Guthrie’s Art Journal

G is for Gruesome
January 20, 2009, 10:05 pm
Filed under: digital art, Illustration, Painter, painting, Photoshop, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

G is for gruesome
Originally uploaded by guthrie

So I’ve finally decided this piece is finished! I kind of need to move on and possibly I’ve learnt what I can. As a piece of illustration I think it succeeds in some ways and fails in others.

As an image I like the bold colours, maybe a little too much detail, although I did rub a lot of it back, simple composition, cute and horrific at the same time. As an alphabet letter I suspect it could be a little more overt but I decided I didn’t really want lettering on the piece so it’d need to be in the title of the piece. It could also be a bit more scary and darker.

So what was the process?

Well it took about three sketches to get the basic elements down and then the last of the pencil sketches was scanned into Photoshop.

I then manipulated it into a form that I could start to lay colour onto which meant cranking the contrast a bit and whiting out some of the paper texture from the background.

I’ve been reading a lot of concept art approaches in ImagineFX and combined that with my knowledge of digital print and my limited experience in traditional painting. Painter was the next stop.

This is my first bash at making something finished in Painter and really the first time I saw it’s real potential. I’ve had a Wacom tablet for years but just never really had the need or opportunity to do much with it.

First steps…

So I blocked the colour in using a lowerer res version of the image until all the basics were in place, then scaled it back up dropped a higher res version of the image back so I had a good sharp outline to work against for the details.

I might choose to do the colour blocking in Photoshop next time as it took ages to find a simple way to just dump lots of colour on an area without funny brush marks. It didn’t help that this is my first go at it.


Then I just started painting using different colour modes and layering, testing out as much as I could. I’m used to the principals from Photoshop although Painter has some of it’s own unique ways of dealing.


Brushes seem to work a lot more like traditional media which means it’s really good to have a clear idea how they work in the that mode before you try the digital version. Water colours, inks, impasto, pencils and pastels all have different digital surface properties and it’s a bit of a learning curve working out how to make the most effective use of them!

So what did I learn?

Well I can definitely see that there’s potential to go into the kind of work I really keen on but also it’s going to take a bit more time out from design work to spend on painting!

If I was happy just doing the kind of more stripped back illustration style like the Crimbo cards I could get away with a lot less time but the kind of imagery that I love Ray Caesar, Syd Mead, Glenn Brown (who I only just discovered after seeing him on the cover of the Tate mag – brilliant can’t wait for the exhibition!), Scott Robertson and Nick Pugh well it’s all really worked over and even a quick small image takes 20-30 hours so you can see where that’s all going!!

Janet had one very inspiring thing to say early on in the MA and that was she believed many illustrators set there goals a lot higher than what their tutors expected of them and she was always impressed by how many achieved those goals!

So here’s to reaching for the stars!


Crimbo cards
January 6, 2009, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Card, Drawing, Illustration | Tags: , ,

I decided to make all my Christmas cards by hand this year.

You can see more of them on Flickr what I started doing as a bit of a joke, namely the sock puppet illustrations became a set of stripped back Christmas icons.

I’ve used a the Christmas palette plus a few extra’s in small doses. The cat here is a clear example, the hat’s always red, a little bit of line shading, and in this one unlike the others a cynical comment. No cat wants to be dressed in a Santa hat, that’s just demeaning to their proud sophisticated nature so I’ve tried to play on that a bit.

I tried to experiment a little, even thought these were essentially done as one shots. There’s no sketching on the cards just straight into it with the pens and texta – although I did some in my diary and sketch books to test out ideas. It’s all really fast turn around stuff.

Eventually I figured out that if I was going to finish enough for immediate friends and family I had to do sets of repeated designs. So there are about 8 different ones including two one offs that I did early on. I figured I could speed up the production if I drew 3-4 of each type at a time drawing just the lines, then each colour separately. The ink/texta pens could then dry between colours and avoid damaging the light colours with the darker tones.

All in all a successful trial. Funny too because I really just thought it was a quick, and for me, cheapish way of making some interesting cards. I had moments of thinking they were just too childish and kind of silly so the response on Christmas morning with 15 or so family all commenting on them was a surprise.

On a more critical not I felt that some of them are not as good as they could be in terms of line work and colour choices, the darker shading really was too much especially on some of the mooses. I probably lost about 5-6 cards out of 50 or so that I attempted as they just weren’t on the mark in being part of the family of cards.

I kind of enjoy this card making although it doesn’t really feel like I’m making art but then again it’s definitely not the sort of twee cards by numbers that you see sold as DIY packs in WHSmith or Paperchase.

Sock it too me – iProposal!
January 6, 2009, 7:29 pm
Filed under: Art, Drawing, Illustration, Sketch | Tags: , ,

Sock Rights Now!After arriving late and not really liking a lot of Ann’s work I had thought that the informal tutorial afterwards was going to be short lived and not terribly productive, but I was oh so wrong.

While the drawings for Ann’s film were what I feel is some of her more interesting images, the powerpoint slide show with music and sound effects wasn’t doing it for me. I don’t know why visual artists insist on making such awful, conceptual and ultimately dull film work. I’m not a fan of Warhols films or art school experimental film having rarely seen anything that actually delivers on it’s promise. Film is vastly different in some respects to still imagery even narrative illustration and I’m not convinced that because one can paint well, one can be a film maker.

In Ann’s own words ‘why not stick to what your really good at’. Sorry no offence but why make film when you seem to have a perfectly good career in still images.

Yes I have a bit of a thing against sticking some sequential still images to music and calling it a film!

Moving on… Ann is however very good at picking out what is going on for students with there projects! Both challenging and insightful with a real talent for seeing what’s working and what’s not. So much thanks to her for that.

From Gadsocks collection of sock puppet portraits.

I did take on her idea about turning my series of bestiary images into an actual book. The only concern for me is that it’s a lot to achieve given that I don’t yet have an illustrative style worked out, but I do on the other hand have two years in which to do such a thing.

So I’ve added it to the list!

C is for chopsticks

John Robertson
December 14, 2008, 3:51 pm
Filed under: Illustration, painting, political | Tags: , ,

‘if ever I should stop singing about music and politics’

While trying to find an American series of political paintings made in the ’90’s I’ve come across John Robertson. I think his political paintings are especially engaging and work for me as pieces of political illustration with their strong narrative component. I find the lively bright style of the paintings work well aesthetically as well as politically. He seems to have been quite prolific. He has no Wikipedia entry which maybe needs rectifying but there is an interesting biography of him on his web site. I really want to know what retail giant he was working for and is his work an attempt to off set this.

I’m still painting my letter which is really taking quite sometime – am I being too picky. You can see here it’s current state.
I’ve been using some online resources to challenge me and move the piece to a different level. The tutorial on CG society about eyes, this photograph googled and this BBC wildlife book.

I must admit that I probably could have handed over the pencil drawing to Jane but am being a bit selfish and using it to explore digital painting techniques. I’ve been using Painter, Photoshop and the Wacom I brought for this course to explore exactly what’s possible. The whole process has raised many questions, not the least of which is how photo-realistic does one go? Hockney has a very interesting discussion about art and the use of the camera obscura by renaissance painters. I think many would have been using digital paint and 3D software as well as digital photography if they were making art now.

Although there are many issues around digital art my contention is that the best of it still takes time and solid grounding in fine art principals. Many of the pieces I like from magazines like ImagineFX take up to 30 hours or so to complete.

Trivia note: Indesit use 3D art software Maya to design their white goods, this is certainly an interesting merging of art and design.

Drunk moron eel cut – here’s something I prepared earlier!
October 11, 2008, 1:39 pm
Filed under: Art, Drawing, Sketch | Tags: , ,

I posted a comment on Sean Cubitt’s blog about the culture of amateur arts which had me really thinking about what makes your work artistic rather than just nice drawings or ‘sunday paintings’ and where one draws the line.

I often find artists, I’m thinking here of my Australian contemporaries who practice art in one form or another, need something to rally against.

How often I’ve heard them condemn one piece of work and pedestal another.

As an observer I sometimes see no substantial difference between the works. Stylistically of course but in terms of there quality as examples of fine art I see barely any.

One artist I know condemns decorative art and photography while praising ‘raw art’. Another lampoons modern art praising the technical skills of the great masters or there modern equivalents.

There are of course substantial differences in the different periods in art history but are these any less art works? Is Rothko any better or worst than Van Gogh? Is there even any point in try to make a qualitative assessment?

As I said earlier I think perhaps it’s a necessary stage in artistic development and for some and essential mode for creating art. ‘That’s not art’ they will tell me ‘anybody could do that, even a child could do that’. To which I always respond ahh but they didn’t, you didn’t and what is art in any event?

It is a favourite discussion and I think brought to the fore by Cubitt’s comment on Radio National’s Artworks program that he dislike the professionalisation of art and current artistic culture where one has to learn art a certain way to be an artist.

Perhaps this is true but I wonder if it hasn’t been this way for centuries, the avante garde start a revolution then over time they become the established and before we know it they are part of the institution to be protested against.

Five musical sirens
October 7, 2008, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Art, Reference | Tags: , , , ,

Five musical sirens

Completely inspired after today’s trip to the library. I’ve been thinking about making an illustration of a mermaid but of course typing mermaid into the library database won’t overwhelm you with references.
So I went to look up the one book that was in the Camberwell library and see what resulted.

It should have been no surprise that I came across a section covering fantastic creatures and folklore. This is perfect and I realised in a flash that what I should be doing for my MA proposal is a series of images on mythological beasties and folklore. So I loaded up with five books that were on the shelf and we are away!

Hot Rods and Hairy Beasts
October 4, 2008, 2:28 pm
Filed under: Art, Exhibition, Illustration | Tags: , ,
Freebie bag of post cards and other info from the Hot Rods exhibition at Conningsby Gallery near Goodge st.

Freebie bag of post cards and other info from the Hot Rods exhibition at Conningsby Gallery near Goodge st.

Excellent exhibition with some really nice digital prints, I’m definitely going to research how the prints were made, really bright colours and nice textured papers.

I particularly liked Rod Hunts ‘Robot Love’ both the concept and the modern ‘pixel art’ styled pieces. His work is very detailed and brightly coloured, like a lot of the pixel art genre, just more of a smooth vector version rather than the squared off pixel renderings.

As for the content well you know you are always going to get a laugh having two robots posed in different sexual positions. The fixed smiling faces and subtle use of limited facial expressions works well to set up the humour.

Allan Sanders has a more stripped back – quite child like and flat coloured humourous pieces. I can see it being used in Roger Ramjet (that old kids but-not cartoon).

There are definite similarities with the other artists, it’s almost like a spectrum of styles from Robs complex (busy) work to Nishant’s stripped back two and one colour pieces via Linzie Hunters more muted 50’s style.

There was one of Linzie’s lettering pieces that was fantastic. Not sure what is was called – the private view was packed and it was a little tricky getting round but in some ways it’s what you’d want at an opening really!

Here’s the exhibition link to check out the artists work if you fancy.

Hot Rods and Hairy Beasts

PS Now I remember what Linzie’s style reminds me of. There was a web site called in the early days of the web which used quite similiar sort of retro looking illustration – you have to use the Way Back Machine to find the posts now there archive seems to have died.