I haven’t uploaded anything for ages, and I get the feeling I won’t be uploading much for a while. I’m really busy at the minute working as co-art director with Reza Riahi on the Cartoon Saloons next feature, an adaptation of Deborah Ellis’ “The Breadwinner”.
On top of that, I haven’t really done anything in my spare time worth posting. I occasionally post doodles on my twitter (hellociaran) but I pretty much spend my evenings farting about with wood or writing my own stuff so I have nothing to upload.
This painting is irrelevant, by the way. I just didn’t want to post a bunch of words.


Louise is pitching a tv series at Cartoon Forum this year, so I made a thing for her. Her programme is called Ellie the Ace (row 4) and I also worked on a trailer she made for the pitch that I think you'll be able to see soon enough.

With all the waiting for glue and oil to cure, it actually took a few weeks because I had to keep its manufacture secret for the whole time. Here's some progress photos:

I had some rosewood from a bit of guitar-based shenanigans

but they were kind of warped and misshapen, so I boiled them, pressed them flat and then cut them into four rectangles. It was during the boiling that I found out why it's called rosewood. The smell was amazing.

After glueing the rectangles together, I cut a circle out of it.

Then I routed out a circle from a piece of, I think, mahogany..

..and glued in the rosewood disc. I routed the circle too shallow so that the rosewood could be chiselled and sanded down to the right level leaving a perfectly uniform surface.


 Prop time. I drew a dickie bow on a couple of glued-together bits of maple

Then I cut it into a propeller shape (It was hard enough. I didn't need the extra challenge of taking progress photos) and sanded and sanded and sanded. 

At one point, I made a wee nose cone out of leftover rosewood laminations, but the size was wrong. It looked a bit ridiculous and then, when I started cutting the holes in it, it exploded. Better off without it anyway, but it looks pretty cute here.

Then I glued the prop to the disc and gave it a couple of coats of tung oil.
The end.

Blue Space

Here's a reminder that I have an account with INPRNT, amazing purveyors of top-quality prints.
My shop is here.

Paddington Bear

I assume you've seen the hideous redesign of Paddington Bear recently..

Song of the sea shell

I've recently starting messing around with wood. The first thing I made was this ring.
Actually, the first thing I made was a bass ramp. I can't be bothered explaining that but it's basically a small, thin block with a lot of right angles. Making right angles happen by hand was really hard, so I swore off it.
I made the ring by putting together a makeshift lathe using a drill and some gubbins. It mostly worked, but still needed lots of hand-carving.

For my next project, I thought it would good to make something for the Cartoon Saloon to celebrate finishing "Song of the sea" (facebook page), and to say thanks for the job. It was a really good project to work on and you just can't take that for granted in animation.
So, if you've seen the teaser trailer, you'll have seen this seashell that the two children have. That seemed easy to make. In fact, it seemed so easy, I wondered if I'd even carve those spiral shapes into it.

...fat chance.
I very quickly realised that I need to take smaller steps with this whole wood adventure. Here's how it came together.
I had a lovely bit of wood that I'd been drying for a year or so. Spalted wood is one of my favourite things in the world, and I've read people saying how hard it is to work. When I started, I didn't see what they were talking about. It's so spongey and soft! So easy to cut. ...but then it starts crumbling and denting really easily, and it's really unstable and hard to predict. Because it's so spongey and soft. 
Step 1. No photo. I cut a block out of the lump of wood, slightly bigger than the dimensions I wanted for the final piece; about 10cm square and 4cm thick.

Step 2, drew the shape on and sawed it roughly to shape, then closer with a chisel and this Mora knife.

 Step 3, carved it.

Step 4, made a little foot.
I also cut a small hole into the base and the shell so I could add a dowel, whittled from an old paintbrush, to strengthen the joint.

Step 5, sanding sanding sanidng sandngi sdngng asngnd snigdns gsgsnsg 

Step 6, three coats of pure tung oil and some thin CA to stabilise the spongiest bit of the wood.

Then I glued that sucker up.

And that's it. It's a bit wonky but I'm pretending that was intentional, to capture the hand-drawn nature of the film.

...even though this is more like a blind, wrong-handed drawing of a shell.
Still, it was fun and I learned a lot doing it so it's on to my next bit of woodery.

I also discovered I enjoy making little wonky boxes.

Tall house

Birthday card.

Animation Art Auction

On the 3rd of November, there'll be an art auction taking place in the Science Gallery in Dublin, in aid of two childrens charities.
Here's the relevant faceb**k page, ANIMATION ART SHOW and the WEBSITE which will shortly have photos and details of all the pieces that will be auctioned.
To wit, here's mine. It's cel paint on arches paper, something like 35x45cm.

Original paintings discount!

 I’m having a 30% sale on all my original paintings in my BigCartel shop
Use the code HELLOAUTUMN at checkout. Shipping is free, as ever.

I haven't done very much painting this year compared to previous years and there's two main reasons why; my job and the LATE NIGHT WORK CLUB. Last December I started work as a background artist in the Cartoon Saloon on their upcoming feature "The Song of the Sea". On top of that, for the first half of this year I spent every spare minute making a short film (which you can see VERY SOON!!).


The problem, if you can call it a problem, with my job is that it's creative and challenging. I've never once felt in the whole year of production that I really got anything bang on, so I haven't felt that frustrated energy that a tedious and creatively limiting job gives lots of people to make great stuff in their spare time. I've really struggled to get every background as good as possible and never once nailed it. It is, however, coming to a close soon which has coincided with what I think might possibly be the far side of one of the longest creative slumps I've had. I've been watching lots of films and reading lots of comics lately because I was pretty wrecked after finishing my film and there was just nothing happening in my head. I haven't had any cosmic inspiration or anything but I feel like I can sense the beginning of new ....things.

Anyway, the point is, I want a bit of a clear-out. I've stripped my website and just put a couple of temporary links in its place and I'm looking forward to rebuilding it with new stuff maybe by the end of the year. Maybe.

Ok. That's all. I just thought I'd give a (fairly) quick update on what I'm doing for anybody who's slightly interested.

EDIT: I forgot to add, if you don't want the real deal and just want a print, I have a page on INPRNT but, to be honest, I don't mind if you just buy somebody else prints. Me and Louise got some prints from them recently and they're amazing. Have a look around. There's some great stuff on there.

Station Zero

I just thought I'd do a quick walkthrough of the poster I did for the LightGreyArtLabs Station Zero show.
If this is all news to you, read THIS first.

Reading Homer Eon Flints book was a strange experience. On a purely critical level, it's not very good because the writing just isn't very compelling. However, knowing it was written in 1919 makes reading it quite interesting. My favourite moments being a brief reference to new-fangled military "tanks" and one of the astronauts dropping a book and a piece of paper on a planet with no atmosphere and watching them hit the ground at the same time.
Anyway, here be spoilers.
The Lord of Death and The Queen of Life are two short stories featuring the same human characters.
The first story begins with four Earthlings en route to Mercury. (Enjoyably, in the manner of something like Langs "Frau im Mond" or the Méliès' "Le voyage dans la Lune", the craft seems to have been built by a handful of enthusiastic scientists and engineers in a garage.) The craft moves by the power of magnetism. In the way that two magnets of opposite polarity repel each other, the idea here is that the ship generates magnetic energy of one polarity and 'points it' at the earths pole of the opposite polarity. Thus, the earth repels the spacecraft. All the way to Mercury.
Mercurys day is as long as its year (in this book). Therefore, constantly with the same aspect toward the sun, one hemisphere would be unbearably hot and the other inhospitably cold. So, life could only exist along the thin line where the hemispheres meet. ....remember that.
At this point, I was starting to wonder where the hell this "Lord of Death" was and whether or not the cover (by Jack Gaughan) was even relevant to the story.
The crew land on Mercury, in a long-since deserted city. A city which thrived when Mercury was as far from the sun as the Earth is now. They discover a chamber containing (FINALLY!) a big ugly monster, which is long dead but preserved in a sort of glass jar. They discover some audio tape which, when translated, reveals itself to be the autobiography of this once great ruler of Mercury. At this point, the book diverges from the humans and just tells the life story of this Genghis-like warlord. I'm skipping all that because it's boring. In the end, after much consternation, the vainglorious "STROKOR" uses a weapon he invented to destroy all life on Mercury so that he would never be usurped or have to pass on his leadership to another generation. The weapon was essentially a massive wire running from the North Pole to the South with a gap in the middle. At the critical moment, a piece of metal was dropped into this gap, completing the connection and making a sort of short circuit out of the whole planet which killed everybody. By that point, Strokor had sealed himself in this jar so that he would be the only one alive and could just sit there calmly awaiting death.
So, with the first story out of the way, it was time to start drawing. The main thing on my mind was the concept of polarity which came up so often, and also hemispheres, triangles (Mercurian architecture is all about prisms) and this Strokor character.
To begin with, some little mostly magnet-based doodles..

Then, some illustration, focussing mostly on the humans and their arrival on Mercury. I don't usually do this kind of thing so I had to force myself to remember the text and think of it as a compositional element..

Next, I started sketching with more symbolic imagery. Circles and triangles, mostly. I also started working with the idea of the titular lord of death but I quickly got bored and went back to the humans..
This is where the final idea started showing up. The magnetic fields from earlier, the orbits and hemispheres, and the spaceman started coming together into one image that I was happy enough with..
Then I started reading again.
"The Queen of Life" opens with a SHOCKING revelation. We find out that, all this time, one of the four human men was actually a woman! Great stuff. In the first story, Jackson, the architect, proved to be the equal of any of the other three. Flint then states "Ambitious and ingenious, with a natural liking for house-planning, she had resolved that her sex should not stand in the way of success." 
 ...ok... Odd little mention of the "natural liking for house-planning" but still, it's 1919 and there's a woman baffling perception and proving that the weaker sex is anything but.
So, the other three men (I thought it would've been exciting for all of them to reveal themselves as women hitherto passing as men, but sadly no such luck) obviously change their behaviour toward Jackson who, at one point, states that she's happy to remain in the uniform she's been wearing, rather than into something more feminine now that her secret's out. Sadly, here the wheels slightly come off the authors wagon. Flint was doing so well until one of the crew, who had also served as the cook up to this point, goes to make dinner. Jackson, now publicly and unashamedly a woman, takes the opportunity to show him how to cook an omelette properly. I suppose women are naturally good at that too. If you're interested, the book is online for free at project Gutenberg so you can read this little section if you click this link and do a search for the phrase "speaking of Venus".
So, back to drawings, and this spectacular twist gave me all I needed to finish the last sketch I'd done..

I carried on reading but it was all pretty boring and I knew I'd found the image I wanted to paint.
Incidentally, Flint uses some slightly troublesome racial terminology to describe Strokor in the first story and then, in the second story, when the crew meet a Venusian he says "His nose was quite small, with a decidedly Irish cast" ....what? Can anyone explain what our noses look like that's so noteworthy?
Anyway, here's how the rest came together:

Time for those pesky perfect circles..

Once that was done, it was time to scan. I wasn't sure if I was going to go for a heavily textured battered and bruised look so I kept the painting clean and scanned in some textures seperately. Using perfect circles also made it easy to digitally flip the orbits in front of each face.
when I was finished doing all the texturey business, duplicating the circles for better contrast and overlaying the text, I turned off the painting underneath which revealed this pretty cool-looking image.
The font I first thought of using was Eurostile but I wanted to use an open-source font so I found a few options. The one I really liked was "Orbitron".

So that's it!
You can buy a print of this poster, and see the other excellent posters, in the Light Grey Art Labs print shop and read a bit about the show on their blog.

Such a cool thing to be a part of. I've recently finished another painting for their "Role Models" show but hopefully it won't be the end of my LGAL work.