Thursday, April 3, 2014

Raven Witch 2

Some alternative concept and design ideas for the Raven Witch graphic novel page I posted last week. I had a lot of ideas for that one page and found it difficult to narrow it down to the choices I made. Here are some of the other things I was considering. It looks now like one way or another this book is going to happen, so there are going to be many more choices that will have to be made.

I liked the idea of putting the Twig Pixies under the mushrooms but eventually decided that it might not be right for the gloomy, haunted forest mood I was after. This page got progressively spookier as I worked on it. It seemed to require an ever darkening mood, or at least I became happier with it as the shadows lengthened.

Thanks for stopping by everyone. More soon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Graphic Novel Page - The Raven Witch

I have been negotiating back and forth for the last little while with Lombard Editions in Belgium. They do graphic novels such as Tin Tin and many others. One of the editors there thought it might be interesting if I did a graphic novel for them, but in order to properly pitch the idea to the committee, he wanted me to do a sample page. We had been talking about a story with witches so I worked up this page with my old favourite, the Raven Witch.

It is not easy to distill down everything you want to do with a story into one page. I had many ideas to sort through and had to make some choices for better or worse. Below are some of the many roughs I did looking for the best way to tell this little bit of atmospheric mood setting. Will anything come of this - who knows ? For now fingers are crossed.

I'm glad you stopped by. More soon.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Owl Hotel

This is an old watercolour from my ill fated first attempt at mailing art out to kid's book publishers. I just found it in a drawer of old art and decided to re-scan it. I still like it - my first tree house.

More soon.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Raven Witch and Thistle Down Pixies

Well, I just spent the last 10 days painting a book cover picturing a wicked looking troll coming up over a hill with a menacing look on her ugly, troll face and I would love nothing more than to be able to share her with you but, there is an equally wicked and menacing NDA attached to said project which prevents me from doing any such thing. However, while I was painting the aforementioned troll I was also drawing. Drawings whose purpose will become all too clear very shortly, if you're paying attention. For now I will leave you with this bit of sketchbook work and the promise that there will be more following very soon, and with any luck much, much more after that, but lets not get ahead of ourselves.

Thanks so much for stopping by. I always enjoy seeing you.

More soon.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Rambling In Gwelf

The winter winds are still rattling the window panes here at the Mythwood Studio and there is more snow ready to land on us tonight. Yet, as unlikely as it seems, spring is still just around the corner and I know that there are some you who, even now, are planning your first walking party of the season. It is to you that I am directing this post. I would like you to consider an often overlooked route that starts at Cherry Hill Gate  and takes you right through Inverary and on to Tweed. Out of the way, yes, but well worth a try.

I mention this now because the Laughing Willow Inn has just been newly renovated and is again open for business. With that nasty exorcism of last year safely in the past and a new breakfast menu receiving high praise, I think you will find, as I did, that the Laughing Willow Inn is an enchanting place to rest your weary bones after a day or an hour of vigorous rambling. There is always an entertaining gaggle of fellow wayfarers for company and a fresh log burning on the fire.

By all accounts the rooms are snug and cozy and the beds are soft and warm. A perfect place to review your map and plan the next days excursion. Barliman Butterbur himself would find little to complain about in this charming and freshly painted little inn.

It should be noted that I am not in any way affiliated with this establishment and pass along this information merely as a courtesy, which is the occasional purpose of this blog.

One more thing before I let you go. It is my job to state the obvious so please allow me to proceed. The Cherry Hill Gate area can be a little damp and spongy in the spring so I recommend another water proofing treatment  for those old walking boots and be sure to include some extra socks when packing. A poncho might not be a bad idea either. And don't forget, there will be a warm fire burning in the hearth when you arrive.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to travel safely.

More soon.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

More Inspiration

A few more pieces that are inspiring me these days. First up are couple from a new discovery of mine, although you have probably known about him for years. Rene Hausman, A Belgian cartoonist, illustrator and graphic novel creator. I just found him on Pinterest a couple of days ago and he is my new favourite. I like his exaggerated cartoon style and the subtle watercolour work. I just love discovering new artists.

Next is an artist I have loved for many years now - Myles Bircket Foster. He is one of the Victorian cottage painters operating in Britain at the beginning of the last century. He is primarily a watercolourist but he likes to get in there with the Chinese White and do some opaque rendering as well. This one is just terrific. I love the way he takes the time to carefully work every inch of the painting. I feel like I could stroll into that picture and explore it all afternoon. The stone steps and little wooden railing are just terrific.

 Next is another Victorian cottage painter named Helen Allingham. She is also a watercolourist but I don't think she went in for the Chinese White the way Bircket Foster did. She was more for scratching out and colour lifting to obtain light effects or to place small flowers in front of large dark areas like hedges or earthen banks. She is also very detail oriented. Every part of the picture is important.

This last one is something I found on Pinterest. I don't know who did this but I think it is just brilliant.

That's it for now. Thanks for stopping by. More soon.

Okay, one more Hausman piece, just because those little birds are so cleverly designed. Look at the way he did their feet.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Pencil Dust

A bit of drawing. Even when I'm just messing around I like to try and come up with names or designations for the odd balls that appear on the paper. Giving them names gets them one step closer to being in a story.

A few ideas for some possible Gwelf locations and the scenarios that could unfold in these environments. I've been playing around with the idea of a pine cone shaped cottage. Or perhaps several pine cones pushed together. That's what we have below, and a short cottage with a tall roof. Oh, and some squat little gnome birds that travel those paths and live behind those windows.

I'm also seeing if I can get something going with the idea of an apothecary who has set up shop in a tree. She sleeps in the little cabin built into the upper story of her tree. Since she is a raven witch, she feels at home up there. Her human customers recognize her capabilities and respect her expertise but are nevertheless nervous and intimidated.

Thanks again for stopping by. More soon.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


I have been feeling somewhat guilty because I have not been able to share anything with you for a while. I was sick over the Christmas break and lost a couple of weeks there and then I'm right back into a project which is NDA protected - meaning it's all hush hush until it gets published.

So I think what I will do instead is share some of the art that really inspires me. The first piece is by Alan Lee. This illustration is for me the very essence of Middle Earth. For my money there is more Tolkien in this one painting than all five of the movies - the moody sky, the endless landscape, the old bridge and the feeling that you are in a charming yet dangerous wilderness, all pure Tolkien.

The next piece is by Alan Lee's old room mate Brian Froud. I love this picture for so many reasons, but mostly because it just says Faerie Tale. It has the gloom and the grit and the spookiness of the very best Faerie Tales. I love the girls hair and the patches on her dress - fabulous !

The next piece is my all time favourite John Bauer piece. This is another spectacular example of creating a Faerie Tale world or "secondary world" as Tolkien called it. The seemingly perfect nature of the symmetrical composition is beautifully enhanced by the writhing snake like roots that are leading toward the girl from both sides of the picture. And the two birds at the upper right are lovely little touch.

This next picture is from a Russian illustrator named Pavel Tatarnikov. This one is such a brilliant display of character rendering, not to mention the nearly impossible task of painting chain mail. I don't know how he gets his watercolour to do that but it is just stunning. I'm pretty sure he is using gouache to get some of those textures. The metal work and armour is fabulous too.

Here's another one by Tatarnikov - just for fun. And just look at all the work in those trees. I had a couple more I wanted to add to this post but it looks like Blogger wants me to stop here. More soon.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Cottage Thief - Recent Sketchbook

I've had this idea for a while now, where a giant is making off with someone's house. In the past I would have gone with whatever I came up with first and dove right into the painting. However these days I like to ruminate on things a little more and mess around with the idea. There are always variations to consider - expression, costume, posture etc. So for now, here is some of that thinking, or horsing around, take your pick.

More soon and thanks for stopping by.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Nana and Goliath

He came down out of the hills in full armour. He stomped through her garden, wrecked her front door, ruined her table cloth and even broke her favourite window. When he finally woke up he wandered off and never came back.

Thanks for stopping by.

More soon.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Recent Sketchbook

As usual I am up to my knees in client work that I cannot share because of contracts and NDA's and that sort of thing. However, I have set October aside to take care of a few small commissions and perhaps even paint one for myself.

In the meantime I have some recent sketchbook work. This is all random doodle stuff that I do to warm up or just have fun and possibly spark an idea for a picture. It is all very spontaneous and executed without any plan or forethought, which I'm sure is quite obvious. Here we have some gnome archers and some gnome wives and some other bird like critters.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope next time to have something a little more interesting.

More soon.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Recent Sketchbook - Meadow Sprites

As summer moves into its final days and the colours on the land transition to the warm golden hues of autumn, Meadow Sprite activity invariably increases. These recent sightings were made in and around local gardens and nearby fields.

Be on the lookout for these normally elusive creatures. You just might be surprised to find out what is lurking in your garden or behind the shed.

More soon and thanks for stopping by.