Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Just Spotted

Hi.  Just finished this small one, on a 12 x 10 inch aluminium composite board.  Based on a photo I took 3 years ago.  Very luck to capture this guy who was just outside the conservatory window at home.  Usually they bolt it at a much further distance.  'The whole painting is nothing if the eye on the bird doesn't stand out' I said before I began.  And yet it covers such a tiny part of the overall surface area.  Did it in acrylics, works well doing stubbles where you get a sharp edge to the stems.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sketches from Sceitse

Thurles town Tower house

Ballysaggartmore Towers
Tower in Cahir castle

Sea caves in the Blascads

Fallen in love with markers recently for outdoor sketching, such a fun and rapid way of sketching. I bring them everywhere with me now, especially when going out and about with Sceitse. I use a slightly tinted paper and warm grey promarkers, gives an almost sepia or ink wash look, without having to wait for drying time or mixing. The worst thing about them is also the best, they are fat and chunky, which can take alot of space in my wrap up pencil case but that also feels like you are painting with a thick brush and kind of keeps you from being too precious and just laying it down. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

'Near The End Of The Great Blasket Island'

So appropriately for an Islander blog entry is a scene depicting islands.  There was a Sceitse group visit to the Great Blasket Island back in June.  One day I walked nearly the entire length of the island; this was as far as I came.
                   A square board was chosen so that the two more distant islands would look appropriately big, rather than a rectangular board that would 'shrink' them.  One thing I've noticed about photos of landscapes is that they 'push' objects on the horizon further away than what the human eye picks up on.  The eye, with its narrow range of focus would see the islands as closer than what a camera suggests.
            Was lucky that the sky cleared on the way here.  The photo of the painting misses some subtle pinks and greens in the sea.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Referencing a Tower house

Recently I completed an image of a tower house, and I want to do a few posts about the making of the tower house, and perhaps give you a glimpse into the background work that goes into archaeological illustration., One of the harder aspects of archaeological artwork is you cant just make things up, your artwork has to be a combination of various forms of information e,g; archaeological digs, historical documents/books, site visits, contemporary artwork etc (though the combining of such evidence (ie the guessing) is where you get to add the art part), though sometimes you need to fill in the blanks too when there isnt enough evidence or you cant find the evidence.

Thankfully because of Sceitse (a sketch group I run) I have visited many, many tower houses over the years (and sketched them) so I have no shortage of the site visit type of reference. At the same time I often visit these kind of places on my own if they are near a place that Im travelling to or when the fancy comes to me. But while there are many fine examples, the one that is the best that I have visited is Kilcrea castle

I have visited Kilcrea castle twice, once just to see it and the second time because I knew I was going to try and remake it. One of the best aspects of the work I do is I get to spend a day in a place like this, really really getting to know it, inside and out, I love hanging out in ruins and trying to reimagine them. The tower house itself in the image is nearly entirely based off Kilcrea, both internally and externally . The idea of the image was to make a tower house that represented tower houses as a whole (or atleast a representational amount), which Kilcrea fit the bill well, while it didnt have all the normal features it was modest in size and grandeur, middle of the road.  Especially the array of windows it had, it seemed to have nearly every window type found in tower houses.

Besides Kilcrea, I made a few other additions,  majorly in the wall walk area (the top), as most of that was gone from Kilcrea and it is usually there that tower houses have the most bling. From Blarney Castle, I got the Irish form of Machicolation(an extended battlement which allowed defenders to drop stuff on attackers). Also Blarney is the Bawn battlements, and most of the Bawn walls design was from Barryscourt castle, including the slight Batter at the bases of the towers (an extension at the base of towers to defend against battering rams) and finally with satellite imagery of Barryscourt I got the overal layout of the Bawn. Outside of that Ballynacarriga castles Sheela-na-gig is on the wall and Dunlough castles bawn tower also influenced one bawn tower.

While site visits are paramount as its reading and researching another great reference is actual reference from the time. These have their pitfalls too, as the artists at the time could have been just winging it at times or biased or had an agenda of their own but they are the best evidence for the physical look for aspects that dont survive archaeologically

The images on the left I believe are from Barletts Map, these were early English Maps from the early 17th century, they mostly helped design the cobwalled houses in the image. I even used this map for reference of the bridge, such things rarely survive archaeologically The bottom right is a 17th century map of Carrigfergus, note the Creats, a type of late medieval Irish circular/oval house of just thatch and wattle, you cant see it well in the image but there is one in the bawn of my illustrated tower house the last house in the yard before the horizontally situated bawn house. Not just Irish illustration evidence was used though, the right top two were examples of medieval from other European countries Medieval manuscripts.

Alot of the houses are actually based off or influenced by archaeological excavations and historical documents/books as well as the contemporary illustrations shown here. But thats a post for another day.... perhaps.... hopefully ill be able to show the various ways I went about making the image in the coming weeks/months.

Friday, August 28, 2015

A book cover for a favourite book

I am picking up on the August challenge here to create a book cover of my favorite book. It proved quite difficult of course as I am sure no one has just one favourite. So I decided to pick the first book of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy. I have a big soft spot for sci-fi novels. These books are an extremely good read and are rumoured to have taken seventeen years to finish. Its well worth the effort to plough through them at least once.
Being sci-fi, I decided to go totally digital for the illustration. So I used my knowledge of CAD and built the forms for the image as 3D objects. Then I imported them into a modelling application for texture mapping and rendering.

It's been well over a decade since I did anything of this nature but I managed to blow off the cobwebs and produce the work anyway. The original post rendered image seemed a little sterile and clean cut so I transferred it to photoshop and added a roughness to the textures. Once satisfied, I gave it a nice retro style book cover look.. and there you have it..

Thank you Mr. Robinson for a seriously good read :)

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Hey guys! It's been a long old time since I posted here, what with learning to tattoo and drive I haven't had much free time and have only had the one commission which sort of fell into my lap. I was asked to do two pencil portraits from pictures, A3 in size.

The first one was simple enough, the picture wasn't great to work from but it was clear and in focus an all, I sort of had to make up the hair as the background was so dark they bled together and it was hard to tell where it ended.

The second one was a lot more difficult. The picture was taken in the 70s and was not high on detail, as fuzzy as this drawing seems, its more detailed than the photo, essential I made up details, I couldn't make up too many though as I might lose what the guy looked like. I found out midway through the drawing it was the only picture that exists of him as he died back then which doesn't add loads of pressure at all... I swear. 

Other than these I have mostly been designing and drawing tattoos for the shop so maybe I will post those at some point.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Solar Vortex

Hi, just finished this last week.  I worked on a square aluminium composite panel.  I used water-mixable oils on it.  Started last April and worked on it on and off in May and July.  I started in the centre on the sun, and worked out, an unusual way, I normally work from the top left corner, across and down.  There was a lot of medium used on the sky and in the darkness because of the fat over lean rule in oil painting.  The medium on the sky slowed things down; it's sticky and wet for days after it's applied.  So that's why it was an on/off work.
                        I was inspired by an event, when the driveway at home flooded 3 years ago, the water escaped down a storm drain in a vortex pattern.  So I used that as a template for the clouds and the rays of light below the sun.  Just something a bit more abstract than usual.

I've an exhibition coming up on Monday in The Grainstore Ballymaloe, but I won't be showing this, as it's not dry yet cos of all the medium used.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Quick Plein Air at Carrigadrohid

Oil on oil board 30 x 25 cm

I haven't posted in ages so I thought might just put up this little piece just done. Its a quick plein air of the early light at Carrigadrohid. Its a little rough but you have to work fast as the light changes so quickly at this time of day. It was an interesting exercise as I think it may actually be the first time in about a year I have reverted back to oil as a medium. What you see then is the result of dashing in and out of rain showers to hide in the car as the the good old summer weather decided that the landscape needed yet another wash and scrub.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Influences from film: The Third Man

I first saw The Third Man as a 19 year old aspiring comics artist. I had always loved working in black and white and seeing this film certainly broadened my appreciation for the atmospheric possibilities offered when working in pure tone. The director, Carol Reed had already established himself as one of Britain's leading directors when he made "Odd Man Out" in 1947 during which time he used the skewed camera extensively. By the time it came to filming in Vienna in 1949, his visual style was perfectly suited to the dramatic and still war- damaged city.  His stark use of Chiaroscuro made a big impression on my young and hungry eyes.
Recently, I was commissioned by 2000AD to draw a series featuring characters which debuted in last years' Winter Special called "The Alienist". The story is set in Edwardian England and when I learned it was to be commissioned in black and white, I was quite happy as I felt the subject matter (paranormal/ sic- fi) would be perfectly suited to black and white. Here, I hope it's obvious how much I "drew" on the influence of The Third man, especially when it came to light and shade, staging and depiction of architecture.
I have always been fascinated by the possibilities of light and shade on faces and The Third man was again very influential. Here, I think it's evident how much. I still find it a challenge to light a face accurately while using strong lighting but it is so worth the effort as it makes the features so much more solid and believable while enhancing the atmosphere no end.
Reed's depiction of architecture was very present in my mind when it came to depicting architecture in "The Alienist" as I knew I wanted to pack as much atmosphere and general moodiness into these shots.   
Again, the tilted camera adds so much  dynamism to the shot while also breaking the stark horizontal/ vertical framework imposed by the screen or in this case, the panel borders. Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Inspiration from sister fields: Music, Film, and Illustration

Still Dream, oils on masonite, 36x48in

Hey there everyone!

It’s difficult to boil this month’s theme down to a few, but after a bit of thinking, I’d like to share three creatives who have impacted my work.

Today I’ll highlight Tom Waits, Jean Pierre Jeunet, and Beatrix Potter. An odd mix, perhaps, but they all see brilliant stories in the seemingly mundane, in the lives of marginalized people, and in rabbits! And a bit of trivia for you, they all happen to be self-taught.

Tom Waits, Musician - Mule Variations, Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards

Jean Pierre Jeunet, Director/Screenwriter - MicMacs, Amelie, Delicatessen, The City of Lost Children

Beatrix Potter, Author/Illustrator - Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Two Bad Mice
To see loads of her illustrations, click here.

Each of them have cultivated a very particular flavor. The worlds they built are cohesive, risky, and true to themselves. Those are qualities I aim for in my own work.

Now, I’ve a long way to go before I’ve creatively solved these issues for myself and it's easy to get discouraged in the midst of a long trek. So I’ll leave you, and myself, with this gem from Ira Glass reflecting on his own inspiration and journey.

“All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

Here’s to your inspirations and tastes! Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Youghal Clock Tower

Five years ago, I painted the old town hall in my local town, Midleton using red tones throughout and a pure red sky.  It came out good so ever since, now and again I do scenes based on red.  They're usually tough going cos you're adding in red to the normal mixes so there's more work with colour mixing.  Also, red in acrylic paint can be difficult; it can overwhelm the mixes so you've to be accurate with the amounts of it you add in.
                  A few people have come up to me in my recent solo exhibitions commenting on the absence of a painting featuring Youghal.  As I'm always looking for new subject matter, this filled a gap.  The tower took up most of the time spent, although the side buildings took a while too; a lot of details.
                  I'll get my framer to put a thick black frame on it and hopefully it'll make an impact when it'll be hanging in my upcoming solo exhibition in August!

Monday, June 1, 2015



I´m posting an animated video I´ve done for the innovation department of the company I´m working. We´re using it as a teaser of our new brand about innovation services called Innsite.

The topic is about things that many reputedly personalities have said that finally were wrong. I made it by mixing real image extracted by random technology videos plus some animation.

Fortunately we´ve translated to english XD.

So here it goes! enjoy!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Acrylics and Water-mixable oils

     I'll share a few thoughts and experiences about the materials I use when painting.  First up, acrylic paints.
          Well, I've been using them for a long time, the last 16 years.  I use Daler Rowney System 3 acrylics.  Daler Rowney paints have an intensity and purity of colour that I've always liked.  They're student grade which means there's a good bit of filler and less pigment in them, artist grade paints have less filler and more pigment.  Recently I've started getting Winsor and Newton artist grade paints, just to see the difference.  So far there's not much between them.  I actually find the student grade paints mix together well.  Downside is you need 2 or 3 layers of paint sometimes cos of the lack of pigment and their yellows are weak. Yet, it shows that you don't have to splash out on materials to get decent results.

Acrylic paints dry rapidly, in the Summer 5 to 10 minutes.  A small spray canister is vital for keeping the paints damp without flooding them with water and making them run all over the palette.
In 2011, after my first solo exhibition, Gentian Lulani, the resident artist in Ballymaloe, encouraged me to have a go at oils.  For the last 3 years I've been using Winsor and Newton Water-Mixable Oils.  Water replaces the role of turpentine in normal oil paint; it thins the paint when you put on the first layer of paint.  Also between colour changes you clean the brush with it.  The smell is less intense than oils too, good for indoors work.  The only catch is that the paint is quite stiff.  I do a lot of detail in each painting so most of the work is done with thin, small round brushes and they get trashed quicker than with acrylics.  Here's one on the way out.
The tips of the bristles bend back and the point is lost.  I just started using one made of sable hair.  I'd avoided sable up til now cos I heard it didn't work with water well.  But so far it's doing ok and hopefully I've finally found a decent round brush that'll last a while.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Hi, All-
It's my first time taking part in this, so forgive any rough edges!
All my work is hand- drawn at a drafting table
, using the most traditional tools one can imagine- namely: 6B pencils on Bristol Board. In the past, I have used loose Bristol Board sheets bought off the shelf but I opted out of this as they are very rarely squared off properly so I had to spend quite a bit of time making sure every corner was exactly 90 degrees- very tedious.
So, now I use a3 pads- there are a couple of options out there- I find the Windsor and Newton a little more robust but there's very little difference.

I am very much a lineart illustrator, so the pens are crucial to that. I use the Hunt 101 dip pen, which I buy online. It's very difficult to find decent drawing pens in Ireland, so it's far easier to source them online.
The Hunt 101 is the most popular pen used by comic artists worldwide and I can see why: the flexibility and variation possible with them is enormous, allowing for endlessly variable strokes.

They are a little messy at times and of course must be constantly dipped but I find this worthwhile for all the reasons above.
I also use a Hunt 100 (pictured right) for the very finest cross- hatching. In terms of inks, I find Talens indian ink very satisfying- it offers deep, consistent black. For larger areas of black, I use regular indian ink with a large brush.

Sometimes, I want to use a slicker and smoother line (especially for Press illustration, as the print quality is not as fine as for magazines and comics). For this, I use the Pentel marker brush- again, it offers almost endless variation in line weights.
Thanks for talking a look, all!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Pens Galore

My post for this months themed week about my art tools, since I messed up previously and already made a post about my art tools in a previous themed week, and Im in the process of switching to digital ill just repost that older post here.

Right, one of my main traditional mediums is pen and ink which at this stage I think I have tried every ink pen imaginable in the last 6-7 year of inking, but I mostly like fineliners/multiliners etc. Though recently I find myself dabbling in brush pens & brushes in inking but sin scéal eile (thats another story). My main pens would be microns and uni pins for most work as they give nice solid lines, but for fine work I use the Copics multiliners as they have a felt tip which is so delicate, great for layering of values and small texture and detail. I also use staedtler Pigment liners.....which I just realised I forgot to include in the photos............ when I need to create a more duller black, can be nice to add more variety in your blacks or greys.

In the last few months I have taken to using a uniball white pen over black to hatch over blacks as well as correct mistakes. Sometimes I then use a stanley knife to hatch over the white to blend them more, kind of like mini etching. I also use this white pen at times to create different shades of white in an image.

Recently I have taken to using calligraphy pens, since they have a nice flat top, which gives interesting lines and shadows but also makes it easier drawing more technical modern buildings. My brush pen is there for creating thick blacks and interesting lines and shapes. I also starting playing with markers like the Staedtler Lumocolor, which I love, as they make fun shaped blacks and lines too

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Themed week: Favourite supplies


Well, here I go with my Themed week about art supplies. Well... I have to admit that I´m not a quality brand follower for my working materials, maybe it´s because quality always tended to be expensive plus I´ve been a humble live style person, so everything I´ve done has been always with anything easy to get, pencils, normal printer paper, brushes, ink (at the beginning). And when I got my first digital tablet (I won it in a contest), I´ve connected it and installed photoshop in any computer i´ve been able to get anywhere. Unemployed courses, office computer, my sister computer... My first exhibition was in a RockBar, and I made it on the servileness I could get in there. Another exhibition I´ve done, it was with a pentium II, in the friend shared local.

Shortly said I´ve focused on inner skill more than good materials, I´ve to admit of being a fan of Miyamoto Musashi, a samurai who never was defeated and many times had defeated his opponents with a wooden stick when he did not have a sword XD... but I would be stupid if I don´t admit that good materials are a clear help in anyones work.

As I´ve told before, actually things has became better to me and today I can get in my office proper materials to work.

As you can see my working space is a complete disorder XD, for the other side I use both supports to create, analogical and digital. And also many times I convine them.

For traditional work I still using "easy to get materials" calibrated pens, sharpies, and printing paper and also postits (you have in mind not the teletubbie corner)

For digital work I actually have an apple and a wacom intuos. But if I would have any tool I wanted I would choose a nice PC plus a Cintiq (tools that I will get soon when I change my living place in madrid). about pc and mac, I choose pc because I like how it goes with adobe in little aspects more than with mac (anyway it´s ok with both of them).

And finally and not less important another nice working tool is a good environment plus sense of humour. This picture combines the two main games we play at the office, the first one is ball dunking (still improving), the second one is "El juego", translated to english "the game", it consist in a mind game. "The Game" is a quite famous internet viral game, easy to play, if you actually know about it you are losing it at this moment, if not here are the rules. 


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Themed week: Tutorial


It is time for the tutorial, I wanted to post something mine but in fact I´ve been too busy these weeks. So for completing the blog´s task I decided to post a tutorial of one of my favourites cartoonist, Jason Seiler.

Here it go!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tutorial time

OK so I don't really have any tutorials I can share, I have been recording my morning warm ups lately though, so maybe they can help... somehow

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Old Tutorial – still works, though!

Hey everyone! It's backup-day for me this Sunday and usually I come across some long forgotten files – like for example this illustration tutorial I did once back in 2004. It's in German but the pictures are self-explanatory. I documented the process of one of the illustrations I did for the "Engel" Roleplaying Game, using watercolour, gouache and charcoal.

You can download the PDF file by clicking on the picture - enjoy!


Download the PDF by clicking on the pic!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Finally... Digitally Inking

As probably ye all know in Islanders already at this stage but I have been playing around with digitally inking for the best part of a year now, mostly just sketching or for the preliminary stages of artwork. But the above is my first attempt at doing an image completely from start to finish digitally (though I did do some initial sketches traditionally).

I have been using Corel Painter as my digital inking tool of choice, I just love their tools and how they mimic (tho not always accurately) traditional tools. For a long time traditionally I have wanted to combine pen & ink, with ink brush techniques and etching/scratchboard (mostly its the ability to do white on black I craved). Easy to do the first 2 together traditionally, but third, that would takealot of experimenting and probably would take me years to get something good, but with digital I have it all there already so I said feck and just jumped in.

I have to say Im loving the tools, and its so freeing working digitally, having the ability to experiment without repercussions. Im not sure if I got the balance yet tho between those three styles of inking, not all the elements gel well together I think, like the dry brush leather with the rest but its not a bad start

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Theme thingy

So I thought I would squeeze in an attempt at this weeks theme of making an image with as few strokes as possible.

Naturally I failed miserably because I decided to try filming it while I was at it and towards the end I sort of forgot what I was doing :D

This is the final painting done in watercolour of an old building in a field

And here is the dramatically sped up video

Friday, March 20, 2015

River Stour sketch

For this weeks theme of producing an image using limited strokes/marks/line/tone I have done this little sketch. It is a mixture of continuous line and limited mark making done rapidly and trying to be economical with technique. It was done with a thick graphite crayon. Hopefully you can tell what the sketch is of!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Themed week 2 - 5 minute rapid painting challenge

Thanks to Richard for coming up with the theme for this week.  I just completed this half an hour ago.  It's a sunset from the front of my house.  I broke the 15 to 20 brush stroke rule, but stuck to 5 minutes.  It was a good subject cos you only get 5 minutes anyway to capture it before it changes.  Got a little dazzled at first but by the time I was finished with the trees on the horizon, the sun had dimmed to a deep red.  Photo of it didn't pick up highlights I'd put on the clouds immediately around the sun.  It's not even half good, but still I enjoyed the experience and it's my first plein air work in 2015.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Back to Basics

Remember when we all had specific days on which to post... that was a long time ago... Anyway!

Lately I have been focusing my daily practice on improving my tones for painting and seeing things as shapes that interrelate and so on and I won't lie, it's almost always women in various states of undress because... I like drawing and painting women in various states of undress :D

By the way anyone interested on learning more on painting tones and so on I have been reading a really good series on the subject lately HERE and part two HERE and as far as I understand it, there is more to come.

I do these digitally and in about 30 minutes to an hour depending on how I'm working that day i.e. how tired I am

These are all done from reference by the way, I usually just google art models or if I come across something online that I like the lights and darks of I save it to paint.

Also, I post my daily sketches or paintings on instagram now as nolanthecelt so if any of you guys are on there gimme a shout.

Also if anyone has any good tips or knowledge of working tonally that they can see Im not getting right or something, let me know in the comments :)

All the love.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dreamscape: The House On The Edge Of The Cliff

Been wanting to do something more imaginative for a long time.  I put it off cos it's easier to do stuff that you immediately observe in front of you or when you use a photo reference.  My home stands a mere 160 metres from the eastern side of Garryvoe Beach. Eight to ten foot high clay 'cliffs' are constantly eroded by wave action; each year between a foot and a metre of ground are washed into the sea.
                 About once or twice a year I get a recurring dream where the cliff has suddenly come up to the house just outside the fence. Like a lot of anxiety themed dreams, just before the house falls in, the dream ends.  Also skies are usually dark and menacing in such dreams.  The painting looks real to match how vivid the dream feels but if you look at where the windows should be in the house, the background sky is visible instead of walls. Therefore the house is a façade and imagined.
                 The painting is also a prophecy, it's only a matter of time before the cliffs do come up to the house, depending on how bad global warming kicks in. 
                 Painted using water mixable oils on linen canvas.  Took 2 weeks and 2 days to complete.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A really late entry for the themed week...

Wow I'm late with this, I had written this for the last themed week since it was my suggestion. Then my computer had a hissy fit and I've been on file recovery until now. I hope you guys find it interesting!

My family background is almost universally sciences and Medicine, I'm the odd one out, however most of the family members who had a strong influence on me as a child had strong creative streaks.  

 My history with art started when I was six or so and my Grandfather started to teach me how to use watercolours. His preferred medium was oils, however given my then preference for exploring the world primarily with my mouth, he felt  watercolours a safer bet. Due to him being a professor of anatomy, he  liked to make sure my sister and I grew up with an understanding of how things worked, particularly the skeletal and muscular system.

 I suspect he thought that we would also go into medicine at a later date. 

That basic understanding has been immensely useful when it came to drawing in general as I was able to work out  how the muscles and bones assisted and restricted each other in poses and in movement, both for real and imaginary creatures.

My secondary school  while it was more keen for you to follow the more mainstream subjects still had a very good Art department and the teachers while having to follow the curriculum for GCSE and A level  loved discussing any areas of the subject if you were interested (The assumption was you weren't interested so You had to ask them)  I do feel that while the teachers were lovely and did what they could, the curriculum somewhat shackled them.

My general drawing skills are mostly self taught with assistance from various lovely Teachers. I learned a lot from art books and strangely even picked up tips from Dick Francis novels, Read 'To the Hilt' it's actually got some very nice tips on how to handle Acrylics sneaked into the narrative.

I Completed GCSE and A-level Art, I suppose from that I learned how to follow a brief as the assignments tended to be quite restrictive when I did them. They had a strange fascination with the theme of 'Food & Drink' it was an Irritatingly regular topic in the exams.

After that It was a Foundation in Art & Design in the UU Belfast. anyone who isn't sure where in the field of art they want to be, do the foundation year. We got to try nearly everything and Personally I fell in love with Illustration and Animation from the modules I completed.  That in turn prompted me to apply for an Illustration and Animation degree in Southampton. (I was under the impression that getting a Degree was what you did.) 

From the degree I learnt about those pesky things 'project management' and 'time management'. While at the time these seemed like horrible concepts, I have come to rely on them heavily to balance a fledgling freelance career with 'pay-the-bills' work.

That 3 years I think made me a better person, I learned to manage money (admittedly badly at the beginning) deal with running my own life and balance work with my coursework. Not to mention that I met some of the best people I know there. The course was a 2D animation class as 3D was only just becoming a mainstream thing (2000) so while we looked into 3D we all believed that 2D would never fall out of favour. We covered all aspects of the 2D animation process and had more life drawing classes than you would ever believe, from static poses to children running about with a dog. they was even a day that an eagle came in for the day. while I am sure we complained about the Life drawing, I can honestly say it's one of the most lasting and useful skills to have.

I have to say that I don't actually think it matters if you have a degree or not in the arts. Its more what you do with your skills. Some of the most talented and successful people/artists that I have met in the last 10 years had no official training and were so good at what they do, that  it was somewhat of a challenge to try and be as good as them.

I think that as long as you are enjoying the way you work and the things you create, keep doing it. If it becomes a chore and a hassle maybe it's time to try something else.

Currently I do a variety of things in my practice, I work on commissions, I teach, I run a Web comic, and I draw purely for my own enjoyment. 
I am always learning new ways to work both practical and digital I don't think I will ever get Bored with a pencil and paper handy.

My comic is a collaboration with a writer John V Clerkin and normally is posted weekly. He writes issues at a time and we plot out characters and storylines together, this is a project we do for enjoyment and because we love the characters. it's been ongoing since 2011 when we thought of it and launched I believe in 2012. 
You can really tell when I changed jobs when reading through it, as the styles change greatly depending on the amount of free time I had available. Currently I hand draw, ink & watercolour the pages before sending them to John for dialogue to be added, previously the pages ranged from just pencils to completely digital. It's been a lovely learning experience and I plan to keep drawing it as long as I can.

I range from a specialty in watercolours and illustration to vivid cartoon inspired acrylic paintings which can be rather large, so far 8 foot by 4 foot was the biggest, commissioned for a show jumping event as an attraction in the ring and a distraction to the horses. My commissions range between the two, paintings in acrylic selling well over the last year, with illustrative commissions in watercolour and inks also being popular. I like drawing and painting attractive bright images with a story to them. From my childhood in a farming community, animals feature strongly, mischievous sheep, with a tendency to attempt Houdini like escapes, aloof horses, inspired by my sisters small herd who always saw humans as beneath them and a pantheon of high energy dogs and cats, all begging to have their story told.

Monday, February 23, 2015

My artist background , by Raúl


well, it is time for the themed week!. This time is about our artist background. It´s quite bit extended, I hope it was worth it, otherwise it will be another failure to learn from XD.

I could resume this themed week by just saying that all skills I´ve acquired are a matter of the time I´ve spent on drawing, and which ways I´ve wanted to take (as you can see finally I´ve taken a little more to explain it XD). 

In fact I have come to the conclusion that, there is no book or degree as recomendable as the determination of keeping on drawing (and unlike the other two, this one is free!!). Anyway it is true that many times books and courses (and also people XD) have been a a nice input (other times just procrastination).

Childhood: memories of my childhood are not the happiest of my life, I was demanded to clear loads of tasks I didn´t liked plus I wasn´t recognized in tasks where I was skilled. For teachers many times my drawer tendencies were looked more as a trouble than a virtue in my education, and my parents (a very demanding ones) were always underlining that I was a lazy boy that could do it better taking to account my supposed abilities. Maybe, the most crucifying topic for me was to believe all this, specially the fact that my creativity was something magical fallen from the sky. Later I would realice that that was not true… so for that time drawing was a way of evasion, and I was practicing constantly XD. My main drawing topics where dinosaurs, animals, monsters and similar, and one of my biggest influences were Dougal Dixon and Akira Toriyama.   

Adolescence: Things went better at the age of 16, I moved from my town (Barakaldo) to do art secondary studies to Bilbao. The best thing I´ve met there was more people with similar concerns. The best memories of that time where the loads of hours drawing together and learning from each other. At school things were similar to primary school, plus I had a regular teenager attitude (a horrible one XD). My arguments with teachers plus the lack of interest in the subject-matter made me not to pass from 6/10 in drawing, design or painting studies in the two years I´ve spent there… but something funny happened during my university selectivity exam…

University: I can define this period as what it is, 5 years of time. Time for doing what you want with no responsibilities. The little demand of the teachers on their subjects made me to pass everything without effort. I spent loads of time partying and improving my drawing skills by my own, even I consider many of my teachers as a bunch of pretentious windbags, there where many of them that made really well with me…

Also I spent one year in Barcelona (horrible windbag experience). and a half a year in Norwich (with many ex-islanders). I remember Norwich studies as one of my best periods in the university, I met the teaching system revolutionary and excellent. Plus the classmates where people to learn a lot from. People there where less competitive and more competent. Between the things I´ve learnt at the university, there are, inking skills, watercolor skills, deep anatomic drawing knowledge, character design and graphic narrative.

After University: This time was a critical one, after spending time building dream projects at the university during years without a filter. You realice that you´ve spent 5 years with no contact or learning about the working market (should we? what the university was supposed to be for? ). Even more, as a result of my two years out my city, I was left alone with no  “sponsors” to introduce me to nobody (the main way to get a job at least in Spain) or no “dance partners” to work with on something. Some teachers recommended me as a scholar in collaboration with the university (4/4 priority) but for higher directions it didn´t seemed important, so I spent a few months on bureaucratic issues for nothing.

Finally I started working as a carrier and children keeper. You will think that this period is irrelevant for my artist background, but in fact, there I learned the meaning of hard working, discipline, and how to handle in professional relations (I feel really thankful to one of my main workmates who taught me all this things that nowadays I still putting them in practice).

On my free time y started learning digital painting properly by my own(I had some contact with it before but not very much). In fact I realized that in many places it had more value knowing photoshop that drawing, so I spent loads of hours a day practicing and looking for a nice job as a graphic artist.

Professional life: After spending 4 years as a carrier and after being bundled with broken promises from different companies, I finally was hired for first time as a creative  in a small company, and for that time I had already made big improves with my confort area, offering cartoonist services by my own and doing some exhibitions in shops and bars. So i was gradually becoming busier. As long as i was learning new skills for necessity reasons, I kept on offering more services as graphic designer, video marketing services etc… 

The bad situation in Spain since 2008, has made people having some status, leave aside their scruples and take advantage of anyone who can. In my case, most of my clients knew each other (Bilbao is not to big) and they where always trying to make me work for less money. The situation went worse when the company I was working for 3 years was broken, and you know, businessmen are thoroughly diplomats even not having ethic on your conditions… so I started searching for a new job, and I shoot creative work offers worldwide. Fortunately I was called from Madrid (not so far XD), and I escaped leaving most of things in Bilbao.

Today: A half a year ago I started my new life in Madrid, I´m pretty happy here with my new job, I´m learning more about graphic design (I´ve got a perfectionist partner I have to adapt to XD) plus I have a lot of time for me to work and improve on illustration. In the other side as a newcomer here life is a bit lonely.

Reached to this point, I feel very lucky about finally having the lifestyle I wanted, specially taking to account how difficult has been. 

As short time goals, I´m a bit saturated on realistic portraits and caricatures, so I will like to make some own projects related with synthesis, something more “cartoon style” (working on it XD). As a long period goal I would like to make things somehow easier to the people who has been as the same situation as me, by changing the concept about how this lifestyle is seen and valued, unfortunately many times supported by those isolated art markets (personal opinion). 

I will keep on drawing and trying to implement my work in places where a drawer is not expected.