I’ve been working on private commissions for a while now, but I managed to find some time to share this with you! A Dryad is a kind of tree spirit. Symbolic of nature and usually connected to a particular type of tree. If the tree dies, so does the Dryad. For now, I’m focussing on getting the anatomy correct. Later I’ll be adding a forest environment and possibly adding more botanical elements to her body to make her more unusual. Hope you like it so far. Don’t forget to watch it in HD. I’ll be sure to share some new art with you once the jobs I’ve been working on are published!

I completely forgot to update the Journal with the second video of Jungle Heart! Better late than never though, right? Sadly I haven’t had much time to work on it since Part 2, because I’ve been extraordinarily busy with commissions lately. My schedule will be a little lighter next month. I hope to work on the Tiger as well as develop a few other ideas I have in mind. Until then, I hope you enjoy the video.

Dracula’s Guest

The image above is a closeup detail of my latest painting ‘Dracula’s Guest’.

Dracula appears in the horror novel, of the same name, by Bram Stoker. Stoker documents the story via a series of diary entries written by various characters featured within the tale. Dracula’s appearance is not described in great depth, other than early sentences portraying him as pale-skinned, long-haired, bewhiskered and gaunt with age, but tall, august and with a grip of iron. Latter details mention Dracula seeming to reduce in age throughout the book’s progression. We can assume this physical rejuvenation is due to sating his appetite with blood, the only sustenance he is seen to ingest. Therefore he is a man whose true age defies appearance and who’s intentions are known to none. In secret, he is incorporeal; casting no reflection upon the water nor looking glass. He is the shadow and the mist. He is the prowling wolf, the scurrying rat and the soaring bat, lit by the moon. He is the silence in the dark and the predatory eyes forever watching. 

Dracula, is an unsurpassed host, wielder of a relentless charm and intelligent wit. Thus his personality is one that intrigues and attracts despite the brief glimpses of fury, obscure behaviour and peculiarity of his turreted castle. Walk freely into his dwelling and you are forever his. No shackles restrain you, yet you are his captive. Bewitched prey led so willingly into an invisible snare, fresh for the feed to follow.

I entitled this image ‘Dracula’s Guest’ to encourage the viewer into the artwork, but also as a nod towards a chapter cut from Bram Stoker’s original novel by his publisher. Only to be published later in 1914, two years after Stoker’s death, as a short story called ‘Dracula’s Guest’.

To view the whole artwork, click the image above or navigate to my Gallery.

Serpentine

Above is a portion of my latest personal painting ‘Medusa’. I added the image to the Gallery back in January and finally I’ve made time to write a little about it.

Snakes are beautiful creatures, elegant in poise and movement, fluid, calculating. However some are toxic and deadly, with a swift strike. Medusa needs to embody these traits to portray a seductive danger. Many artists depict a monstrous predator, but there are versions of the Greek myth that describe her as a beautiful, innocent girl. In these stories, the Goddess Athena was jealous of Medusa and so transformed and banished her to live at the edge of the world. With this insight, my artwork shows Medusa as the one whom is hunted by Heroes. Yet fearsome and defiant in the face of adversity; perhaps with a hint of paranoia in regard to her safety. Like all snakes, she’d rather be left alone.

This piece is my most detailed so far and took approximately two months to complete around commissions. I found it very easy to make the snake portion look cumbersome, particularly where it morphs into the human torso. Drawing scales wrapping around the form was painstaking, but rewarding. The lighting was tricky too and I was forever checking to be sure it was correct. I enjoyed painting the rocks and pebbles, especially those half submerged in water, as they helped produce a convincing transition between the water and shoreline. Mist and airborne dust added a realistic quality and I often use atmospherics like these to add depth to a scene and prevent areas from becoming too flat and boring.

To view the whole artwork, click the image above or navigate to my Gallery.

Jungle Heart is the latest art process video on my YouTube channel. Watch as I build the Tiger from rough shapes and colour before laying down the finer details. Subscribe to my channel and be notified of future videos!

Less Is More, Minotaur

In art, i’ve always believed ‘less is more’ and tend to lean in that direction when I’m painting a personal piece. An image can quickly become overcrowded by a whole variety of details and I think that only a skilled artist can maintain control and prevent a busy scene becoming a confusion. I don’t think filling a canvas from corner to corner with detail is necessarily the right formula for every painting you create either. Which is why, with my latest piece ‘Minotaur’, I decided to only keep the essential elements and cut out the remaining clutter that did little to improve the atmosphere, impact and narrative.

To give you an example of how ruthless I was, I had originally painted a second figure within the scene, Theseus, the hero who slew the Minotaur. But every pose I tried, every experiment with colour and lighting, always made Theseus stand out too much. The empty space around the Minotaur helps express the idea of a void, in which he is alone. You can imagine that any introduction of a second figure would immediately shatter the concept I was attempting to produce. After a long time wrestling with the issue I realised that it wasn’t anything I was doing wrong, the composition just didn’t need any more detail; the second figure was an unnecessary distraction. It was hard to throw away several days of work, but I and those around me firmly agreed the image was better without it. 

The main subject in an image needs space to breathe and stand out, made particularly apparent in this image, otherwise an artwork risks losing some of it’s impact and meaning. Using negative space as an important compositional element can help add structure and also allows the viewer’s eye to find an area on which to rest and recover from the more intense detail of the main subject/s. A successful artwork is a balance between many things, light and shade, vivid and desaturated colour, focused detail and blurred suggestion; and that balance isn’t always the same. I’m continuing to make sense of these ideas in my ongoing effort to create contemporary and plausible fantasy illustration. Wish me luck!

To view the whole artwork, click the image above or navigate to my Gallery.

ImagineFX Issue 63 FXPosé Feature

As any artist should know, it’s crucial to set aside time from commissions in order to keep on track with the self-promotion side of things. Needless to say, without advertising your work nobody knows you’re out there. The more awareness you can generate for your art, the more commissions (and money) you’re likely to receive! There are many ways in which you can advertise, one of which is via magazines.

ImagineFX is an art magazine I’ve been following for a handful of years. The Reader FXposé section in particular has held my attention for a long time. It’s a fantastic way to promote one’s work, if you’re chosen to appear, so I dutifully sent off an email of art samples accompanied with short descriptions; and waited, hoping that my third submission would be successful.

In February, roughly a month later, they replied. I was excited to learn I’d be featured later in the year! Now, in October, I’m pleased to say the wait is over. I’m featured in the current issue, number 63, on sale right now in the UK and next month in the US and rest of Europe. I’ve been completely spoilt, being allocating a full two-page spread showcasing four of my artworks. This kind of exposure generates huge awareness and who knows what kind of commissions I’ll receive as a result. And for that ImagineFX, I’m most grateful.

Twisted Threads & Medieval Mayhem

I thought it was about time I made an attempt to update my Journal with something more elaborate than the quick entries I’ve been posting since the beginning of this year. It really has been non-stop, 2010 has been very good to me so far in all aspects, but particularly regarding commissions. In order to maintain some structure whilst I elaborate, i’ll start at the beginning. 

January saw the final stages of the ‘A Roar In The Pinelands’ project for author Matthew Lucus. The finished cover artwork can be seen here.

Back in February I was approached by Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) and asked to create three art cards for A Game of Thrones. I eagerly accepted the work as I’d heard they were very popular with fans and a medieval fantasy theme always suits me well. I completed the cards without any trouble and FFG were very pleased with the result. I can’t say when these cards will be published as I simply don’t know! I have been assured that I’ll be contacted and sent copies of my cards once they’re published. I’m very excited to see the results and to finally be allowed to show the artwork to the public!

In April, FFG contacted me again. This time I took on a commission for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, in which I was tasked with painting ten ‘Career’ characters to be used in an upcoming expansion to their Living Card Game.

In late May I began work on cover artwork for ‘Twisted Threads’, a fantasy novel by Ryan Kinsch. The book features both darkness and light, wolves, dreams, spirits, trees and various other spiritual and medieval fantasy elements. The process was painless and good fun. I finished the art in early June, after juggling my time between several projects. You can view the finished art here and read a little about it. It was at this time that I also started to experiment with Video Capture software and recording myself painting. The Twisted Threads project became the first that I filmed from start to finish. The video clips have become quite popular  with followers on my Facebook, by offering an insight into how I create my art. The videos can be viewed directly via the Video page or on my YouTube channel.

As we proceed into Summer; this week I’ve been continuing the creation of two art cards for Warhammer: Invasion the card game, again for FFG, which are shaping up nicely and have received positive reviews from Games Workshop so far. 

Yesterday I was emailed by FFG a fourth time and asked if I’d be interested in continuing my work on the Career characters for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay by painting another two. I can’t divulge any details, but these characters in particular will be a joy to work on and I look forward to starting them in a week or so.

On a different side of the coin, I’m also working on personal pieces of artwork in my spare time alongside all the commissions i’ve been lucky to receive. An image of Tarzan has been progressing slowly but surely and I’ve also begun rough ideas for some Lord of the Rings inspired artwork, so keep a lookout for updates on these personal pieces and commissioned artwork via my Facebook and Twitter accounts over the coming months!

To view the whole artwork, click the image above or navigate to my Gallery.

Fantasy Creatures

Just a quick journal entry to let you know about this month’s (May 2010 UK) ImagineFX Magazine. Myself and Phoenix are featured inside as part of the A - Z of Fantasy Creatures article! To accompany the image I was asked to suggest a few helpful tips and ideas when painting fire. Advice that can be applied to any genre of painting, not just fantasy art. 

When I read the whole article I was thrilled to discover John Howe and Kekai Kotaki were also included, two of my favourite artists, along with several other artists who’s art I’ve recently discovered and admire.

The whole May 2010 UK issue is well worth a read, plus it has a lovely cover designed by Justin Gerard. Hurry and pick up your copy soon before it’s sold out!