Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Love and Blisters

Inspiration comes in many forms, sometimes in a way you would least expect it. Many of you know I have been on a strange and wonderful journey far from home. When the wonderful ladies behind the incredible label High Tea with Mrs. Woo announced a little story competition, I decided to open my heart and share the spark of inspiration that led me here, to the other side of the world.

I am blown away as I have just been announced the winner.

Take a look at the blog to read my piece, and the work of the other entrants.

Monday, November 21, 2011

For Her Hand – And if you fail…..

As I was researching Hungarian folktales to illustrate (reading children’s stories and drinking wine) I came across a particular trend that caught my attention. In a vast number of the stories I was reading, the plot goes as thus:

There is a King who has a daughter who is the most beautiful girl in all of the land. There has never been a girl as beautiful as her, and never will there be another. You could easily look at the sun, but not at her, for she is that beautiful. When the time comes for her to marry, she sets three tasks for her would-be suitors to fulfill – whoever completes this wins her hand in marriage and her father’s Kingdom… However, any one that tries, but fails, gets their head … (insert strange Hungarian word that I did not understand at the time).

At first I thought all the poor lads that were unsuccessful had their heads put in the stocks whilst rowdy villagers threw tomatoes at them or something. I already thought these princesses were a bit demanding… that’s a bit of a harsh punishment for failure. Then I was informed I had misunderstood the word. The boys who fail do not get their heads put into the stocks for a day, no... They get their heads put on stakes.

OHHH. Silly me, OF COURSE. In true Hungarian / Vlad-the-Impaler fashion the ultimatum for failure is a little more extreme than I initially realized. Suddenly the stories I was told as a child took on an entirely different and much more serious nature. And those beautiful princesses turned horrifically cruel and harsh in my eyes.

Yet the princes still come in hoards, all bewitched by the beauty of the King’s daughter, willing to put their lives at stake (pun intended) for the chance to win her hand, and to share her bed.

This is my depiction of the King’s daughter, cruel and unfeeling, with a horrific ultimatum for her suitors.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Shady Pair to complete the Pentaptych

Two more Shadow Beasts to bring the grand total to twelve.

And here are the five panels together as the final pentaptych. Sorry the photo is so terrible ˘_˘

(this is a follow on from this blog post which follows on from this one!)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Close to completion...

I'm THIS close to finishing her my darlings! I have only to paint her hair... and a grisly surprise in the background.... then she will be finito!!

Here's how she is looking so far...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Progress: For Her Hand – and if you fail…

Happily working away on another piece in my series of illustrations inspired by Hungarian Folktales. I’ll tell you more about her once she is done.

For your pleasure (and for a good laugh) here is the initial concept sketch for this piece in my sketch-book. Sketches are interesting; whilst they are rough, unrefined and rushed, often they convey so much more liveliness and character than the stiff final painting. It’s a matter of trying to achieve that same movement and sense of mood that was so carelessly caught the first time.

Because it’s getting dark so early here (by four the sun is setting, by five it is dark) I am drawing by lamplight a lot more – I get a surprise in the morning when I see how the colours change in natural light!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Porcelain Mouse

Something a little different for me, at least for those yet un-acquainted with my artist-made porcelain doll obsession.

Recently I have been heavily inspired by the wonderfully charming dolls made by Russian doll artist Lidia Snull (of BJTales).

And maybe I have a soft spot in my soul for mice (well, for small rodent creatures in general, be it rabbits or chinchillas or bilbies, I just find their feet hilarious.) We used to have naked mice that I just adored. Little hairless wrinkly skin-coloured mice with see-through ears and funny feet.

So please, let me introduce you to my little portrait of one of Lidia’s dolls, “mouse the white”….

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Warm Sunny Thoughts

Sunny colours, warm thoughts, hot mugs of rosehip tea in a mug the colour of dandelions.... it's getting cold here in Hungary, in the mornings the frost bites the leaves and grass and anything green.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Shrouded in Mist

You can tell I'm making a really valiant and determined effort at procrastinating on a proper painting, can't you? But I am having a lot of fun with these little pastel portraits.... oh the possibilities!

I feel she should be called Amoeba....

Rose Woods... inspired by the lovely Angela of Butterfly Bones

My current obsession... inspired by the dolls of Lidiya Snull of BJTales

Misty Visions

Watercolour on paper, little post-card sized pieces...
Inspired by the recent shroud of fog that blanketed my little medieval town in white for a day.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pastel and Blush Portraits

Some more little portraits painted in pale watercolour.
To while away the hours as I procrastinate working on a larger painting...




Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pastel and Fog

Taking a break from the large serious paintings I kept myself busy on a chilly evening with little sketches rendered in very pale washes of watercolour.

This one reminds me of a fox spirit.... one of my obsessions.

In the morning a thick fog descended upon the town, shrouding it in a heavy veil of white. I saw a nice corrolation between it and my misty portraits.

I love all the gorgeous pastel architecture here, perhaps it's having more of an influence on me than I initally realised...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Winter Approaching

The Hungarian title I chose for this one is “Ördög Fiókái” which translates as “The devil’s hatchlings” – I like that the devil’s offspring are referred to the same way as small birds.

Update: I was asked if the little devil hatchlings were evil... Interestingly in Hungarian mytholgy the devil is not an evil character, he is much more like the god of the underworld Hades/Pluto... infact, the word devil translates as "Guard Creature" - the guardian of corpses. His daughters are often beautiful bird-like creatures and can even be very kind, falling in love with valiant princes trapped in his realm and sometimes help them to escape, becoming their brides.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Slowly Emerging

She's emerging from the page very slowly indeed.
 I had initially planned on titling this "The Descent", but now I like "The Dead Reef" as well... what do you think, which would you choose?

Emerging and Descending

Slow progress on the new one, she's complicated and time consuming... and hopefully wonderful.

Playing around with some detail snippets

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Twelfth Sister

Aaaaaaand... she is finished! Allow me to introduce you to my latest painting...

The Grey Rose, or, The Twelfth Sister

The central panel for a triptych inspired by a Hungarian Folk Tale about a curse that binds twelve sisters to an old mansion deep within the woods.
Here is a detail shot of her porcelain features. Unusually for me I left her hair quite simple, no miniature flower garden. But her dress is so detailed I felt that it, her pose, and expression should be the focus.

Here is the entire composition. I initally left a lot of room above her as I wanted to paint a few shadow wolves leaping around... but I am torn, the composition seems so nice with the blank space above her.

What do you think... add a couple of shadow beasts??

Thursday, November 3, 2011

To spy a Rose

Debating a final touch for her... you can't erase watercolour!