Monday, November 24, 2008
The Nutcracker display appears to be shaping up well.
I've done my all I can do, and anytime I think about it I wish I had done something differently.
But that's always the way with me.
Adrian, who is the head of design up at W5, sent me this picture of the big prints going into position.
They are using the latest printing technology which gives amazing results at high magnification.
Here's an early rough I did for the battle scene to compare with the photo.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
My Retrospective Exhibition is now on-line.
Do please check it out on my website.
My friend Susan has done tremendous work to get it all up there and looking so well.
I hope you'll enjoy the virtual gallery experience.
Have a virtual glass of wine on me!
Monday, November 17, 2008
W5 in Belfast are getting all geared up for their Nutcracker Fantasy walk-through experience.
I'm just adding a few last little touches myself, and the team at W5 are getting on with putting together the huge blown up prints to create what will be a kind of giant pop-up book. The experience will be heightened with Tchaikovsky's music and all sorts of special effects.
There is a lot to do and not a whole lot of time left before it opens in early December.
I really can't wait to see how it will look.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Here's another from "Lincoln and his Boys".
The speech I quoted from in the previous post was spoken at the Great Western Railroad Depot in Springfield, Illinois. The depot is still there, preserved as it was on the day that Lincoln left.
When I visited Springfield with Rosemary Wells, we sought it out, and I took hundreds of photos from every angle, knowing that I would be illustrating this scene of Lincoln and Willie returning from Chicago. However there was no way I could make the composition work and also show the depot in the background.
This was a case where it was important to jettison the great research I had done for the sake of a better picture.
That kind of background research is never wasted though. It meant a lot to me to stand where Lincoln had been, and to see some of the things he and his family had seen.
Here is a shot of the depot as it is to-day.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
In this historic week in US politics, I thought I'd share this picture from the forthcoming book, "Lincoln and his Boys" by Rosemary Wells.
I was working on it at about the time that Barack Obama declared in Springfield, Illinois, that he was running for President.
Shortly after the confederate stronghold of Richmond was taken by the Union forces, Lincoln was urged to parade with troops through the centre of the ruined city. Not wishing to glory in the defeat of the South, he chose instead to walk through Richmond with his son, Tad.
This was a very tricky picture for me, in that Rosemary's text accurately describes how the former slaves threw themselves at Lincoln's feet calling him Father Abraham.
But was important for me to present the scene in a dignified way. I wanted to show the joy of the crowd surrounding Lincoln and Tad, but I needed to hint at the mixed emotions and foreboding that some of the people would have had, and also to show a measure of defiant strength.
All of this is focussed in the thoughtful individual holding his hat at the lower left in what is compositionally, the counterpoint to Lincoln's position.
Obama is a stirring orator, but he'll have to go some to match Abraham Lincoln, whose speeches contain some of the most poetic and inspiring words ever spoken.
As President elect Obama prepares to take on his great challenges, to address the financial crisis and to try to redeem the position of the US in the world, I think of some lines that Lincoln spoke as he left Springfield for the last time, knowing that he was facing almost inevitably into Civil War.
"My friends, no one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of the Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail...."
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Here's another from the W5 Nutcracker project.
In case any one is in Belfast during December, W5 will be exhibiting all of the roughs and artwork that I have done for it in their BT gallery.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I'm working on a very unusual project at the moment. W5 in Belfast have asked me to design a fantasy walk through experience for Christmas. The theme is taken from the ballet of the Nutcracker.
This rough shows the Gingerbread Village with Clara and the Nutcracker Prince in the foreground.
There will be various free-standing "pop-up" elements so it will be very interesting to see how it actually works when my illustrations are blown up and all put together.
W5 has a great team so I'm hopeful that it will all come together nicely.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Here's a picture I haven't looked at for quite a while. In some ways it doesn't really look like one of my pictures.
I hunted it out for our upcoming on-line exhibiton which will go live in about two weeks on the main website.
This scene is from the Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen.
What an amazing story it is. There is an awful lot in it, which makes it quite unwieldy as a picture book text, but so much of the imagery is so inventive that I had to have a go at it.
My version came out in 1994. The publisher, Andersen Press, will be issuing a new edition with a new cover next year hopefully.
Here's a chunk of the text that this image illustrates.
"She ran on as fast as she could. There then came a whole regiment of
snow-flakes, but they did not fall from above, and they were quite
bright and shining from the Aurora Borealis. The flakes ran along
the ground, and the nearer they came the larger they grew. Gerda well
remembered how large and strange the snow-flakes appeared when she
once saw them through a magnifying-glass; but now they were large and
terrific in another manner--they were all alive. They were the outposts
of the Snow Queen. They had the most wondrous shapes; some looked like
large ugly porcupines; others like snakes knotted together, with their
heads sticking out; and others, again, like small fat bears, with the
hair standing on end: all were of dazzling whiteness--all were living
Little Gerda repeated the Lord's Prayer. The cold was so intense that
she could see her own breath, which came like smoke out of her mouth.
It grew thicker and thicker, and took the form of little angels, that grew
more and more when they touched the earth. All had helms on their heads,
and lances and shields in their hands; they increased in numbers; and
when Gerda had finished the Lord's Prayer, she was surrounded by a whole
They thrust at the horrid snow-flakes with their spears, so that
they flew into a thousand pieces; and little Gerda walked on bravely and
in security. The angels patted her hands and feet; and then she felt the
cold less, and went on quickly towards the palace of the Snow Queen."