Saturday, 13 November 2010


… from the Loughborough train station. We visited near start of term but I never got round to posting them up. 


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..and a final.



“To take photographs means to recognize – simultaneously and within a fraction of a second – both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning. It is putting one’s head, one’s eye and one’s heart on the same axis.”

-Henri Cartier-Bresson

Bresson happens to be one of my favourite photographers. I love how his work oozes mystery and character.



He is a master at compositional photography…


This one in particular uses the golden ratio. How the brain and eye work together is fascinating stuff. Certain shapes and proportions are easier for our brain to decipher. Adrian Bejan, a professor of mechanical engineering at Duke University, in North Carolina, has made some interesting discoveries in the field of theoretic mathematics. He claims that the human eye is capable of interpreting the golden ratio proportions faster and more efficiently than any other shape.


That would explain why so many of the old masters of art use these proportions in their work. Leonardo Davinci, Salvador Dali and Botticelli to name a few.

The Last Sacrament by Salvador Dali

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With the help of composition we can determine what we intend to make the viewer look at first, where they will travel and finally come to a halt. I have a geeky interest in finding pleasing compositions, particularly in photography. Oddly, I have only just implementing the same rules in some of my paintings. I guess I never put two and two together. I find it a lot more natural to think about things like leading lines and framing with a camera up to my face - though I have recently made much more of an effort to play around with composition in my thumbnails.

Although we concentrated quite heavily on composition in my photography course, I have learnt quite a bit more since starting Game art and simply researching on the interweb. I first planned to outline all of the aforementioned rules and give examples, but looking around, there are plenty of places that do that for you. Here is a particularly good one. Here is one that will entertain you with ridiculously out dated pictures but relevant information. Although both are aimed at photographers, I think the rules are interchangeable.

Here is an incredible resource for everything from composition to art materials. James Gurney has been a constant inspiration to me, and his blog is a gold mine of interesting articles and tips on how to become better artist. These two are my favourite blogs he has written with a compositional theme.

Some bullet points to outline the things I feel I still need to work on:

- Never run out of space, judge distances and proportions first before adding detail 

- Use a pencil as a measuring stick using this technique (I really need to do this more)

- Play with light and contrast to guide the eye

- Remember my contrasting colours from school. Keep an eye on colour temperatures and how they create atmosphere (warm colours draw attention, cool colours create space etc.)

- Be more creative with negative space

- Watch my object grouping ( i.e. a balanced piece reflects symmetry, calm and order and  an asymmetrical piece may draw attention to a point of emphasis or create disorder)

Here’s an interesting article on composition. The link takes you to one of my favourite page of tips on the site, but take a look around, it’s pretty useful stuff:top_logo

Wow, I think I have used too many hyperlinks in this post. Sorry.


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Sunday, 7 November 2010

Richard Preston





Ocean Sediment



“Preston's work is imbued with the themes of relatedness, rootlessness, displacement and home; how universal forces replicate in the human the same forms exhibited in the Earth: the cycle of mountain building, the evidence of tectonic action, the forces of growth and decay, erosion - how a discontinuous continuity can be discerned through an in depth, patient observation and how we, as self-conscious beings, struggle to find personal relevance in this vast cosmos” – Prestville Art

I love that description.

This is Richard Preston's work with beading and textiles. These squares of colour remind me of my home! My family collect paintings, tapestries and statues from all over the world and most are laced with colours and beads much like these.

Sketches from the last few days…

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Urgh… yuk.

Though these horrid little sketches are simply speedy observational doodles, I cant help but feel disheartened when they turn out so. Darn. Shoddy.

Note to self: Must remember that PRACTISE MAKES PURRFECT.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Drawing Bradgate Park

Some watercolours…


Some inks….


Some sketches…


A final prep…


And a final piece! Here is the digital painting…


Must speed up.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Bradgate Park…

… was cold but beautiful.




As a small child, my Dad always loved photography – he took me along on walks through the patchy woodland near our house. Armed with his old camera, he allowed me to explore and actively encouraged every photograph that I took. I remember hundreds of photo albums brimming with pictures of great oaks and autumnal forest scenes that he had shot, and in between these beautiful photos sat my masterpieces – mostly out of focus  ladybugs and spiders. With his help I learnt a lot about composition and lighting and I blame him for my true respect of nature…. mainly trees!

Whilst continuing on with my A-levels, I took a Photography foundation class at my local college. Here they taught me the technical jargon and how to work an SLR. The composition lessons worked a treat too – I learnt how to lead the eye through a scene with horizontal and vertical lines, and how to add interest to a dull piece by using nearby objects as framework .

When I began this Game Art course, I forgot all of the lessons learnt throughout my childhood/education… perhaps because I was so nervous and eager to please or just constantly running out of time! Now my second year of uni is in full swing, I have noticed a few changes in my work flow and decision making. The way I think about planning and composition has completely changed from those first spidery sketches I made in the first year. I feel far less hassled by my lack of planning and can now concentrate on being the best I can be. I am re-learning to recognise an aesthetically pleasing shot, rather than jumping straight into the work to get it done. I am using my thumbnails as experimentation, instead of doing them because I was told too. I am working with the final piece in mind, and I can see a huge improvement in the finished work!

Tiny first year thumbs::

canalP Larger, far better second year thumbs:


Reading this article about art processing has really intrigued me. The article touches on aspects of planning I would love to get to grip with. She introduces the tutorial with:

“ This entire lesson is about why (in this image) there is a tree. Why there is snow. And why they are in their precise positions. It’s about the thought process surrounding the understanding of purpose and discerning detail to create a mood to achieve your concept. ”

The point of the article is the importance of using references. She mentions using them for every last detail you paint, because drawing from your imagination is hard work, time consuming and often flawed. I need to get in the habit of taking more pictures and looking out for inspirational scenes. Luckily, I have done a lot of photography before the course and over the summer managed to sort all of my pictures into some sort of filing system. Turns out I have a LOT of tree pictures and bark textures. But.. I need MOAR!

A further two quotes from the article that I particularly agree with:

“ If the thumbnail is not successful, it does not matter how
good the painting is, it will be less than it can be ”

“ If I squint my ‘minds eye,’ what shapes do I see? ”


I have only just started implementing this in my own work. Before, thumbnail just spurted out of my pencil in a hurry to get themselves done. I then just ad-libbed a final with hardly any reference and a lame little sketch. Now I only do a final once I am happy with a chosen thumbnail. Editing composition and perspective is far easier in a crumby sketch then a fully rendered final piece!

Today’s sketches…


Some rather warped piggy snouts…


… and a cheese plant.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Need… More… Speed

In an attempt to speed up my drawing I’m going to bring a small  sketch book and pencil with me in my handbag. I aim to fill (at least) one page everyday with quick relaxed sketches. I’m not worrying too much about form or style in these quick scribbles, just speed and consistency.

Hmm… and to get over my fear of others judging my work, I will post them on here… even if I feel ashamed!

So here is today's page…