“All The King’s Men”
While I was working on King Lear, I had a breathing space between the ‘roughs’ stage and the ‘final’ stage so I painted this picture for practice. I am lucky enough to live in one of the most culturally rich cities on Earth (London) with a wealth of museums and galleries in which to gather research, so I decided to take full advantage. I took a trip to The Wallace Collection which has a remarkable collection of armour, swords and a host of incredible art. Not to mention the cafe/restaurant which has some nice cake. Swords, art and cake. Could you ask for more?
The armour of the fellow above was not taken directly from sketches of any one suit of armour, but from many. I wanted to get the painting completed for the Bologna Book Fair (where I am being represented by my lovely agency, Bright!) so I had to get it done in a day and a half. Originally there were hundreds of soldiers fighting all around the characters but they would have taken far too long. I fired the lot of them and opted for a bleak landscape instead. The recession and all that.
Here is a close up - though, like most things in life, it doesn’t look nearly as pretty:
Please do share this with all your friends and enemies!
The lovely Editor over at Oxford University Press has sent me some advance copies of Conan the Barbarian: Red Nails which I illustrated a few months ago. Due to the deadline constraints I had to be a lot looser with the style but I am chuffed with the results! Also, because it is for children, I couldn’t show too much bum, blood and breasts (dreadful shame, I know), all three of which are abundant in Robert E. Howard’s world. Even so, it was a dream commission and I was over the moon to have been able to do it - lots of thanks and love go to my Bright Agent Lucie who snagged this commission for me.
The original story was adapted (no mean feat!!) by Bill Bowler - here is the synopsis, though any true fan of fantasy will know the drill all too well:
‘Conan!’ cried Valeria. ‘What are you doing here?’
When Conan the Barbarian follows Valeria the Pirate south, he surprises her. Together they escape from a fierce dragon, and enter a strange city in the desert, looking for treasure. Two enemy clans live there, and Conan and Valeria are soon asked to join in the war between them. This adventure story - full of battles, magic, and terrible monsters - is about two friendly fighters. But who are their enemies? And what is the secret of the black pillar with the red nails in it?
Here are some photos.
I can’t speak highly enough of the team at OUP for doing such a grand job with the final product and for being so marvellous to work with!
Do please share with all your friends on Twitter and via Telephone.
Just a quick one for fun. I didn’t have time to finish this painting due to a commission starting.
Speaking of which I am very lucky to have just illustrated a book adaptation of King Lear, one of my favourite Shakespeare plays. It has all the good stuff children love to read about including betrayal, lust, murder and mad old men with a crazy look in their eyes.
I don’t think we should talk down to children. Do you?
It’s not every day you wake up to find a Harris Hawk flying around outside your bedroom window - especially in London. This beautiful animal doesn’t just look cool - she has an important job to do. She scares away pigeons, crows and even dragons. It must be working since i’ve not seen a dragon for ages in the city. I was lucky enough to have the bird’s friendly owner, Wayne, take a photo of me and the Hawk. She enjoys flying around like a badass, chewing the heads off chicks and Battlestar Galactica.
I have been very busy of late working on a diverse range of paintings including Jesus Christ and King Lear. I promise to post more work up soon - maybe tomorrow if you’re around?
I had a lot of fun with this tense horror story (brilliantly written by Julia Jarman). You can buy it over at amazon here! My only regret is that I did not do the front cover for this book. It still looks great though and the folks over at A & C Black (some part of Bloomsbury I think!?) were a joy to work with.
The rather emaciated and evil looking lady pictured here was not based on Steven Tyler from Aerosmith no matter what you or his lawyers may say.
This painting was done extremely quickly as a favour for my younger brother Henry who teaches English at a secondary school. His class came up with the idea for visualising their form name (and their school motto of “Believe and Achieve”). I left space around the edge for them to sign their names (since it is their idea) and here is the laminated result on the door of 8OY:
In other news Conan just kicked off and the lovely folks over at Oxford University Press have sent some of the most clear (and brief!) feedback on my roughs I have ever received. Here goes nothing…
I apologise to you, my faithful followers, for not posting more things on this blog. I have been rather busy and The Man says he wants his money or he’ll take my kneecaps. Luckily I don’t need kneecaps to paint so the joke is on him.
So I have had a few commissions recently which didn’t involve pirates, barbarians or any medieval paraphernalia whatsoever. This one was simply to paint a picture of Martin Luther King Jr when he was in Birmingham Jail. I had to do it very quickly indeed and I was a little nervous about trying to represent such a huge icon (and a personal hero) accurately. I hope I did a good enough job.
Here are some sketches which were done as preliminaries to show you how much I struggled with this!
In other news, I am awaiting feedback on the Conan rough sketches and when it comes in all hell will break loose with only a month to paint over 50 paintings!
This is a work in progress for a lovely private client. I did it a good few months ago and have since changed direction with it but I thought it deserved to be cast out into the Ether. Gives me closure. Here is a close-up of the guy dealing 999 points of damage + Strength bonus: