Firebird

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The Firebird ~ Ink, watercolour, and gouache, 150 mm square.

For the 2017 Month of Love challenge, ‘Light’.

Familial, material, and romantic love all play their parts in this Russian tale, in which Tsarevich Ivan, Tsar Andronovich’s youngest son, discovers the culprit who nightly steals the Tsar’s golden apples: the firebird.

Some more recent retellings have occasionally conflated this tale with that of Koschei the Deathless by casting him as the antogonist, and indeed this was the basis for Stravinsky’s ballet of 1910. Here, the firebird’s brilliant feather, which had torn away in Ivan’s grasp when he attempted to catch the bird, becomes the light which frees Koschei’s prisoners from enchantment and aids Ivan in Koschei’s destruction.

 

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‘Le Morte d’Arthur’ Cover Illustration

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Le Morte d’Arthur cover ~ Chinese ink and watercolour with touches of gouache, 215 x 230 mm.

Cover illustration for a new edition of Le Morte d’Arthur which will form part of an ‘Arthurian Library’ of three books, a project led by Stewart Wieck of Nocturnal Media. The project Kickstarter was launched a little under two weeks ago and was funded within twenty four hours. At the time of this post, it has already reached its second stretch goal.

I worked on this illustration at sporadic intervals last year. Though the various sums of its parts are individually fair, I’m not so happy with it as a whole — which, not putting too fine a point on it, is a bit of a mess. Suffice to say that I lost my way with it… I still hope to be able to redo the piece afresh, though that remains to be seen for now.

 

‘A Time to Buy’

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‘A Time to Buy’ ~ Watercolour, inks, and gouache; approx. 305 mm square.

‘It’s a time to buy
A time for shopping
Go into the store and make a choice
But everything she sees, it’s like they’re talking
Talking at her with a different voice…’

Illustration for the song, A Time to Buy, from Katie Melua‘s In Winter album.

I enjoyed the gentle satire of this song and creating the illustration for it — though not so much all the straight lines and the geometry, which are not my forte and drive me slightly mad, as those who know me well are aware. I suppose the process echoes the contradiction between the cheerful warmth and the commercially driven demands of the festive season, which I also tried to reflect in this piece.

The department store here was of course based directly on Liberty of London.

 

 

‘River’

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River‘ ~ Watercolour, inks and gouache, 305 mm square.

‘I wish I had a river I could skate away on…’

Oh, how I wish it. I don’t understand anything.

Illustration for the song, River, from Katie Melua‘s music album, In Winter, 2016.

Incidentally, ‘Natee‘ means ‘river’ or a body of water. One of the reasons this piece is a personal favourite of mine of the album illustrations.

 

The Three Sisters: the ‘Bear Sister’

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Ink on Strathmore Bristol, vellum surface.

‘In a clearing there sat a young woman, a small bear cub resting his soft furry head in her lap, whilst around them two young cubs gamboled and played at her feet.’

Illustration for The Three Sisters, from Oxford Treetops Greatest Stories: Grimm, retold by Jan Davidson, published by Oxford University Press, 2016.

The princess (one of the titular three sisters) originally had a slightly different appearance when I first drew the rough.

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I was dissatisfied with the turn of her head, and in changing it, the similarity to Queen Elinor from Pixar’s Brave seems to have inadvertently stolen over her. With three bear cubs in tow, the parallel became inevitable. I ran with it, and the piece became something of an accidental tribute to the film — or at least to the character.

 

Updated biography

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I’ve updated my biography page. Most of it is just by-the-by; but I would like to draw attention to the last paragraphs, which I hope should clarify a few important things for those not yet aware. The highlighted words are linked on the page itself.

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There is considerable contextual information concerning them which I may or not not write about one day, but I felt this was simplest for now. 🙂