Monday, 2 August 2010

Experimental stuff {and scribbles} and other pieces

Continuing with my examination of art media I've used, [and have a 'postable' version of], see the following.

To start, occasionally I scribble and doodle [though my doodles are a tad different, often reflecting what I'm listening to and often used when I had to attend droning meetings, to stay awake]. But I digress, as I often do, from the main point which was to start with some experimental bits.

These were done primarily in pen, felt pen and fountain pen ink [a medium that delights in interesting results after being exposed to air], and produced much like a 'Rorschach test', that is starting with a few interesting marks and then 'looking' for the picture within. It's a method as old as the hills and first mentioned I believe by Leonardo, although, in my opinion, Cave Art owes a lot to this method of working.

 They were done [in two stages] as a demonstration for some of my students a few years ago. The idea being to show them how if they felt artistically 'blocked' then ideas can be 'found' if one is prepared to play with materials and an 'open mind'. Stage one saw the initial beginnings where 'we' searched for something in the initial blobs and marks accidentally created. Stage two was the follow up - the tightening of the image to elaborate more details. Of course using such a method can lead to a lot of 'dead ends', but occasionally...  So from such, a more developed piece of work may yet evolve.

Occasionally doodles are more traditional as these next pieces.

I have found that somebody had collected a few pictures of mine on the Internet from Steve Jackson's 'The Trolltooth Wars' and other similar works. The Trolltooth Wars' was a short lived series of books meant to accompany the FF games books, and the first, 'The Trolltooth Wars', was itself an interesting book for me in particular in that, for the first time, I was allowed to not only choose what was to be illustrated from my reading of the manuscript galleys, but also to be allowed to create the layout of how the illustrations would 'fit' the pages in the book. It was a one off experiment by the editor for the book at Puffin but was never [in my case] repeated.

My intent, as I believe all good illustration should be, was to try to enhance the reader's experience. So I sought to create a more interesting visual experience with the limitations of a small paperback format. I split some of the illustrations across two facing pages, I ran them across the top, across the bottom and even was able to create a double page spread.

Not all of it succeeded. It was a noble experiment in my mind, which saw me put a lot into the pictures [sometimes too much ], but I felt seriously let down with the reproduction and paper that was used, which in my opinion, was very poor indeed. In short - it was shit. Or would crap be better? Never mind, here are three examples, plus two other pieces.

That's about it for now folks but more coming soon including some never before seen work [or nearly ]

Update: Quick link to FightingFantasist who has posted an old 'The Warlock of Firetop Mountain' illustration that proved quite controversial at the time. Oh Happy days, He He.


  1. I always loved sketches. In a certain way the artists feel more free to experiment without the constrictions of a defined purpose. That's why they're always more abstract and expressionist that the finished works.

    Some of your sketches seem as if Egon Schiele was doing Heroic-Fantasy. I like it. :)

  2. As for the "undead" picture, I really prefer the black and white version. And I remember that the drawing was really frightening back then (I was 10 when I bought the book, I guess).

    The detail of the corpse's claws scratching the soil, and the mucus coming out of it's nostrils...BRRRRRR... I was really shocked (I even avoided going to that book page) :)

    The color really takes out much of the detail of the original piece.

  3. Thank you for your comments, and to be linked to Egon Schiele a true master draughtsman. Praise indeed.

    Mmmm, yes the 'undead' picture. It certainly proved controversial and even reached the newspapers at the time. I was amused by the notoriety it caused.

    But what pleased me even more was to learn from a teacher friend, a couple of years later, that other teachers had found the book, with my illustrations as a key factor, very successful at getting a lot of kids with reading [remedial - as it was called then] difficulties to read. That pleased me.

    The colour is, as Coodevil mentions on his excellent blog, is not of my doing, but is "a hand-tinted version from the iPhone version of Warlock of Firetop Mountain". It is one of a series of my pictures that have been coloured by other artists for this 'new' market.

  4. two corrections.
    First - apology to Coopdevil for misprinting his name.
    Second - apparently the iPhone Warlock is a Canadian production not not French [a helpful email sorted that out]. There is a 'new' version of the Fabled Lands and I'll do a post about that soon.

  5. Great stuff from the Trolltooth Wars. I remember reading the book as a lad. Even at a tender age the story didn't do a great deal for me but the illustrations made it. They were great - and I loved the way some went round the edge of the page (as I remember).

    Keep up the good work.