Pirate Portrait – Emma and Ben

A really fun (if slightly infuriating) commission – to create an artwork featuring two wonderfully deranged pirates in full (and I mean full) costume. Seriously, I think they’ve got at least two guns and three blades each, not to mention all the straps, strings, parrots, hats, buttons, compasses, buckles and so on… Based on a photograph and taking style hints from a Deadpool poster, this is made with india ink and watercolours on bristol board. Also there’s a hint of metallic sparkle where appropriate.

Pen-and-inking

Working on improving my use of dip-pen and ink. Very much enjoying the expressiveness of my new favourite nib, and india ink is a dream to use…

Hand-painted tiles – En Suite

I’m working on four sets of tiles to adorn the bathrooms and kitchen of a new build house in the Highlands. The en-suite bathroom is to have a black-and-white nautical theme, so I’ve been working with various tile-decorating media to create individual drawings of a wide range of sea-related things.

Not sure what’s my favourite so far, but I’m really pleased with the textural clouds – exploiting the inevitable streaks left when I brush rather than glob on the paint. Probably at least the same number left to go!

Sunset tree fabric painting

From quite a few years ago – dylon fabric paints on cotton fabric, stretched over a wooden box lid. I adore these vivid colours, and the smoothness of blending I’m able to achieve as the water-borne pigments soak into the fibres.

Serene Moon Sculpture

Back in 2008, I asked my brother and his fiancĂ©e what they’d like for a wedding present. Their response: a wall-mountable carving, subject: the moon, style: pacific north-west coast art, tone: peaceful and serene, suitable for a bedroom.

Rather a lot of sketching later, I had determined that the traditional images of the moon are all what I’d read as ‘angry’ or ‘unhappy’ in various ways, never serene. In the end I abandoned the idea of being faithful, and came up with a hybrid style. It only took me a month…

From a shipwright I obtained an offcut of deck planks: a large piece of iroko wood, a hardwood with lovely colour and glow but a very wavy grain. It had a split down the middle, but this enabled us to cut it into two pieces. Printing a photo of the wood really helped with ensuring that the design fit the wood well.

I did the carving with the wood clamped to a black’n’decker workmate in the livingroom, with an audience of parrots. I mostly used a broad gouge, with tricky bits being done with other chisels. I did like using the workmate, as the foot-plates mean you can hold the entire thing steady enough to push hard against, while being small enough to move all around.

It was rather tricky to get a decent finish, as the grain of the wood dives and leaps like porpoises – stop paying attention with a chisel, and suddenly you’ve torn out a huge chunk, ruining the effect you were trying to achieve. My gouges were the best way to work with this, allowing me to make rocking slices which scooped the material out – safer, but incredibly time-consuming. I believe that the carving took me two weeks, including pulling some very long days towards the end.

The carving is finished with richly coloured black and red wood stains, and is absolutely huge. Delivered on time – just!

I still have the second piece of wood… Perhaps I’ll do the Sun half one day…

‘Making Tuesdays’ Crocodile

A common lament amongst other creative people I know is struggling to find time and to feel it’s ‘OK’ to work on your personal projects – it always feels like some other obligation takes precedence over doing that thing you’re passionate about – including socialising. I instituted ‘Making Tuesdays’ to combat this – a weekly open house for friends to come together and socialise at the same time as working on personal projects or collaborations, and get help, be it trouble-shooting, an extra pair of hands or just someone to say ‘that is cool’.

Over the year+ it ran for, we made custom dressmakers dummies, printed t-shirts, built kites, wrote stories, made papier-mache sailing ships, painted miniatures, sculpted tiny silly clay creatures, worked on a CNC router, cooked fantastic dinners and consumed a lot of home-made cookies.

Inspired by this ‘Get Excited and Make Things’ poster, I designed this happy dancing crocodile to be our mascot and carry the sentiment. I’ve printed it on tshirts, laser-cut it into a plaque for my door, and it’s made a nifty wallpaper too.