Thursday, October 30, 2014

A celtic knot and my dream projects

Jonathan suggested that I share my recent celtic knot inspired artwork with You and I just want to use this chance to write a reaaaaally late post about my dream projects, as there are quite some projects that might interest You. But first, here is my celtic knot dragon:

And now to my dream projects. I want to do a series of paintings and illustrations about the recently extinct animals. According to IUCN, this means all animal species that went extinct after 1500. That is the date were the exploring of nature and the conquest of America, Africa and Asia started. My approach is a less extremly naturalistic one but more a surrealistic one. 

I connect the extinct animal species with their causes of extinction in a more magical realistic way or a allegorical way if you view it that way. Later on, I extend this approachh also to domestic animals like extinct dog breeds and even extinct tribes. 

The most famous examples for that are the Tasmanians. I already made several sketches and studies for this project and one artwork got already sold on an exhibition in Seattle USA. So this positive feedback gives me plenty of confidence to move on with this project. Here are some examples of my works that include distinct animal species, subspecies, domestic animals and extinct tribes (in this case Fanny Cochrane Smith with the Tasmanian Tiger). 

The last Tasmian Tiger. This was more part
of my original one sketch a day sketchdiary.
On this day it was the anniversary that the
last Tasmanian Tiger, later named "Benjamin"
died in the Zoo of Hobart, on Tasmania

One of the nine extinct Moa-species of
New Zealand,. This time not European
settlers and their pets were the reason for the extinction
of the Moas, but the Polynesian settlers, the Maoris.
After the demise of the Moas, the Maoris learned
from their horrible waste of food sources, and went on
to declare some parts of their hunting grounds as taboo for
a time to give the fauna the chance to recover. The first
National parks if You will see it this way.

Fanny Cochrane Smith and the Tasmanian
Tiger. Fanny Cochrane Smith is said to have
been one of the last two pure blood Tasmanian
women. The other women was Truganini, who
I will portray in the future. Fanny Cochrane
Smith also was one of the last persons
able to speak her native aborignal language.

The Honshu-Wolf, the smallest wolf subspecies.
That was an effect of island dwarfism. I
went on hiatus after this drawing, because
I was pretty bummed over the fact that
Fukushima happened only 2 days after
I drew the Waving Cat with broken
off paw. 

The Harlequin Pinscher. The breed suffered
several health issues including deafness,
blindness,  neurological problems. I
recently got an angry comment, because
I oppose the merle to merle breeding,
which is pretty risky.
Lonesome George. The last of his subspecies
Pinta Giant Tortoise. If the Dodo is the saint
of all extinct animal species, George is now
the saint of all extinct animal subspecies.

The Syrian Wildass. One of the too many species to die out due to overhunting.

Sketch of the stuffed Quagga at the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt.
The quagga was a subspecies from the Plain's zebra. And even this
status is in question as genetic research suggests that the species
seperated only a few 10.000 years ago.

The Carolina Parakeet. The only parakeet species of North
America. I was amazed to find a taxidermy of this extinct
parakeet at the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt.

The Pied Raven of the Faroean Isles. I sent this painting
to an exhibition about ravens at KrabJab Studio in
Seattle. And it got sold! 

The Schomburgk's Deer. I just learned that the
Thai name of this beautiful animal is
Saman. The last captice deer is said to have
been bludgeoned to death by a drunkard.

I included the tribes into my collection also to remember of the infamous practise of so called Human Zoos in zoological gardens back in the 19th century until well into the early 20th century. You could there visit and watch people from all over the world like exotic animals. The zoological gardens even rebuilt african villages or native american villages. The people came because of the promise of a good income to support their families back home. But often people at this exhibits fell victims to illnesses their immune system was not able to cope with, some of them even died of home sickness.  

You can see some more entries about the extinct animals on my own weblog under the label Lost Zoo. 

Another project is of course my long running webcomic idea about the Phantom of the Opera. After twenty years of researching, I changed the idea to a modern day setting that takes place mostly in Germany. Because I am most familiar with the modern day insanties in Germany. But because I talked so much about the extinct animals, I keep this dream project short and just post a more recent artwork. :)

And there are so much more dream projects of mine. Like one day I want to illustrate a dinosaur book, because dinosaurs are just awesome!!

So, it doesn't seem that I'll run out of ideas any time soon. :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mother's Rheumatic Right Hand

When I approached this subject, I knew acrylic paints wouldn't work so went back to water mixable oils for it.  I had painted her left hand in 2006 in acrylics anyway.
                     For the past 21 years my mother has suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis.  An auto-immune disease, the body's immune system goes haywire and attacks tissues in various joints causing painful swellings and stiffness.  There's no cure although medicines help to dampen down the symptoms.  Over time, the joints get distorted and out of line.  This painting shows that.  You see the lump on the wrist where the arm bone meets the hand, the 'caved in' back of the hand that forms a concave shape, and the swollen knuckles on the fingers.  Also the fingers don't go straight up.
                  For me, it was refreshing to do something quite different from normal, so called 'beautiful' paintings.  Now and again, I like to paint subjects under the themes of decay and mortality.  Oh and here is the 2006 painting:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mystery Of, The

Since it is close to Halloween (should I still be putting an apostrophe in there? like Hallowe'en, no one seems to do that anymore) I though I would share my latest Jack the Ripper illustration

"Scarper" - Jack the Ripper

I am not at all happy with the dead lady, but time ran out :p Hopefully I shall get around to fixing it myself in time if only for the satisfaction of it.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Dream proyect: a normal life as a drawer


well here goes my dream project, in a few words, "I would like to contribute positively to society as much as I can by doing what gives me best ", in my case "drawing"(and the rest of related with it), I also would like this goal to be tangible (art normaly is not)

I think the way to achieve that goal is to leave a world with more and better oportunities for artists and similars. And for that, I think the society should realize about the vaule of normalicing "creative roles"on it, just like happens with doctors, teachers, lawyers or any other "normal career".

Unfortunately I dont have the formula for making it, but I must admit that it gives me motivation for carrying on. Maybe one day...

Another nice "project" (not as deep and existential XD) is to join someday any islander event for knowing the people who is behind thin blogg. It would be nice to keep me noticed about the next exhibition, drink and draw or whatever you organice.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My Dream Project

Many thanks to the islanders patience here, I am a little late with my entry and as always have little excuse for my tardiness bar my usual disorganization. I guess it's nice to actually have a dream 
project, not just one that's pie in the sky.. it keeps us going.
So here's mine, for which the preperation started well over a decade ago.. and is still going on.
My idea is quite simple, to paint the coastline from an ocean viewpoint, during a journey for which the end destination is a safe port where the works can be exhibited. The journey I am hoping to complete is actually quite short, a mere one hundred miles or so, but the mode of transport would have to be sail.
A task for which I have already completed a vessel. Also to make it more interesting the journey would have to be completed solo and the all artwork would have to be undertaken on board.
The boat for the little voyage is home made.. started, finished and tested as I said over a decade ago, its slow and easy to handle for one person. The reason being, that it is so small. Made from mostly salvaged timbers such as mahogony and pitch pine, Spirit is a twenty foot, bermuda rigged, fixed keel sailboat. I built her myself with this purpose in mind from a set of plans that described her traditional form.

The plan is to sail from the port of Cork, South West along the coast, past Glandore Bay and down to Baltimore, through Long Island bay, to round Mizen Head and then Sheeps Head. Then to tuck in between Bear island and Castletown and finally end up at a safe mooring in Glengarriff harbour right alongside Garnish island. So far, I am pretty happy about the most of it except for rounding Mizen head. The idea is to produce as much art as possible along the way, a type of "plein air at sea". I have included the chart below for any who would not be familiar with the route.

It has taken me quite a bit of work and about a third of my lifetime to get to this point and though I am not absolutely fully prepared yet.. I am getting closer. The skills necessary for this project were hard won and I made many mistakes along the way, all of which I have learned from. Over the years I have had to teach myself the skills of boatbuilding, sailing, navigation, drawing and painting. I have yet to find the time to complete the project. But I am hopeful and remain in a reasonable state of readyness. I am sure the time will present itself in due course. And that my friends is my dream project :)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Press Release Cork Horror Comic

Press Release Cork Horror Comic:

For Halloween this year, you can take the horror home with you!
Wednesday October 29TH at the festival sees the launch of the Cork Horror Comic; an all-ages anthology put together exclusively for the festival. The five stories in the book are a spooky trip through Cork, both past and present, where you will meet demons, spirits of the air, haunted buildings, a medieval plague doctor, and the cab driver from hell...
Put together by the Cork Comic Creator group, the book is the work of local writers and artists, and is an exciting blend of different stories, all horror-themed, and all set in Cork. The comic will have a limited print run and will only be available to buy at the festival.
In ‘The Plague Doctor’, we meet a ghost of Cork’s past, from when the plague was a terror to all in the city. But there are worse dangers than even the Black Death stalking the streets...
In ‘The Devil’s Chair’ an unsuspecting furniture maker gets a mysterious visitor, and a challenge he can’t refuse. Of course, all is not what it seems, and as the story unfolds we learn how The Devil’s Chair of Blarney Street got its name.
In ‘The Lough’, we travel further into Cork’s past and discover the story of the famous ‘War of the Starlings’ that took place across the skies of Cork in 1622. For three days and nights feathers rained on the city as tens of thousands of birds waged war above the heads of the citizens of Cork. Here, history meets legend as we find out what could have driven birds to wage such an incredible battle.
In ‘Shandon Tower’ we arrive back in modern-day Cork city, but that doesn’t mean we leave the scares behind. Two would-be thieves make a mistake they come to regret when they tackle Shandon Tower in the dead of the night.
Finally, in ‘Cab Ride’ two friends on a journey to a Halloween party get taken on a trip through a hilarious and twisted version of Cork. Will they make it to their party, or has their driver something else in mind for them?
The Cork Horror anthology features a cover by ‘Ghost of Shandon’ artist Alan Corbett and was made in collaboration with the Dragon of Shandon Festival (produced by Cork Community Art Link).

Plague Doctor
Emma O'Mahony and Chris O'Halloran

Devils Chair
Dylan Fitzgerald and Damien Duncan

War of the Birds
Liam Hughes and Charlie Aabo

Cab Ride
Mark Lenihan and Podge Daly

Shandon Tower
Sean Creagh and Joe Griffin

Story Editor
Colin O'Mahoney

Art Editor
Alan Corbett

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dream project

Thanks to Sara for a good idea on the themed week.  For me, even though I'm constantly painting, I do have ideas for paintings that haven't been realised yet.  Overall I don't have enough paintings of human figures of some sort in my paintings.  I read a couple of years back a book about a famous painting, Gericault's 'Raft of the Medusa'.  I'm in awe of it:

I also love a folk song, 'Lifeboat Mona', sung by Luke Kelly about a lifeboat that capsized while involved on a rescue mission.  The 8 man crew were lost.  There's a verse towards the end that's particularly vivid:

Five lay drowned in the cabin there,
two were washed up on the shore
Eight men died when the boat capsized
and the eight is lost forever more.

So I had the idea of doing a massive canvas depicting the scene, based on that verse, that would be influenced by Gericault's piece in terms of drama and realism.  What put me off is the lack of contact with the event of Lifeboat Mona, happened in 1959, up in Scotland, don't know the people involved (whereas Gericault painted his masterpiece 2 - 3 years after the event and met and interviewed some of the people on the raft). 
                                         I think though what the dream work shows it that I need to find an idea for a painting that has a sense of human drama in it.  Over the past year or so, I find I'm repeating subject matter in paintings and am a bit concerned that I could turn into a picture maker rather than aspiring to be an artist.  Of course, at this stage, I've one eye on making enough money to get by, so that influences things; making commercially friendly art.  But there are more interesting ideas that I hope will surface some time.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dream Project- Real life reconstruction

Mesolithic Hunter site at the Irish National Heritage Park
This week, the Islanders are doing a theme week on our Dream projects- where you plan or wish to work. My entry is a bit more fanciful, as my dream job doesnt exist but sure its a dream project right? What would be great to do is to make whole real life reconstructions from start to finish. So start with the research, then sketches, drawing and painting until you get a full reconstruction illustration and then finally doing the building of that reconstruction. The first part I already do, just need to convince people to let me do the 2nd :).

Viking Longphort at Irish National Heritage Park
Would be so great to have a chance to see you're illustrations in action and start from a vague sketches to fully realised house. Get to see all the pitfalls and intricacies of making that site, filling out the place with various clutter etc. Could make whole settlements, even whole parks! Like the Irish National Heritage park in Wexford or Butser Ancient farm in Sussex etc. Imagine getting to walk around in one of illustrations? Actually be inside your illustration, seeing it in the flesh, getting to touch it! Cant get better than that right?

Early Medieval ecclesiastical Settlement at the Irish National Heritage Park
As I said previously though, such a job doesnt exist at the moment but Im working on it ;). Perhaps someday ill build it out my back garden or just keep creating illustrations until someone lets me do it :)

Butser Ancient Farm, Sussex

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Inktober 2014 part 1 from Ann.

This year I decided to participate in the Inktober challenge, it's actually rather simple, draw an ink sketch daily for the 31 days of October and post on Twitter or Facebook with the #inktober hashtag. So far this month we have:

Day #1 the @sketch_dailies challenge was #day_of_dredd having never attempted to draw Dredd before, this was a little challenging. 

 on the same evening since I had my Dip pen & Inks Handy, we have a slightly stunned Bride of Frankenstein's monster.

Day 2 an older one of the @Sketch_Dailies suggestions, #dustbunny and I just couldn't resist.

Day 3, more of a random one, a lower level demon in charge of street lighting. 

Day 4, John and Myself took part in a 24hr comic day which ended up being a story about some Meerkats. This will be posted later, but here's a clip of one of the pages. 

Day 5, I was rather on a roll with the old Meerkat theme. Grubs up :)

Day 6 sketch 1. A chomping Monkey also from the 24hr comic cast. 

Also Day 6 a disgruntled death who is bereft of his scythe. 

Day 7 A3 Copic sketch, the Flying Fox. Coz... Why not?

Day 8 another @Sketch_daily theme, #ravenmocker  in this case the Raven Mocker has stolen the scythe from the Day 6 death. 

Day 9  My dog Lucy sneaked in in her greyscale form (she actually has brown spots)

and additional Day 9 was the  @Sketch_daily theme, #wednesday_adams who form my memory was always frowning. 

Day 10 was a slightly nuts  @Sketch_daily theme, the theme was actually #elmer_fudd in my defence I was late with this one and over tired. 
yesterday I purchased a new inking pen by Pentel, which has a rather snazzy brush tip, 

So Day 11 an  @Sketch_daily theme, of Creature of the black Lagoon. Inked with the new snazzy brush Pen. 

I am really enjoying the Inktober challenge and it's definitely gotten me back into drawing after a bit of a lull over the summer there!

The rest of the months sketches will be posted later on. 


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Potted Cyclamen (Red October)

This is the second painting for 'Red October'.  The flower in the pot is Cyclamen, an unusual plant as it flowers in late Autumn and early Winter.  It was standing outside the front door and I just spotted it and knew it work for the theme.  I painted it directly from life using acrylics on acrylic painting paper.  Acrylic painting paper is thicker and tougher than normal paper with a canvas feel to it. 

I started over on the right hand side, doing the outer flowers and leaves and worked anti-clockwise to the left.  I used to religiously work from left to right, being right handed, but in the last year found I start wherever it will flow easiest.  Once the leaves, flowers and stems on the outer edge were done, I had an overall border to work in towards the middle and down.  It's all paint, I never do an under-drawing, except for the horizon line.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Ballinwilling Strand (Red October)

For this month, I'm hoping to do a few paintings using red as a base colour, hence 'Red October'.  This beach is the furthest one east along Ballycotton Bay.  It's really quiet in the car park, so you can get through a plein air picture without interruption.  I paint in the front passenger seat of my car, so I don't have to bring along an easel and table; it's handy.  Painted this yesterday and today.  The headland was the trickiest area - getting those ditches and the overall height right.  I use water mixable oils when I do plein air mostly, acrylics are a pain cos they dry too quickly.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


So this is what I've been working on the past six weeks.  The location is 20 minutes walk west of Garryvoe, heading towards Ballycotton, you come to a stream that splits Ballynamona Beach from Ardnahinch beach.  There's an area of ripples in the sand.  Even though it looks pretty, the air reeks of sewage!  I've done a good few paintings this year that took only a week or two so I'd the stomach for a more intricate piece.

I made good progress the first week, getting down as far as the stream, starting with the sky.  Almost all of September was spent on the middle third where the distant ripples are suggested and the ripple lines begin.  There were a lot of crappy days where little progress was made; trying to tease out ambiguous colours and areas took time.  Also, I kept losing my spot where I would have painted last, because the surrounding area would be so similar.  The painting is quite abstract up close.  Then in the last week, the bottom third was done - the closer ripples being larger and more easily to spot meant I got through it way quicker.

The painting's style is like work I've done 3 or 4 years ago - those sharp edged blotchy shapes.  There's more colours here than work from back then.  I used colours I've been using for the past year since the portrait competition.  Crucial to the look of the piece were Yellow Ochre, Raw Umber, Deep Violet and Zinc Mixing White.

I've called it 'Zeal' because it sums up what I'm about; 'great energy and enthusiasm in pursuit of a goal'.  The past six years I've given painting everything I've got.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

September Sketches

Viking Spearhead Cork Museum

D shaped buckle Cork Museum

Life drawing in Waterfords Soma Life Drawing

Life Drawing from Cork Life Drawing Group

Drink & Draw sketch

Some of the sketches done in the month of September. I popped into the Cork museum in Fitzgeralds park when I was in Cork, as I had a workshop teaching how to draw such objects and wanted to field test some methods. Plus I was long overdue popping in there. I have started bringing an A5 sketchbook with me now to museums and Sceitse's, usually I only carry my A6 pocket sketchbook, but I prefer the freedom of working that size larger, when I have the time to. Mini sketchbook is still my main SB though.

The rest are A4 pieces. In life drawing been trying to find the right balance between conte white pencils and white ink pen, you get nice blanket whites from the former, nice white highlights in the latter, not quite worked out the balance yet.

The last is just a sketch of a random character from the noggin/head, been a long time since I actually sketched just for the sake of it and completely from the mind. I do get to work from the mind in Archaeological work but it has to be justifiable at all times. So it can be stuffy so been trying to phase the pure fun back in occasionally now.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Little Red Riding Hood

This is the cover illustration I did for the Cork City Libraries 2014 Children's Book Festival booklet. Its based on the classic children's story, Little Red Riding Hood. I also did the graphic design work for the interior of the 16 page booklet. Id like to thank Eibhlin Cassidy for commissioning me to do the illustration and graphic design work for the Cork City Libraries. Im sure the 2014 Festival will be a great success.

Friday, September 26, 2014


This is more a post to point out a site some people here might like to check out. A bunch of Illustrators including Jim Pavelic, Todd Lockwood etc came together to set up a site to try promote better working practises, advice and payment for those working in the Illustration fields. Due to those involved directly in its set up, its particularly aimed at the animation/gaming spectrum but they're gradually broadening it. Theres sample contracts, advice articles by leading illustrators in those fields and if you sign up, a review section where you can post reviews on dealings and pay from companies.

The facebook just posted a video of Jim and Aaron Miller discussing the site and fielding some questions from attendees at the American Academy of Art.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Baby steps...

This is a "guilty of not putting anything up here in ages and I'm sorry, but will this do?" post and a rather off the cuff one too, so just a quick screenshot. I was just about to post it on my Facebook but figured i might as well stick it up here.   

A bunch of WIP character concepts for a game I'm working on.

These are very much still in fleshing out stage middle of the process for me. I tend to grab a big ink brush and just draw shapes first, really random blobs that i then erase, resize, chop, draw over and adjust until i begin seeing a pose or character. When that's done, i lower the opacity and draw over the shape and basically define it.

I try keep it really loose and again things are changing as i go, fixes and adjustments ie. If you look at the character on the grey backdrop here you will see the late addition of a new leg position.  Once I've done a rough line drawing, i then do a tonal pass, just trying to flesh out light direction, focus etc. These are in that stage.

Next up, I'll tighten up the rough line drawing by inking over it again, tidying and fixing as i go. When its tidied, i go to color generally slapping down base colors in Color/Overlay modes then painting over. Used to just use a Round brush for most, but lately began using more textured brushes and Chalk brushes.

Besides the usual drawing mistakes/shortcomings I'm trying to learn to overcome, my biggest issue with my own work is that i feel my early drawings lose a lot of energy that i love by the time I'm hitting final stages. Still trying to find the happy medium.

Its probably not much different from most and maybe not the most time efficient but its become my workflow lately and seems to suit me.

In between all this "push and pull" there's a copious amount of tea, occasional biscuits and a few sessions of playing catch with my dogs. Also music. I really cant do anything without tunes. I used to leave radio on but it is too distracting listening to news, interviews etc in between the music. So now its just purely music.  I used to game a bit but games are too addictive and time soaks! I try limit myself there now. Currently its Hearthstone (generally over breakfast), then Wolf Among Us and LA Noire at lunch. Typically, I'm up at 7.30, breakfast/laze about and start working by 10. finish up at 4.30ish for few hours then depending on mood maybe bit more before bed or DVD.

These days i found myself doing most of my work moving between and getting the benefits of both Corel Painter ( I love its inbuilt pencil and ink tools) and Photoshop. Lately I'm drawing a lot more digitally from the start but as the mood takes me I sometimes sketch a drawing traditionally too then scan it in to take advantage of digital tools.