Story Illustrations in acrylic and ink

 

Maglor from the Silmarillion meets Ilbereth, Father Christmas’s secretary from Tolkien’s Father Christmas Letters. Created for the Tolkien Reverse Summer Bang 2019 event, this work inspired this fabulous story by Narya-flame. This one is acrylic

And here’s a second illustration of Maglor on Magdalen Bridge – this time in ink with inktense pencil colour.

I made a brief video of the last painting by photographing it as I went along!

 

Snip the Cycle

I made this for the Give A Dog a Home Art Event. They sent me an anonymous profile of two of their fosterers who have adopted street dogs as pets, and I made art of it.

My idea was to suggest not just the joy that adopting a street dog and giving him a home can bring, but also the importance of spay and neuter programs to prevent there being too many puppies to find homes for.

Lady of the Mists

I made this painting to practice painting mists, and also folded fabric, but I rather like the result!

The figure is taken from a stock photo by Marcus Ranum, the landscape is one I photographed in the Tamar Valley, and the general idea was inspired by the Ravenloft setting for D&D.

Some little ink and brusho Silmarillion-inspired paintings

Here are some ink and Brusho paintings of Silmarillion characters that I made for Nolofinwean Week on Tumblr.  These are quite small paintings on A5 watercolour paper, so not quite as detailed as my larger acrylic paintings.

Aredhel riding fearless through the dark forest of Nan Dungortheb:

Fingon fighting off a rather goofy-looking Glaurung (a wingless dragon, of course):

Love Across the Ice:
Turgon & his wife Elenwe, who died crossing the Grinding Ice:

Survivors in the War of Wrath:
In the Halls of Mandos as the War of Wrath raged across Beleriand, Fingolfin Fingon, Angrod, Aegnor and Aredhel found this tapestry: Fingolfin’s wife Anaire in battle beside their cousin Galadriel. Now they can’t decide whether to cheer or bite their imaginary spirit-nails. There were not so many Noldor who survived Beleriand, and yet they sent a host to the War of Wrath: I believe that host was largely made up of the women who did not follow Feanor and Fingolfin.

Eärendil’s Star:
Elros’s father, guiding Elros’s ship, with an Eagle figurehead, towards the Land of Gift, Numenor.

Dry pigments and inks

I spent some time experimenting with dry Brusho watercolour pigment powder,  ink pencils, and spray inks.  The picture above was I think the most successful, but I thought I’d upload some of the other works to record how I approached them.

The painting with the deer, above,  I started with light. I used a spray bottle of yellow ink to make a spot of yellow in the middle of my picture that faded to white all around, and then a very small spray of red ink around it to create a slight darkening/reddening around the edges.  Once that was completely dry (vital so the ink would not run!  Ink stays put once it’s dry (mostly) whereas watercolour can be re-wetted and will run and move more.)

I painted the top of the image with plain water, and added Leaf Green brusho pigment to the top of the wet area.  Then I sprinked Moss Green and Sandstone pigment at the bottom of the wet area, stood the picture up vertically, and dripped water here and there so that the wet pigment ran in mingled streaks down across the dry yellow ink sunburst.

The painting below was created in the same way, but without the ink sunburst: this was my earlier draft.  It’s still quite a pleasing thin forest, I think.

I love the way the Brusho pigment makes random patterns and speckles of light when applied to wet watercolour paper.  (You do need a thick good quality watercolour paper for this kind of thing, so the paper doesn’t crinkle.)

I brushed the pigment across the bottom with a wet brush, just to create a foreground, and added a little more moss green foliage at the bottom.

Then, once the trees and grass were dry, the last step was to draw a deer.  I used a purple Inktense pencil for that, and then carefully washed over it with water.  This allowed some of the yellow ink to show through the purple layer, and re-wetting the Brusho trunks underneath the deer gave the purple a good varied colour so it sat well with the rest of the picture rather than looking stuck on.

I tried the same idea here, but without the yellow ink undercoat and with a figure instead of the deer, but it didn’t work quite so well.

Before I started playing with the idea of drips forming trees, I first tried them creating the under-water stems of water-lilies.  I think this would have worked a little better if I had given the lilies a bit more space and drawn them out more carefully. This was my first attempt at putting the Brusho colours onto wet watercolour paper, and then tilting the paper to make the pigments combine.  It’s 100% abstract, but I rather like it.  That’s how  I ended up  with the idea for the lilies.

And finally (this post is all the wrong way around) this is the first picture I made in this session. I drew the dog first, using Inktense pencils, then I masked over her with a liquid rubber mask.  Then once the mask was dry, I water-painted the whole thing and started applying a mix of dry brusho powder to see what would happen.  What happened was quite colourful!

 

 

 

 

Tavistock Abbey Copper Beech

I made this little sketch sitting outside in the sun today, at Cafe Liaison in Tavistock, looking out across the churchyard to the remains of the old Abbey building.  This huge beech with its wide shady branches usually has children playing or people sitting around it, so I tried to record a few of them, though it’s hard work painting figures direct from life when they are all moving about and have no idea someone is scribbling away trying to catch their movement.

Lord of the Sea

Ulmo, Lord of the Sea, playing one of his great horns.   I painted this very fast – it is A3, but I completed it in about 3 hours, and I was trying for a free style with lots of movement.   Of course it looks better in real life than in the photo, but I’m still quite pleased with this one at the moment.

Paintings from a visit to Essex

I was visiting Maldon last week, where my mother grew up. Living in Cornwall, I’m not used to a flat landscape full of wide fields of wheat and barley, and I was delighted to see corn poppies, too, growing among the barley. So I had to paint them.

I also liked the tall forms of oats – presumably left behind by a previous crop – that had popped up here and there among the barley. I painted this one very quickly, sitting in the sun, using inktense watercolour pencils:

In Maldon, I visited the famous causeway across the River Blackwater where the battle of Maldon is thought to have taken place, more than a thousand years ago, and here it is!

Painting on Perspex

This is something of an experiment. I had a big frame where the back panel had got damaged, but the frame & perspex were fine, so I tried some peelable glass paint and made this design on the perspex. I like the way it changes with the background and the light! You can see it looks quite different in this second picture:

Subject is, of course, my beloved saluki lurcher Rosie, from Lurcherlink rescue. Because painting on a transparent sheet where light comes through the paint itself is pretty demanding in terms of how the brushstrokes look, I drafted this out in advance using coloured pencils.

Finally: this is the window that I originally bought the glass paint for!

Because it’s peelable, I can just take it off and replace with something else if I get bored of it.

Ooooh! Exhibitions!

 

I have a whole bunch of paintings being shown at the Tavistock Group of Artists exhibition in the Town Hall in Tavistock from 18th to 22nd June, including my Daughters of the Rivers series.  All the paintings will be for sale : eek!

I’ve also had a couple of paintings accepted for the Tavistock Heritage Trust exhibition to  celebrate Tavistock’s status as a World Heritage Site in Tavistock’s Butchers’ Hall,  Wednesday 26th and Saturday 29th June. Doors open to all between 10am and 4pm, and there will be a special family event on Saturday 29th (??!!).

Experiments in Lighting Lúthien Tinúviel

I’ve painted Tolkien’s heroine Lúthien Tinúviel before, but this time instead of painting her dancing in spring among the hemlock-flowers, I decided to go for an autumnal scene suggested by this verse:
He heard there oft the flying sound
Of feet as light as linden-leaves,
Or music welling underground,
In hidden hollows quavering.
Now withered lay the hemlock-sheaves,
And one by one with sighing sound
Whispering fell the beachen leaves
In the wintry woodland wavering.

This was my first version of the painting:


But I felt that it was a little over-bright, and since I happened to be photographing it in the afternoon, I wondered how it would look if I moved it into the light of a directional sunbeam coming in through an open door. It looked like this:

I decided, having looked at it for a bit, that I really liked the lighting, so I gave the painting a dark glaze to replicate the effect: this is the same painting, photographed this time in a dull north light, but painted to show the sunbeam.

Daughters of the Rivers

I painted this set of four small images for the Tavistock Group of Artists exhibition, which takes place 18th-22nd June in Tavistock Town Hall. Opening hours are 10am to 6pm.   Each of these is 10 inches by 7 inches.

Lynher
Lynher is standing on one of the many quays on the river that were used to launch craft for the D-day landings: she is remembering the military history of the place, as shown by her armlet of rusty chainmail.
Tamar with a seal: the background the Tamar Bridge
Tamar is eating an apple: perhaps the variety ‘Tamar Beauty’ and she is accompanied by one of the grey seals that visit the Tamar and sometimes travel up stream as far as Gunnislake.
River Tavy before the Tavistock bridge
Tavy : her feet sparkle on the water, because she is a river with energy to spare, and her own hydro-electric plant! She is wearing a hat she might have bought in Tavistock Pannier Market.
Walkham
Walkham is a playful young river who dances over the stones, but never really grows up, because she flows into the river Tavy, which in turn flows into Big Mama Tamar.

Falmouth River-views

I had a week’s holiday recently beside the Fal River, a little further west in Cornwall than my usual haunts.  It was lovely to wake and see the tide from the window.  This first image I painted from life, first thing in the morning,  before the early clouds cleared, when everything was silvery-blue  with  just a hint of pink.

This is an early morning scene too, but it was SO early that I took a quick photo of the wonderful sky and the leaves outlined dark against it, and then painted it later. The result was more polished, but I’m not sure I don’t prefer the first and more subtle image above. (My husband likes the bright colours better though!)

A Floral Portrait

A friend of mine sent me a quick selfie a while ago of herself wearing a dress that she had made. I thought the pose and expression was interesting (as well as the dress being lovely) and so I made a painting of it – though, I had to change a lot of things.
The original photo was taken with a phone camera into a mirror, indoors in artificial light.  This is the painting I made from it.

My friend is a great lover of books, so I turned the phone in her hand into a book, and added her pet budgie and tortoise to the picture to keep her company, along with an enormous rose-bush and a random pillar.

This picture is only 14 by 10 inches, so I’m quite pleased I achieved a likeness in such a small space.

I went through several iterations of this painting, and photographed each one as I went along, so I thought it might be interesting to post each one.

Version 1.  Her face looks washed out, the shadows look odd and the pillar is wiggly. Also there’s something odd about her pose. 

Version 2: better lighting, her face is more ‘there’  and  her  legs are  in  a more  natural  position.         

Version 3 : I realised that although the figure and the tortoise had shadows, I had forgotten to give the pillar one! The  shadows  still  don’t  look quite  right here, but  at  least  there  IS a shadow  on  the  pillar where  it  should  be. 
Now  scroll  up  to  see  the  final  version  where  I fixed  the  shadows and made a few final tweaks to the lighting!

You  can  see  the  lighting  is  slightly  different again,and that changes the colours. I know that some people feel that paintings should be scanned rather than photographed, because the lighting is consistent then, but… well.

The thing is that a real painting hanging in a real room does change with the light.   This is not a digital image: it’s made up of layers of variably translucent paint, and it responds to the light; its colour, its warmth, its direction.   Putting it in a scanner where it will be lit by a single flash of artificial light is no more ‘accurate’ than  photographing it in warm south afternoon light, or colder north-facing morning light.  I now take photos of my paintings in various locations, then choose one,  adjust colours in software to pick the one where the light pleases me and the image on my laptop matches most closely with the image I have set in front of me.  But none of the photographs are wrong.