Fine Art

Poetry. Click on images

Quink Ink

I’ve included, in this post, a selection of drawings made during the summer term at my life drawing group. The group is called Lifelines. The work presented demonstrate my attempts at familiarising myself with drawing using brush and  Quink ink – an ink originally developed for use with fountain pens. There are a couple of nice properties that Quink ink posses which I like. Quink ink comes in blue or black, I use the black which is more like a Paynes Grey, a warm grey and  one of my favorite colours,  when drying, the blue can take on a brownish hue in some areas which can add an interesting quality to the work. Quink ink can also be used  with bleach as part of the drawing process which, when applied, can create some nice effects as it bleaches those areas of ink that it is applied to. I have yet to work with bleach but will do so once I am confident with the direction I am going with my current approach.

I am also preparing work for this years Cambridge Open studios exhibition that we as a group participates in annually. I hope to include the best of the drawings using this media and technique. I make no claim for the quality or success of the work on show here. They signify my honest attempts at experimenting with a new media using various technical approaches in order to see what happens and in order to learn from the process.

Graph Paper

The Heart of Darkness. Joseph Conrad. Painting

The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

A short book and one of two books of Conrad’s, that I have read. I struggled with one other longer novel of his, Lord Jim.

A brief synopsis. Often described as being the first modern novel, The Heart of Darkness as a story,  can and is read on a number of levels including,  a critique of 19th century imperialism and European racial prejudice; a classic tale of hypocrisy, greed and exploitation; a commentary on the shallowness of Western Civilisation and its pretence of what constitutes civilised behaviour; a retelling of the archetypal hero’s journey; and a metaphorical journey into the primal heart of humanity  (The Heart of Darkness).

Creatively, however, and the reason for my wish to illustrate episodes from Conrad’s short story was his use of the contrasting qualities of light and dark as a leitmotif not only to describe the physical external world. but as a metaphor for the complex often contradictory nature of humanity’s internal space- the light and especially, the darkness, that is  within us all.

The bright light of the African sun-  the terrible primal, darkness of the jungle and the river,  the racial contrast between the whiteness of the, supposedly superior, colonial Europeans along with their apparel set in contrast to the blackness of the subjugated, exploited, Congolese. Then there are numerous references to shadows- the place where things are hidden and danger lurks,  the oppressiveness of the sun and its exposing/revealing light along with its oppressive heat. All rich material from which to extract out ideas for pictures.

I originally completed 10 paintings- sold 5, lost two and mislaid 3- probably either in my loft or at some relative’s house. The images are photocopies of originals so some scan lines may be observed.

Original. Acrylic on stretched canvas

To kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was one of a number of books I read after graduating from art school in the late 1990’s and to which I turned to for inspiration and subject matter for my illustrations/paintings. Like so many others who have read Lee’s, until recently, only novel, I loved the book. It is beautifully written, poignant with a serious and disturbing main storyline which is viewed and told  through the eyes of a child, Scout Finch. Yet it is also funny, and in the inspirational character Atticus Finch (Scout’s father), it has provided me with one of my three literary heroes.

The paintings formed the bulk of my first  exhibition held in Gallery 96 on Kings Street in Cambridge (sadly since closed). I enjoyed taping into the rich visual opportunities provided by the period the story is set that of 1930’s, depression era, Alabama, in America’s south, and I indulged, and mined, freely from the written and visual art of the period, including the works of John Steinbeck, Ben Shahn, Romare Bearden, Dorothea Lange and of course  the movies of 1930’s Hollywood.

All paintings are acrylic on stretched cartridge paper. Series painted 1999.

Red Crowned Cranes

Red-crowned cranes. Grus japonensis

The Red-crowned crane is one of the rarest, largest and long lived of the worlds cranes. It is a very handsome bird with its black and white plumage and red skull cap. Their plumage was highly regarded and used as fashion accessories. In Japan they were hunted to the point of extinction  surplying the demand for the feathers for the fashion industry. They are now protected across its range including China, Japan and Korea

In far eastern cultures the Red-crowned crane is a symbol of longevity, purity, and peace and a popular subject in art. The Japanese airlines JAL uses the red-crowned crane as its logo on the tail of its planes.  Captive cranes have been known to live for up to 70 years.

The crane  is famous for the courtship dance preformed during the mating season where pairs of cranes  engage in elaborate, synchronised courtship duets. It was this idea of their courtship dance and its compositional possibilities that attracted me to attempt a painting of these birds. I was also struck by the resemblance between the visual rhythm created  as they dance with that of  musical notes on a stave.

Ink, masking fluid and tipex pen on mountboard. (2014)

British birds of prey. Series 4. The Osprey and Eagles

All images are hand drawn and coloured in Photoshop

Related topics;

1. Introduction

2. What’s your super powers?

3. We are family

4. What’s in a name?

5. Brush up your Shakespeare

6. Know your place

7. Mind your language

8. It’s tough at the top

9. The female of the species.

10. All for One & One for all.

11. The beautiful game

12. Scourge of the Roman empire

13. A legendary tale

14. Explosive tear drop

15. Poetry in motion

16. Friend or Foe

17. Strictly come Dancing

18. Keeping a tight grip

Click on images for more informtion on each raptor

Painting

British birds of prey. Series 1. Falcons & Hawks

All images are hand drawn and coloured in Photoshop

Introduction

The idea for a series of portrait illustrations of the birds of prey of the British Isles developed gradually. I had Initially completed a commission for an eagle which involved exploring new techniques of rendering in Photoshop which I wanted to developed further. I was a keen ornithologist when a boy an interest that was to wane in my teenage years and lay dormant throughout my adult life. I did, however retain a lot of knowledge of birds from my youth  and the original eagle illustration project had  awakened a latent interest.

When  a young keen bird watcher I do not recall  birds of prey being a particular passion of mine  probably  because, since as I was growing up in the 1970”s, they were scarce and  very few and far between, but I thought – for creative continuity, I would illustrate one more of these raptors and chose the Peregrine.

One thing followed another. I researched the birds and the more I did so the more I became engrossed by their history, physiology, mythology and especially the story of their long relationship with us. And so a project formed – to illustrate all 17 resident, and regularly visiting, raptors to these Isles and to document a small part of their continuing, fascinating and unfolding story.

Click on images for more informtion on each raptor

Related topics;

1. Introduction

2. What’s your super powers?

3. We are family

4. What’s in a name?

5. Brush up your Shakespeare

6. Know your place

7. Mind your language

8. It’s tough at the top

9. The female of the species.

10. All for One & One for all.

11. The beautiful game

12. Scourge of the Roman empire

13. A legendary tale

14. Explosive tear drop

15. Poetry in motion

16. Friend or Foe

17. Strictly come dancing

18. Keeping a tight grip.