Monday, 12 December 2011

Image Unavailable

I don't know if anyone will have noticed my lack of blog posts, but I thought I'd quickly let people know what's been going on.

I've been sick for the past two months, which I've tried to quietly work through but it soon became a burden, and I've been waiting for some kind of diagnosis.  Then I've had the flu for the past two weeks - hooray!!  Then I'll be going home for Christmas and catching up on essays, so there'll be no great picture posts for quite some time sadly!

I've managed to do some painting for my Children of Lír project, which has turned out so much better than I imagined!  That's eased a lot of my worries.  I really want to show what I did but, aarrrgghh...  I said I wouldn't until the exhibition!  At least not this image as it's too near the end.  Though I'll probably give in soon enough.  And feedback would be good to hear for improvements, as I'll always need them! :)

All this time stuck in bed, incapable of getting anything done but watching the whole series of The Wire, has given me plenty of time to think - about University, my loved ones, my future, how fast time goes, how easily it can be wasted, on people who aren't worth it/doing nothing at all/forgetting your priorities, and how even more easily it can all be over.

I ended up writing a list of things I want to do (not before I die or anything!).
There are a few personal projects that are still incomplete: The Winter Coast, an animation, t-shirt designs, character portraits...
And new art projects I've been dying to do that I'm super excited to start: photo-shoots, costume designing and creating, illustrative pieces to sell and loads more!
Then there are places to travel to and placements to apply for.

It reassured me that, no matter how this year turns out and could go awry, or what gets put on my degree certificate, my plans post-uni are going to stay the same.  I have so many things planned out I can't wait to begin my life in June!

After being in the education system since I was 3 years old and leaving it as I turn 23 I think it calls for doing whatever I want for a little while before joining the rat race or stepping onto the first rung of a career ladder.  With so many things that I'm interested in, I want to try a bit of everything and say yes to any opportunities that come along without worrying "where will this lead me?".  I'm not going to think about a single path to tread but enjoy meeting the crossroads.
Portfolios, CVs and publicity are momentarily put aside.  It's going to be time to just DO for a sense of my own personal achievement and, most importantly, for enjoyment!  The rest will then follow more easily, by creating a body of work I will enjoy looking back on and can passionately talk about.

It's going to be time that I lived my life as creatively as I try to be with my work.

As long as I can afford a roof over my head, food to eat, stay healthy(!) and keep my family and friends close I will be emotionally free enough to embrace and achieve my many mini artistic dreams.

Right now, I can't wait to be home for Christmas and get back to work.

Have a good holiday everyone!
Be merry, get fat, embrace your loved ones and all that!
(Poetry is not on my to-do list.)

J. x

Monday, 21 November 2011

A Quick Favour!

If you've not seen this on Twitter or my Facebook...

Please can you fill in my short survey?

It's for my dissertation and really important I get as many responses as possible.
It's suitable for everyone and will only take 5 minutes.

If you could fill it in and share the link, I'd super-duper appreciate it!

J. x

Monday, 14 November 2011

Fink Before I Act

As a part of my development for my graduate project I've been doing little studies of colour and anatomy.  This is one of the ones I did today to study complexion.  The others were very quick for personal understanding and not worth looking at.

Charlie Fink from Noah and the Whale
I should point out my final pieces won't be done in this style (or lack of style).

I've learnt that, without references, my head chooses colours very close together in hue and tone when trying to be realistic, whereas in actuality there's a much broader range; lips are more violet, yellows blues and oranges are bold in the skin's tone.
And teeth are a pain in the bum.

J. x

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Until June 6!

Beginning Final Image 2/8

And people thought last year was stressful...

I was required to make a personal work schedule for my graduate project last week.  It suddenly hit me how little time I really have to do anything - the project, dissertation, personal work (oh, personal work! I miss you!), and I'll try to forget what a social life is.  Six months used to sound like such a long time, but now I've started on the final pieces (at A2 size, 150dpi) I realise just how much I've got to do and how quickly I need to do it.

Schedule for 12 November to 6 June's exhibition
I skipped ahead of my schedule just a little bit to reassure myself in terms of my ability for the final images.  Luckily, I've got off to a decent start, which eases some of my worry.  I do worry!  I shouldn't.  I should be filled with certainty and confidence!  The trickiest thing with drawing is seeing exactly what you want to achieve in your mind and managing to translate it to the page/screen, or, worse, if the image in your head isn't certain and transforms and morphs every time you think about it.

If I'm going to be a very good student today, I'll be doing sketches of the King's throne, the Queen's magic chest (now now, it's a wooden box!) and have a look at some boats...  Now I've begun a final image the excitement is kicking in once more, and I'm finding it hard to not keep working on it before I've finished this pre-production design work.  A good and a bad thing!  :)

Like my Queen, I need to keep my chin up, hide my looks of worry and not misdirect my anger on any children.

J. x

Sunday, 23 October 2011

The End of the Beginning

This is the final composition ideation of image 2 of 8 for my Graduate Project Proposal this Friday (28th Oct).  The white space is where intricate patterns/symbols will be, representing the wedding between the King and his new Queen, general love and signs of it decaying.  Of course, after the presentation changes can be made to any of my images, but shouldn't be anything too drastic.
Instead of composing scene stills, I've decided upon a more illustrative/conceptual approach.  I feel much more comfortable with this.  I realised that I find the unnatural most natural.
At this stage I need to be filled with certainty with all of my design decisions so I don't waste any of my own time and can commence my final paintings as soon as I can.
...And find time for my dissertation, finish my Threadless t-shirt, a couple of illustration favours for friends, and continue my comic.....
I'm definitely graduating this year!  =/
J. x

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Costume Development

This has to be the bit I find the most fun!
Developing the costumes for my 'Children of Lír' project, so I know exactly who I'm creating in the final 8 digital paintings for my degree.  I love creating characters, and the clothes they wear put them across and tell stories without words.  Even though I chose specific design inspirations there are so many costume possibilities; sleeves/cuffs, layers, ties/ribbons, collars/off-shoulder, what type of material and how it drapes...  It's dizzying - I need to stop time!  But the possibilities keep up my motivation.  I've yet to really hone in on the male characters, but King Lír is to be kept simple and strong, and the Princes are pretty much decided.  The females though...  Well, we can never have too many clothes! ;)

I start with a rough line draft
Then on a new layer I finalise the  line drawing before the colour...

I have a lot more to show and even more to do!
So I'll be uploading all the project's work in to a set on Flickr, so I have it all together in one place for anyone to see but, most importantly, to see my progress and not lose sight of what I'm aiming to achieve for the June exhibition.
J. x

Silhouettes #2 - 4

The other silhouette work, before I began developing costumes in colour and detail.
The first piece I posted is here.

J. x

Saturday, 15 October 2011

A Sketchbook at Bed Time

Another sneezes-and-sniffling-filled sketch from the comfort of my bed.
I'm feeling much better today [I write and then sneeze my nose off]! :)
So much so, I'm already starting work on the digital version of 'Pocahauntyoass', Threadless submission requirements downloaded and read thoroughly!  It would be neat if I not only make this look as good as I envision it in my head but, to then see people wearing it.....
Mind-blowing!  Fingers crossed!
J. x

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Biro Fever

Tuesday evening I suddenly came down with a high temperature, runny nose and all the usual icky cold symptoms!  I had so much work left to do for my project proposal (which is tomorrow morning!) but I felt like dying by half 7... I tried to sleep at half 9... but ended up drawing at half 11.  It wasn't work related, but I was feeling too delirious to work, with strange images and shapes going through my mind - and not everything needs to be 'for a purpose'!  It's important to do things 'just because' for a change :)

So, tucked up in bed, on the phone to a lovely friend who helped me stop feeling so sorry for myself, I got out a Mole Skin and a ball-point pen and drew whatever I felt like!  Now I feel like a fool!!
For the past month I've been hating my pencil sketches I've had to do for uni, and I think the problem is right there: 'pencil sketches'.  There's something about your mentality when you pick up a pen instead of a pencil, knowing you can't rub out the lines.  With a pencil I make marks that end up being meaningless, but with a pen you could say I air-draw.  I act out each line I want to make before I make it and, with no room for error, I really focus rather than believing I can make a load of mistakes and rub it out later, which in turn means I'm careless, making even more mistakes.  With a pen I think before I act.

Above are some fairy wing doodles which I might incorporate into one of my digital paintings I've got planned out.  And 'Poca-Haunt-Yo-Ass' came to me after being told completely dreadful home-made knock-knock jokes - which are the funniest kind!  She's just in time for Hallowe'en!  I'll definitely do a digital coloured version.  A possible t-shirt design?
I also did a whole page of word play ideas and tongue twisters which could make a few good greetings cards....
Being deliriously feverish turned out to be productive!
J. x

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Day of Rest

Thumbnails of Revised Compositions

Begin With A Death

A New Queen's Plot

The Transformation

The Royal Hunting Party
Today, I went over 4 of the draft of drafts of my Children of Lír digital painting proposal from two weeks ago.  They were all simple pencil/biro line sketches (so simple, they're really nothing worth looking at).  I was asked to rethink the compositions - basic stuff like expanding horizons - so I re-jigged the image ratios and added colour to give my lecturers an idea of what the ambience would be like in the final versions.  There are still a lot of details to add, such as wildlife and costume details.
I have all 8 images pretty much sorted but, like always, I also have completely alternative ideas, which I'll discuss in my presentation this Friday where I find out if this is what I progress.
It's a strange experience having to do such rough (seriously, rough) drafts since this project is meant for the year, so we can't get too ahead of ourselves at this stage.  Though it'd really be something if I finished the project months before our June exhibition!  As if, but one can dream...

J. x

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Silhouettes #1

A bit of costume design work that I did last night.
I've been throwing costume ideas around for a while, and figured I'd simplify things down to silhouettes.
The benefit of this is that you see what shapes have the most impact, a visual balance, and by adding little lumps and edges here and there your mind then inspires you to think of it in further detail - what material could that be caused by?  What detail does that lead to?
Silhouetting stops you from over-thinking.
Now I can pick and mix from the shapes I'm happy with to go on to develop specifics; materials, colours, patterns and even finer details (stitching, buttons, embellishments etc.)

I also need to produce a sheet for the Princes, the King, and the Queen.

I'd be really interested in hearing any opinions on what designs stand out!

J. x

Pretty in Ink

 A few quick experiments with Indian Ink and water combinations from Tuesday.
I did these with cloth material in mind as a part of costume design for the Children of Lír project.

I have a mix of tie-dye and decay with a Camelot/fasión/C.17th France mongrel style.
As it's fantasy I didn't want to set it in a specific time period so I'm completely free to be inspired.
J. x

Saturday, 24 September 2011

T-Rex Rides Them

4B Pencil and Coloured Pencils

While researching swans for one of my project proposals yesterday, I did a few study sketches.
The project is based on the Irish folk tale The Children of Lír, where the king's children are transformed into swans by their evil and jealous step-mother (of course!).
Step-mother's don't half get a bad rep in fairy tales....
I should write my own where the step-mother's the outright heroine.

I'm getting a little nervous for my project presentations, which are this Friday.
I've got an unusual visual style for this one, an imaginative concept for the other, and a mixed media/installation approach for the final, so I really have no clue what I'll end up doing for the rest of this year!

J. x

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Eye On the Horizon

Initial Cover 1 Design

After much discussion and inspiration (people are great! I love people....) I'm making a serious start on one of my comic strip ideas, The Winter Coast.

I've loved comics as soon as I was old enough to read Asterix and Tintin all by myself but ever since university I've neglected that part of me.  Coming back to it has reminded me who I am and feels a bit like going home.

I had this particular comic planned about two years ago, but the story was almost a metaphor for my life at the time which made it intimidating to start.  I didn't want to feel psycho analysed, I wanted to create something simply enjoyable!
Enough time has passed, I've learned a lot since then and tried new things, so now is perfect to begin.  I feel relaxed when I do work now, and I know that this comic is something that's achievable.

So far I have lots of bullet-pointed scenes/ideas, I've begun to script out the scenes and drafted out panel layouts.  Once the first chapter is fully laid out I can begin pencilling, inking and will finally colour.
To make sure I keep going once uni begins I'll add it to my timetable, meaning I should do a bit each week.

J. x

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Practise, Not Perfect

I had a go at digital painting to practise more realistic colour and lighting.  I think I got that right, but I started working the picture over and over so much that I realised it wasn't getting any better as it had become too familiar.  For that reason I might go back to it and adjust it (hands and face).

I've learnt a lot to do with colour/tone and have a little more confidence within myself - I didn't use any visual references so I was surprised at how well it turned out overall.
Next time: work quicker, better results, use anatomical references...

J. x

Monday, 8 August 2011

Wow, been so long since I posted anything!
Well, I've been working very hard at taking it easy.

I'm also remembering how to enjoy my drawing work and not force ideas for my graduate (eek!) project, which starts at the end of September.

My Morocco Photos
The result of a severe lack of money post-holiday, grey English weather and plenty of time on my hands has given me plenty of creative breathing space.

My trip to Morocco showed me (apart from that I'm made to live somewhere hot) how much the people of the country make everything themselves, which got me thinking about all the crap I needlessly buy.  If you can make it, why buy it?  Not that I could make all my household furniture, but I'd give it a good go!

 So, I've been tearing down wallpaper, putting up curtains, sanding and painting, stitching up clothes, sewing cushion covers and making mobiles.  And of course, drawing.  Even a little bit of animating!  Which I'll save from showing anyone until it's finished.

Mobile made from playing cards....

....With a few jingle bells at the end.

Hope you're all enjoying your summer.
And if you're in London being affected by the riots my thoughts are with you.
Stay safe!

J. x

Saturday, 2 July 2011

I Need a Clone

I had a discussion today that wasn't long enough or as in-depth as it could have been.
It was about the sheer frustration with feeling as if time is constantly slipping away when it comes to conceiving ideas, developing them, and achieving the skill level desired.

This is a list of what goes round and round in my head EVERY DAY:

- I have to think of 3 project ideas for uni next year and be happy with them.....
- Focus on that one idea!  Research!  Develop it!
- Shit, what about the other ideas?
- I thought of a new idea....
- I wish I had a life drawing class to go to.
- Oh yeah, my dissertation needs to get started.
- I love photography...  What could I do with that?
- I need to be good enough to be a character designer for animation
- I need to be good enough to be a character designer for video games
- I need to be good enough to be a costume designer for film and TV production
- I need to be good enough to be a concept artist for video games
- Digitally paint stuff for fun! Just chill out, I'm worrying too much.
- I need a style.
- I need a variety of styles.
- I never finished that comic strip...
- I never started that other comic strip...
- In a year it's time to find a job. I need a portfolio with some impressive work to go in it and not just next year's project....
- I need to show I have a consistent style and standard.  But I need a variety of styles...  Just work on the standard?

And round and round it goes.

When it comes to creating imagery there are no limitations - skill, purpose, style, format - apart from the ones that you apply to yourself.
I've been that person, complete tunnel vision, and my work was shit.  Now, I'm at a standard I'm fairly pleased with, enough to not worry so much while I work, but I'm also desperately clawing at time to keep practising at every aspect.
It's not so much as a creative block but a creative flood, overwhelmingly washing over me.
I just want to be good at everything!  Is that too much to ask?!

I hope reincarnation is real.

J. x

Sunday, 26 June 2011

One Hour Drawing

I kept it simple - just sketching, monotone.
I'm really trying to get in practise with digitally drawing portraits and keeping up my speed.
I used a brush I wasn't familiar with, which took some adjusting (and some of my sweet time!)
But the mistakes I make now are the lessons I apply later.
I'll do a portrait next, for however long it takes until I can roughly say it's finished.
It's important I start building up my confidence and skills now before I begin my third year project which my degree is really riding on.(that and my glorious dissertation).
J. x

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Swear Engine

Continuing my one hour challenges, here he is.
Ian McShane as Al Swearengen from HBO's Deadwood.
Let me know what you think!
I drew him a bit differently to how I usually-- wait, I don't have a usual way.
Give it ten more years, then maybe I'll have figured out how I do things...
J. x

Friday, 24 June 2011


Spotted in Newcastle's Travelling Man by my lovely friend Cru Fox

You can now buy Bagatelle Issue 3 from Travelling Man Leeds and Newcastle!
I also have 6 copies to sell to anyone interested.

It's a lovely piece of work, made up of several short comic strip/graphic novel-esque tales, by a collaboration of various writers and artists.
And I'm in it.
For £3.50 it can be yours.

J. x

Graduate Exhibition '11

The Graduate Exhibition at the University of Cumbria ended two weeks ago, but it feels like years!

The Exhibition Preview Night:  Me (black dress, no glasses) with my class and a few of their friends and family

I completed three of the four images I had planned, making the fourth my concept sketches.  One of the three I completely re-started and did it in the two days before the hand in.  It was a bit of a mad decision but I pulled it off with very little sleep, encouragement from friends and a lot of relief.

It was really satisfying having my work put in frames and hung up for all to see, but I was doing my usual thing of telling myself "you can do better".  Which is true with every piece of work.  I think that's why I love drawing so much, it's addictive, each attempt I make at it is always different and hopefully better than the last.


I've just got a CGSociety account and I uploaded my original images on their if you'd like to see them!
J. x

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Sneaky Peek

No one outside of class has seen any of my exhibition work - and not everyone in the class has seen it.
So, as the exhibition is looming, I've decided to give you all a glimpse as to what my work is looking like.
To jog your memory: 'The Pied Piper of Hamlin'.  I adapted the story so it's set on another planet and in space to be developed as a feature animation film.  I selected four scenes from my story to digitally paint mock animation cels.

Click image to see it in glorious full resolution!
Let me know what you think!  What vibes do you get?  What does it remind you of?  What can be improved?   Though from this small crop it's hard to get a good idea - the original images are A2 sized and look like widescreen film stills.

When it's all over and done with I'll most probably put up all four of my images.  Until then!

Hello, caffeine, my old friend...

J. x

...Though I May Collapse

I made a long overdue To-Do List when I realised my brain didn't have the capacity to remember everything I need to do at any one time.
I since regret doing this...
I only made it half an hour ago.

Someone else needs to do my life for me - just for a few of days?  That'd be great, thank you!

My plan tonight is to tick a couple of boxes.

J. x

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

I'm Not Dead

Bloody hell, I've not posted for ages!  And I have had so much I've wanted to share!
After Easter it's all been work work work, and when I get home I want to do anything but.

Firstly, before I left for Easter, I got an exciting e-mail telling me that my work and the work of three others' on my course had been chosen to advertise our graduate exhibition in GamesTM magazine!  I'm subscribed to the publication so to be told you're going to be in it in some way was really exciting.
The issue (109) is out now and you'll find us advertised at the back!
It's a really weird thing seeing work that's so familiar to me in something that can be seen by anyone around the country.  The ad is a decent size, which was a worry we had.  I'm definitely keeping the magazine forever.

Secondly, Ian Wharton, a graduate from the University of Cumbria, visited us last Friday.  He has already had a highly successful career only a few years after graduation.  He gave us an amazing presentation, full of confidence, honesty and inspiration.  Afterwards he spent time with each of us looking over our work, answer any queries we may have.  I was lucky to have been given fantastically positive feedback on my exhibition work, encouragement to stick with my idea for next year's project, and overall a message to really go for it.

Me with Ian Wharton
The University did this press release and took a sneaky picture of me with Ian.  I'm not happy!  I was dressed for a rainy day, not photos!  But it was definitely a moment to remember.  He made me feel (and I'm sure many others) like employment is more than a possibility.

If you want to find more about Ian...
Twitter: @ianwharton

Thirdly, the week before Ian Wharton, we had two guys from Ubisoft give a presentation and work feedback - Darren Yeomans, an artistic manager/visual developer, and Peter Cochrane, another graduate and an environment artist.  I didn't know what work to show them but Yeoman saw the exhibition piece I was working on and actually said (hold your breath):
"I would consider you as a concept artist"
This was based on how I had digitally painted an environment.

To say the least I'm on a high after all of this!

Fourthly: I will - I WILL - post up the images I've done over the past month.  I've kept up with the One Hour Weekly Challenge (though I've probably missed a couple...) it's just not evident online yet.  I bought a nice set of watercolour pencils in the holiday that I want to use more, mixed with ProMarkers.
And if you're fed up of silly drawings I've uploaded a few new photos on to my Flickr that I recently got developed.
All this hard work is really hard work.
Good job I find it so much fun!

J. x

Monday, 18 April 2011


I wrote this as a reply to comments on my posts, but I figured doing it as a full blog post would be a good idea too.

I've paid a lot of attention to all the feedback I've been getting - a big thanks to everyone.
It's come from friends, acquaintances, professionals and complete strangers!  I highly value all of it.
When you tell me what you think I seriously consider your thoughts.  I feel more motivated and encouraged knowing that the little things that I do can make someone smile, give them an idea of their own, or just waste a few minutes of their time on the internet.

The new blog layout has been a definite positive!

On my work; unusual expressions, poses and angles are the way forward it seems!

My work on The Jam Factory music event logo is almost over.  I think my client and I had a mutual understanding about what we wanted, which is always a relief, but like most work I do, I can always do better.
There's been no recent news on the Bagatelle comic front as yet - I believe they want to release the website at the same time as the printed issue.  I really hope it's sorted soon, it's been too long of a wait for everyone involved.
Facebook Fan Page and Twitter are finally getting going.  They're a great way to connect instantly with people!

I haven't posted my latest One Hour Weekly Challenge as it didn't work out due to several interruptions.
I really need to give it a full and focused hour, no matter the outcome, for me to learn from it.
I'll be doing two more, one tonight and one tomorrow, to make amends.

Also, I'll be going home for a week so I won't be posting until I'm back!

Thank you guys for taking the time to not only look around but also to write your thoughts.
It's all really appreciated.

Take care,
Happy Easter!

J. x

Friday, 8 April 2011

1 Hour Week 2

A very delayed post...
My challenge last week was to do a self-portrait in which I exaggerated the colours and characteristics:

15 Minutes
30 Minutes

45 Minutes
There are still a lot of areas that are left undefined/-refined since I have such little time...  I think I should have gone for a better angle of myself too.  It's hard to look down, keeping the same pose each time, then look up at the screen to replicate it, so I don't think it looks too much like me.  Also, as I'm not particularly haggard for an ancient 21-year-old, or have any especially odd features, I found it really hard to make myself into a caricature.  Honestly, though I sound like I berate myself all the time, I'm really pleased with what I came out with in the time I had, especially as I've never done a portrait digitally, only cartoons.
I do love the colour tones that I chose!

My next one is tomorrow.

J. x