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What you'll discover: Delightfully dramatic Shakespeare gifts featuring the Bard's best loved characters. I'm passionate about offering inspired gifts for actors, literature lovers, teachers, poets, dreamers, dramatics and romantics. My Opera Series provides art for international productions, giving an illustrated style to the thrilling music and characters.

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Tudor Portraits

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Queen Reigns: Elizabeth I, Portrait

England's first Queen Elizabeth was a consummate manipulator of her own image. Her portraits, like her fathers, represent her political power and ambition, as well as elevating her from human to an icon.

It was difficult to choose which one of her portraits to use as inspiration, and I had two finalists. 
Her shrewd eyes in this portrait seem to me to convey intelligence and restraint, something very guarded. 

However, it's the triumph of the Armada portrait that I was drawn to.  It may have been the big lacey collar that attracted me, but really it's the grand scale of the image, and the slight smile that drew me in.

Okay, maybe I just wanted to draw the fancy lace.

So, below you'll see my progress and execution of the portrait... 

Pencil baselines flesh out the details, followed by inking.

The basic inking is finished, then followed by cross-hatching 
to fill the background and smeared with water, making a grey wash.
And a new Tudor Portrait is complete!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

New Work: Tudor Portraits - Christopher Marlowe

Back at my desk this week, and decided to conquer a few more Tudor portraits that have been on my mind for some time.

First, Christopher Marlowe:
He's a fascinating figure, and the kind folks at The Rose Theatre here in London revitalised my interest in him.
For the Tudor portrait series, I've been using contemporary portraits (such as this one of 1585 of Marlowe.)
To start with: I create a pencil sketch of the face and neck/costume, 
then I print out a copy of the pencil line work lightly as a framework for the inking. 

For pencils, I'm partial to the Papermate Sharpwriter for its consistent point, ability to be gentle/light and heavy/dark, and for their cheap n' cheerful price. The inking is done with a mix of smaller pens (.5 from Muji, or a Staedler .1 pen liner in this case.)  The Muji pens aren't quite as amazing as the Pilot G Tec C4 of legend, but they definitely hold their own.
When inking, I find the outlines, followed with a scribbley crosshatch stroke to fill in areas, along with more free contour lines.  Then, I either wet and smear the ink with my thumb/forefinger, or with a paint brush, as grey background wash.  The paintbrush gives a more precise stroke, but the thumb gives you a stronger smear without over-wetting the paper.

It's a method I really enjoy, especially the mad cross-hatching I use during the inking.
Next up: Queen Elizabeth I, as inspired by the Armada Portrait.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Boudoir Circus plays Download Festival 2011

Amongst wind and rain and sun: We've taken Aircraft Circus' wild and wicked show on the road for the rock festival Download.   On the mainstage was Alice Cooper and a barrage of headliners, and in a tent all of our own: Madame Pain's Boudoir Circus.

Having never designed for a tent show before, the task presented some unusual logistical challenges: keeping the backstage and scenery dry in a storm, platforms that slope with the ground... having theatre tech week while camping and everybody snatching shuteye amidst enthusiastic all-night rock ballad karaoke and airplanes... but it was fun.  Definitely helped to have my wellies with me.  And getting the paint off your hands works just fine in a rain barrel.

Our house band Orangafruup composed enough spectacular tunes to fill 2-3 hours of show, Poppy Flint crafted costumes of jilted glamour and hardcore recycling, and always exploding with creative ideas & mayhem: Alex Frith directed the crack team of aerialists from Aircraft.  The crowds were great, especially on the cold night.  It was a big jump from an underground installation show in London to a big stage on a field in Donington Park.  Next time... even bigger tent? You bet.

Photo credits: Download 2011 /  Dimitris Amvrazis