La Pucelle d’Orléans

Jehanne la Pucelle Graphite and watercolour sketch - 12x16cm

Jehanne la Pucelle
Graphite and digital colour sketch – 12x16cm

Quoting my own post from this date last year:

Five hundred and eighty-five years ago today, Jehanne d’Arc led the French army under John of Dunois in the taking of the Tourelles, the heavily fortified and turreted gatehouse at the southern end of the bridge that led over the Loire river and into the besieged city of Orléans. She was seventeen years old. It’s an amazing episode both in Jehanne’s own story and the Hundred Years War itself – her first major military victory and a turning point in the war. The six-month siege itself was lifted on the 8th, and to this day, Jehanne bears the name La Pucelle d’Orléans – “The Maid of Orléans”.

To honour the date this year, here’s a graphite and digital watercolour sketch I made of Jehanne last summer. I wasn’t concerned as I usually am about being historically correct in the details of her armour – I just wanted to be free to sketch out a mood, and I quite liked the result.

INSPIRED Art Book on the presses!

INSPIRED Cover Art by Kip Ayers

INSPIRED Cover Art by Kip Ayers

I just wanted to help spread the news that Jon Schindehette’s INSPIRED book project is about to hit the streets!
“INSPIRED is a juried collection of works from over 30 international artists. The publication includes selected works from the Inspired By ArtOrder challenge, short essays by the artists about their inspiration, and a mini-artists gallery. This book also attempts to create a new publishing model for artists that allows them to reap the rewards of their creative talent by splitting the profits with the artists.”
The jury for this project was a wonderful all-star line-up: Irene Gallo, Julie Bell, Lauren Panepinto, Rebecca Guay, Terese Nielsen and Terryl Whitlatch. 

The artist list is as follows: Alice Cao, Anthony Schmidt, Ashley Stewart, Boco, Brenda Lyons, Cole Marchetti, Cristina Bencina, Dave Lebow, David Brasgalla, Elizabeth Leggett, Filippo “onez” Vanzo, Gabriella Liv Eriksson, Herman Lau, Inaya Hodeib, Jason Cheeseman-Meyer, Jim Zaccaria, John Picacio, Julia Metzger, Julian Hayduk, Kelley McMorris, Kip Ayers, Kiri Østergaard Leonard, Kristina Carroll, Marc Scheff, Paul Pederson, Rebecca Yanovskaya, Rich Klink, Sam Guay, Sybiline, Tara Larsen Chang, Tav Kong, Terese Nielsen, Terryl Whitlatch, Wylie Beckert.

This is a 132-page paperback with a limited print run of 1000 copies, so don’t wait to order if you’d like one. If you take part in the pre-order before April 3rd, you get a free digital copy of the book in PDF form.

I’m very pleased and honoured to have been included in this project, and I want to do my part to help the project succeed. Please take a look at the Art Order store page and help support this new publishing model for artists!

And thanks, Jon, for all your hard work making this project happen – I know it’s not easy!


Post-Spectrum Updates: “Vildvittra”

Vildvittra Sepia Ink on Paper with Digital Colour, 21cm x 30cm

Sepia Ink on Paper with Digital Colour, 21cm x 30cm

This piece was created for issue 119 of ImagineFX magazine. A vildvittra is a swedish variant of a harpy, although much smaller. They feature in Astrid Lindgren’s classic 1981 childrens’ book, Ronja Rövardotter (Ronja Robbersdaughter). My version is slightly different, with the beak only implied by the facial colours. I realise now that I probably should have included some elements that gave the scale, but I still like how this turned out. Thanks to Elin Hökby for the original suggestion to depict this woodland creature!

Old Year, New Year

So far, there’s been a lot going on for me in 2014 in all respects, but I’ve managed to keep it all together for the most part. The first priority of the year was to look at my work from 2013 and pick the pieces I feel are worthy to send to the Spectrum annual. This past year I seem to have stumbled into a kind of style without quite meaning to – pencil/ink illustrations with digital colour. I realised that most of what I’d want to submit this year came from this one direction I explored, and they seemed to hang together well.

My 2013 Spectrum Annual submissions.

My 2013 Spectrum Annual submissions.

Second priority of the new year was to finish two pieces from 2013 that just needed that final push of effort to complete. I wanted to get them sorted so I could move on to new things. One of them is a larger-scale acrylic painting called Winter VI that I’ve been working on since last march, and it was great to finally wrap it up and include it in the Spectrum submissions. Howard Lyon’s amazing and enlightening post Feeling Gray Today at the Muddy Colors blog gave me the final key towards finishing  – I repainted the face for the third time and finally achieved what I was after thanks to Howard’s insights (not the best photo, sorry!):

Winter VI - 60x50cm, acrylic on canvas.

Winter VI – 60x50cm, acrylic on canvas.

I also created two acrylic portraits to give as Christmas gifts, and was quite pleased with the results – again, it was right after reading that remarkable post, and in contrast to the nearly 11 months I spent circling Winter VI, I created this portrait of the eminent John Wheeldon in just one of the five hours I had available in which to paint it:

John Wheeldon - acrylic on canvas.

John Wheeldon – acrylic on canvas.

Lots more on the go and some fun new things to show already, but I’ll make other posts for them. I’ve also started the second term of my oil painting course under Barbro Runefelt- Taltavull, so I know some good things will come from that…

Happy 2014! (and thanks again, Howard!)

Valkyrjan IV update!


I’m very pleased that Valkyrjan IV was selected by the jury for inclusion in Jon Schindehette‘s upcoming Inspiration book project. It’s very exciting for me as the jury was composed of some of the top artists and art directors working in fantasy and science fiction publishing today – not to mention that the challenge submissions were filled with wonderful and strong work from all quarters! I’m somewhat surprised to find myself in such company.  I always imagine that my personal art sensibilities are a bit arcane and old-fashioned.

It’s a nice validation of the piece, I think – one that I’ve laboured over for years, trying to find the right way in. I had an idea for a darker, more “historical” treatment of a valkyrie about four years ago, and my first attempt was with ArtRage and a Wacom tablet in January 2010. Soon after that, I started using an iPad for my painting  (which I much preferred). I came up with an improved version that I was happy with at the time, but I eventually felt dissatisfied again.

The idea stayed on the back burner until Northern Light Workshop 2, where I decided to take some digital sketches and try to execute the final in acrylic on paper. I think it worked out pretty well considering how rusty I felt with analog painting, and both the instructors and my fellow classmates were very encouraging to me about the picture. Still: not satisfied.

I’d recently had a fun photo reference shoot with Elin Hökby, so I asked if she’d help me get this valkyrie sorted once and for all, and we ended up with some great material. John Jude Palencar’s Rag and Bone piece gave me some new ideas, and I decided to combine it all and go for version IV. The final process is detailed here, but wow – what a long road to get a piece realized! Below is a capsule history graphic showing the key development stages (along with some side diversions):

A "short" history of Valkyrjan IV.

A “short” history of Valkyrjan IV.

I’m really pleased that it all seemed to pay off in the end, even if I sometimes felt like a dog that would not let go of a chewed-on shoe! I also enjoy seeing how my work has changed in almost four years (or not changed in some cases). For instance, here is the original treatment of the valkyrie’s chain hauberk from four years ago, compared to how I handled the same item today:

Chain mail vs. chain mail...

Chain mail vs. chain mail…

Back then, I was slavishly trying to render every detail, thinking that this would be impressive in and of itself (sometimes it can!). Four years on, I’m letting line suggest the outer form and just giving vague hints about the surface of the garment. I don’t know if one approach is necessarily better than the other, but I feel the way I am working now gives me much stronger results. Happily, the judges of the challenge felt the same way!

Thanks again to Jon, Irene Gallo, Lauren Panepinto, Julie Bell, Terryl Whitlatch, Terese Nielsen, and Rebecca Guay for their votes of confidence in my work – it means more than I can properly express.

Sun Pillars and Light Pillars

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.

A winter sun pillar over Lake Mälaren in Stockholm.

A winter sun pillar over Lake Mälaren in Stockholm.

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:

Light Pillars over Lake Mälaren, Dec. 2nd 2012.

Light Pillars over Lake Mälaren, Dec. 2nd 2012.

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!

Light Pillars, Dec. 2nd 2012.

Light Pillars, Dec. 2nd 2012.

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:

Photo: Sam Hellerström.

Photo: Sam Hellerström.

Creative Iphoneography Registration is open!

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!