Illustration

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.

Advent Panels. Foreshadowing. Series 3

Images created using a process which involves collage use of a flexigon, Photoshop and Ipad app (Snapseed)

Advent panels

For a number of years I have been commisioned by St Pauls Church here in Cambridge, to produce 5 advent images for presentation on each Sunday  service in that season up to and including Christmas day. Each year the vicar, Rev Micheal Beckett, comes up with a serious of themes which he develops in each service with the aid of the accompanying image.

I use these commision to develop ideas around techniques, composition and effective visual story telling. There is always a deadline one that gets smaller and smaller as  Christmas day approaches, due in the main to me spending a lot of time on the first two illustrations leaving very little time for the final three. On average each take around 4 days to complete (on and off) from initial sketching out of ideas  to sending the complete image to the printers. The final images are printed on to foamboard and are A1 in size. They are wrapped up in Christmas wrapping paper. Children are invited to unwrap the image in the service.

I try and do a fair bit of reading around each theme and hope they do the job that is asked of them.

Click on images for more informtion

Biblical stories. The Nativity. 2015 Series.

Image created using a process which involves collage, use of a flexigon, Photoshop and Ipad app (Snapseed)

Advent panels

For a number of years I have been commisioned by St Pauls Church here in Cambridge, to produce 5 advent images for presentation on each Sunday  service in that season up to and including Christmas day. Each year the vicar, Rev Micheal Beckett, comes up with a serious of themes which he develops in each service with the aid of the accompanying image.

I use these commision to develop ideas around techniques, composition and effective visual story telling. There is always a deadline one that gets smaller and smaller as  Christmas day approaches, due in the main to me spending a lot of time on the first two illustrations leaving very little time for the final three. On average each take around 4 days to complete (on and off) from initial sketching out of ideas  to sending the complete image to the printers. The final images are printed on to foamboard and are A1 in size. They are wrapped up in Christmas wrapping paper. Children are invited to unwrap the image in the service.

I try and do a fair bit of reading around each theme and hope they do the job that is asked of them.

Click on images for more informtion

British birds of prey. Series 2. Buzzards

All images are hand drawn and rendered 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

 

Biblical stories. Encounters with Christ. 2016 series

 

Images created using a process which involves drawing, collage use of a flexigon, Photoshop and Ipad app (Snapseed)

Advent panels

For a number of years I have been commisioned by Pauls Church here in Cambridge, to produce 5 advent images for presentation on each Sunday  service in that season up to and including Christmas day. Each year the vicar, Rev Micheal Beckett, comes up with a serious of themes which he develops in each service with the aid of the accompanying image.

I use these commision to develop ideas around techniques, composition and effective visual story telling. There is always a deadline one that gets smaller and smaller as  Christmas day approaches, due in the main to me spending a lot of time on the first two illustrations leaving very little time for the final three. On average each take around 4 days to complete (on and off) from initial sketching out of ideas  to sending the complete image to the printers. The final images are printed on to foamboard and are A1 in size. They are wrapped up in Christmas wrapping paper. Children are invited to unwrap the image in the service.

I try and do a fair bit of reading around each theme and hope they do the job that is asked of them.

Click on images for more informtion

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