Sketchbooking #3

Three kimono studies from my sketchbook.

three ladies in one 1

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Goddess of Death tattoo design

This is an unused commission for a full arm piece, I don’t really do tattoo design, I turn it down a fair bit and Ive never consciously allowed my existing work to be used, (although I know there are few unofficial ones floating around). I’m not anti tattoo, far from it, I just think the possibility of something being lost in-translation is very high, and what I have drawn for one thing, being re-appropriated for another is a bit weird for me.
Why was it unused in the end? Well that
s another story.

The client wanted a ‘Day of the Dead’ inspired piece, not content in just churning out some half assed cultural appropriation I did a some digging into the background of the holiday and learnt that it has it roots in an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess of death Mictecacihuatl, so its her I chose to represent. Dolores del Río inspired her face, and the rest of the composition is comprised of various other folkloric death related imagery.

DotD tat

‘Take your son sir!’, sketch booking #3.

Ford Madox Browns 1851-6 unfinished painting ‘Take your son sir!’, has floated around in my mind for years. I find it unbearably creepy and sad but also fascinating, It depicts his wife Emma holding their son Arthur, its thought to be a commentary on Victorian morality, (a mistress demanding the man take responsibility his offspring), it has such a peculiar composition, illusions to imagery of the Virgin and Child, also a nod to The Arnolfini Wedding Portrait. The desperate face of the woman almost drowned in her corpse like paleness and the weird dead eyed baby with its shiny fish belly skin, hanging in what could be both womb and winding sheet.

Madox Brown eventually abandoned the painting, probably, sadly, due to his sons death, so we only have this unfinished image, with its areas of bleak bare canvas butting up against richly worked skin tones, the intricate mirror and glided wallpapers.
I grew up in Birmingham and the Pre-Raphaelites are never very far away, but seeing this bleak unfinished work at the Tate London was quite the contrast to the lushly gorgeous canvases I was used to. I can’t consider it a favorite of mine, but something about it hangs around long after you have see it, perhaps its the very unfinished nature that fascinates.

I know its a pretty silly image I’ve made in response, where Otto comes out the best, (psst he’s not that big IRL) and I’m not sure of the relevance of Judge Dredd, but see it as a sketch, a seed of something else, maybe something I will never finish either.

Take your son sir sketch book research.