Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Speed of another Year Gone By

Last month I made only one post, and I fear the same will be true this month.  Next week my Family arrives for Christmas, and that's more or less me out of the picture until the new year.  At least this time I'm letting you know in advance that there's no more coming for a while.  I have a lot to catch up on next year of course, as this last year I have let things slide to a revolting extent.

I've been trying to think of ways to get the sketching I missed up faster, but I don't want to resort to just posting the pages uncut.  Actually, I might, that's even more honest than the usual way I do them - you'll see all of the crap along with the relatively good stuff, although it's harder to clean up the scans because my scanner hates me.

Another thing I need to do is get back in the grove with Speedpaints.  The last Speedpaint post I made was three months ago, and that's just not good.  This latest one contains six new ones, so that's about two a month.  Disappointing.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Social Profiling № 10: Headphone Fun

Well, it has been a while hasn't it? This should come as no surprise to anyone who's been paying attention this year, so instead of prattling on about it I'll just get on with the post.

This is the last of this years Facebook Profile pictures, and given how long it's taken me to get through them this year I don't know if I'll be doing another set.  Certainly not next year, although I might still paint the occasional similar picture just for fun.  If you've no idea what I'm warbling about click here and work from the bottom up - all will be explained.

This latest one was one of the smoothest of the lot.  As a result there aren't all that many images in the following post, which is a shame in a way, but great for me as I've less to write.  Oh, and there's a short tale behind this one too.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Psychochronography in Blue (Part 5)

A little over 16 months ago I sent the following words to Philip Sandifer, the author of the Tardis Eruditorum books, for which I regularly do the covers.

"Just had an idea for the first Tom Baker cover. If I can pull it off it will be a most magnificent cover, if I can't then it'll be an okay painting on it's own. For now though I'll leave you with the words Chris Foss"

The first Tom Baker cover ended up featuring Jelly Babies, so the words Chris Foss were held over for the second Tom Baker book. If you've not seen the first, or any of the other covers I've done for Phil you can see them by clicking on the related number 1, 2, 3, 4, and also check out the tangentially related A Golden thread, and Last War in Albion cover posts.

Now, I know, you may be thinking "'Most magnificent?' this seems rather out of character for our usually predictable blogger." Well, I did add a caveat. But honestly, I'm the least qualified person to say if I succeeded in hitting those lofty goals. I do know it was one of the more challenging things I've ever done, and that you can decide if I did indeed pull it off by reviewing the image of the cover below.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

12 Squared

You may recall a few months ago I entered an Artrage competition on Deviantart.  I didn't win, and wasn't terribly happy with the entry anyway.  Well, I entered one after that with a picture of our cat Cameron (we had two, but the other one, Ferris, ran away and we've not heard anything of him in months), and then I got too busy to enter.

Last month I was still busy, but I wanted to paint something fairly finished before I went crazy, so I made some time, picked a picture of Peter Capaldi as The Doctor to paint, and was all set to go when I saw the latest Artrage contest was for "grids." One quick, and minor, rethink later I was all set to go.  You can see the result I entered below.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Musing 6B: Trace Elements

You may recall, or more likely you may not, that in my last A Musing post I said I'd break down the various ways of transferring something from your mind onto a piece of paper (or screen, or piece of shale or whatever).  I said I would do it soon, and that was in April, which may cause you to wonder about my definition of "soon," but regardless, I'm doing it now, finally.

Assuming you didn't click on the link above and read the post (and you'll know if you did that I don't believe that you did for one second, so, sorry about that), you may need a refresher regarding what I think those methods were, so I'll list them below.  For now, all you really need to know is that we're covering the first one here.  It's tracing, just in case you skipped reading the post title as well as the linked post above.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Less Haste, More Speed

Well, hopefully this is the start of a turn around, as it's only been a week since I last posted. With three speedpaints done then; not enough to show, and seven to show today that's four paintings in a week!  OK, it's actually not since I found one of them down the side of the virtual couch, but still.

Basically last weeks post showed me that I'd been neglecting things far in excess of the amount of other things I had to do, especially for speedpainting.  Usually I wait until I see something I want to paint, and then think "I should paint that."  Time allowing I do so.

Recently though there's been a disconnect between when I see the thing, and when I have time to paint, and with other things crowding my brain I've forgotten about the likely image, or my mood has changed and it doesn't appeal any more.  So now I'm going to make a more concerted effort to stack up likely candidates separately from the rest of my references, so they're easier to go through when I want to paint something quick.

Anyway, you don't care about any of that, you just want to see pictures, right?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Feeble Sketching - January to March '14

Well, I have no idea where the last 6 weeks went.  I know I've been busy, but it's not like I have a lot I can show for it.  3 speedpaints since the last speedpaint post (I think that's an all time low), so I need at least one more before I can post about those; a book cover - which was a fair time sink, but not that bad - and again it'll be a little while until I can post about that; and a whole bunch of work stuff that's off the table for years to come, if I can ever show it at all.  So I've been busy, and when I haven't been I've been spending my time playing video games and watching TV.  I have sketched too, but not in a terribly constructive way.   All in all it's been a bad few weeks for anything worth putting on the blog, and let's face it, it's not been the best year for it either.  Hopefully things will smooth out soon.  Until then, here are some terrible sketches I did between January and March of this year.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Social Profiling № 9: Smile!

And here, finally, is the post I was planning to put up last week.  All the prep work on the images was done for that post, so this should go fairly quickly.

Before I begin though, I'm going to digress and mention (for my own future reference, as much as your general interest), that in the last week one of our cats has gone missing, and we have a large hole in the house boarded up with plywood from where the new sliding door was supposed to go in, but couldn't because of rot in a support beam.  The frustrating thing about the later being that the former could have come home, but would have no way of letting us know because his usual entrance is now covered with boards.  Bugger.

Oh, and a stray cat showed up at one point (possibly to relay a message from the missing one, which was useless since we don't speak cat), stayed over night but ran away when it was time to call animal control.  One of those weeks.

Anyway, enough about me, and on to the wonder of fake paint!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Social Profiling № 8: All in the Eyes

Well, this was embarrassing.  I'd started prepping for today's Social Profiling post, when I realised I hadn't written the last one! So now this is that and I'll write the new one later.  How did I miss one? Well, I painted it way back at the end of February, and as you may recall March was, well, a little full, so I honestly thought I'd already written the post, when in fact I'd not even prepped the images for it.   It's been that sort of year.

So, anyway, I'm getting to it now, just over 4 months later.  Oh, and I didn't post last week because it was a choice of painting the latest Social Profiling picture (not this one, remember?  I just mentioned that, try and keep up), or writing a post, and painting won.  Then I hurt my back, so that painting took longer than planned (in terms of days from start to finish, not actual hours spent).  OK, all up to speed now?  Good, lets look at this picture then.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Speeding Through It All

Whenever I do a speedpaint post I think to myself "Well, I only have 4 or 5 images to show, how long could writing that take?" and then I actually go an look and it's more like 6 to 8 images, so it's going to take longer than I thought.  6 to 8 isn't bad going, especially since it feels like I've barely set aside any time for them recently.  And I really haven't - most of these are very, very quick studies, for various reasons.

I still have a lot on my plate  over the next few weeks, but it's not always easy to find the time in between my day job, and the stuff I do for Dr. Sandifer.  Last week, as an example, I was working on an image for work in my spare time. It wasn't an official image, but I needed to demonstrate something at a presentation, and didn't have time to both write the presentation and do the artwork without working on it at home.  No, you can't see it, at least not yet.  Maybe one day, when what it refers to is no longer under wraps.

SO yeah, I've been falling behind on my art practice, and I'm honestly at a bit of a loss to where all the time goes, but it does go, and it goes fast.   Speaking of fast...

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sketching - October to December '13

Yes, I've managed to go almost another month between posts, and in all honesty I didn't get as much done in that time as I would have liked in order to share with you over the next one.  It's not that I've been doing nothing, just that not much of it is the sort of stuff this blog covers.  One thing that is related though is that I've been doing some general 'housekeeping', and I'll get into that further down.  Part of the housekeeping has been to actually start compiling the 8 months of sketches I'm behind on sharing, and that's the focus of today's post.  There are also some speedpaints for me to share, but that will probably be next week's entry.

I'm ditching the usual format of these sketching posts until I get caught up.  Usually I compile all the sketches for the time I've been lax and they're organized into different images by what they're of.  This time there's one image per month, with everything lumped in together.  It's marginally more manageable this way, so I'm more likely to do it.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Four-Colour Psychochronography

I 'complain' that I'm busy a lot.  This is mostly because I am often busy.  I'm not always busy with art, or with my day job (although of course these two things combined account for the vast majority of my time breathing), but other things as well, like relaxing in front of the TV, trawling Pinterest for references, keeping on top of my messages (in various places), video games, reading, eating, and sleeping.  You know, life? It tends to add up. Fairly low on that list of priorities, but still a priority, is writing blog posts.

Phil Sandifer on the other hand, has blog posts as one of his main priorities.  Blogging, and subsequently making books from those posts (with many additions and edits of course), is his day job, so he blogs a lot.

Previously I've done book covers for his collections based on his still ongoing TARDIS Eruditorum series of blog posts, and also on the book he wrote about Wonder Woman (A Golden Thread), which didn't appear on his blog.  A series of books and a blog covering every episode and a huge amount of tangential material of the 50 year history of Doctor Who (with some of those episodes being covered in 12,000+ word essays) is not enough for Dr. Sandifer though.

Yes, he actually is a Doctor, in English, and possibly in awesome.  A doctorate of awesome would be a useful thing to have, come to think of it, I wonder where you'd get one.

With his blog rapidly approaching the present time of the show he's cast around for something else to cover when he catches up, and found it in the form of the passive feud between writers (and self proclaimed magicians) Alan Moore and Grant Morrison.  Now I can't pick sides there as I'm an enormous fan of both their works (though not enormous enough to have read everything by them), and Phil doesn't pick sides either.  His work is presented as the history of a war distant enough that there are no stakes in the winners.  Not dry and dispassionately though, but with a wink and some dry wit and humour.  The 'war' is really just a framing device for a vast and sprawling canvas; the actual chapters covering topics as diverse as the influence of J.G. Ballard, Robert R Crumb, and Edward Blake, to the narrative structures of aristotelian literature (and so on), as well as the works, and influence upon them by 'the war', of other writers, such as Neil Gaiman.

It sounds insane.  It is insane.  The good Doctor is a self proclaimed Mad Man With a Blog after all.

Writing blogs doesn't make money though - as a Day Job it's pretty low income stuff, unless you have a huge and sprawling readership and lots of ads.  Phil's blog has minimal ads, and a moderate following among a certain type of intellectual nerd (as well as less intellectual nerds like me, who just like his writing style), so he's running a Kickstarter to fund it.  And since (to paraphrase C3PO) he's worked with me before, he asked me to knock him up a nice banner for the jam-jar shaking.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Musing 6: Another Mickey Mouse Job

Way back when, in the mists of blog history (well, this blog's history) there was a post in which I said something that seemed true at the time.  Time has passed, as has a great deal of water under the bridge (That's two metaphors in one paragraph, I'll try not to make a habit of it).

Since writing  that post I've been meaning to cover what I said in more detail, but as I've attempted to do so I've stalled at doing it.  Since I really do want to cover it though I've decided to break it down into a few smaller chunks, each one being a blog post.  This post is a prelude to those, and is relevant to them.  If you missed the link to the last relevant post up there and want to catch up click here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Speed of a Lost Weekend

Somehow it's the end of the third week in April, and I've yet to make a post.  This would be fine if I knew where the previous two weekends had gone, but I'm honestly not sure.  Last weekend we had visitors down from Chicago, and had some delicious barbeque, but the one before?  No clue.  Clearly I was busy or I'd have posted something, and it has been a busy month (only partly with regards to art though), so that doesn't surprise me one bit.

Never mind, I'll make a post today, which is Easter by the way, or write most of it today and post tomorrow.  Either way works, as long as there's a post out.  And the subject of this post is, as you may have noticed from the title, speedpaints.

Monday, March 31, 2014


I was tempted to write this entry using nothing but the word 'Blog,' as in Blog, blog blog blog blog, blog blog blog? Because ultimately there is very little in this post that you haven't read in previous posts one way or another, and I'm not a huge fan of the resulting picture (though it does have things going for it, and I did learn a lot painting it), so why bother?  Well, as I've said, I did learn some things, and some of it may be of interest, but I'll keep things fairly brief.

So DeviantArt, of which I am a member (Despite the name, the majority of art there is not deviant) has groups, one of which is the official ArtRage group, of which I'm also a member, because ArtRage is awesome, and extremely affordable for what it is (I'm not kidding, it's crazy cheap for the available feature set).  The ArtRage group started having competitions, so I thought I'd enter the first, the theme of which was "portraits."  I entered one, a commision on which I've posted here already, but I wanted another, so I came up with the following.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Robots Under Pressure

It's been a slightly packed couple of weeks.  It was my Son's birthday yesterday, and that will be the focus of this post (completely skipping over two other things I need to blog about, not including the sketching posts I have still failed to get to). The day before I had an important presentation at work (I wasn't doing the presenting, but it was my work - along with others - being presented, if that makes sense), and that might eventually be the focus of a post in about 5 years time.  Anyway, those two things were a day apart, and I was given the task for each of them a day apart as well, about 2 and a half weeks ago.

For work it was that I'd taken a screenshot of something from just the right angle that it looked good, and it was suggested that it be shown off at this presentation. Except not a still shot from just that angle.  What I was working on was in no-way ready to be presented in that way, but I said sure anyway, and then set out to make sure it wasn't horrible.  It was more work than I'd anticipated, but such is life.  I can't go into any additional detail, except that getting it to a state I was (fairly) happy to show took late nights and last weekend. This is not a complaint - it's just something that goes along with the job sometimes.  On it's own, not a big deal.

The day after this came up my wife suggested I do something for my Son's birthday.  He's been on a kick to get a picture of a Cute Robot for a while, and she's been looking at pictures on Etsy and such.  I'm generally loath to buy something I could do just as well myself (which isn't much to be honest), so she said "well, why don't you do one...  Or more?"  We ended up deciding on 7. She said 4 to 6, and I pointed out that since he was turning 7 it should be 7.  You may note there are only 6 below - explanation to follow.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Just a Couple

Hello, good evening, and welcome, to another enthralling post.  Yeah, I had trouble keeping a straight face over that too.  Anyway, despite the title there is only one picture for your perusal today, but there are two people in it - plenty of step by step stuff though, if you're into that sort of thing.

I still haven't compiled all the sketches from October to December to show, and now of course I have January's to do, and then February's in a couple of weeks.  I'll get to it, and probably not all in one post either, but this weekend I'm working on another painting (digital), and then there's another facebook portrait to do, and I want to get a traditional piece done and work on my perspective skills and speedpaints too, so as you can imagine, things are a little cramped for time right now.  Also, TV show season, not helping...

Anyway, on with today's performance.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Social Profiling № 7: Sunset Bear

It might be a puppy, but Sunset Puppy sounds vaguely rude to me for some reason so I'm pretending it's a bear.

It's been a while since I made one of these posts, mostly because I thought I was done with them.  If you want to read the preceding six you can go here and work from the bottom up.  If you'd rather skip six bland posts from history the basic premiss was this: ask for people on Facebook to volunteer for me to paint their picture. I got to choose the picture and the theme (if any), and four people, randomly chosen, would get a full best of my ability painting, and some of the others would get something too if I could be bothered.  Of the people that signed up I ended up painting seven of them, and it was quite fun.

This year (two years on) I decided to do it again.  Same message on facebook, and twice the number of people signed up.  Again the pictures were randomly chosen, although there were some surprising coincidences in the people who ended up getting picked.  This time I let people pick their own photos for me to do, and all of them will be painted with a more speedpaint mentality than before because, y'know, free work?  I'll get to the coincidences later, but here's the first of the paintings, which I did a few weeks ago.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Speeding Toward 40

Some of you may have noticed there was a bit of a gap between the last two posts. Since I started the blog there have been only five occasions that I haven't succeeded in posting more than once in a month. Last December was unusual in that the sole post was on the first day of the month, and then I didn't post again until almost two weeks into this month, so I think that's the longest gap in posts so far.

 Fortunate then that I wasn't just twiddling my thumbs the whole time, but managed a reasonable amount of productivity. I did some sketching, went on holiday, did some cool things at work, built a reasonably big Lego kit, knocked out that cover for Phil (it was basically finished already though), completed a commission (which I can't show for reasons I won't go into, but it took a reasonable amount of time and turned out reasonably well - it was reasonably challenging as well), and did a handful of speedpaints, the sharing of which is the focus of this post. For a change, I'm reasonably happy with the amount of work completed. There's that word again - I think I use it a reasonable amount.

Let's get started then eh?

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Psychochronography in Blue (Part...1)

There are many fictional conceptions of time. Quantum Leap postulated it was like a ball of string, many other shows and films conceptualize a river, with the future being down stream. Doctor Who simply says it's, well, 'timey wimey' (says it a lot actually, even I'm beginning to think it's getting old), but in the case of this post we can think of it as an Ouroboros; the serpent with it's tale in it's mouth. The end as the beginning.

While this is part one of this increasingly lengthy saga there is a part zero of a sort, you can read that here, and the posts for part 2, 3 and 4 if you click the numbers. The tangentially related A Golden Thread can be found by clicking its title. I highly recommend you do read part zero if nothing else - time travel is complicated enough without you skipping all the slow bits.