trying to push the warm and cool colour relationships in this painting and I'll have to be careful when I'm painting the snow, I've never been much good at that.

Friday 10 May 2013

Badger Progress

I've started the colour work which is just about all you can see as my mobile phone camera is too blurry.

Tuesday 7 May 2013

Badger Underpainting

Here's a little under-painting I completed today. On to the colour tomorrow.

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Royal Crescent Finished

Hurray! I finally finished my 6ft long painting of the Royal Crescent in Bath. Below you can see a stitched photograph which will have to do for now until I scan it properly.

Now let me get some sleep.

Thursday 18 April 2013

Online Security

Here's a spot illustration I did last month for Public Finance. It was to feature alongside an article about the ever changing battlefront that is online security.
It's completely different to my usual style but with it's retro feel I quite like it. The texture was actually taken from an older illustration of mine - reduce, re-use, recycle!

Thursday 11 April 2013

The Actuary Cover 'Planning A Prosperous Retirement'

Last month I worked on the cover for The Actuary magazine. The brief was to draw a man in his mid forties with the top of his head taken off so you could see all the wonderful things he is planning to do in his retirement. These activities include sailing, cycling, drinking champagne, throwing money in the air, all the things we hope for but might not necessarily achieve. I suppose showing pensioners with bad backs and arthritis isn't so inspiring.

I'm really chuffed to say that cover junkie picked up on this illustration, click here to view it as it's supposed to be seen.

Monday 8 April 2013

Spectrum 20

A list of successful entrants into Spectrum 20 has been revealed. I'm incredibly pleased to announce that this year my watercolour 'Autumn Scribe' will be one of the hundreds of images in the pages of the annual.

For those new to Spectrum visit the website. If you're a fan of fantastic art (Fantasy, Science-Fiction, Historical, Surrealism) then the annuals are a must for your bookshelf.