Watercolour First Steps

Untitled work-in-progress. Watercolour & graphite, 24x32 cm.

Untitled work-in-progress. Watercolour & graphite, 24×32 cm.

Just thought I’d post a quick work-in-progress. This is my first serious attempt at full-sized watercolour painting. This composition was an unused idea for the ArtOrder Viking challenge, but I’d had the basic sketch around since last winter and always wanted to complete it somehow. I re-drew it on Canson Montval 300g and started in with the watercolours. It’s a very exciting media… it feels very wild to me here at the start and I have very little clue what I’m doing, but I’m really enjoying the challenge.



“Wanderlust” 18×26 cm Graphite with Digital Colour

18×26 cm Graphite with Digital Colour

This is another piece created for one of Jon Schindehette’s Art Order events: the “Viking” challenge produced in collaboration with Allison Hourcade of RockLove Jewelry. Allison has produced a really wonderful new line of work based on historical viking hoard finds, and the art challenge was simply to include one or several of these pieces into an illustration.

I decided this would fit in thematically with some work I am currently doing anyway. I’ve been researching viking history quite a bit in recent years, and I’m especially interested in some of the newer theories about social structure, fashion and gender roles. This character builds off accepted historical material and plays into some of the newer ideas.

As with Drakflickan, the model for the young woman was the gracious, beautiful and very patient Elin Hökby, who quite definitely possesses a valkyrie’s spirit.

Rune stones are pretty fascinating in and of themselves, and I’ve been lucky enough to get to see some important ones up close. I thought this was a good opportunity to get one into a painting. The inscription on the stone is several stanzas which I quite liked from the skaldic poem Darraðarljoð. The Younger Futhark runes spell out the stanzas in Old Norse, and I hope I didn’t muck it up too badly.

Carl Larsson’s Viking Woman was also an inspiration for this piece.

Wanderlust won first prize in the Comic/Graphic Novel category, and was one of the three nominees for “Best of Show”. Sincere thanks to all the judges and organisers for your time and effort in producing the challenge!

Also as with Drakflickan, the painting is graphite on 120g Canson croquis paper, and was digitally coloured in Photoshop CS6 using Justin Gerard’s excellent watercolour tool presets.


"Drakflickan"18x26 cm Graphite with Digital Colour

18×26 cm Graphite with Digital Colour

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.

Northern Light 2 – October 12-14, 2012

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!

Summer Shakespeare

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:

Peter Gardiner in Romateatern’s 2012 “Othello”

Glad Midsommar!

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!

Midsommar Faerie, 5x5cm watercolour.

IMC: Try This At Home…

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:

Tristan and Isolde

“Tristan and Isolde” work in progress, 33x24cm Acrylic

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.