This is my entry into the recent Art Order challenge with the theme “Dragon World”. This is intended as the cover to an imaginary book for older children called “Drakflickan” (“The Dragon Girl”). The idea of the challenge was to not only depict a dragon, but to show the dragon’s integration and influence with the world that it inhabits. I worked to achieve this by showing an intimate and obviously comfortable connection between the girl and the dragon, and suggesting some sort of working relationship by having them both be similarly armoured.
I didn’t want to do be too explicit about what the relationship between the two actually involves, whether they are equals or one serves the other, but the motif on the shield hopefully implies that they’re involved in some larger tradition of their cultures.
This was created with graphite on 120g Canson croquis paper, and was digitally coloured in Photoshop CS6 using Justin Gerard’s excellent watercolour tool presets.
Dinotopia artist James Gurney often posts at his blog “Gurney Journey“ about interesting light and atmospheric effects like sun pillars. I often see sun pillars here in Sweden in the summertime, but I took a photo of this rarer (for me) wintertime pillar back in winter 2011.
On the evening of December 2rd, 2012, my wife and I left our art studio and noticed a strange and ethereal shimmering quality in the very cold air. It was innumerable very tiny ice crystals… so fine that one couldn’t quite make them out without looking in just the right way. We looked out over the lake and saw pillars of light rising from the lights on the far shore.
At first, I thought it might be happening in my eyeglasses, but when I removed them, the pillars were still there. The night was dark, so I tried to capture them using the NightCap app on my iPhone. These shots are not ideal, but at least I was able to record this startling phenomenon. It’s easy to imagine that this effect is some kind of lens flare taking place in-camera, but this is indeed how it looked to the naked eye:
When we walked further down the street, I looked back, and now the lights were blocked by the row of flats facing the lake – but we could still see the pillars extending up from behind the buildings!
The next day, many people observed and took pictures of some glorious halo effects in the sky, but unless you were lucky enough to be out late on the evening of the 2nd, you may well have missed these strange and beautiful lights!
Here is a last picture taken by Sam Hellerström that appeared in Aftonbladet. It really shows how surreal this phenomenon was:
Registration is now open for the second Northern Light workshop! Taking place on October 12-14 in Stockholm, Sweden, this workshop features the return of popular guest instructor Jesper Ejsing in tandem with the very talented Eva Widermann.
Jesper and Eva will be demonstrating how to create truly successful character portraits, covering such aspects as:
- - thumbnailing/sketching
- - silhouette reading
- - strong posing
- - details
- - value control
- - color.
Each of the workshop days will begin with a talk by the instructors, in which they will discuss all the elements that make a great illustration, as exemplified in a single figure.
Portfolio reviews will also be available for those who are interested.
Class size will be limited to 14 students, so don’t miss out. Enroll today!
Marmalade Moon’s Creative iPhoneography Course is now open for registration! Kate England will be teaching this six-week, online workshop on how to “turn your iPhone into an exciting, powerful creative tool”. Kate gets gorgeous results with her iPhone camera on a daily basis, and her personalized instruction will show you how to also produce compelling and vivid imagery, as well as how to find new spaces in your day to be creative and inventive.
The course begins on August 20th and it’s first-come, first-served – so don’t wait! Register your place today!
One of the things I try not to miss in the summertime is the annual production of a Shakespeare play in the cloister ruins at Romateatern on Gotland. It’s always an amazing experience. This year, they are doing Othello, and we were lucky enough to get front row center seats on a warm summer night. It was great – wonderful actors and a simple-yet-striking production design. I recommend seeing it if you get the chance!
If you know the play, you know that it’s Iago who gets to really chew the scenery and Allan Svensson did exactly that to crowd-pleasing effect, but Peter Gardiner also did solid work playing the title role. I’d originally planned to try and furtively sketch a bit during the show (à la James Gurney), but the actors were basically standing right in front of us, so I was much too intimidated with these two intense characters just a meter or so away. Still, I did my best to memorize Gardiner as he did his “Othello gazes broodingly into the distance whilst Iago pours poison in his ear” pose. Below is my attempt to capture him on my iPad using Procreate:
Here’s a little faerie I painted in honor of midsommar. He/she was inspired by a little chap that was continuously crawling over the bus seat in front of me the other day… a very cute little kid with almond-eyed pixie features, a huge cranium and a kind of awesome mad scientist/Doc Brown haircut. There was definitely some faerie blood showing through. I added more hair, nature-hues and a midsommar wreath. It’s a tiny watercolor, only about 5 cm square…
Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend – Glad Midsommar!
Like many other artists, I was experiencing serious IMC envy last week. I followed the photo streams from Amherst College, Massachusetts that Irene Gallo graciously kept flowing, and there was terrific energy coming from the event even at several removes.
Someone had posted the assignments the students were given this year, and looking through them, I wondered which one I would have picked had I been at the event. Being the sentimental/romantic type, I decided almost directly that I would have gone with Tristan and Isolde. My very next thought was, “Well, why not do it anyway?”. I followed along with several attending students’ blogs, seeing if I could apply the advice they were getting to my own work, and supplementing that with heavy doses of the wisdom of Harvey Dunn (I always keep an aggregated file of his advice to his students nearby me).
This is still in progress, but about 75% complete. There are many unfinished areas – the hands are still just blocked in, the sword and scabbard haven’t been painted, and at the moment I am still busy trying to correct values and color throughout:
I’m doing this with a smallish palette: Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Ultramarine Blue and Titanium White (there’s a touch of Vermilion red here and there, but I think now that I could have done without it). I can see that I’ve brought the value up too much in places, so I need to darken certain areas again.
After spending the last two weeks painting on cold-press paper, it feels quite different to paint on a panel – I can really do a heavy application of creamy paint without fear of the surface going funny on me, which has been fun.
I haven’t been updating here much, as after Northern Light 1, I have mostly just had my nose to the canvas as I re-learn how to use acrylics. The workshop was very exciting, and it was fascinating to see so many artists’ working, both digital and traditional… but it gave me a yearning for an actual painting I could hold.
I used to work a lot with acrylics when I was a teenager, but I’ve realized now that I never really learned much about painting, about mark-making and color-mixing, controlling values, etc. – nothing very deep, at any rate.
Working on the iPad has been amazing and very motivating, and I have nearly 400 paintings from the past two years in the Brushes app alone – but when I sat down at the canvas, I realized I simply didn’t know how to mix color! I kind of panicked at first, and then got worried about how many new tubes of colors I might need to buy. Then, slowly, I began to understand how to work up from the basics and mix things myself, using some limited palettes so that I will focus on value and temperature.
Now I am going back over much of what my favorite artists have said about palettes and color handling, and it’s beginning to make sense in a way that never registered before. I am starting to get it. I am still right at the beginning, though… a long, long path ahead of me…
Here are a few works in progress in the studio:
And here is the latest update on “The Nautilus and the Devilfish”, just for Arnie:
The first Northern Light workshop is now scheduled for April 20-22, 2012, to be held at Mäster Olofsgården in picturesque Gamla Stan, in the heart of Stockholm, Sweden. The guest instructors will be Jesper Ejsing, Petar Meseldžija and Justin Gerard. This is a fantastic chance to work alongside these three internationally-reknowned artists in a hands-on class environment, as they demonstrate their painting and illustration techniques and discuss the philosophies and ideas behind them.
The class size is limited, so register today!
The trailer has been released for the new season of the HBO series Game of Thrones, and I couldn’t help but take notice of the final shot. Around ten years ago or so, Jeffrey Catherine Jones created 72 wonderful illustrations for a deluxe limited edition of A Game of Thrones. The cover illustration itself is one of my favorites Jones pieces, and it seems someone else must like it, too – there seems to be a clear homage to the painting at the end of the new trailer.