Friday, May 29, 2009

The Children of Lir

There's a sweet sadness when a favourite painting finds a new home.
This was an important picture for me in The Names Upon The Harp by Marie Heaney.
It illustrates the story of The Children of Lir, which is one of the three sorrows of Irish storytelling.
The children have a very bad time at the hands of their step-mother, and are turned into swans for nine hundred years.
At the end of which time they are turned back into humans, but they die soon after.
I chose to illustrate the scene where the four children, now old, old people, are laid to rest altogether in one grave.
It's a story I had interpreted once before as a postage stamp.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

My Still Life Painting Set-Up

Here's a look at my still life set-up, with a second goblet painting nearly finished.
You can see my Morandi bottles in the background.
The tissue on the right is there to diffuse the light a little.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Male Life Painting

I got to spend two afternoons on this pose by Des.
It's a rare pleasure to spend so long on a life painting.
I'm pretty happy that I've caught the solidity and muscular bulk of Des's physique, and it's a pretty fair likeness too.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Still life of A Silver Goblet

Here's another of my little still life paintings.
It's a good exercise to try to render various different surfaces and textures convincingly.
With reflective surfaces I find it is really important to surrender yourself to the lights and darks that you see in front of you rather than thinking about the contours that you know to be there.
The edges of this goblet are hardly defined at all, and the elipses are a bit wobbly, but because I've got the reflections pretty much in the right places, it reads as a solid goblet.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Meeting Shaun Tan in Dublin

Yesterday, those lovely people at CBI arranged for a group of Irish illustrators, including me, to meet the amazing Australian illustrator, Shaun Tan.
I have been a big fan of Shaun's work since Marie-Louise FitzPatrick showned me The Red Tree and a few other of his early books about six years ago.
When Shaun's book "The Arrival" came out last year, I was asked to write a review of it by Inís Magazine.
You can read that review and see some more pictures from our meeting at the Scamp website.
Big thanks again to Mags and all at CBI for arranging the event, and to Shaun for a wonderfully inspiring morning, and for patiently inscribing on all of the books we had brought along.

L to R, Alan B, Donough O'Malley, Steve Simpson, Scalder, me, Joven Kerekes, Shaun, BrenB, Micheal Emberley, Marie-Louise FitzPatrick, Niamh Sharkey, Adrienne Geoghegan

Monday, May 18, 2009

Digital Jigsaw

Feel like a puzzle?
It's a digital jigsaw of The Old Man in the Library, one of the first portfolio pieces I did after leaving Art College.
I picked the idea up from Milan's blog, Paper Fables.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Morandi Bottles by PJ

Giorgio Morandi is one of my favourite still-life artists. I love the pared down simplicity of some of his paintings, and the way his work always starts with the intense observation of a carefully arranged selection of objects.
In order to get down to the description of the object's essential form, Morandi used to paint his bottles and pots in a solid colour. This means that the artist is not distracted by labels, and won't get way-laid by the fiddly, transparent effects of glass.
I painted a bunch of bottles myself in different colours, some matt, some gloss, and I have found painting them a terrific exercise in the rendering of light and form.
Here's one of them. The original is only 15 x 20 cms.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Interview with the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance

The NCBLA have put an interview with me up on their blog.
The questions are by high school intern, Colleen Damerell, and I thought they were really insightful.
I hope my answers match up to them.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Fun of Drawing

I had a message recently talking about the "fun of drawing".
Strangely, when you are drawing for a living, it can be enjoyable, fulfilling, even occasionally exhilarating, but it is rarely "fun".

I have fun drawing with my kids on the chalkboard in the kitchen, but I suppose, when I am drawing for books, I feel there is always so much at stake that it's hard to really let go, and have fun.
It's great to watch that pure, careless fun that young children get from scribbling away at the first thing that jumps from their pencil.
I do love it when I get lost in a drawing; most often when I'm working from life, or maybe when I'm doing one of my rooftop vistas, or a grotesque old goblin.
Sometimes, when I am inscribing a book for someone and I'm not rushed, I can actually have fun doing a sketch.
I did this dragon to-day on a copy of Ignis I was signing for someone.
It was fun.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Preparatory Sketch for The Bee-man of Orn

I was going through some preparatory drawings with a friend of mine, when we came across this nice little sketch that I did for The Bee-man of Orn. It was never used, but I think it's a nice drawing.
Particularly interesting for me to see those faint images where I rubbed out earlier versions of the baby.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Male Life Drawing

We've had Des modelling for us at life drawing for the last few weeks.
He's a body builder with an amazing physique, and he works very hard to achieve the most dynamic poses for us.
For the longer poses of two to four hours a pose more like this one is easier for the model to maintain.
Again, I have tried to make it a portrait as much as a life drawing.

Friday, May 1, 2009

My Home Library

A good few years ago, I was asked by Anne Fine to draw a bookplate for My Home Library.
I thought it was a great scheme and said I would do one, but when I tried to make the drawing, I just couldn't do it.
I don't know what the problem was but I just couldn't complete this tiny job.
I felt really awful about it every time I thought of it over the years, so finally set to and produced something.
And here it is.
I think it's quite fun for someone who might have a library full of fantasy books.

I hope My Home Library will be able to use it.
Feel free to click on the picture for a larger image to download for non-commercial use as a bookplate.