Sketchbooking #3

Three kimono studies from my sketchbook.

three ladies in one 1


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.

The Moon Revisted, #2 progression.

Here’s the next stages in the progression of the Moon Revisited piece.

I’ve taken the concept out the sketch book on to A3 smooth cartridge paper, its in HB pencil and I’m inking with Unipin 0.3 and 0.1 pigment fine line pens.

Once inked I rub out any of the very heavy pencil lines and scan into Photoshop.

Its scanned at a very high resolution so when I scale it down to it will retain as much fine detail as possible.

From here I start the clean, copy and readjustment/refinement process.


Poppy Witch

This Piece has been languishing in the digital equivalent of a dusty draw for about year after the client.. ahem..’changed their mind’ I think that’s the polite way of putting it.

So, I’ve dug her out and given her a bit of a re-model and a re-colour with something of a Roger Dean inspired pallet.

I think she deserves to see the light of day after everything she went through.

poppy witch

The Moon Revisited

Adrian Carter Sheffield based audio wizard has done just an amazing remix/revision/total overhaul (part of the Sheffield Year of Making) of my sound piece that accompanied the buried moon film.

He’s taken what was simply a bare bones audio track of me reading the folk tale and turned it into an ambient bit of magic that unfolds beautifully to colour the world around the tale.

Its simply so fantastic that I felt it deserves a visual revisit of the work to match.

Here’s the site

Here’s the bandcamp

Here’s the prep sketch for the work in progress straight from my sketch book:

moon rv sk bp 1
The Moon revisited


Portfolio Reviewing 2, Salome look 4.

This is a fashion illustration for one of the garments I designed for Oscar Wilde’s 1894 play ‘Salome’.

This piece was designed for the moment Salome receives the baptists head, I conceived it as a symbolic  joining of the two characters; (much of the play concerns Salome trying to seduce the baptist, and threatening him that she will eventuality have him despite his rejection of her). So here the baptists head has actually become part of Salome’s garment, and ultimately part of her.

Although I never got to make the final garment, (I actually made another look for the play) I toiled it extensively and  it would have been a digital print on a lycra or power mesh then hand embellished.

Amusingly despite this being a illustration of a design for a garment, (it shows no nudity and the violence content is questionable) it got me temporary ban and a warning off facebook. I personally think somebody had a problem with the suggestion of menstrual blood.


 “An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all” Oscar Wilde

jxsalome baptist