Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Illustration Friday, Envy

Illustration Friday Envy
Finished this today - I found this a really hard topic. I finally decided to use some characters i'd already created and put them in a different situation; in this case sunflower envy.
The topic probabaly came to mind because at primary school my butter bean didn't grow very well . LOL.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Death of Sharkey

Goldfish in tank
One of the goldfish died today, hence the tank drawing. We had had the white and yellow gold fish for a few years so it was pretty sad to see him declining so quickly over the last few days.
Yesterday the ordinary goldfish tried to prod Sharkey into moving , very gently bumping him and trying to make him rise up to the surface for food. It seemed quite unusual behaviour and today Goldie has been very subdued and quiet after Sharkey left the tank, spending most of today hiding by the plant. However, he cheered upwhen he was given some frozen worms.

Goldfish certainly don't have a 2 second memory since they recognise the 'food givers' and do a little dance when folk approach the tank and they always seem to grieve for a few hours if they have been matey with a tankmate.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Step by step angler fish

I work in Corel Painter7 and photoshop 5.5.
I started out sketching with one of the chalks in Painter 7 on a blue plain paper background [i use a wacom tablet and pen and sketch directly in painter7].
Then i created a new paper texture from a photo of tree bark that i took a couple of weeks back. The bark had impressed me since its a very unusual camouflage look with sort of scaly places - i thought it would be useful for some eventual fish painting

This is the first sketch of the angler fish using a white chalk on plain textured paper in Corel Painter 7

Texture added [bark paper]
Here I've added some of the bark paper texture with soft charcoal to the body of the fish .I used a messy string texture on the webbed part of the fins. I also added black areas to the background, inside the mouth and also used a variable airbrush to add particles of black and grey and blue to the back ground sea to add depth.

darker background more texture

Here i toned down the luminescence on the 'fishing rod' with a diffuse blur brush, added another layer of near black variable airbrush to the background

More detail; eye teeth and fins

I concentrated on the eye , teeth and fins here and added shadows behind the fins, and texture inside the mouth . I liked this as a stand alone fish but wanted more context and deep sea atmosphere so i decided to add some 'prey'. After some consideration i decided a prawn would work best of all - angler fish eat prawns, young fish and things that are attacted to the light from its fishing lure.

Dry brush prawn added on separate layer

I added a prawn on a separate layer using a dry ink brush at very low opacity. I wanted a slightly translucent look to the prawn.

Prawn in position attracted to luminosity

here is the prawn in position. I added a few highlights to the antennae of the prawn, which added to the translucency. I changed the glow on the lure to a more orange yellow to tone with the overall colour scheme.
I liked the positions and the two elements separately but i wanted a darker, gloomier, deep sea look to the overall piece.

Final image

In the final image i worked over the body of the fish with darker colours, using the same bark paper and alternately reversing the paper texture and using light and dark chalk brushes to add depth and highlights.
I then painted over the fins with a dry ink brush at low opacity to echo the teeth and added a few more highlights to the lure and prawn to bring the piece together and give more depth to the image.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Illustration Friday Aquatic

Illustration Friday Aquatic

My mum had been over from Scotland last week which was really lovely but didn't allow much drawing time .
I finally managed to work on something for Illustration Friday
Aquatic. I had originally been working on something else - a few different something elses but I kept coming back to the angler fish.
I think there is something very wonderful about deep water fish and luminescence and i have to agree that prawns taste delicious =)

Monday, May 23, 2005

Sandy Lions

Lions sand sculpture

We were over at Juan Les Pins today for the orthophoniste. It was pretty hot and we walked along the sea front for a while and came across some sand sculpture. This one was the best IMO.

I've been working on the illustration friday "Aquatic" challenge - had a few ideas and worked on an image but not decided 100% which one to go for.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Black screen of death

Yesterday my daughter told me that she was having problems when rebooting my laptop [a Dell Inspiron 8500] - the screen was staying black.
I was expecting the worst; dead screen, hard disc failure or similar and went to have a look at it. However, when trying a reboot myself there was a flash of the windows Xp logo and the computer sounded as if it was booting properly.
Trying an extrenal monitor showed that the computer was working fine but the screen was still black.
I tried a google search and got a variety of suggestions, like completely reformatting the hard disc but it seemed unlikely that this would fix the problem when everything seemed fine with the external monitor.
Searching the Dell technical forums came up with the asnwer - they is a tiny plastic pin which senses if the laptop is open or closed, and this pin had stuck in the 'closed' position. The laptop thought it was shut! A few minutes of fiddling with a pin and voila! Screen working properly again.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

more rain

sunny antibes

More torrential rain -it felt like the set for Open Water.
My kids came home from school soaked to the skin again and even just dashing out for 5 minutes was like going for a swim - i suppose at least it was warm rain.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Rain Rain Rain

Flooded road

After a few days of really hot and sunny weather we ended up with torrential rain today. It was a bit overcast when we walked to Juan Les Pins for an appointment but still warm.
When we left the orthophoniste the rain was thumping down, like a high pressure hose.
We got soaked completely to the skin, everything was wringing wet, as if we'd been swimming. It was really hard [and unpleasant] to walk home in such wet clothes.
I had my camera with me so i took a few photos of the water. It was over my ankles on the pavement and my new wedge sandals are now completely ruined.
Arrgh - i hate buying shoes, i thought i'd fulfilled this task for the summer already.

Saturday, May 14, 2005


granny hat
I remember one of my grans having a hat like this - not so suitable for preventing sunstroke or the South of France but probably cosy and warm for Scotland- though i seem to remember it was itchy wool. I just playing with a brush for Painter 7 created that makes a weave , i quite like the open wooly texture.

A Touch of Sunstroke

It seems that suddenly summer is here and the full force of the sun at midday. Yesterday I was taking my son to the orthophoniste at lunchtime without realising how hot the sun was.
Rushing around and walking up steep hills probably had an effect as well. Anyway, I had to lie down with a pounding headache and dizziness - reminded me of the first time i had sunstroke which was oddly climbing Ben Lomond on a charity walk when i was about 14.
I seem to remember it was early in the year and not typical sunstroke weather.
Anyway, I will need to remember to buy [and wear] a hat for my next lunchtime trek.

This is a photo of Ben Lomond from 2002

Illustration Friday- Nourishment

The Illustration Friday topic is Nourishment. My son and I are fascinated by carnivorous plants though growing them seems to be very difficult. We've managed to keep them for about a year at a time but never managed to get them to keep going longer. Of course, my son's friends visit and then the plants end up being hand fed with carefully caught bugs ; which i think is part of the reason for their early demise.

Friday, May 13, 2005

more art and archaeology

Visit Chauvet cave online - cave art only discovered in 1994. The cave complex is full of unusual depictions of anumals, not just the prey of prehistoric man, but dangerous animals such as lions, bears and rhinoceroses. Cave bear bones discovered, including skulls [cave bears had hibernated in the caves] .
What always fascinates me about the cave art and other rock art, is the hand prints or hands that have been spray 'painted'. It always reminds me of the humans behind the art.
I was inspired to do some scribbling myself of some hands and the Newgrange triple spiral [which is much much later in time ] . I'll probaly do some more on this theme at some point.

Cave spiral

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Huge new TV

Huge TV.
Our old TV died and although we rarely watch TV, we do watch videos and DVds. So we went out at the weekend to buy a new one. There were some enormous TVs in the shop and we ended up getting one which seemed only a little bigger than the old one but widescreen format.
Anyway , the TV arrived yesterday and the two men bringing the box up the stairs were having difficulty negotiating round corners.
When the box was opened, the TV turned out to be about twice the size of the old one so putting it on the old stand was out of the question. [see silly picture]
Luckily we have a very sturdy coffee table made out of a chunk of tree trunk and that was exactly the right size.

The kids were amazed at how huge the TV seemed in comparsion with the old one.
The sounds and picture quality are very good and certainly loads better than the old one.
Its probably still not very large in widescreen TV terms , but for us its a giant =-)

Illustration Friday - Mischief

Mischief was the topic for Illustration Friday. This is my submission. Its based on a couple of mischievous events from my children's younger days.

IntL children's digital library

The international children's digital library is a really useful resource for anyone interested in children's books. There are now 611 children's books that can be read online with full text and illustrations. The collection is very diverse; different cultures and time periods are represented and its fascinating to see the very diverse styles and illustration techniques. Well worth checking out.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Art and archaeology

The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History has opened a Paleo Art Web page featuring years of artwork from its collections. Its worth looking at if such things interest you.

I've been interested in archaeology since the first time i visited a museum around age 4 or 5 and saw a cist burial. [A cist burial is a Bronze Age burial within a sort of box made of stone slabs.

I remember my dad asked if i wanted to hold his hand as we were going to be seeing skeletons. However, I've always been fascinated by history, ritual and death, even at such an early age. Unfortunately the display is arranged differently so its hard to photograph [and one of the graves seems to have been 'mislaid'. The stones facing inward were carved with cup and ring marks and concentric circles and probaly reused from other sacred sites and it fascinated me that these were positioned like that for the deceased person to see as they lay in the grave.
As a teenager, I often went to the museum to visit these skeletons so they had a lasting impact on my psyche.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Powercut followup

I remembered the Alien Birthday Party image -not a candle but a volcano birthday cake. However candles or lantern still on the to-do list.

Friday, May 06, 2005


The power was off in this street earlier - the powercut lasted a few hours which was unusual. Luckily we have a gas hob so we were able to cook.

It occurred to me that i don't have any artwork in my portfolio with candle light or a lantern as the light source so i'm thinking of adding something later - something else for the to-do list.

Poppies and textures

Spent some time today taking photos of flowers [for reference] and pictures of unusual textures for making paper textures for Corel Painter.

Taking photos of concrete, tree bark, paving slabs and peeling paint is considered aberrant behaviour going by the number of odd looks I received.

My 11yr old son, who was with me, said people would think I'm a mad tourist.

The flower photos aren't too bad considering I was taking them through a chain link fence.

Alison Wonderland Begins

This is the obligatory "Hello World" first post.