Sunday, July 20, 2014

Front Gate St. Fin Barre's Cathedral

This is more pencil work from early on in the Ghost of Shandon sequel, Vampire King. It depicts the front entrance to St. Fin Barre's Cathedral. I tried to skew the entrance slightly to reflect the tone of the storyline.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rainwater on a Lupin Leaf

One January evening, a year and a half ago, my sister Claire, who loves gardening, drew my attention to one of the potted lupin plants.  She's been responsible for a good few of my painting ideas. Rainwater had gathered from a shower on the central part of the leaf.  The water looked similar to a diamond.  The edges of the leaves meeting towards the centre of the leaf reflected the light wonderfully.  Doing this was fairly straightforward, the central water area was the tricky bit, I had to paint squiggly shapes that didn't look like anything half way through, but made sense when the painting was finished.  Nice to have this one done so soon to the next exhibition!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Charcoal study of a Rembrandt

 Here's a quick charcoal study of Rembrandt's "Old man in a fur hat".
 Charcoal is something I don't use a lot, however I do tend to purchase
it when I am refilling the pencil box. Subsequently I have
 discovered that I have quite a stock of it in the studio... 
..time to get more use out of this medium then.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

St. Fin Barre's Cathedral

This is pencil work for a double page illustration that features very early on in the Ghost of Shandon sequel, Vampire King. The illustration depicts Ronan in a 19th Century St. Fin Barre's Cathedral that is nearly finished construction.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Red Damselfly

These spectacular insects come around during May and June.  The bright red on this was a good contrast with the green leaves around it.  The wings were a bit painstaking to do; lots of tricky angles.

Sketch Island

The cross slab in the monastic settlement
The early medieval church built with dry stone building technique, amazingly no mortar was used in building it
Sketching in twilight while on the island, the view of the monastic settlement from our camp fire

Night sketching-  The sky was very clear that night, like a daytime sky with a very dark ground plane of night

One of the beehive huts on the island of Illauntannig, there was another 2 there also

Inside one of the beehives in the early medieval monastic settlement on the island of Illauntannig

Sketches from my trip with the group Sceitse, fellow Islanders Eva & Kevin were there also, along with 10 other friends. We visited a deserted uninhabited island off the coast of the Dingle peninsula in Kerry, near castlegregory, called Illauntannig. Where13 intrepid sketchers invaded the island for 4 days of uninterrupted camping, sketching and just general fun.

We hung out watching civilisation and life far off in the distance across the bay while we had the time of our lives in an amazing island which constantly changed depending on the time of day, weather, light and which part of it you were on. Also the island had a 1400-1500 early medieval monastic settlement on it, which I set up for alot of the weekend in, as you can see by the sketches above of it.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Eastern Sky At Sunset From The Strand Field Cliff

The location for this view is just over 100m South from my house near Garryvoe Beach, at the edge of a field.  The view is looking east towards Knockadoon.  The occasion was one of those rare events where the Eastern sky reflected the setting sun opposite it in glorious colours.   I used a fair few colours I don't normally use, the blues in particular were quite complicated mixes of Ultramarine Blue, Process Cyan and Fluorescent Blue.  The central peach coloured band was a mix of Naples Yellow, Vermillion Red with a pinch of Burnt Sienna to darken it slightly.  The lone figure on the strand on the left is one of those rare occasions where I put a human figure in a landscape.  I thought it'd be a good measure of scale against the vast sky and sea.  Stubbles from a recently cut crop of barley are in the field on the left.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sketches from June

Rostellan Folly 

Rostellan Portal Tomb

Belvelly Castle
Some of the sketches I did in June while visiting places in Cork harbour with Sceitse. The first 2 are from a tiny whiny Sceitse to Rostellan woods and its environs and then the last is from a mini Sceitse to Fota Island, we finished up visiting the nearby Belvelly castle as shown. I seem to be going mad sketching out and about these days! Ill have to cut back in the coming months id say! Though I dont think that will be possible as in a week and a bit we are going to be renting an island off the Dingle peninsula for a few days!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Back Cover Cork City Library

This is the back cover of a booklet I was commissioned to illustrate for the children's book department of the Cork City Library (minus the text box.) The illustration is based on the Glass Elevator from Roald Dahl story Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The 12 page booklet is aimed to encourage children to read over the Summer months. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was chosen as the theme because its the 50th anniversary of the publication of Roald Dahl's book. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

View of Storm Darwin Over Ballycotton Bay From Garryvoe

This painting depicts a specific weather event; Storm Darwin, which struck Ireland on 12th February this year.  During the afternoon, the winds whipped up the worst gusts in many years.  Went down to the tide, not to paint it (not that crazy!), but to take a few reference shots.    The sea spray and waves were amazing, the islands are barely sticking up above them.  To make the spray stand out, I darkened the sky, making it look more threatening.  The weak watery sun is shining on the waves from the right hand side.  I used purplish-grey hues on the sea throughout.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Recently, for a laugh, I did this short comic strip.  A little collaboration with a friend Andrew Judge  based on some ideas I've been kicking around. This is very much a trial run, there's lots that could still be fixed/tweaked in terms of the drawings etc I basically haven't drawn a comic since some efforts in my teens and this was a kick start personal project..

Each page was sketched in Painter (i love its pencil tools) very roughly and then inked over in Photoshop. I had a rough layout idea for each page scribbled on a sketchpad but re sized and moved things around in the software once i started.  The Script was a panel by panel break down but with Andrew's okay, i altered the layout, condensed or got rid of some panels in places to suit and aimed at 3-4 pages maximum.
The characters were never really designed, i just drew them as i needed when i got to the particular panel(except the girl, Andrew provided me with a reference pic for her). In retrospect, I've done a bunch more designs and explored versions of these guys and other characters and also tinkered with some alternate styles to the art. The inking is a bit rough and ready but to be honest i didn't want to linger too long on it as i had other things i needed to work on and this was just a side project.  Andrew has had some further ideas on character backgrounds (they now even have names :) and stuff based off of this short, so the hope is to expand on this once off and flesh out both the story, characters and setting.

The Lettering was done by Andrew and really gives it a nice and professional sheen in my opinion. He likewise was using this as an opportunity to explore lettering and collaborate and i think hes done a great job. In terms of Storytelling visually, I'm happy enough with it though there was room to be a bit more dynamic maybe and the leap from the Big brawl image on Page 3 to the Denouement on Page 4 might be a bit abrupt? Page 3 and 4 are probably my favorites in term of layout etc. Backgrounds were kept minimal. I was basically wary that i'd stop drawing this, push it aside and not return to it for weeks/months etc so I didnt want to linger too long doing detailed backdrops etc and it also probably is the excuse for some drawing fixes being overlooked! But hey, it was fun!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014



This time I´m writing about one of the last caricatures I´ve done. People in facebook who have followed my new illustration account, have been able to follow a little poll about which famous characters would they like to see cartooniced.

translation: You decide, who would you like me to portray?,
actors, artists, famous people, athletes, politicians, celebrities...
coment, share and I will portray the most voted one 

more than 50 people voted, I did not expect so many people participating on this so I can consider a success as a strategy to promote myself (so I will do another one in a future).

The point is that most of the participants were spanish (or basque depending their self determination XD) and the character who got the most votes was a spaniard as well, who is very famous in this country but maybe not as famous out there... so I found a great chance to show to the islanders something about my country that probably you will not find in books or turistic guides about spain...


Jordi Hurtado is the TV presenter of a Show called "Saber y Ganar" (Know & Win, in English), this show is famous for his large amount of programs, actually it has reached the 4.000 chapters and has spent continuously since 1997. Another aspect of this quiz is that the questions are extremely difficult and the awards are much more austere comparing to another TV shows from spain, whose audience strategies are more innovative but not as effective as Jordi´s TV show. We could talk about a TV living fossil that the time cannot change.

Because all of this, Jordi has become a popular icon in spain that has given rise to many urban legends and loads of memes around his inmortality, in fact this man does not seem to age over the years...

The original one: a vampire? a cyborg? rasputin?... who knows.... 
So that´s all, hope you have met this post interesting, most of times this kind of local jokes and humour are the most dificult aspects to show to outherns.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Library Booklet Cover

This the is finished, coloured cover of the Cork City Library booklet I was commissioned to illustrate. The booklet is to encourage children to read over the Summer and it also celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Roald Dahl's book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Three of my books

So, after a long hiatus, I make a reappearence for the extended theme week about some of my art books. I have a gigantic collection of books. So I had to think, which one to choose? I picked out two beautiful books about two of my interests and one educational art book.

The first book is "A Gap in Nature" about extinct animals from the more recent past. The paintings are super acurate and drop dead gorgeous! And to top it all: The original paintings are freaking lifesize! I have an own art project about the extinct animals in mind and this book is really helpful in providing informations  about the animals. The author and the illustrator had the amazing opportunity to study the specimens in the museum's archives to provide as acurate as acurate can be paintings.

The second book is about an another interest of mine: Wonderchambers and nature's oddities. Wonderchambers or Wunderkammern or in this case in German "Kuriositätenkabinette" are the ancestors of modern natural historic museum's collections. Back in the 1500s due to the raising interest in the wonders of nature and technical toys, kings and nobility began to collect all sorts of exotic animals, nature's oddities and artwork or apparatons. I found this book years ago in an antiquary and fell in love with the beautiful photos and the descriptions. It gives a freat overview of the history of the Wonderchambers from the Renaissance until present time.

An example spread of the book. :)

The third book is the book Color and Light by James Gurney. This is a very helpful guide for studying light and how colour compisition works. I need to study it further to get a better grip in more realistic looking light and shadow effects. What I loved are the practical tips llike how to build a gamut mask and using photo-Effects for a traditional painting to give it more depth and a more realistic touch. I want to buy next "Imaginative Realism".

Here are the sources from were I got the images:

A Gap in Nature:

Das Kuriositätenkabinett (about Wonderchambers)

Color and Light

Monday, June 2, 2014

Themed Week: Books of Inspiration

Greetings, I'm one of the newbies to this site, Ann Harrison. 
When the suggestion that we post about books that have influenced us was raised My first thought was, that's a great idea! And then thought, but I can't choose just one... So....this is a short list of the books which I feel have made the most impact on my artistic style and practice. 

As you can see from the photo I have a lot of Movie art books :) while these are all excellent and full of inspiring work I'm going to draw attention to some of my more thought provoking books. 

The Stanfield Lectures vol 1&2
These were published not that long ago, and in reality I'd say it's very difficult to read from cover to cover. It's more of a read a few entry's at a time and then spend a few days thinking about it as you draw. The two volumes made a massive difference to me and I felt really improved the way I constructed characters and drawings alike. Well worth the time :)

Comix buro, assorted artists sketchbooks, found these in the Dublin Forbidden planet, normally printed in French :) each one is full to bursting with beautiful inspiring sketches and paintings by various comic artists.

Scott McClouds Understanding comics, trilogy. (The third one is missing from the photo as it's on loan to a friend at the moment.) these are inspiring reads, whether you agree with his view point or not.

"Force" Character design from Life drawing by Mathew Mattesi. Another one that really helped in my use of the life drawing I'd been doing. 

The Animators Survival kit by Richard Williams.
My degree was in Animation and Illustration and this is the book I wish he published a few years earlier! It came out as we completed the degree and it is just full of wonderful and clearly written examples of why it works and how to animate well. 

I could probably ramble for a good while longer but I'm distracted enough by looking over my books, I'm going to go read some of them now :)


Themed week: AFTER MAN


If I have to talk about the first art influences in my life, there was nothing more engaging to me than dinosaur and animal books. I started drawing dinosaurs and animals earlier than nothing, and in an alternative future I could be dedicated to the world of paleontology and zoology instead of illustration, art etc... In fact until 12 years I was still hesitating between the two avocations.

The book I´m introducing today is maybe a perfect mixture of these two worlds, and the prove that scientifical illustration doesn´t have to lack "creativity" or "fantasy" on it... (I´ve the book but not a camera near here, so I will do an internet research XD)

the castilian version of the book.
As the title says, this book is about the zoology we maybe could meet after the man was gone in 50 milions of years of evolution. His autor is the scottish paleontologist  Dougal Dixon .

nice work Dougal!!

The Dougal dixon is the designer of the creatures you can meet in the book, inspired in evolutive hypothesis. He is not a efficient illustrator, but he sculpts the creatures as a hobby. To make the book better Dougal surroundeed himself with many illustrators: Diz Wallis, John Butler, Brian McIntyre, Philip Hood, Roy. Woodard and Gary Marsh.

This is the result:


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Themed Week - The Flights of Icarus

I have a book called The Flights of Icarus, published by a company called Paper Tiger in 1977. One of my uncles (I can't remember which, I have a lot) gave it to me when I was about 5 or 6, so the late eighties. I have gone through it many... many times, because it is awesome.

A collection of fantasy and sci fi art from some very famous artists.

As they say in France "le cover"

We shall begin at the beginning

or more accurately, Tricycles

Seriously, how gorgeous is that, and as if that wasn't enough, we get butts too!

and a Flamingo

But wait, I hear you cry, what about a Conan type character about to lop the head from an awesome snake guy with a hot chick tied to him while an evil wizard and his pet baboon lurks in the background!

Well you have some attitude Mister! and we got that too.

Michael Kaluta everyone or as he is more appropriately known, the God of Awesome

The following is from the pages of an artist named Ian Miller and I have long envied his ability to squeeze highly detailed inks into a small panel and still achieve huge depth

I'm not jealous of this

But wait once more you bellow in a mellifluous manner, what about Giant Cosmic Space Snails bent on the slimy destruction of tiny space ships!

Hang on, I retort with growing concern for your apparent psychic abilities and don a tin foil hat I always keep handy... for just such an emergency.

...this exists

It is as this point that I'm beginning to grow weak at the knees with an overwhelming sense of inferiority, especially when, as I always do, I remember that every picture in this book, is done by hand... no tricks... no computers... just paint.

My career

All jokes aside, I wish I could show every picture in this thing, it is huge and epic and I love it. I have spent a significant amount of time pouring over it and trying to figure out how these guys achieved this stuff and just enjoying it.

It has influenced me since I was a kid, so I hope you like it, I don't even know if it is in print anymore, but you would be lucky to get it if you could.

Now... back to work!

Violet Beaurgarde

This is the character illustration of Violet Beargaurde from the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory project Im working on for the Cork City Library. She has inflated considerably.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Islander Themed Week- An Illustrated Life

An Illustrated Life- Danny Gregory

This week in the Islanders, each Islander is recommending a book. First off I would like to apologise on the quality of the photos here, as I just have my camera in my phone at the moment.

The book I'm going to recommend, as its good for both professional and amateur, is 'An Illustrated Life'. The book is essentially a collection of sketchbooks, and shows how different artists, designers, comic artists and illustrators etc use their sketchbooks to illustrate their lives or part of it, whether internal or external. While most are professionals, there is one or two here that would be more hobbyist or sometimes are other kinds of art professionals, like architects whom use the sketchbook for fun more than a professional pursuit.

I have found the book a revelation, just to see the variety of ways people use their sketchbooks and their Raison d'être for doing so, some reasons obvious others not so much examples: wild ideas, a form of therapy, connecting to the world, recording their lives, withdrawing from reality, their creative outlet funtime.

Some mention that they make their own sketcbooks with bookbinding, others the different kinds of sketchbooks they use (some wild sketchbooks I had never heard of before, like Japanese scroll notebooks: as well as discussing tools of sketching etc. Some are open with their sketchbooks and let all comers by see them, while others hide in their cars during sketching.

The artists are from a variety of backgrounds, but mostly westerners so Europeans and North Americans. It has some heavy weights like R. Crumb and James Jean as well as alot of others less well known but etching a living in the art field. The production quality of the book is great, nice graphic design and I like the long page format it has, like a large landscape watercolour sketchbook.

I mostly use my sketchbooks to experiment in art, ideas I would never try out in a final piece or to study the world when Im out and about or to tell the story of my sketch journeys but because of this my sketchbooks are often disjointed and all over the place. Looking at these guys makes me want to make sketchbooks with one singular purpose like these guys do, something to be read front to back.

I pick up the book occasionally, just to keep me inspired with new ideas as I sketch alot myself. Im only half way through but it has already been influential in how I use my sketchbook these days and has kept my sketchbooking evolving so its definitely been a great book to read, highly recommended!