I've managed to keep my New Years resolution and have completed my year of weekly pin-up pictures! It's been tough, especially when time has been at a premium, but it's been incredibly worthwhile.
This final image is dedicated to seasonal excess, although I was laid up with stomach problems of a more viral nature the effect was much the same!
How to sum up my year of scribbles? There's been some real stinkers and a few gems, but the fact I've made them all public has spurred me on. It's been invaluable for my ideas process, that was something I'd always struggled with. It's also been a real delight playing with techniques that I otherwise wouldn't have considered. The scope of watercolour, marker pen, the limitations of pencil for reproduction, the value of good reference, the importance of scale and good composition. It's all stuff I can take into future projects.
What next? Well, no more resolutions, I'd like to give my work the time it needs to develop properly rather than rush out images for the sake of it. That said though, I'd quite like to aim for a painting a month next year, so keep an eye out for updates and I'll be back soon!
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY!!
I got to spend an evening with some vampires the other day, and it got me to thinking whether or not they still celebrate Christmas - being undead and all.. Maybe I'll ask next time I see one.
I've deliberately avoided doing any digital enhancement to my weekly sketches because they were always meant to be the best I could do in the time - that said, this one really needed a little extra help (I've darkened down the background and fixed the shadow on the floor). It's mostly due to my fear of watercolours, I'm still not brave enough about making bold statements. I couldn't put this on-line in it's natural state - I might go back and fix the original now..
Yes, it's that time again - rushing around like a mad thing trying to find presents for the people who support you the most through all your trials and tribulations and all you can find is cool stuff for yourself!
If memory serves, I think I've managed to avoid this particular device all year - so I think it's about time I gave in to convention and had a good old fashioned skirt lifting picture. As usual, not a lot of time to spare (especially with christmas shopping to do) so another marker drawing, but I think I've managed to tick a few boxes this time round. If I wanted to be picky I could have made the expression read better, but then I always have problems in that department.
The countdown continues...
December already!! I'm into the last few weeks of my weekly pin-ups - I won't know what to do with myself!
This week I've been struggling with various banks and building societies trying to get someone to take my money, I really can't believe how hard they make it to save money! No wonder so many people are in debt. I wonder whether it is easier just to drag a big bag of gold around with you..
Yes, that is supposed to be gold in the bag she's pulling - again, it's not reading very well, although I didn't realise until I reduced the size. Being in grey marker probably doesn't help either.. Chalk up yet another rushed failure.
I had the opportunity to re-visit Mr.Elvgren recently for a commissioned half-size copy of his painting 'Gentlemen Prefer'. It has served as an extremely timely reminder of just how good he was and exactly what my paintings have been lacking, so I'm very grateful for being put back on track. Granted, he painted for a living and was one of the best in his field, so comparing my meager efforts with his is a little harsh - but still, it gives me something to strive towards and like I always say the journey is more important than the destination.
I was listening to a lot of surf music last week, and it inspired me to pay tribute to all the land-bound wannabe surfers out there. I've never had a go myself, I have enough trouble staying upright on dry land so I doubt I'd get on very well. Maybe one day..
One important lesson I still haven't managed to get to grips with is giving my pictures enough contrast to help them read when they are reduced in size. It doesn't really matter how good the drawing is if you can't see it! That said though I think I'm getting a bit better with my silhouettes so the action is a bit clearer than before - even if it is too washed out to see...
In case you hadn't noticed, it's been raining. A lot. Which isn't really surprising considering it's November but it all gets a bit much when it just keeps on going.
What you need is flippers! In fact, I haven't drawn that many of my pin-ups in swimwear, which I think is a bit remiss of me, as it's usually very flattering. So here's one to make up for it. The pose isn't quite what I'd had in mind, it looks a little too forced, but it's still a nice drawing :)
I've been elbow deep in technology this week building a new computer. Despite having done it a couple of times before, things change so quickly that I'm just as clueless as I was the first time. The fun part is switching it on for the firs time and hoping nothing explodes :)
The drawing for this week's effort turned out quite promising so despite not having an awful lot of time I decided to work it up into full colour. I'm glad I did, this is one of my better efforts.
My buns are quite famous round these parts, so I thought it was about time I did a drawing to acknowledge the fact :) Actually, any vaguely festive time of year will have me baking something special - I'm particularly fond of Pan De Muerto which I now make for Day of the Dead at the beginning of November.
Oh yeah... it's also an excuse to focus on a different view for a change! Another quickie, deliberately brightly lit to stop me over modelling again. Looks nice I think.
Happy Halloween everybody!! By the luck of statistics I get to update my weekly sketch on a proper holiday! Today I'll be carving my very first pumpkin and dressing up like I normally do with the exception that no-one will pay any attention to what I'm wearing :)
Not only do I get a properly themed image for this week's sketch, but I've also been inspired to push myself a little (only a little) bit further by some outstanding pin-up work by Aly Fell. There are so many talented people out there, it's so nice to stumble across stuff that makes you want to keep going. - Technical notes for this one: struggled with the inclination of the head, the mouth has ended up a bit wide and I didn't really hit the moonlit flesh tone properly (too scared..), good level of contrast for me though.
It's officially hat season again!!! The weather has turned and the autumn wardrobe is out, so far this week I've already managed to wear three different hats and will be airing out a couple of others soon :)
I don't wear mine all at the same time though, but I can definitely see the benefits of a giant sombrero.. Back to simple pen and wash again, I was hoping to do this one in colour but time got the better of me. I'm not complaining though, I think this works really well, it's more direct and looks more like the sketch that it should be rather than a not quite fully realised drawing.
Finally! Something to show from being so busy lately - two new paintings fresh off the easel. (Sort of..)
First up was the multi-talented Abi, striking a pose as cult heroine Tank Girl. I struggled with the likeness for this one, and I think her legs are a bit long - but still, it broke a bit of a dry spell in terms of new work and I'm happy with the end result.
Moving swiftly along, the first of my professional models to sit was Ceri, owner of Snarl Hair, and work of art in her own right in a little B-Movie inspired picture. The drawing from our sitting turned out to be not that useful but I did get a reasonable portrait sketch done and the colour notes helped too. I keep on trying to get backgrounds working in my pin-ups but I'm still not convinced I've ever got it right. This one suffers from an empty space in the top right, I tried to close off the composition with the shaded corner but it stills feels uncomfortable somehow. I think this picture would work really well as an old pulp novel cover with some lurid type splashed across it. Fun :)
I was riding a short lived lucky streak last week, I don't remember going under any ladders but it didn't last long sadly. It's still super busy at Pin-Up Towers at the moment with four full sized paintings on the go and another three in the planning stages, so I'm still only able to grab short bits of time for my weekly scribbles.
Monochrome in a single colour for a change - I figured green was appropriate for a painting of four leaf clovers, although perhaps I should have done something similar for St.Patricks day earlier on in the year. Something not quite right with the anatomy of this one, especially poor hands.
I'm becoming increasingly aware of how widespread the phenomenon of people trying to rip each other off actually is. It seems to me that it pervades every level of society, from individuals, to small traders to big business - in fact even on an international level. Absolutely everyone is a crook of some kind and out to get something from everyone that is unfortunate enough to cross their path... At least, that's how it appears to me - although there is a very real possibility of my being completely paranoid.
Sadly, though, cat burglars - incompetent or otherwise - very rarely wear pvc catsuits. Fun to paint, especially given a shortage of time (again) but difficult to get right - which I haven't.. Should probably make a point of trying to paint a wider range of material really, it's good practice.
My list of things to do never seems to get any shorter, in fact every time I tick something off I end up adding a couple more. It's been a crazily busy couple of weeks, but I'm finally getting on top of things. So, multi-tasking is my theme this week (that's actually a 'To Do' list she's holding, but it's difficult to read at this size). I'm not going to say much about this - another weak effort due to lack of time.
Been feeling pretty rough just recently - it's an existing complaint that rears it's ugly head from time to time. Unfortunately the only way of dealing with it is to get back on the tablets which ends up making me feel worse than I did before.
I'm not a fan of pills and potions, and neither is this week's subject by the looks of things. Although, I don't suppose witches get ill, they can cast spells for that sort of thing. Back to black and white due to lack of time again, bit of a non-descript facial expression, should have pushed that more - costume is a bit rubbish too.
This week's sketch is dedicated to everyone who's been left all dressed up with nowhere to go, or who's made the effort to look their very best and still spent an evening being invisible to the rest of the world. It happens to me all the time, it's a horrible thing to have happen and I'm getting really fed up with it. I'm determined not to become one of the great unwashed though, so I'll stick to my guns and dress for dinner at home if I have to!
It's quite tricky sometimes knowing how much of the background to include in my drawings but this linear technique is a great compromise - and I think it looks great! I'm happy with composition of this one too, and the figure is passable. By the way - stripey stockings are my absolute favourite :)
There's only a very tenuous connection to this weeks picture - I discovered a new area of my local park the other day, which, considering I've lived here for quite a while was a nice surprise. I didn't have my lunch stolen by the pigeons though, but I thought it would make a nice image.
Back in colour again, I'm not too keen on the outfit my gal is wearing in this one, it looks a bit naff, but by the time I'd realised it was too late to change. I don't think I've gone dark enough on the shadow side of the hair either - other than that I think it's quite a nice concept and would probably make a nice painting with if I had a model.
This is almost a companion piece to last weeks lucky find. This is all about being ripped-off, and how annoying it is to either be mis-sold something or just end up with far less than you've paid for. It happens to me a lot these days and I consider myself quite a careful shopper, perhaps that's why I get so annoyed. This phenomenon is particularly true of art supplies, which, in my opinion, has to be the biggest con going. They're always so expensive and invariably end up being absolute rubbish when you come to use them.
Had a little more time to spare this week, so I'm back in colour again. Not that happy with this one, lots of bleed in the face which messed things up and the red shirt is a bit patchy. Skin tone is ok though.
Amazingly, I found a fiver on my travels last week. It's something that's never happened to me before and was a small enough amount for me not to feel that guilty about keeping. I bought a couple of extra treats with my groceries to make the most of it :)
Another quick marker drawing again, and back in vintage land, it's always handy to practice my peroxide blonde victory rolls.
Been forced into fiddling around with technical things I don't really understand, it's not much fun and I'd rather not do it, but I don't seem to have a lot of say in the matter. Also had another installment of the saga of my broken oven this week - so both of these themes have gone into this weeks sketch.
Still not getting the time to work in colour but at least it's giving me plenty of practice with the markers - better effort this time.
Well, now that the excitement about my interview has died down a little, I'm still left with what feels like a million and one things to do. I could really use a few extra pairs of hands - like this weeks lady :)
Got a bit carried away with my shadows unfortunately, so the face is a little odd, restraint is something I have to learn..
The roving reporter Raquel has posted this fab video interview with me on her website "Vintage Londoner". Watch me at work and waffling on about pin-ups and painting :)
Temper can be a terrible thing. I keep losing mine over the most ridiculous things - I try not to, and I know how stupid it is, but I can't seem to help myself. Unfortunately it's generally completely innocent inanimate objects that bear the brunt of it - hence this weeks drawing.. (although, to be fair, I didn't actually break anything this time).
Back to markers and pen again, and a much better outcome than before - persistence pays off!
I've gone all graphic this week - I'm trying to find techniques that are quick and still look 'complete'. This is wash and carbon pencil - looks quite nice I think.
This theme is actually a week late, I was at a ridiculously hot gig and finished absolutely drenched in sweat. When I came out it was raining so hard you practically had to swim along the street - but I was still gasping for some water. It just felt a little odd with so much water around that I still needed to drink so much! It was a great night though ;)
Well, here's the first from my little flurry. This is the intrepid reporter Raquel who came to interview me the other week. This was probably the hardest thing I've done so far - I could have really used a second sitting to get things back on track, but working from what I had this was the best I could manage in the time allowed. It went through about five re-paints in as many days, I guess that tells me everything I need to know about attempting portraits from a single sitting!
Another quick sketch for this week and back to the markers to try and lay down some quick tone - a little bit better than some of my previous efforts, could always be better though!
Anyway, this week my oven decided to pack up on me five minutes before my friends arrived expecting food. I wasn't very happy. I don't think cooking over a candle would have done me much good but there aren't that many options for cooking once you take a cooker out of the equation.
I was thinking of giving this one a title for a change - possibly 'Swedish Chef'.
What with the two paintings on the go from last week and just generally being busy, I've hardly had any time to get this weeks idea out. I eventually managed to find a few minutes to get this drawing done and uploaded.
This is a left over idea from another sitting, it's about tea ceremonies - here and in Japan. Can't say much else, it's not great, but the technique is a nice one and could work well for another drawing.
Managed to squeeze this one out in what's been a crazily busy week. I realise I'm a week late for marking Wimbledon but the final was technically within this posting date range.. Anyway, I've been meaning to paint something along these lines for a while, so now seemed like an opportune moment.
I suffered from a brief lapse in confidence along the way where I thought it would actually look quite nice all in white - hence the white version.. However, I realised it then no longer made much sense as an image so I carried on and filled in the black.
** So, my news from last week is that I had two sittings, both are looking quite promising, one is going to be part of an interview that will hopefully be online sometime next month - which is all very exciting! Now, must get back to work..
Went along to a free lunchtime life drawing session (something organised by channel 4 for a tv show they have coming up.) Anyway, I thought it was a great idea - especially the free part.. But it got me thinking that it's all very well except that people still need to eat, including the model, so it's not all that convenient.
This painting is adapted from an existing life drawing so I had very good reference this week, the colours are all off the cuff though and work really well for a change! Maybe because it was late and I wasn't thinking too much about what I was doing?
I have some exciting news coming up in a future post so stay tuned.. :)
Baroque n' Roll. Too delightful a turn of phrase to pass up re-interpreting this week. That is actually the name of a historical dance company that were performing at the V&A this week, their baroque dance lesson was such good fun :)
Anyway, ran VERY short of time this week so this one has been squeezed into about an hour and half - and shows! Stupidly decided to try and alter the pose half way through and now it's just unconvincing, and not very exciting. Oh well, plenty more to come I suppose..
Pen isn't a medium I'm particularly comfortable with, but it's good to get out of your comfort zone once in a while. Besides, I found a load of old photos of bus conductors on the London Transport museum archive website so I was in a black and white mood.
This one is a nod to the good old days of routemaster journeys, when traffic was as bad as it was last week during the tube strike, a routemaster was the perfect solution - hopping on and off whenever things came to a standstill..
Slight improvement this week, I took the precaution of photographing the drawing before I started painting too, just in case!
Anyway, this one is all about cake - as you might have guessed. I was actually doing a lot of baking last week but it happens to have some relevance to my current situation which is nicely summed up by the old adage about not being able to have your cake and eat it..
P.S - This is my 50th post! woo hoo!
I couldn't live with such a bad picture for a whole week, so I've re-done this one. This is close to how it looked originally - but not quite. Still, it's better than the painted version so it'll have to do..
And the bad streak continues..
What makes this picture even worse than it is, is the fact that there was a really nice drawing underneath the paint.
Grumble, grumble, grumble...
Everything has been rubbish lately - so this is a picture of how I've been feeling.
I've fallen back in with some old friends and have been victim to that warm fuzzy feeling that all is right with the world once again. I hope it continues.
So, this is my tribute to old chums, there's a couple of modelling issues that I've just spotted, but apart from those I'm in my 'relatively satisfied' mood with this picture :)
My painting teacher won the gold medal at the Royal Portrait Society show - Most Distinguished Portrait! I was very pleased for her, it was a really nice little painting.
So it's kind of a shame that I mark the occasion with such a poor drawing, but there you go. No excuses for this one I'm afraid, it's just rubbish, and I was too lazy to fix it.
I found a brilliant little model shop last week, they had shelves full of tiny trees and bits of buildings - I spent ages wandering around completely forgetting why I went in the first place.
This is another take on my giant-rampaging-wild woman theme that I seem to keep coming back to. Another watercolour and nothing untoward to report - using the back of the paper this time which appears to be better.
Here's the image from the sitting I had recently, the lovely Wild Card Kitty who came all the way down from Edinburgh. Sadly, I don't think this painting is one of my better efforts, it was a little rushed and I didn't think it through properly. I went with a cooler palette but it just looks a bit dull and dirty. So, my apologies to Kitty for wasting her time :(
Spent the evening with a group of actors last week, lovely people - eternally optimistic in the face of overwhelming odds. So this is a quick little homage to the thespian race.
Still having issues with paper at the moment, I'm only using stretched cartridge for these little watercolours, so the absorbancy isn't quite right, it seems to be different on both sides which is odd. I suppose I should just learn to live with it as I'm not too keen on splashing out on proper watercolour paper right now.
Had a pretty quiet week this week, so not much in the way of inspiration for my weekly scribble. I fired up the 'Pose-O-Matic'(tm) for the first time to see what it would give me and here we are, one pin-up pose delivered on schedule! Good stuff :)
This one is another example of things going smoothly, it's nice when the drawing practically draws itself. I think it works, what can I say?
Visited the Wapping Project last week, so I was inspired to go a bit steampunk with this one. I'm borrowing a technique from some other illustration I've been doing for the background, I quite like it, but I'm not sure yet if it really fits the pin-up thing. I'll try a few more and see how it goes.
Not much else to say though this week, I'm quite happy with this one, and I'm getting much quicker too.
Happy Easter everybody!
If there's any Americans out there who can explain the whole Easter Bunny / Easter Egg thing, I'd love to hear from you, I've never been able to see the connection between egg laying and small mammals...
I thought this one deserved to be done in oils for a change, I'm still having trouble with my facial expressions though. This one is looking a little aggressive - poor bunny! It was supposed to be quizzical.. Must practise more I think.
On a technical note I bought some different (supposedly) oil painting paper, which is nothing of the sort, so I'm not sure how long lived this image will be. I hate being mis-sold stuff, it's very tedious.
I had fully intended to do some spring cleaning this week, but then just never really got round to it..
Actually, it has been relatively busy this week, hence this one only just about managed to get squeezed in between other things (had a sitting this week - yay! I'll be posting the results soon..). Was attempting a bemused / annoyed facial expression but it gets very difficult working at such a small scale, so this hasn't worked very well. I'm pretty sure my perspective is out somewhere too but I haven't studied it properly yet, those are the dangers of rushing I suppose.
Vintage hoovers though.. good stuff!
First day of Spring! (Well, sometime last week anyway..)
Not much to say about this one actually, everything worked well for a change. I found a really nice photo to get the face from and the rest just sort of fell into place. Only spent a couple of hours on this too, as I've been busy with other things.
That said though, there was nearly a disaster trying to get it off the board - it stuck to some old glue and nearly tore a big hole across the middle. There's always something isn't there?
Some bastard got hold of my credit card info last week, I've been scrabbling around trying to clear up the mess before too much damage was done. Anyway, I've been wanting to do a painting on cloning for a while, so now seemed like as good a time as any.
I'm actually quite chuffed with this one, everything just worked for a change. Oddly enough I did actually have some reference of twins which I started using but ended up channeling Bettie Page instead - spooky eh?
This is just a quick(ish) oil sketch, it's only had the one pass, so I'm wondering whether I should go back and refine it a bit more, I think it could look even better. I'll see how much time I have, at least something good has come out of a bad situation.
Breakfast with Tiffany.. OK, so she's no Audrey Hepburn, but I really did see a punk girl wearing a vintage little black dress - which I thought was too cute to pass up.
Sadly, this has turned into another rescue mission. I haven't done myself any favours by trying to do dawn pink with the electric yellow as my main light sources. Not only is it tricky value wise, but the colours are pretty well impossible to hit without reference (which, stupidly, I didn't source..). I was trying some different paints too which have turned out a bit murky.
Ah, the things I put myself through in the quest for knowledge...
A slight departure from my current theme this week, one of my dearest friends left for new adventures in LA this week so I thought I'd offer a little something to wish her well on her travels. Imogen, this one's for you hun :)
Had a slight disaster knocking over my water jar, but luckily not too much of the picture was affected (there's still a few water stains if you look..). This was quite a quick one, so it's a little scrappy, but I'm still liking this watercolour approach, with a bit more practice I think it could look ok.
Pizza & ice cream :) Tried to go to a popular pizza place for my friends birthday last week but the queue was too long - I figured they could use some speedier waitresses. Do they still have these anywhere? If not, I think it's time for a revival..
My first crack at watercolour this week, I don't have much in the way of colours so my skin tones were a bit problematic, but I don't think it's that bad for a first attempt. It's a lot quicker than oil, but it's also a lot harder to control. I might persevere though, some of the old pin-up paintings in watercolour are really beautiful. Maybe I should stick a bit closer to my reference (had to stray a bit here).
Oh, and my first flat colour background graphic too, I think it works, probably shouldn't get carried away with them though.
Valentines day again last week so here's my contribution to the festivities - yes that is supposed to be a human heart she's holding.
Found some good reference for this one and managed to combine them with my pose fairly effectively. I think I may be on track as far as my 'system' is concerned. Still a bit bothered by the limited range pencil gives me, but until I can get some more experiments done with different media it will have to do for now - at least it's quick.
After the shockingly poor efforts from recent weeks, I sat myself down and gave myself a stern talking to. I'm hopeful that I may have turned a corner - at the very least I now have a check list to make sure I'm on the right path.
So, without further ado - this weeks effort..
I've posted the drawing as the main image for this week because I think it's stronger than the painting. That said though, the painting is better than previous efforts - but still not reaching the level I would like.
Inspiration this time was from a pole dance performance at a rock club, I wondered how tempting it must be for pole dancers to leap onto the first available upright to have a twirl. Had fun finding reference for this one :)
Had time to get another painting out this week, despite having some sketches for reference, this one still didn't turn out that well. I'm having some philosophical issues with my pinups at the moment - how much stylisation to use, what the palette should be, and what makes a pinup anyway?
This one isn't overtly 'pin-up-esque', but then, a lot of the vintage pictures weren't either.. it's confusing. Anyway, this one is all about dreams and ambitions - I had to turn down a job abroad this week (which could have been a fun adventure but wasn't meant to be) and I also saw a real live ballet dancer (out shopping, but still unbelievably poised). So I combined the two into this slightly melancholy little image.
It's not great, but then I need to keep making mistakes to learn from - made lots of notes to carry into next week!
This one is actually based on someone I know (it's not a bad likeness either..). She's never knowingly over dressed, and always manages to gather a small crowd of men who should know better. Makes me smile anyway!
Pen and wash this time for a quick turn around and (hopefully) better at reproducing on screen. Could possibly have used a thicker line but didn't want it to go too cartoony. I like the way the background is working on this one :)
Another week, another medium - marker pen this time. I quite like markers for blocking in images quickly.
Inspiration this time was a trip up to the London Art Fair (it's getting to be a little chronical of my travels isn't it?). I'm afraid I don't like this one at all - but I knew there'd be weeks like this so the least I say about this the better. Hopefully the next one will be better..
I won't often have the time to get a painting done so I figured I'd take advantage while I can - this is just a quick oil sketch, it's pretty small, but at least I'm sticking to my resolution so far..
The inspiration for this week's pose came from a trip to a fabric warehouse to look for some curtain material. I wanted to try and tackle something in a limited range of tones and colour (light whites in this case), tricky without good reference though. I should have spent longer sorting out my tonal composition, the values are so close together they could have used a bit more thought to get things sitting in better.
Happy New Year!! I'll gradually be tackling a few updates to the site, but first I thought I should start the year as I mean to continue - with more pictures!
'Pin-Up of the Week' is one of my new years resolutions - to do at least one pin-up drawing / painting / scribble each week to force myself to start doing more work. It's a warts n'all process and you'll most likely be seeing a few horrors along the way, but I'm hoping there'll be a few gems too. It's going to be difficult but it should be worth while.
So, first up is a little Egyptian inspired number. Lesson learned straight away - pencil doesn't read very well on a monitor, so I'll have to try some different media for sketches like this.