When I’m working on a painting or drawing, whether digital or traditional, I always find it fascinating watching the image evolve, so I thought I’d include some WiP images of from my last piece. It’s funny because through all the groundwork, building up the image, not a lot seemed to change, and it was only putting in the lighting and ‘special effects’ right at the end, which was pretty much the smallest change, yet the one that really pulled the image together into something a bit more presentable!
So I don’t know how many of you know but a couple of days ago (Thursday 4th Feb) it was the second Harry Potter Book Night, an occasion created by Bloomsbury last year, with events held in libraries and bookshops up and down the country meant to inspire a new generation of readers with the Harry Potter series.
Now I was lucky enough to be just the right age when the first book was originally published (I was 9 at the time) which meant that as every subsequent book came out I was roughly the same age as Harry, Ron and Hermione. For me this made the stories extra special (and possibly even a little bit more real), and re-reading the books again now, especially the earlier books, always takes me back to feeling like I’m 10 or 11 again. So now every time I read the books I get hit by the same sense of wonder and imagination as I did all those years ago.
The difference now is, as soon as I get a whiff of inspiration, I feel like I have to capture it in some way; it makes me want to draw. And the thing with Harry Potter Book Night is, working in a library I’ve had the chance to be involved in 2 Book Night events now and through some of the work I’ve done for displays, it’s given me the opportunity to go back to the books through new eyes. More specifically, since I’ve spent a serious amount of time drawing and making over the last few years, I’ve had the chance to be inspired by the magical world of Harry Potter all over again, but this time through my new illustrator eyes (if that’s actually thing).
So, after all that preamble, these are 2 of the digital paintings that I created for the event* (and also because having re-read the Chamber of Secrets I suddenly really really really wanted to paint a basilisk, and a phoenix, and a flying car, and…well actually all the magical stuff described in the books because it just inspires something in me. But on this occasion I had to restrain my self…
Photoshop and intuos 4 pen & tablet
The background is a photograph I took in northern Scotland, but the rest is painted as above. I should also probably explain- there’s obviously no-one driving the car, but that’s because this was designed as a photo opportunity where the windscreen area was cut-out and the kids stood behind so it looked like they were driving the car.
This painting is a bit of a first for me; it’s one of the few times when the blurry image floating around in my mind throughout the planning stages, somehow materialised in the final piece. I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what it is that did this for me (as it could quite well be useful again!) and I think what it comes down to is not the actual layout or details of the work, but the atmosphere and feeling about it. While I was working I thought a lot about the perspective and lighting set-up, and it wasn’t until I put the final lighting in that I began to see it.
Of course, whether it conveys to you, the audience, what I was intending, I’ll leave up to you to decide… (and if you want to give me a shout about what you think I’d be very happy to hear!)
When you were younger did you ever read under the covers with a torch, long after you were meant to have turned the lights off? I don’t know why but my memories of reading in bed at night are far more vivid than any other time that I read as a child. Maybe it was the glow of the torch bouncing off the sheets, with only the book itself clearly illuminated. Looking back it feels like that in itself was it own world that I could escape to, and being in that place made it much easier to jump into the book I was reading and with no other distractions, for a short while, the book world was the only one that existed.
This is an idea that I explored in an art project earlier this year, and these images are the result of that. I wanted to play with the idea of recreating some of the atmosphere, the feeling of being under the covers, and yet at the same time immersed in the book you’re reading, as if looking around you could almost see the world of the book all around you.
Of course, what the images actually say to you, I’ll leave up to your own interpretation and imagination…