A few pics from a recent trip to the Arctic. I had been invited up by Inhabit Media who I have been working with on and off for the past decade on their Arctic Myths project. This was my chance to actually experience the land that I had been illustrating from my imagination.
The first pic is me in full Arctic survival gear.
The second pic is a dog team we saw on the ice one day.
The last pic is a couple of our snow machines and the epic landscape we traveled in.
Just back from a two week stint in the Arctic. For years now I have been working on an ongoing project concerning the mythology of the Arctic and now I have finally made a trip up there to breathe in the atmosphere and get a proper feel for the landscape. It was a very fun and exciting adventure.
Now that I am back I have been in my sketchbook and here are a couple of recent sketches.
Fresh spring rains are falling and washing away the last of the persistent winter snow. These feral little creatures can now be observed in your garden if you are sneaky and patient. I should probably remind you that these little beings can be aggressive and if you try to catch one you may get scratched. Be careful and be quiet.
This is a bit of the doodling and designing I have been doing lately. Netsuke Nymphs, Fauns, Pixies and Sprites. I use the word Netsuke because it refers to miniature Japanese sculptures and that is essentially what I have in mind when I'm doodling out these little characters. The next step of course is to get some modeling clay and sculpt one.
A little watercolour from last month. The drawings you have seen before and the changes were made in order to improve the design.
I had originally drawn her with a flower but I felt a lot better about the drawing when I changed the flower to a sumac twig. I like the long thin leaves of the sumac tree because I can put them where I need them to be to complete the design that feels right to me.
This time we are going back to Gwelf. My schedule last year deprived me of much of the time I normally spend painting and investigating the Gwelf region. This year I intend to make up for that lost time and visit Gwelf more often.
Here we have an old Raven Witch tending her mushroom circle. She protects it and feeds it and in return it offers her escape and travel. The kind of travel that can only come from a mushroom circle or "faerie ring" which, as we all know, can be an instant portal to the nether world for any ignorant mortal foolish enough to step within. However in this case the Raven Witch cultivates the circle and thereby controls it's magic and it's power. She is a traveler.
Time is short and I will get back to all of this "circle magic" as soon as I can but I wanted to be sure to drop in today while I had a few free minutes and update with you all.
It all starts with a drawing. When I begin I have only a vague idea of what I want and do my best to find it and get it down. I am improvising as I go and curious to see where it will end up. I am not thinking in colour when I am drawing but rather in misty monochromatic tones such as Arthur Rackham might have used - nondescript sepia and paynes grey. The colour choices come later.
I now take this drawing and with the aid of a light box trace it onto, in this case, a sheet of 140lb cold pressed watercolour paper which I have taped to a piece of Masonite - watercolour palette close to hand and ready to go. I have already begun to lay in a few tentative washes as a way of tip toeing into the picture. Blue for sky and shadows and yellow for trees.
At this stage I am working in watercolour and just laying in the broad washes in order to get a general feel for the picture I want to make. I am thinking the light will be coming from the right in a late afternoon warm sunset kind of atmosphere. I am still being very careful - no bold or gutsy displays of artistic gusto. Often when I get to this point in a picture I rather like it and think it looks fine just as it is and I should stop. However I know I must soldier on.
I now have the picture more or less established in watercolour and it is time to switch to gouache which is a much more robust water media. Both watercolour and gouache are from the Winsor Newton brand and are colour matched perfectly. Now that I have a reasonably good idea of where I want to go, gouache is going to get me there faster. I am not yet utilizing the opaque potential of the gouache, that will come later, at the end of the process. For now I am just putting unmixed colour on the board.
This is where I commit to the painting and continue to add gouache and really get the picture established. The colour scheme is presenting itself. The feeling now is that the train has left the station and it is up to me to not run it into the ditch.
Here is where I start to use the gouache in it's opaque form and begin over painting the way you might if you were using oil or acrylic - light colour over dark. We do this by mixing white into whichever colour you want to make opaque and lay one over another. In this way I can bring things forward and have them stand out or push them back and let them recede into the background.
The final stage is one I really enjoy. The painting is mostly finished and I now can go in and refine details and clean up edges. This is where gouache really shines because I can make all the little corrections and adjustments that finish off an image. I also like to get in there with colour pencils and make little scratch marks and blur any areas that seem to tight or dark. I may yet go back in and fiddle with it some more, but for now I think this one is finished.
While I was working on this picture I had the "My Neighbour Totoro" art book out and occasionally leafed through it for inspiration. I did not want my picture to look like that movie but I was hoping to tap into a bit of that spirit.
I will be more than happy to field any questions you might have.
I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you will be able to find a little peace and quiet this holiday season as Mr. Fox has with his air-cottage.
Many years ago, perhaps 15 or so, I made this drawing of a forest nymph and turtle. It has always been a favourite of mine but for whatever reason I left it alone and waited for the right time to paint it. But recently during a break I decided to give it a go and at the same time get back in touch with an earlier version of myself. It was surprisingly easy to adapt to the way I used to draw and think about picture making even though the way this version turned out is probably very different to the version I would have painted back then.
My little excursion back into the animation business appears to be over for the time being. Three weeks of intense drawing and design have come to a blissful end and now it's time to get back to business. Today I'm sharing a bit of warm-up work, a wee doodle of a narcissistic Pixie.
What I have to do now is to let go of the animation world and transition back to my own realm of tree-houses, b and b's and map reading foxes. To accomplish this I will be painting for the next week - no pressure just fun.
But today we have a Pixie taking a personal moment on a flower of somewhat dubious origin.
Yes, I have really been out of the loop lately. I have been lured back into the animation business and left with very little time for anything.
What I am sharing with you today are a couple of character line-ups I did for the graphic novel before the animation thing started up. These are meant to be background characters and also a general exploration as to how the Gwelf characters might look in this particular story.