Friday, December 31, 2010

Faerie Doodles

A couple of quick Faerie doodles to end the year. I hope everyone has a fabulous New Year and a great weekend.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pyk Cottage

Here's another one that goes back a few years that I still quite like. I managed to paint this with  just two colours - my favourite two colours -  raw umber and prussian blue.  I love this colour combination and use it all the time, although I usually augment it with other colours. This was a private commission and the idea here was that this tree house is a bed and breakfast and out in front we have a traveler who may or may not decide to sleep over. At this time I was thinking that I would like to do a travelers guide to the world of Faerie. The best places to stay, like this one. Where to go for the best food. Places to avoid and places that may be haunted. I never did get that idea off the ground but even now as I right about it I think it's something I'd still like to do. Anyway -

I'll have something new for you shortly, but in the mean time I leave you with Pyk Cottage.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Arctic Giantess

Here's a spot from a recent round of Arctic Myths illustrations. As you can see, she is very big and is protecting the hunter whom she has her eye on for a potential husband. I'm not sure just exactly how this story ends but there are certainly some interesting implications there. The pressure will definitely be on the hunter to be strong and brave. The Giantess has the traditional chin tattoos and is wearing bear and caribou skins. The final step in completing this picture was to add a couple of circling birds. I don't have that version handy so I'm posting this one.

Best possible wishes going out to everyone for this holiday season.



Sunday, December 12, 2010


This is an old one - really old actually - but I still like it quite a bit. It has that misty, murky atmosphere that I'm usually trying to get .  I sold it years ago at a convention. This is one of the few I'd like to get back if I could. I have no idea where this piece is now but I hope she's happy.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Lavender Faeries Re-post

Pardon me folks. I've decided to re-post the Lavender Faeries because I noticed that the first scans I put up yesterday were looking rather washed out. So here they are again, looking hopefully, a little better. I also did a couple of very sly tweaks that I'm sure no one but me will notice.

These are the first finished watercolours for the Lavender Blue - Irish Faerie Tale project I'm working on.  Thanks go to Thom for posting some very generous comments yesterday.

More soon.    


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sketchbook - Giants - Again

Some more fun doodling.  Another page of giants, at least I think they're giants, they might be dwarfs. Anyway, they felt like giants when I was drawing them.

More soon.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sketchbook - Giants

A sketch page - a warm up page really - after a couple of weeks of being flaked out with bronchitis I wanted to see if I could get back into the groove of drawing. I've been doing a little drawing lately but not much and certainly no painting - so today, a page of giants, just for fun.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Petar Meseldzija

I encourage you to follow this link and check out this artist  .

While at Illuxcon over this past weekend I had the great good pleasure of meeting Petar Meseldzija, an amazing artist and illustrator. I  was also lucky enough to get a look at a couple of his large, original oil paintings - wow !

Be sure to look at the sketchbook section of his website and be prepared to have your mind blown.
This guy really rocks !

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Off to Illuxcon

Check this link and see what Illuxcon is all about. I will be there this weekend and expect to have quite an interesting time.

In the mean time I will leave you with this warm up drawing from a little while back, done as part of my usual morning warm up routine.

More soon  :)

Friday, November 5, 2010


Some recent sketchbook activity - scroodles.

My apologies for the lack of activity in the past while. I will be attending Illuxcon ( Illustration Exchange Conference ) next week and what little spare time I have these days has been dedicated to preparing for the show. There are prints to print, portfolios to organize and original art to prep - not fun but necessary work. I hope to get back on to some kind of semi regular posting schedule again shortly.

More soon  :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


This piece is going back a few years. I came across it the other day while searching through some old files. I don't really do this kind of aggressive imagery much anymore but I still kind of like this one. The old metal and rusty armoured surfaces were quite fun to render. I sold him shortly after I painted him and then forgot all about him until just the other day - so I thought I would share him here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hill Giant

A new painting - watercolour, gouache and pencil crayon on hot press paper - 15 x 20, which is a bit larger than I normally work but I wanted to push this one a little. The scan didn't quite capture it. The piece is actually a bit darker, but all in all it's pretty close - thanks Patricia :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Recent Sketchbook - Woodland Elf

Some recent sketchbook activity. I like to start my work day, when possible, with some warm-up drawing and this elf picture is one of those. I don't normally finish them to this degree but somewhere along the line this one went from exercise to self expression - in other words I started to have fun with it. My scribbled warm-up became something I wanted to post here. Normally they end up in the recycle bin - not because I'm cavalier with my drawings but because in most cases they are loose scrawlings that serve no other purpose beyond a simple morning limber up.
More soon  :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Recent Sketchbook

Yes, it's been a little quiet around here lately. I'm just coming out of a sort of creative limbo. After I completed all the illustration roughs for the Lavender Blue project it was my intention to jump right into a couple of personal pieces I want to have ready for an illustration conference coming up in November. The plan was a simple one and of course ran off the rails almost immediately. Nothing I tried seemed to work so I took a break and went back to the sketchbook to try and sort things out and get some ideas going that I was actually excited about and keen to paint. Luckily this approach paid off and I now have several ideas I really like. Posted above are a couple of the sketch pages that helped get me back on track. With any luck I will be showing the finals here shortly.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lavender Blue - Illustration Roughs

A couple more rough layouts from the story book I'm working on right now called Lavender Blue and the Faeries of Galtee Wood.  These 2 images come at the beginning of the story - in the first one Lavender is visiting her friend Rose who is very ill and quite possibly dying. In the second image we have Lavender with her teacher, getting some scholarly information concerning magical items.
These are of course rough layouts and will be transferred to watercolour paper where they will be painted and hopefully improved upon. It is my usual course to leave much of the detail and character of the image to come when actually painting. It has been my experience that going too far with the rough will take all the joy and spontaneity out of creating, which is why I can't wait to start painting these - but wait I must - other irons in the fire and all that  :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lavender Blue - Layouts 5

Here we have another illustration layout from the Irish Faerie Tale I am currently working on. This image comes near the end of the story. Lavender is in big trouble at this point and has been rescued by the Faeries and spirited away to a stone circle at the top of a dark and lonely hill. This image, like the others, will be transferred to watercolour paper and painted in the traditional way following my usual method of watercolour, gouache and coloured pencil.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lavender Blue - Layouts 4

Another illustration layout form the Irish Faerie Tale I'm currently working on. This scene comes at the beginning of the story and really kicks things off. The Faerie visits Lavender in the middle of the night and delivers a magical object which will send her on her way into the mysterious Faerie Realm and perilous adventure - fun !

Monday, August 16, 2010

Lavender Blue - Layouts 3

Another illustration layout for the Lavender Blue story. I really can't wait to paint this one. This is where the Leprechaun lives - of course  :)
Publish Post

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lavender Blue Layouts - 2

A couple more of the Illustration Layouts for the Irish Faerie Tale I'm working on, Lavender Blue.
Here we have the Water Pixie at the top anf the Pookah underneath.  Neither of these characters are going to be good news for Lavender.
These ones, like the previous post, will be traced on to watercolour paper for the final illustration.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Lavender Blue - Layout 1

A couple of final layouts for the Lavender Blue Faerie Tale I'm working on. These will be traced straight on to the watercolour paper that I will be doing the final illustration on. The layouts were done in coloured pencil so that I could quickly jot done the colour ideas I was getting while drawing and also because the soft prisma colour pencils glide so pleasingly over the slightly toothy sketch book paper. The only problem with these  pencils is that you can't really erase them. I tend to use them like watercolour - starting with the light tones and putting the darks down last. I don't usually put a lot of detail into these layouts because I like to save as much creative energy as possible for the painting. The problem now is having to wait the weeks or months it will take before I can finally paint them and spend that pent up energy.

The first picture comes about half way through the story where Lavender encounters what she thinks is a unicorn but which in fact turns out to be a dangerous, shape shifting pookah, fully intent on harming her. The second picture is actually the first illustration in the story where we see Lavender cutting roses in her garden, blissfully unaware of the dangerous adventure into the faerie realm she is about to take.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lavender Blue - Sketchbook

I have spoken before about the Irish Faerie Tale project I'm working on, Lavender Blue and the Faeries of Galtee Wood. Well, I'm finally going to have a chance to do a bit of work on it. Up until now it's been a week here and two weeks there but it looks like I'm going to have a month of uninterrupted work on this terrific project. Here's a recent sketchbook page that I did as a way of getting back into the mood of the story and also working out one of the many locations where the tale will unfold. There's a lot more of this kind of work to do. I'm hoping to pencil out most if not all of the illustrations so that I will be able to get painting by autumn.

Friday, July 23, 2010


A wee portrait of Bigfoot - 8x10 acrylic - This is an updated version of a painting I posted last year.
I have been touching it up a bit and don't mind him as he is now but I think I might want to rework that hair just a little. He's looking just a little too Rod Stewart at the moment. What he needs are some stray leaves and other forest litter tangled in his mop to really give him that "living in the woods" look.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Best Art Blog - Hans Bacher

Hans Bacher's blog may not be the "best" art blog out there but I'll bet it's close. Hans Bacher is an animation designer who has been working at the Disney Studio and other animation houses all over the world for the last 30 years or so.
If you are a fan of animation, book illustration, painting, drawing, design etc.... - this blog is a must.
He has loaded his blog with a ton of amazing and inspiring art, not to mention art criticism and analysis. Hans also has plenty of drawing tips and advice for improving your art, whatever field you may be interested in.
Here's a link to his blog
Get over there and have a look . You won't be sorry.
The image above goes with a series of posts about trees in art and animation - how to paint them and why people paint them the way they do.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Arctic Characters

Two character illustrations from the Arctic Myths project I'm still working on. The colour work is all finished and now the ink drawings remain.
Here we have The Gravel Bank Ogress and the Big Bee Ogress. Big Bee is sporting a giant ulu which is an all purpose knife the Inuit use for skinning and scraping. We decided to make The Gravel Bank Ogress tall and spindly in order to give her a different look so that she stands out from the others. Also, I've illustrated her before and we wanted this one to be different. Quite often the same characters will turn up in different stories and from different regions and they should each look unique.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dandelion 3

This is also an 8 x 10 acrylic study but this one is on a fresh canvas board rather than the old Masonite panels used on the other ones. I also wanted to change the palette a little on this one in order to keep it fresh. I decided to keep the subject matter simple and similar on these because my intention was to work the paint and not get hung up on the content of the pictures. I also thought it might be fun to create a little series.

Dandelion 2

Another small acrylic study. These were done fairly quickly - 3 or 4 hours tops. I'm planning some larger paintings for later on this summer and so this one and the others are just warm ups. This one is also 8 x 10 on Masonite panel.


Over this past weekend I had a chance to do a couple of small studies. These are 8 x 10 acrylic on Masonite panel. The panels are well used and have been painted on and gessoed over several times, giving them a lot of texture to paint on.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Some recent sketchbook activity. Although these were not specifically done with my new faerie tale project in mind, they are certainly in the proper spirit.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Story Board - Faerie Tale

I'm now starting work on the Faerie Tale book that is going to be keeping me busy for the next 6 to 8 months. The first step in illustrating a book is to do a story board. This essentially means illustrating the whole story in thumbnail form. These drawings are 3 x 4 inches. This gives you a feel for the entire story and allows you to make critical decisions about the story telling while the art is still small and changes are easy to make. Above I have posted a few composition ideas and a couple of variations. There will be 21 or more paintings for this story as well as a few spot illustrations and they all need to be figured out, refined and then drawn out full scale and painted.  I will be charting my process through this journey here on the blog. This is the first step.

A month or 2 back I posted some witch and brownie designs that I did while the story was still coming together. I was inspired and wanted to jump in and get drawing. The witches and brownies have since been edited out of the tale but they were fun to draw and their sacrifice has strengthened the story. There's so much more to do - lots more drawing required  :)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Cannibal Ogress

Here's another of the Trolls for the Arctic Myths Project I was recently working on and will be getting back to in a few weeks. She's big and mean. She eats people, smells bad and never cleans up. Watercolour on paper with a bit of gouache on the hammer head.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Child Stealing Ogress

This is the first of eight Arctic Trolls I will be rendering in colour for the Arctic Myths project I'm currently working on. She is a nasty child stealer whom we have decided should have longs arms and short legs in an effort to make her appearance unique and also give her a cool silhouette. She has the usual Inuit tattoos on her arms and face and wears tokens of power around her neck. The problem I am going to have here is to make each of these eight characters different. One of the best ways I can think of is to start with the body shape as we've done here.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Life Drawing

Yesterday we went to a vendors fair just down the road in a nearby town for the day. We sold a couple of books and a few prints and generally had a good day out. For me it was a great opportunity to do some life drawing. I had my sketchbook with me and couldn't help noticing all the terrific poses the people around me were hitting while the were browsing.  We have recently returned to traditional life drawing - in a studio with a model - and I was very eager to maintain the drawing momentum with these would be models. Many of the drawings are of women and the simple reason for that is that many of the patrons at this show were women. This is of course fine with me because I find women much more fun and interesting to draw ;) You may have also noticed that many of the poses are seen from the back or side. This is because I like to remain discreet while drawing in public. It's just easier that way - no explanations or apologies.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Garden Pixie

I was able to find the time to paint the wee sketch I posted last week. That little doodle was very small and simple and there wasn't really a lot there to paint but I managed to fill in some details and add some grass and twigs and leaves - my usual solution to finishing a piece like this. The paper I used this time was 300 pound hot press which I have not used before, mainly because 140 pound hot press, my usual paper, is cheaper. But let me tell you, the 300 pound paper is a dream to work on.
Expensive yes, but it can take anything you can throw at it. No stretching or taping to a board. It will now be my paper of choice when the situation allows.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The End Of An Era

A lot is being said right now about the passing of Frank Frazetta, and rightly so.  My favourite piece so far is to be found here, by David Apatoff on his blog -

Monday, May 10, 2010

Arctic Myths - The Child Stealing Ogress

Some more development work for the Arctic Myths project I am currently on. Here we have the Child Stealing Ogress with her distinctive Inuit facial tattoos, crooked teeth and wild hair. The Inuit seem to have many stories of Nasty Critters wandering in from the Tundra to steal children and commit atrocities. I can imagine that living in the extreme climate and terrain of the frozen north would impel you to tell your kids just about anything to keep them close at hand. Getting lost up there is pretty much certain death.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Arctic Myths - Grizzly Bear Ogres

The Arctic Myths project that I have been waiting for, is starting. It looks like we will be dealing with Ogres in Arctic Myth. The first ones are Grizzly Bear Ogres which are actually Bear spirits in human form. They are grave robbers and corpse eaters - very nasty. I am continuously amazed at the density of the Inuit legends and stories. There are new beings, deities and creatures emerging all the time.
Neil Christopher, the project leader has interviewed many elders all over the Arctic in order to obtain these stories and it looks as though there are still many new ones to get.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Garden Pixie

At the moment I find myself with a few days while I allow several projects to follow their natural course through the development process. And so I have this small personal piece in the works. At the top in brown pencil is the initial sketch that came during a doodle session and below is the tracing I made in order to clean up the image and make it easier to trace on to a piece of watercolour paper. With any luck I will have a chance to paint this before everything kicks back into gear.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Why Beauty Matters

Please follow this YouTube link and see an absolutely fascinating documentary on the importance of beauty in art. The documentary is in 6 parts of 10 minutes each. Be sure to watch all 6 parts :)


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Irish Witches

A bit more of the recent pencil work for the story I'll be starting shortly rooted in but not specific to Irish Folklore - a few more witch ideas - just because  :)