Tuesday 3 December 2013

Half Off Ragnarok

The third of my covers for Seanan Mcguire: 'Half Off Ragnarok'. One of the 'Incriptid' series.

Friday 29 November 2013

Sparrow Hill Road

I've been very quiet here as I've been concentrating on my long term personal project, but in-between I've been privileged to continue my working relationship with the lovely Seanan McGuire. This is my forth cover for her and DAW books, 'Sparrow Hill Road'. I'll post the third 'Half-Off Ragnarok' in the next couple of days..

Thank you for continuing to stop by here, despite my tardiness!

Friday 13 September 2013


After watching the recent  'Dredd' film, which was excellent I was reminded of these... Many years ago I was asked to do the instruction sheets for Halcyon's Judge Dredd kits. Well, some of them, alongside the excellent Andy Roper who got me the gig in the first place. This was before Photoshop and was put together by producing master drawings that were then photocopied and pasted into a sequential instruction sheet. All drawn with pencil and black felt tip! Here's Judge Death.

I also did Judge Anderson, the Stallone Judge Dredd and Mean Machine. I shall seek those out and post them too!

Edit: Found Anderson and a pic of Dredd. The Anderson is a very close copy of the sculpt.

Friday 30 August 2013

Alphonse Mucha

This is the text of a brief piece I wrote for Imagine FX on Alphonse Mucha. Mucha was and is one of my art heroes, and hopefully through my bad grammar this is apparent. In the article they asked me to include some of my own images inspired by Mucha. I've not posted those here, as it's more appropriate to give a couple of examples of his work.

Alphonse Mucha

In 2000 I visited Prague, and one of the things I wanted to do whilst in the city was visit Vyšehrad cemetery. A little morbid perhaps, but the final resting place of Alphonse Mucha felt like more of a pilgrimage than something more prurient. Mucha died and was buried here in 1939 from contracting pneumonia after his arrest and interrogation by the Gestapo, he was a man much remembered for his contribution to poster art, and like the Pre-Raphaelites before him, for painting ethereal romanticised girls and women, (often well known actors such as Sarah Bernhadt, or Maude Adams), in environments recalling idealised nature or fantasy. But like the Pre-Raphaelites, there was much more to him than the popular perception. The Nazis despised him as he championed his Czech culture and Slavic heritage, and for much of his later life he created the stunning and enormous ‘Slav Epic’, which resulted in 20 paintings, the smallest being over 4 metres wide, and the largest, twice that.

When people think of Art Nouveau (the phrase meaning ‘New Art’ first used as the name of a shop in 1895 Paris), almost synonymous with that expression, is Mucha, who’s swirling organic shapes and forms seem to almost define the term and the ‘movement’ that has a genealogy traced back to William Morris, the Pre-Raphaelite friend, artist and textile designer. Yet, Mucha ultimately attempted to distance himself from Art Nouveau, and the aesthetic movement, as for any artist, definition can limit and constrain; a constraint that it is clear Mucha found increasingly frustrating. He believed art operated on a more spiritual and personal level, and Art Nouveau never really moved beyond the appreciation of form over content. However within the nascent advertising and illustration world that was evolving at the end of the nineteenth century, Mucha found a perfect place as the superb draughtsman and designer he was. Much in demand for posters, illustration, fashion design, murals he could have worked indefinitely within that world, yet as someone who felt art should have deeper metaphor and allegory, he eventually turned his back on it, concentrating on his personal projects, amongst which the previously mentioned ‘Slav Epic’ dominated from 1910 to 1928. But he was part of the ‘spirit of the age’, and the Fin de Siècle, and probably knew that to some extent, and that knowledge led him to write in 1900: “I swore a solemn promise that the remainder of my life would be filled exclusively with work for the (Czech) nation.” 

It is ironic then, that 72 years after his death, Mucha is now best remembered as the superb poster artist he was. Ironic, but not surprising. In all ‘Art’, ‘accessibility’ is often what provides longevity. Aesthetic is universal, whereas ‘message’ is not. Ask many people if they have heard of The Slav Epic and you will probably come up blank, but point to an example of Mucha’s ‘Seasons’, and you will probably be luckier. As a student, next to my Siouxsie poster, I had a print of Mucha’s ‘Moet and Chandon, Crement’ advert on my wall; beautifully decorative, it was a ‘pretty girl’ in pastels and flowing cloth, incorporating some elements in the design that almost predate Art Deco. But there is little depth to it as an image other than the purely aesthetic; the decorative. It was an advert! Need it achieve more? Probably not, but the universality of using a ‘pretty girl’ to sell a drink is still with us today, Mucha just got in at the beginning, and ‘realised’ it better. However, it is also clear that Mucha rooted many of his female characters in-line with his heritage. Unlike Gustav Klimt, with whom Mucha is often compared, Mucha on the whole did not paint ‘High Society’. His women are girls of the field, artisans or ‘the girl next door’. When not painting actors like Sarah Bernhardt, Mucha drew inspiration from everyday folk to act as a vehicle for his imagination, and maybe that is a key to their appeal. They aren’t the rich and famous, but show a much more accessible social and indeed socialist ideology behind the patterns and pastels.

It is said though that every artist has his time. Mucha’s came and went, but now it is arguable he is better known that he was in his lifetime. Considered decadent and bourgeois at the end of the forties by the changing Czech government, his Slav Epic was mothballed as it had been prior to the Nazis invasion to avoid destruction, and didn’t see the light till 1963. But Governments change and art remains. The Slav Epic stands on permanent display in the Czech Republic. And there’s the thing… Mucha’s posters and advertising work, although they fell out of fashion before and after his death, were an example of an aesthetic that couldn’t be suppressed. The very nature of advertising and promotional art is that it disseminates and becomes part of the melting pot of culture. Nowadays the style he became associated with, Art Nouveau, is just part of a great resource of ‘Art’ that advertising and image making use to integrate with a need or agenda, and you will see Mucha and Art Nouveau constantly used in popular culture. When that need arises, reference will ultimately be made to those proponents of a style who ‘did it best’, and Mucha certainly did it best!

On a personal level and aesthetically, Mucha has influenced a number of my pieces; ‘Medusa’, probably being the most obvious. An image I completed for an online character design challenge. And ‘The Absinthe Fairy’, that although recalls Mucha less so, is designed to feel like an old Art Nouveau poster. He inspired me in ‘Sunrise’ as well, probably the most risqué image I’ve ever done. His ability to incorporate superb design and composition, his use of embellishment and organic forms is enormously influential, and he was a superb designer alongside his technical skills as an artist. Although the personal images I mention are little more than pastiches, the mere process of looking at Mucha and how he works adds to our understanding, and the next stage is to move beyond that and use his inspiration to inform our own journey as artists.

When Mucha died in 1939, a public gathering to mark the event was banned by the Nazis. It is a testament to Mucha’s influence on his home country that 100,000 people ignored this to attend his funeral in Vyšehrad.

Friday 26 July 2013

Rosalind as Proserpine

More ruffs and puffs... Painted as a pastiche of 'Proserpine' or 'Proserpina' by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. (Link HERE). This is a piece to accompany the Elizabethan sequential story I've been working on. I've copied the original down to the wonderful yet bizarre Rossetti hands as closely as possible, however the differences are obvious as it's meant to be my Tudor protagonist, Rosalind. Also it was a long vertical composition and I love those!

Friday 28 June 2013

Death: The Endless, and her Umbrella

Two updates in a week! Whatever next..? This image is from an old sketch I did of Death from The Endless. An artist chum, Mr LEE MOYER suggested we work together to finish an image for a friend of ours as a present for her, and we decided on this one. I did the sketch, Lee did the painting then I did a couple of minor tweaks. I think it's finished, but who knows... The final and the sketch.

Thursday 27 June 2013

Amanda Palmer Tarot: The Empress

Recently I was asked to contribute an image to the Amanda Palmer Tarot, soon to launch as a Kickstarter campaign. The card I was offered was The Empress, and I have permission to post it, so here she is! Mixing up my Tudor obsession with various esoteric symbolism was too good a chance to miss, and also being a bit of a fan of The Dresden Dolls helped! And yes, I've been a bit cheeky as well...

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Illustration Master Class

In 2010 I attended the Illustration Master Class in Amherst Massachusetts. It was a pretty daunting experience to undertake, but my good friend Jonny Duddle had been the year before and recommended it. Run by Rebecca Guay, it includes a core faculty of Rebecca, Dan dos Santos, Greg Manchess, Donato Giancola, Scott Fischer, Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell and Irene Gallo. There are a number of other artists who visit including James Gurney, Peter de Seve, Brom, Mike Mignola and Iain McCaig plus many others and all teach!

For one week there are lectures and each student works on one of the assignments or a piece of their own. There are no hard and fast rules, just lots of information. Whether you're a student, a beginner or a seasoned pro, there is MUCH you can take away from IMC merely by attending. I haven't managed to finish a piece yet, and I've been three times. 2010, 2011 and this year. Each time though, I choose to work in a medium with which I struggle and that tends to be oils. I have now done three oil paintings, all at IMC, and each one is a bit better than the last. (THIS was one of them)

So perhaps I'll go back again next year. Perhaps I'll go with less expectation of finishing something, but the chances are I'll use it to push myself away from some of the techniques I am comfortable with, and just remember that doing that which you don't normally try is how we grow. Anyway, this was the portrait I did. Nothing like the subject, but I changed it into an exercise anyway, and also a pencil sketch I did one evening of Titania. I also include the linework for the image I wanted to do at IMC, but sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs...

Wednesday 22 May 2013

London Comic Con

Another convention, in London! Yup I'm getting in the old Land Rover with lots of prints and books 'n' stuff and heading down the M1 and the M25 (Cthullu help me!) to 'the Smoke'. Please come along and say "Hi" at the:

LONDON COMIC CON (Clickable linky winky)
Royal Victoria Dock

this coming weekend 25th and 26th May. I'll be in the Comic Village (guess I'm the comic village idiot), at table A3. (I was trying to working out the numerological significance of 'A3', and have established that it's the table I'll be at.)

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Wonder Woman

Just found this old redesign of Wonder Woman in a sort of 40's style. I think this came about when I was drawing The Mesmer. It was only a sketch, but I might work it up someday (and correct the anatomy!!)...

Edit: On another note, we had a thunderstorm and a lightning strike on the house behind ours. Minimal damage but very dramatic. As a result the two routers in our house blew out through the phone line and I'm currently using a very old one I found at the bottom of a box, till the new one arrives. As a result I have limited access to emails, but should be back to normal later in the week.


Monday 29 April 2013

Bristol Comic Expo

May the 11th and 12th, I'll have a stall at the BRISTOL COMIC EXPO. Third time here, and it's a great event!

Guests include Ian Gibson, David Lloyd, Mark Buckingham and lots of other scribbly, writy or actory people!


Clock Tower Yard
Temple Meads

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Sketches and Stuff

Some sketchy stuff. Some burlesque doodles from last year I didn't post,which were done to warm up in the mornings. An unfinished drawing of Ozma from Mr Baum's books. And at the end a very old sketch I thought I'd post just because I found it again, and rather liked it. More inspired by Rupert the Bear than Laputa, and certainly not by Avatar!!

Saturday 6 April 2013

'Draft one' is done!

Well, the first draft of my graphic novel is finished! A big milestone for me! I65 pages all roughed out very loosely. Now I can go back and edit and start refining. Right now it's nothing like it'll look, but I subscribe to the philosophy 'get it written'! Everything else comes later... :)

Friday 8 March 2013

Leeds Steampunk Market

Tomorrow, Saturday 9th March, I'll be at Leeds Steampunk Market. I've had a stall at this event a few times, and it's always a real occasion! Lots of great crafts and alternative creators selling all sorts of bits and bobs (wow, that was specific!). I shall be ably assisted by my ever faithful minion Mistress Rosie Lugosi! (Dead Matty - my other faithful minion, is on his hols).

My stall will be to the left as you come in, next to the glorious Anne Stokes.


Cardigan Road
West Yorkshire

Oh yes... 12 midday till 6pm. But get there sharpish, I may have to swan off about 5.30.

Tuesday 12 February 2013

The Absinthe Fairy

This image is called 'The Absinthe Fairy'. I produced it for an on-line art challenge in 2009. The whole process of its creation was documented as the challenge required you to do that. The image is MINE. I created it without reference or source other than the obvious inspiration. I am currently seeing this image all over the internet, on sites such as Etsy, EBay, Cafe Press etc listed as 'vintage', placed on various items that vendors are selling, from jewellery to bedding to mugs. They are infringing copyright. It's NOT vintage, it is 4 years old. It has been licensed out ONCE to the writer Christopher Moore with changes made to it to suit his requirements. The watermark is ugly isn't it? Wouldn't it be a shame if everything an artist posts has to have that or similar through it?

Thursday 31 January 2013

Tippetarius, Jinjur and Glinda

A few sketches of characters from the Baum Oz books. First General Jinjur, who's enlisting to help bring down the Scarecrow! Then Tippetarius, who started out as Woot the Wanderer, but looked more like Ozma in her alter ego as Tippetarius. Then Glinda, who actually looks more like Ozma! This is after looking at John R Neill's works and feeling inspired. There's a link here to see my process on Jinjur, if anyone wonders how one of my digital sketches takes form.

>>LINKY WINKY<<  (It's a gif so patience will be required, sort of...)

Friday 18 January 2013

Working Girl

A few sketches I did a number of week back. Was just browsing the folder they were in looking for something, so thought I'd post them here! :)