Elephant’s Walk Oil Commission

Elephants Walking

With 2015 drawing to a close, I wanted to share some process photos from an oil painting commission that I finished back in November.  This piece was the physically largest commission I have undertaken to date and I really enjoyed the opportunity to stretch out and work with larger media after several months of detailed digital projects.

The client’s brief was fairly specific on subject matter, with a particular challenge in wanting the impression of a painted on grained wood.  With the additional cost of assembling and painting on a grained wood panel of this size (the knots and whirls of the characterful wood the client wanted are not easily obtained or worked with) I recommended an oil paint on canvas approach to simulate the appearance of wood.

Being happy with this approach and my initial roughs, I got to spend a very enjoyable few weeks creating the appearance of a surface and then playing with the way the image interacted with it.  Changing the way a painting’s surface is perceived by the viewer is one of my favourite surrealist tricks and by using two separate levels of underpainting, I was able to play with the idea of the painting as both a three dimensional image and an object at the same time.

Timelapse painting process

It was a lengthy project with a number of unusual challenges, but a genuine pleasure to work on and the client was over the moon with the result.  You can expect plenty more oil work coming up in 2016.

Painting details

Inktober 2015

Last year, I foolishly decided to join in with the excellent Inktober project run by Jake Parker while in the process of moving house with a baby.

This year, while fully settled into my new northern home, my workload for the month is astronomical. Between preparing work for the upcoming Invisible Beasts exhibition/publication, completing my A-Z, getting ready for Newcastle Comic-Con and completing one of my largest private commissions to date, October is a crazy month, even before you add my son’s second birthday into the mix.

As a result, it would be absolute madness to add another project into the mix, even one as simple as Inktober can be.  So, obviously I will be attempting the Inktober challenge.Ink pens, iphone and sketchbook

To try and preserve some level of sanity however, this year I will be imposing some strict regulations on myself – no underdrawing, no planning or prep work, no dip pens and .01 detailing. Every day, I will be doing an ink drawing with nothing but the tools shown above and a strict five minute time limit from the moment I sit down to work. This might be a great, relaxing daily exercise, it might be a cavalcade of rushed and half finished dodgy sketches. You can find out which by following me on any of my social media accounts over the next thirty days.

Wish me luck.



Steel Skin and the Sea

I’ve spent the last week putting my studio back together after a great week at Creative Up North working on a piece that will be on permanent display at their Creative Hub in North Shields.

It’s always good to get out of your comfort zone and painting in public, on an unfamiliar, 3D surface of bizarre proportions certainly pushed me out of my trusted old habits. It took me a few days to get used to the way the oil paint reacted to the primed steel surface and the 5 day deadline was looming very large but in the end everything came together and I am very pleased with the result. The bar will now sit during Russel Coleman‘s ‘Cooking with Concrete’ exhibition before getting a final check and being sealed with a protective clear coat.

I’d like to thank the attentive attendees of the talks I gave during the week, including artists from the North Tyneside Art Studio. The piece I started during my ‘Painting out of Chaos’ demonstration is now set up in my studio and I will posting progress shots here and on social media as it develops.

You can find a lot more photos of my week over at the Creative Up North Facebook page.

Something a little different

Tess memorial finished
A lot of my work is based in surrealism or the worlds of fantasy and horror.  Every so often however, it is good to step back and work on something real.  I recently completed a memorial commission for a deeply loved animal who over the course of nearly 18 years had become as close a member of the family as you could imagine.

Portraiture is a very difficult discipline, regardless of your subject.  Rather than simply replicating an image, it is important to balance physical representation with the personality of the subject, making use of brushwork, colour and atmosphere to make an image that is evocative rather than a pixel-perfect representation.

As with much of my work, this portrait was something of a battle, pulling atmosphere and image back and forth until the final likeness is set.  To help identify where the likeness has succeeded or failed over the progress of the piece I took a number of progress shots and since I am often asked about my process, I thought I would share them with you.


Inktober 2014

inktober-logoSince apparently trying to organise a house move and set up a new studio isn’t difficult enough, I’ve decided to join in this year’s Inktober.  The concept is simple – 31 days, 31 ink drawings, dreamed up by Jake Parker

So, if you want to see what I can manage to rustle up between packing boxes and moving vans, follow me on twitter to find daily(ish) drawings posted up with the #inktober tag.


Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentines day everyone!

facehugger on heart

I was hoping to have this piece coloured by today, but personal projects have been delayed due to some mythos-related work. Hopefully some less cryptic updates on that in due course.

The Not-Mural

What happens when an artist and his wife, who count Spiderman, Dr Who and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy amongst their favourite things need a mural for their nursery?

In this case, what happens is the artist throws out his usual techniques and styles to create a child-friendly, geek-tastic piece of wall art that won’t be painted over if we have to move. Every spare moment for the last month has been devoted to creating something for my son (or at least for us while he is too young to enjoy it). Not only did this mean creating a completely new style of drawing, but also turning from heavy, dark oils to light, colourful watercolour.

At the first sketch stages, the number of characters that we wanted to include just kept growing – how can you introduce your child to Star Trek without the counterbalance of Star Wars? Marvel without DC? Which Dr Who should be used? In the end I had to create a diptych to fit it all in.

Those of you who follow me on twitter will have seen a lot of progress pictures over the last few weeks and anyone who is interested in seeing this piece come together should feel free to go check it out there.

Finally, the not-mural is finished, framed and hung on the wall and I can reveal its finished look.

Not mural hanging in nursery

part two of geeky watercolour paintingpart one of geeky watercolour painting

Photos of details here


A long delay in posts again despite my previous good intentions, but I have been busy working on various projects. Until the others are ready to show, here are my entries for Inkygoodness fantastic Beermat Character Competition, which judging by the heaps of envelopes showing up at their door has been a huge success.

Each of the following started out life as plain old beermats, something which seems to be a rarity in pubs these days. Enjoy.

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