Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Rambling In Gwelf

The winter winds are still rattling the window panes here at the Mythwood Studio and there is more snow ready to land on us tonight. Yet, as unlikely as it seems, spring is still just around the corner and I know that there are some you who, even now, are planning your first walking party of the season. It is to you that I am directing this post. I would like you to consider an often overlooked route that starts at Cherry Hill Gate  and takes you right through Inverary and on to Tweed. Out of the way, yes, but well worth a try.

I mention this now because the Laughing Willow Inn has just been newly renovated and is again open for business. With that nasty exorcism of last year safely in the past and a new breakfast menu receiving high praise, I think you will find, as I did, that the Laughing Willow Inn is an enchanting place to rest your weary bones after a day or an hour of vigorous rambling. There is always an entertaining gaggle of fellow wayfarers for company and a fresh log burning on the fire.

By all accounts the rooms are snug and cozy and the beds are soft and warm. A perfect place to review your map and plan the next days excursion. Barliman Butterbur himself would find little to complain about in this charming and freshly painted little inn.

It should be noted that I am not in any way affiliated with this establishment and pass along this information merely as a courtesy, which is the occasional purpose of this blog.

One more thing before I let you go. It is my job to state the obvious so please allow me to proceed. The Cherry Hill Gate area can be a little damp and spongy in the spring so I recommend another water proofing treatment  for those old walking boots and be sure to include some extra socks when packing. A poncho might not be a bad idea either. And don't forget, there will be a warm fire burning in the hearth when you arrive.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to travel safely.

More soon.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

More Inspiration

A few more pieces that are inspiring me these days. First up are couple from a new discovery of mine, although you have probably known about him for years. Rene Hausman, A Belgian cartoonist, illustrator and graphic novel creator. I just found him on Pinterest a couple of days ago and he is my new favourite. I like his exaggerated cartoon style and the subtle watercolour work. I just love discovering new artists.

Next is an artist I have loved for many years now - Myles Bircket Foster. He is one of the Victorian cottage painters operating in Britain at the beginning of the last century. He is primarily a watercolourist but he likes to get in there with the Chinese White and do some opaque rendering as well. This one is just terrific. I love the way he takes the time to carefully work every inch of the painting. I feel like I could stroll into that picture and explore it all afternoon. The stone steps and little wooden railing are just terrific.

 Next is another Victorian cottage painter named Helen Allingham. She is also a watercolourist but I don't think she went in for the Chinese White the way Bircket Foster did. She was more for scratching out and colour lifting to obtain light effects or to place small flowers in front of large dark areas like hedges or earthen banks. She is also very detail oriented. Every part of the picture is important.

This last one is something I found on Pinterest. I don't know who did this but I think it is just brilliant.

That's it for now. Thanks for stopping by. More soon.

Okay, one more Hausman piece, just because those little birds are so cleverly designed. Look at the way he did their feet.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Pencil Dust

A bit of drawing. Even when I'm just messing around I like to try and come up with names or designations for the odd balls that appear on the paper. Giving them names gets them one step closer to being in a story.

A few ideas for some possible Gwelf locations and the scenarios that could unfold in these environments. I've been playing around with the idea of a pine cone shaped cottage. Or perhaps several pine cones pushed together. That's what we have below, and a short cottage with a tall roof. Oh, and some squat little gnome birds that travel those paths and live behind those windows.

I'm also seeing if I can get something going with the idea of an apothecary who has set up shop in a tree. She sleeps in the little cabin built into the upper story of her tree. Since she is a raven witch, she feels at home up there. Her human customers recognize her capabilities and respect her expertise but are nevertheless nervous and intimidated.

Thanks again for stopping by. More soon.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


I have been feeling somewhat guilty because I have not been able to share anything with you for a while. I was sick over the Christmas break and lost a couple of weeks there and then I'm right back into a project which is NDA protected - meaning it's all hush hush until it gets published.

So I think what I will do instead is share some of the art that really inspires me. The first piece is by Alan Lee. This illustration is for me the very essence of Middle Earth. For my money there is more Tolkien in this one painting than all five of the movies - the moody sky, the endless landscape, the old bridge and the feeling that you are in a charming yet dangerous wilderness, all pure Tolkien.

The next piece is by Alan Lee's old room mate Brian Froud. I love this picture for so many reasons, but mostly because it just says Faerie Tale. It has the gloom and the grit and the spookiness of the very best Faerie Tales. I love the girls hair and the patches on her dress - fabulous !

The next piece is my all time favourite John Bauer piece. This is another spectacular example of creating a Faerie Tale world or "secondary world" as Tolkien called it. The seemingly perfect nature of the symmetrical composition is beautifully enhanced by the writhing snake like roots that are leading toward the girl from both sides of the picture. And the two birds at the upper right are lovely little touch.

This next picture is from a Russian illustrator named Pavel Tatarnikov. This one is such a brilliant display of character rendering, not to mention the nearly impossible task of painting chain mail. I don't know how he gets his watercolour to do that but it is just stunning. I'm pretty sure he is using gouache to get some of those textures. The metal work and armour is fabulous too.

Here's another one by Tatarnikov - just for fun. And just look at all the work in those trees. I had a couple more I wanted to add to this post but it looks like Blogger wants me to stop here. More soon.