Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Pigment of Imagination: film now online in full!

BEFORE WATCHING: Please use headphones to get the best audio experience (built-in laptop speakers will not play any of the important low frequency bass & synth sounds, which ruins the atmosphere of the film!)

Pigment of Imagination is my short animated graduation film, which premiered on Monday 15 June 2009.
It is a 3 minute suspense story inspired by the films of Alfred Hitchcock and Jean-Luc Godard, along with an eclectic range of other influences in order to try and create something new and interesting that doesn't conform to the usual animation storylines and commercial restraints.

- Written & Animated by: Andy Macpherson
- Script consultation by: Alan Mason
- Sound Design by: Chris Bathgate
- Woman performed by: Darryl Ryznar
- Woman filmed in Edinburgh by: Andy Macpherson
- Woman's voice by: Moira Paton
- Painter performed by: Andy Macpherson
- Painter filmed in Edinburgh by: Klodya Menting
- Dog performed by: Snoopy
- Dog (Snoopy the beagle) filmed in Budapest by: Annalise Wimmer
- Dog noises by: Sofi
- Thanks to ECA staff: Alan Mason, Marianne Gallagher, Morten Jonmark, Neil Kempsell, Madevi Dailly, Donald Holwill.
- Thanks to: Julia Petitperrin, Alison Cross, Aaron Johnston, Jessica Cope, Natasha Harrison, Lora Jensen, Ewan Green, Owen Rixon, Paul Morris, Chris Gough, Michael Oliver.
- ..."And Thanks to my parents for providing me with food and shelter; and for putting up with my equipment taking over the living room (for the past 12 months!)"
- Special Thanks to: Erica Weiste, Marianne Gallagher, Johanna Wagner.
- Edinburgh College of Art, MCMIX

Lots more information about the development of the film is available by clicking here and then scrolling down the page to access older articles about the development of the film].

The full film can be watched by anyone from my profiles on both Vimeo and YouTube

Friday, 11 December 2009

12fp(s) - painting 13 [SOLD]

When I first got the idea for my 12fp(s) Film-inspired Painting Series I aimed to create 12 paintings based upon films I found influential while producing my short animated graduation film [called Pigment of Imagination - click here to watch the trailer] at Edinburgh College of Art last year. However I soon found myself painting stills from films I had not yet seen (for example Gun Crazy and Belle de Jour), or painting stills from films that I didn't enjoy too much (like The Match Factory Girl) just because the still looked like an interesting challenge.

A month after creating my first Film-inspired watercolour painting (from Jean-Luc Godard's A Bout de Souffle) I found myself with the full series of 12 Film-inspired paintings; and a lot of spare time...
Having enjoyed working on this series (that merged my interests in Film and Painting) I decided to create some more Film-inspired paintings, and in mid-October I had created the 13th painting - as seen at the top of this blog post, which is taken from Sergio Leone's Fistful of Dollars.

While working on this piece I was given my first solo painting exhibition at the Filmhouse cinema in Edinburgh for the month of November.
The exhibition (of this series) has since been extended until the end of 2009, so if you've not seen it yet there are another 3 weeks remaining - the Filmhouse is open everyday except December 25th.
Click here to read my blog post with more information about the Filmhouse and my exhibition).

The exhibition has been surprisingly popular, so I decided to create more Film-inspired paintings that would replace the old ones as they get sold... To date I've painted new stills from:
- Contempt
- Frankenstein
- Vicky Cristina Barcelona
- Marnie
- Rear Window

Contempt and Frankenstein have been exhibited at the Filmhouse since week 2 in mid-November (replacing Bande a Part and Vivre Sa Vie), but are not featured on my blog yet. If you want to see them you will need to visit my exhibition for a preview.
The three other new paintings will be exhibited at the Filmhouse some time soon (hopefully before Wednesday 16th), when they will replace Fistful of Dollars [at the top of this post], North By Northwest, and another one that is yet-to-be-decided...

Monday, 7 December 2009

Influences part 23: Thomas Allen

Yesterday a newspaper advert for National Book Tokens reminded me of the awesome trick photography of Thomas Allen, whose work influenced some research for my animated graduation film last year - so I've decided to promote his work on my blog.

Thomas Allen is an American photographer who, over the past decade, has developed a trademark portfolio of work by using modified pulp fiction books as his main subject.

As you'll see from the images featured in this blog post, Thomas Allen creates these highly intriguing photographs by using his mastery of composition and lighting in an otherwise simple process, as I will outline below...

- Starting off with standard pulp fiction novels (as popular in the 1950s), the artist searches for character illustrations that will serve his needs for effectively creating a single photograph to tell an intriguing new story.
- Having settled on particular characters and the composition for arranging the modified book/characters, the artist uses a scalpel to carefully cut free most of the illustrated character - although in many cases parts of the illustrated character will remain attached to the rest of the book cover so that the character can hinge and pop-up/out from the rest of the book (creating part of the 3D effect that you see in the final photographs).
- With the books modified and the characters popping-out, the artist arranges the book(s) in his desired composition, adjusts the lighting to create the desired aesthetic, and then sets-up his camera with a suitable depth-of-field (usually so that only a small section of the overall composition is in focus, while the rest of the image looks blurry) and then takes his photographs.
- The end result should now show the original book in a near-normal condition, except that the illustrated characters now seem to be alive and jumping out from the book itself (with the depth-of-field further enhancing this illusion).

The process that I've just described sounds really simple, and while it is not too complex to understand the basics of; from my experience of the technique last year, it does take a bit of time and persistence to get to grips with before you can start progressing it in your own way...
I reckon it took me about 2 hours to get used to my brothers digital SLR camera and to set-up a basic 3D-effect with modified books before I could even begin taking decent photos in the style of Thomas Allen. Even after those 2 hours of getting used to everything, I spent roughly a further 3 hours experimenting with everything and taking over 400 photos - only to end up with about 15 photos that I was genuinely happy with when viewed on the computer!

Allen's style has a really rare kind of aesthetic that many people appreciate as soon as they see it. In many ways I would compare it to the stereoscopic (3D glasses) effect that is currently sweeping through Hollywood cinema.
Allen's photography is simply a delightful little illusion that seems to appeal to everyone, in much the same way that everyone used to gasp with delight when an object leapt out from the cinema screen.
If you've not seen his work before, I hope you enjoy the small sample of work displayed here, and I'd urge you to look through the links listed below for more...

Related links:
- Thomas Allen's blog

- Thomas Allen's work at: www.mnartists.org

- Thomas Allen's work on The Foley Gallery website

- Robert Ayers in conversation with Thomas Allen

- Thomas Allen: Uncovered - Book of photographs for sale at Amazon.co.uk

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Filmhouse exhibition update

Because the exhibition of my Film-inspired Painting Series at the Filmhouse cinema has been extended for an extra month (until the end of the year), I've decided to create some new paintings to display during the remaining few weeks....

I had already created two new paintings before the exhibition opened, which have been on display at the Filmhouse since week 2 in mid-November. Those were:
- Le Mepris [Contempt] (1963). Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard,
- Frankenstein (1931). Directed by: James Whale.

But some of the new Film-inspired paintings I've created this past week include:
- Rear Window (1954). Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock,
- Marnie (1964). Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock,
- and Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008). Directed by: Woody Allen.

I haven't decided when these new paintings will go on display, but it is likely to be some time next week...

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Exhibition continues...

The lovely people at the Filmhouse cinema in Edinburgh have extended the exhibition of my Film-inspired Painting Series until the end of the year!

My exhibition is in the narrow, white-walled corridor located along the left hand side of the cafe/bar area (which is behind the box office, and open from 10am-11:30pm seven days a week).

So if you've not had a chance to see my exhibition over the past 3 weeks, you've now got another 4 weeks to enjoy it: Why not pop-in while you're doing some Christmas shopping in the Scottish capital?

88 Lothian Road

Click here for the Google Map of Edinburgh (pin-pointing the location of the Filmhouse)

Sunday, 22 November 2009

'Film-inspired Painting Series' 2010 wall calendars

Would anyone be interested in purchasing a professionally-printed, limited-edition, "Film-inspired Painting Series" wall calendar for 2010?

Each month will feature a high-quality 'print' of a different Film-inspired Painting (as seen at my Filmhouse exhibition, which closes on Sunday 29th); and the calendar will be with you in time for Christmas & New Year (which would of course be very useful...)

The calendars will cost £7 each (which - if my maths is correct - works out at an average price of less than 60p per painting print from within the calendar); and if you're in the Edinburgh/Fife/Perthshire areas, I may even be able to deliver it to you for free (but if you're not in an area near me then you will need to pay for P&P).

If you're interested in buying one of the calendars, please let me know (commitment-free at this stage) prior to Friday 27th November, so that I can check whether or not it's feasible for me to go ahead with printing...



Friday, 20 November 2009

Macbeth theatre/animation project

For the past month or so, I've been busy producing a 50-second animation sequence along with some stills and miniature portraits for John Hales' modern-dress theatre production of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, starring Abi Titmuss, taking place at the Seagull Theatre in Lowestoft, England.

That project is all complete now, and the debut performance commenced at 19:30 on Wednesday, 18 November 2009. There will be a few more performances at the Seagull before the show begins touring other theater's in the Norwich region from 24 November until 4 December - check the Seagull Theatre events calender for details.

If like me, you're an 8-hour/£170 train trip away from Lowestoft [I thought the government wanted to encourage public transport?!], you probably won't get to see the whole performance; but thanks to the Internet, you can watch two (of the four) short animation sequences that were commissioned to portray the Visions of Act 4, Scene 1...

Below is my sequence for the last Vision:

It has quite a minimalist/sketchy aesthetic, and uses an almost storyboard-animatic animation technique, which looks a bit unfinished compared to commercial animation; but I decided that this loose aesthetic would look more exciting than if I were to clean it all up with perfect lines and full colour (which I think would paradoxically become really empty and stale)... But regardless, I am actually rather fond of this unusual style, and found it all surprisingly fun to work on!

As well as making my piece of animation, I volunteered to create some still images of portraits and mock newspapers that would appear on stage during the theatre performance. Below are a few of them:

As I stated in an earlier blog post, I was originally commissioned to produce all four Visions, and although I accepted the work, I knew that the theatre would get better results if I shared the workload with other animators so that each Vision got equal focus and dedication. Thankfully Grace Chan and Calum MacAskill stepped up to my challenge, while the director found a fourth animator to create Vision 2.
To view Vision 1, created by Grace, please visit: http://vimeo.com/7598347

Relevant Press coverage (found online so far):
Lowestoft Journal

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Exhibition opens tomorrow

My debut painting exhibition opens at the Filmhouse cinema (Lothian Road, Edinburgh) from 3pm tomorrow. Please go along and have a look...

Until November 29th [UPDATE: Closing date has been extended until the end of 2009! - See this blog post], I will be exhibiting my 12fp(s) Film-inspired Painting Series in the corridor beside the cafe that leads towards cinema screens 2 & 3. For those not familiar with the Filmhouse, the corridor exhibiting my paintings is located on the left hand side of the building, diagonally behind the front box office and running alongside the cafe/bar area.

I'm planning to exhibit the 12 original Film-inspired paintings (which will all be available to buy) and as seen on my blog here, but as they get sold I plan to replace them with brand new Film-inspired paintings that will be premiering at the Filmhouse (they have not even been shown online yet!)...

The exhibition is free to view 7 days a week [Filmhouse opening hours are 10am-11pm]; but Scotland's leading independent cinema has much more to offer including:
- An exhibition of posters by Franciszek Starowieyski (pseudonym Jan Byk) in the cafe/bar area;
- The "food for a fiver" offer is available in the cafe/bar every day 3pm-5pm, but a great selection of fresh and affordable food is also available every day until 10pm.
- The shop beside the box office has a vast selection of DVDs for sale, as well as various postcards and cards.
- "The best, busiest and probably trickiest film quiz in the country" takes place in the cafe/bar area at 9pm on Sunday 13th December. It's free to enter, and you can have a team of up to 8 people!
- And throughout the month of November, various Film Seasons are focusing on the work of [NOTE: the following links will take you directly to the relevant Filmhouse page about each season]: Orson Welles, Jacques Tati, Polish filmmaker Wojciech Has, The Best of Czech Cinema (1999-2009), and the Filmhouse' own French Film Festival 2009.

88 Lothian Road

Click here for the Google Map of Edinburgh (pin-pointing the location of the Filmhouse)

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Exciting news (piece 2 of 2 - but another 2 to come!)

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to produce a series of short animation sequences for a theatre production of Shakespeare's Macbeth, starring Abi Titmuss, taking place in Lowestoft next month.
This is my first professional animation commission since I graduated in July, and it comes complete with a really tight deadline, so I'm excited to see how it will go...

I was asked to produce short animated sequences to illustrate the 4 Visions that occur during Act 4, Scene 1 of Macbeth; these will then get projected onto a screen above the thespians as they perform their roles on the theatre stage. It is a really interesting scenario, which I think will work well for strongly distinguishing between the reality and 'mythology' (if you'd call it that) of the Scene and add a different dimension to the theatre production.

In order to ensure that all 4 Visions (potentially up to 2 minutes worth of animation) are completed by the deadline, I've enlisted the services of professional animators Grace Chan and Calum MacAskill, who are animating Visions 1 and 3 respectively.
According to John Hales (director), my team has been producing great work so far, and by sharing the workload it has also helped to ensure that each Vision has its own unique style - which was part of the original brief... But for now you'll have to wait until at least mid-November to see how it all turned out!

I've also got ANOTHER 2 bits of exciting news to come soon!
(The small details for one of these are getting sorted out but will be ready by the end of the month; and the other piece of news has been rumoured for several months but finally ready to become reality after this Macbeth project...) Stay tuned!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Exciting news (piece 1 of 2)

I said in my holiday post last week that "I could potentially have some exciting news next week", so... I'll give you the little news today, and delay the release of my much bigger news until later on in the project!

Little news:

Remember my painting for The Topher Holland Band?

Well their website (www.thband.co.uk), has had a complete renovation, and is now wearing (with my permission) that painting as the header image.

Go and check it out!

Landscape 03 - Majorca 1

Having returned from my holiday in Majorca on Sunday, I wasted little time getting back into my art. Here's my first painting based on a Majorcan landscape/sunset that I did within a few hours yesterday afternoon:

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

random update

I'm currently on holiday in Majorca...

...and could potentially have some exciting news next week!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Portrait painting 3

I've done this painting by special request for Topher Holland of Zool Films, after he saw my previous painting in this style.

As well as making films, Topher is a musician, and he is planning to tour the UK with his band in the near future. Nothing has been announced yet, but stay tuned to their website for the latest news...

Friday, 25 September 2009

Landscape 02 - Ochils from Muckhart G.C.

Here's a 5 hour fingerpainting portraying a view of the Ochils from Muckhart Golf Club in Clackmannanshire, Scotland.

Note: The colours in this photo are really muddy, which doesn't look too good, but I couldn't get a better quality photo. (The blues and reds are actually a lot stronger, the yellows are weaker, and the green colours are darker).

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

The Discovery of Spain: From Goya to Picasso

This afternoon I went to the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh, and saw some great stuff.

They're currently showing an exhibition about the influence of Spain on British art called The Discovery of Spain: From Goya to Picasso.
The exhibition consists of a large array of paintings from British art collections related to Spain; and as well as British artists who worked in Spain, the exhibition also includes several high-profile paintings by the likes of Velazquez, Picasso, and El Greco.

I was unfamiliar with most of the paintings in the exhibition, and although there are many paintings I'd like to bring to your attention, I can only remember the names for a small series of work by El Greco.
I didn't know much of his work before visiting this exhibition, but it certainly held my attention the most. There is a wonderful - almost Old Master or Romantic - sense of lighting and contrast that makes these appealing paintings really stand out.

A massive copy of Lady In A Fur Wrap [above] was used as the poster image at the top of the staircase, which looked really impressive from a distance, however the small scale of the original is much more intimate and captivating.
The contrast between her light skin and the dark background is really strong, which makes this image cry out for attention before her big brown eyes seduce your attention away from the other four El Greco paintings aligned around it.
There are few other paintings that have captivated me like this one, but as much as I really admire it, it is the El Greco painting called An Allegory (hanging right beside it) that had a stronger impact on me.

An Allegory [below] is darker and has a much cruder painting style than Lady In A Fur Wrap, but by utilising a single light source it has much stronger visual impact...

This digital image is terrible for conveying the actual lighting and colouring of the original painting, but it held me in awe.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Landscape 01 - Doral, Florida

For a potential gallery exhibition in the New Year, I'm creating a series of colourful landscape paintings, and although I've known about it for over a month, I've only just got around to starting the series...
So here's Landscape Painting 01, based on a photograph from my 2007 summer holiday in Florida, USA:

This is another one of my acrylic fingerpaintings, and although the sky works well, I'm not too fond of the texture in the lake area along the bottom section of the image.
In my opinion, the contrasting textures almost make it seem like two seperate paintings stuck together, however I think the colouring mitigates this to some extent and kinda unifies it as a whole - and the colour is my main priority, so it doesn't bother me too much... But I'd be interested in hearing what other people think of it.

Monday, 21 September 2009

"Bonnie's Tale" - seal animation

Everyone loves seals don't they?

You know what I'm taking about: those funny animals like what appeared in the Marx Brothers film Copacabana (1947), and occassionally in Tom & Jerry cartoons like the episode titled Little Runaway (1952) below.

Well apparently not everyone: and that's the reason for a new short animated film called Bonnie's Tale [below] animated by Edinburgh College of Art graduate Selina Wagner, with narration by Richard Briers (the voice of Fiver in the 1978 animated film Watership Down)...

The film was commissioned by Advocates For Animals as part of the Look Out For Seals campaign to highlight the need for a reform of Scotland's Conservation of Seals Act 1970.

After watching Selina's lovely new animation, please clicky here and enter your details to sign their online petition urging the Scottish government to review the Conservation of Seals Act, and help protect a beautiful, but endangered, species.

Some background information:
Scotland is home to about 45% of the world's grey seal population, but shockingly, there is no law to protect seals from being hunted in Scotland, which means that they are becoming a "conservation priority species in the UK and Europe". In some parts of Scotland, the seal population has declined by 40% within the last 5 years alone!
Seals are getting shot by fishermen and fish farmers who think of seals as a competitor because they both hunt fish - however fish are not the main food source for seals, and indeed fishermen, other fish, and sea birds all kill more fish than seals!
The Conservation of Seals Act 1970 was supposed to protect seals, yet major loopholes mean that fishermen can shoot seals all year round (even during breeding season) if they come within "the vicinity" of fisheries and equipment - however there is no definition of "vicinity" within this law, and an Arbroath fisherman escaped penalty in 2006 for shooting seals half a mile from his fishing nets!
Also during 2006 close season, four pregnant grey seals were found shot dead with gunshot injuries to the head at the Point of Vastray in Orkney. The police investigated it, and although the area was found covered in blood, nobody was charged. What makes it worse, is that seals only produce one pup each year, which effectively means that up to 4 unborn seals were also killed. Within the last 40 years there has only been only been one successful prosecution under the Conservation of Seals Act 1970!

Sunday, 20 September 2009


Is a great blog (put together by Jamaal Bradley) that collects and displays a range of animation pencil tests in all their glory. It's well worth a look if you're at all interested in animation... http://www.penciltestdepot.com/

What's an animation pencil test, you ask?

An animation pencil test is basically a video clip made from the animation drawings (called "frames") that, when shown at 25 frames per second on PAL TV systems, create the illusion of movement... BUT unlike the final piece of animation (as you'd see it in the cinema or on TV), the pencil test only shows the animation as simple line drawings (without the inking, colouring, and other effects that get added later in the production process to create the finished piece of animation).
A lot of people enjoy pencil tests because they often display a vitality that goes missing after it's been inked and coloured. In some cases the pencil test will also show the animator's thinking process, changes, and other notes, which provide a further insight into how the frame-by-frame animation was created.

To demonstrate what a pencil test is, here's a 5 second video from one of my old 1st Year animations dated circa April 2006.

(But obviously PencilTestDepot.com has animations of a much better quality! So go check it out).

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Influences part 22: J.D. Fergusson

To compliment yesterday's post about my visit to The Fergusson Gallery in Perth, here's a short post showcasing a sample of the artwork by John Duncan Fergusson.
Fergusson spent a lot of time in France where he created many colourful landscape paintings alongside several French Impressionist and Fauve artists; however I have a preference for his portraiture works, which exhibit a greater sense of artistic freedom and personal experimentation - as I hope is evident from the images below.

Related links:
- Yesterday's blog post about The Fergusson Gallery, Perth.
- The Fergusson Gallery website
- Fergusson's work at the Hunterian Art Gallery online database
- J.D. Fergusson at the Portland Gallery
- J.D. Fergusson at the Art Inconnu blog

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

The Fergusson Gallery, Perth

I visited The Fergusson Gallery in Perth this afternoon, which was quite an eye-opening experience for several reasons.

Despite being an art student for the last 4 years in Edinburgh (which has many big art galleries), I've rarely visited galleries in my life - in fact I can only recall 2 previous visits to big-name galleries: the Picasso museum in Malaga, Spain (April 2005) and two of the Edinburgh galleries during my induction week at Edinburgh College of Art (September 2005).
Most of the art I experience is through books and the Internet, so to see a bunch of genuine paintings by a famous artist right in front of me felt quite surreal. These were all oil paintings from the early 1900s painted on a big scale that overwhelmed me (because I tend to work on a small scale - hardly ever bigger than A3, and usually smaller than A4), yet in this gallery there were several full-body portraits about 5 foot tall!

One of the first things I noticed in the upstairs gallery (my favourite section) was that the paint surface of several stunning paintings were cracked and aged... Perhaps this would not bother people that visit galleries more often than myself, but I found it quite disappointing - before quickly realising that the cracked surfaces make the paintings feel alive and more hand-made (something I don't sense from viewing art online). This living quality of the painting surfaces also helped me to imagine the artist standing in my place working on that very surface 100 years ago. (It was pretty cool!)

Most of the art in the gallery was by Scottish artist James Duncan Fergusson (1874-1961), whom the museum is named after, but there is also a small selection of impressive artworks by his Scottish Colourist companions like Francis Cadell and Samuel Peploe.
I have never felt much of an influence from my native Scottish art history or culture, but I really enjoyed most of this Scottish exhibition - I suppose mainly because these artists took strong influence themselves from French Impressionist and Fauvist artists (such as Cezanne, Manet, and Matisse) whom I greatly admire... However I don't think these Scottish paintings need the Impressionist name to help sell them - they are easily capable of standing alone on their own merit.

There are 3 gallery rooms within the little Fergusson Gallery (which is located in a renovated Water Works building at Marshall Place near the South Inch), and undoubtedly Gallery 3 (upstairs) is my favourite section. This is because it contains several stunning 5-foot tall paintings, a lot of wonderful portraits in various beguiling styles that I found really inspiring, some Impressionistic landscapes, and a series of paintings by Fergusson's fellow Scottish Colourists - of which there are two paintings that I am especially fond of.

I was trying to find some images online to illustrate this blog post, but I've been unable to locate any images of the paintings that particularly impressed me. (So I might go back some day to try taking photos because they really were awesome! But it's a free gallery, so if you're in the region I would highly recommend popping-in for a quick look).

I found some amazing paintings by Scottish artists this afternoon, and I also discovered a number of impressive artworks by alumni from my former college (such as William George Gillies, Anne Redpath, and Sir William MacTaggart), which has given me a greater appreciation for the reputation of Edinburgh College of Art than I have recently had! (Prior to this afternoon I was only really familiar with the work of sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi and painter John Bellany - neither of whom I am too keen on)...
Today's gallery visit definitely helped me to get a greater appreciation of Scottish art, and even inspired me to get back to my current painting (which I've not touched for several days now)! But the most awe-inspiring moment today was when I looked up from a glass display case of Fergusson's sketchbooks and other personal items to discover the only Fergusson painting that I already knew: Christmas in the South of France (1922).

This is a painting that I had quickly copied from a book onto A6 sized card for research during my final year at High School, but had never seen in reality (or on a bigger scale than my A6 version).
Before entering the museum I hadn't even thought of Fergusson's work, so to suddenly notice that painting in it's genuine physical form on about A3 scale was unbelievable.

Gallery Info:
The Fergusson Gallery
Marshall Place,
PH2 8NS,

Open from Monday - Saturday
10:00am - 5:00pm.
Free admission.

Related websites:
- The J.D. Fergusson Gallery website (hosted by Perth & Kinross Council).
- J.D. Fergusson at the Portland Gallery
- J.D. Fergusson at the Art Inconnu blog (lots of artworks)

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Development of a Portrait: 2

Here's a portrait that I did last week, which is kind of a spin-off from my previous portrait painting.
My previous portrait painting was supposed to look similar to the illustrations of Arthur Rackham but ended up looking more like the illustrations of Rene Gruau; so with this new portrait I tried again to make it like the work of Rackham, and this time I have achieved what I originally wanted...

I'm really fond of this overall aesthetic. The colours are a bit pale in comparison to the black lines, but I think it provides a nice subtle sense of depth. There are a couple of little things I could nag about - but no, I like this painting too much to complain about those tiny issues.

And to display something a little different, here's the painting before I added the black lines and tones:
I was really enjoying the bright, carefree Colourist style of the painting at this mid-way point, and although the black paintwork really enhanced the final image, I would like to do more work in this Colourist style at some point in the future...

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

12fp(s) - summary

Now that my 12 Film-inspired paintings are done, here's a blog post to bring them all together:

Painting 4 (below) has been sold:

Painting 6 (below) has been sold:

Painting 8 (below) has been sold:

Painting 9 (below) has been sold:

Painting 10 (below) has been sold:

The films featured in each of my paintings are:

Painting 1) A Bout de Souffle / Breathless. (1960) Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard. France, Les Productions Georges de Beauregard.

Painting 2) Varjoja Paratiisissa / Shadows In Paradise. (1986) Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki. Finland, Villealfa Filmproduction Oy.

Painting 3) Gun Crazy. (1950) Directed by: Joseph H. Lewis. USA, King Brothers Productions.

Painting 4) Vivre Sa Vie. (1962) Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard. France, Les Films de la Pléiade. [SOLD].

Painting 5) Hamlet Liikemaailmassa / Hamlet Goes Business. (1987) Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki. Finland, Villealfa Filmproduction Oy.

Painting 6) North by Northwest (1959) Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock. USA, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). [SOLD].

Painting 7) Une Femme Est Une Femme / A Woman Is a Woman. (1961) Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard. France, Euro International Film (EIA).

Painting 8) The Shawshank Redemption. (1994) Directed by: Frank Darabont. USA, Castle Rock Entertainment. [SOLD].

Painting 9) Belle de Jour / Beauty of the Day. (1967) Directed by: Luis Buñuel. France/Italy, Robert et Raymond Hakim. [SOLD].

Painting 10) Bande à Part / Band of Outsiders. (1964) Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard. France, Anouchka Films. [SOLD].

Painting 11) Edward Scissorhands. (1990) Directed by: Tim Burton. USA, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation.

Painting 12) Tulitikkutehtaan Tyttö / The Match Factory Girl. (1990) Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki. Finland, Esselte Video.

Monday, 31 August 2009

12fp(s) - painting 12

Here we are, finally, at Painting 12 of the 12fp(s) Film-inspired painting series.

This 'final' image is considerably different from the rest of the series due to the addition of ink, and although it does look odd in comparison to the rest, I think the ink has improved the overall aesthetic appeal.

I started-off by trying to create this image entirely from watercolours (like the rest of the series), but the painting looked flat and the colouring was garishly bright, which looked really odd given the setting and mood of the original film still.
I had considered giving up on this painting because I just couldn't fix the tones and colouring to a satisfactory standard:
- I tried using several brown washes to weaken the purple and blue hues on the left hand side;
- I tried strengthening the weak hues in order to level everything out so that the garish colours are not as bold;
- I had even considered utilising an abstract painting style like Wassily Kandinsky in the hope that the abstract style would mask the problems. (Minor evidence of this abstraction remains on the girl's jumper in the bottom left corner, where the paint is a lot patchier than the rest of the painting).
But my solution came in the form of a writing pen...

The pen hasn't 'fixed' the painting, but it has certainly detracted from the garishness of the original colouring while adding a darker mood to the overall image that kind of reminds me of gothic etchings and vintage illustrations.
This may not be the best painting in the series, but I think it is an interesting change and could lead to more pictures getting made in this style...

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Development of a Portrait: 1

I recently attempted to paint the portrait of a female friend, inspired by the style of Arthur Rackham whose work we both admire. But before I made a finished painting that I felt reflected the beauty of my source photo I had to make several developments and photocopy tests, and although my final painting is not at all like the work of Rackham, I've decided to share some images that reflect the working process for this project and write about what was happening...

I started off by looking at a lot of the Arthur Rackham illustrations saved on my computer [3 examples below] that I had originally sourced here from artpassions.net
I do this kind of initial artists/influences research for many of my projects, which I'd like to think helps me keep things fresh and prevents my artwork from looking the same time after time...

From that initial research into the visual style of Rackham (whose work I was aiming to imitate for my friend), I drew out her portrait with pencil onto card. I was surprisingly happy with how well the portrait worked as a simple pencil 'outline' drawing, but as I wasn't planning to write a blog post about it at that time I don't have a good quality image of the pencil drawing to illustrate - I did however take a low-resolution photo using my laptop's webcam so that I could quickly test a possible colour scheme within Photoshop. [Below is an image showing both the initial sketch on the left, and the Photoshop colour test on the right].

From the Photoshop colouring test, I laid down a yellowish base coat everywhere bar the main part of her hair, which I wanted to keep clear/white. And from there I just added some tonal variation as I felt necessary.
Originally it was all painted with Yellow Ochre (avoiding the use of really dark tones like in the Photoshop test), but I eventually decided to make use of some Burnt Umber too so that I could get more variation in the tonal depths.
The painting worked fine without the darker Umber tones, but it just felt a little too plain/flat, and now with the aid of a second colour, the painting does seem to have more 'pop'.
I was unsure about the darker tones at first (especially the rough texture on the jumper), which was quite messy and didn't have any sense of form, but I now think that the texture of the jumper has helped to make the texture on her face look smoother while the darker tone of the jumper has mitigated the dark washiness around her eye.
This is how I have left that painting, but I think there is still room to further heighten the tonal depth, and perhaps using darker/bolder outlines (like in the work of Rackham), would help to make it further stand out...

As I am quite happy with the painting the way it is [above right], and because I had strong reservations about what bolder outlines would do to the overall aesthetic, I decided to make a photocopy of my painting so that I could test a style more like Rackham's on my painting without potentially ruining my original.
I didn't fully commit to the relatively bold lines that are so common with Rackham; instead I just built-up the lines using a ballpoint pen, which I thought would create a more subtle effect. I wanted to keep the lines subtle because the source photograph worked wonderfully well with minimal texture and colour, and I was worried that using too many bold lines would distract from the minimalist beauty of the source photograph.
I think the ballpoint pen crosshatching works really well on her jumper by creating a texture that contrasts nicely with the rest of the image, while the outline down the profile of her face also works (although it should perhaps be made bolder?) The only area I'm not keen on the ballpoint pen is in her hair, because I think the lines are too heavy and create dark clusters, which I find really distracting.
The ballpoint pen inking above suggests that I could still develop the painting further and continue pushing the aesthetic closer towards the style of Arthur Rackham's work, but I decided that it was worth trying out something completely different with the image.

I was originally inspired to paint this particular image because it shows her beautiful side profile combined with hair in a really cool form. Despite this, I felt that my first painting(s) were not making best use of those qualities, so I decided to do a new painting in a simpler yet bolder visual style more inspired by the work of Rene Gruau [see my previous blog post] in order to achieve an aesthetic that placed a greater emphasis on the qualities that first attracted me to the source photo.

The new painting was much more illustrative: showing only the form of her cool hair along with a simple outline of the profile of her face.
The working process was just the same as the first painting, as can be seen in the image above showing my initial Photoshop test on the left, and the acrylic painting on the right.

I'm not 100% sure about the cropping - would it have been better to show the full head? But anyway, that's too late now...
The last thing I did was use Photoshop to adjust the levels of the photographed painting so that the white was purer (because the photograph made it look a dirty grey tone), and now, at long last, here is the final result:

Annoyingly however, when I was in Edinburgh last night (for the first time in over a month!) I kept seeing a Beauty & The Beast poster at the bus stops with the same visual style.
Last night is the first time I had ever seen that black and white poster (you can see a similar version of the poster here), but I'm concerned that if people now look at my black and white portrait painting above, they will think it was just a straight-up copy of the Beauty & The Beast poster...