So – we’ll start at the end this time, just to help see where we are hoping to get to – eventually. I think I have used up two or three post here at Muddy Colors, over the years, trying to concoct some concrete and informative words that will help convey the intricate, convoluted and rigorous process that is necessary to make a pleasing arrangement of marks and colours on a blank sheet of paper. Casting a critical eye back over these missives, what they actually appear to do – is meander around, rambling aimlessly on about my creative endeavours – whilst very skilfully evading the much desired concrete part of things, and insisting on wallowing around in the mud of half-formed theories and extremely vague assertions. So – enough of that.
I know that however much I try and tighten up my perceptions of what it is I actually do – I will inevitably end up wandering all over the place, trying in vain to search for patterns, clutch after visual signposts, and generally make sense of my efforts in the studio. All for your sake, of course. I don,t need to know for my own sake, don’t particularly care how it happens. There is no set map. Just see where it takes me. See – I can feel some rambling definitely threaten to take over, what was intended to be, an almost script free, stripped down post. So – we,ll nip that in the bud, and stop right there. The idea was to let the pictures explain them selves – and save me the bother. I will only re-iterate what I seem to have come up with in previous posts – that it is indeed a rather hap- hazard process that is just what I have ended up with after all theses years.
‘Course – there is strict drawing, planning, juggling, jiggling, violent devil-may-care about turns and rapid reversals. Otherwise it wouldn’t be fun, and without taking the chances offered to inadvertently destroy hard earned progress, because a better idea suddenly makes itself known to you, how can you come out the other side howling with happiness when it worked. I can only apologise for the early pictures not being so sharp.
I invested (though I,m beginning to doubt if that’s the word I’m looking for right now) in a good camera – only to find that it has more options on it than the cerebral pyrotechnics that I’m capable of can deal with. Also – as I,m sure many of you will attest – one simply forgets to put down brushes, turn off that lovely arty flow of energy and snap some amazing progress shots. Well – I do. It’s a question of priorities – isn’t it?
So – turn off your mobiles, stop rustling the bloody popcorn packets, go to the loo if you must – quickly, and on with the show……..there are no adverts – but bare in mind this is no Directors Cut. Vast swathes of scribbles have been done away with, and as said – painting took precedence over photography, so there are sudden gaping chasms between scratchy pencils where I,m grasping after ideas, and pretty, coloured areas, where I have packed up and moved on. As I’m sure the more discerning amongst you will no doubt notice.
There were quite a few more sheafs of paper, covered in seemingly random markings, that mark the beginning of my endeavours – this is the only one to survive the rigorous cull that takes place after a painting is deemed finished.
It’s a goblin, isn’t it.
Humans always a lot more tricky. No big noses, beady eyes or pointy teeth to cover up anatomical deficiencies.
The final drawing on stretched paper, tensely awaiting my arrival – with some big brushes.
The big brushes go to work. Very important to remember the masking film (frisket?).
Creating the “stage” for the players. Iv’e got better at not worrying if the dark shadowed outline on a character blends with a dark piece of background. That,s what happens in real life. If one over- designs a picture trying to tick all the visual boxes and push all the technical buttons, you risk ending with something very pretty, but totally unbelievable. Reality and nature is most often a kind of controlled chaos anyway…….welcome to my world.
I really was not looking forward to start painting this in-decipherable jumble of goblin anatomy…….
Beginning to see the stage come together for our players. It’s always a relief to get them anchored somewhere.
The horse and rider are the focal point – so needs dictate that I get them placed first. A horse and human present a multitude of un- welcome challenges – compared to a bunch of rowdy goblins, so I had to know that he was capable of filling his role first.
Then…….I could block the goblins in. This is actually the “worst” part of painting where – for me – the most self-administered discipline is required. There are 13 or 14 goblins running around – so – not wanting to spend the rest of my days, going even more grey and wrinkly in front of the it, I have to be a bit methodical with my approach to this. 26 – 28 hands. 26 – 28 feet. ( and the noses that always seem to accompany them) A deep breath . Switch on the auto-pilot, and just get on with it. A real labour of love. This is just hard work – and hands never get easier, no matter how many times one has to draw and paint them. All this striving to be a little bit better each time is not all it’s cracked up to be. But what choice do we have.
We are getting there… Soon the why’s, wherefores and reasonings of my path in life, fall gently into place with a contented sigh, and I can begin enjoying myself.
Yet more bling!
The icing on the cake. Final blinging……..trick being, of course with blinding – knowing when to stop!
Finished. Off for a cup of tea, an ale if it,s the weekend, and a probably all too brief lie down in a darkened room with a cold rag draped over my fatigued brow.
Paul Bonner is an English artist, who jumped longship to Denmark 25 years ago. With a Diploma in Illustration he graduated from the children's book world of London, to happily paint himself into a corner, inhabited by trolls, goblins and dwarves. A childhood love of Nordic tales and nature has inspired him to continue this tradition - until - happily - he is not really asked to do anything else.
Wow! These kind of progression posts are difficult and time consuming – thank you so much for doing it! What a behemoth of a painting, so many characters, so much to discover. Grandiose yet intimate. Love it!
Thanks alot for showing your progression with that painting, Paul. I've been amazed since you posted that one, wondering how (HOW?) you got that result. Incredible. Thanks alot for taking the time to show us that.
Thanks for including all the sketches Paul- they are always a favorite. Your posts are always not only informative but a delight to read and much appreciated.
Top-notch Gobliny goodness Paul!I wonder if this poor bastard will be taken down by this morass of Noses and Knives or if he will make it.(no doubt to the pub to quaff ale and brag of bashing a multitude of Gobbo's!) Hope to see you this year at Spectrum Live. Cheers-
Wow! Thanks so much for sharing. As a fellow watercolor artist, I understand that the drawing is everything, at least in my process it is. If I don't draw it in, it won't be in my painting. How do you manage to paint in so many glorious details without including them in your layout drawing?
Thanks Paul for yet another great post and for sharing this wonderful painting, I especially like the eagle and the horse! Also, I feel like I keep going on about this, but to me the fact that you “ramble” in your writing and your creative process is what makes it so interesting. I remember reading your first post here some years ago, and loving how it was more about letting the process happen the way it did, or balancing control and letting go, if you will. And I can still go back and read those articles to get some valuable reminders in trying to find one's own way. I have always enjoyed the “exploration” part of painting, of course you need some tools to start off and help out, but knowing exactly how to get from A to B and how everything is going to proceed can kill the creativity, at least for me.
I only thought you were a little crazier painter than I am Paul, but you've jumped off the crazy cliff. Looking forward to seeing you.
Lovely stuff! Fascinating insight
Very interesting article. It's great to get this kind of insight into your process, thanks for taking the time to write it.
Fantastic piece! And I greatly enjoyed the progress shots, especially the sketches. Thank you for sharing!
Love that word – behemoth! A metre long, so for me, it fits! A lot of paper to fill, But time permitting I do try and work bigger theses days. Much more satisfying – or maybe it's just my eyes!
Thanks Pedro. As I said – some of the photos are a bit crappy – but if it gives a general idea of what I get up to, then good. Happy you like it.
Wish I could have included more – but didn,t want to push my luck – and edge folks into sensory overload!
I think I saw him in the pub. A bit battered – but looking like he deserved the ale he was quaffing. Cheers Michael!
know there is lots of stuff I can put in later. And, I think it makes the actual physicality of painting really difficult if I constantly have to paint around things and leave space for them. So, I guess I make a kind of mental book mark for things that don,t need to be added till later (the Bling!!).
Exactly Staffan. You can write my next post! The horse and eagle were fun to do. Wish I had the chance to do more animals – but I do try and squeeze them in, when I can. The exploration is the best bit. That,s where the happy accidents occur.
Your own brand of quirky insanity would prompt you to think that Bill. But you are always there, holding my hand each time I jump. It,s a long way down, so a bit of company is appreciated.
Thanks Peter. Glad you enjoyed it.
You are welcome. It helps me to get an insight as well.
Cheers Steve. I,ll try and save more sketches to next time – even if only I could read anything in them!
Incredible work Paul, in texture composition, drama and especially that realism that characterizes it simply WaoOOOOOO
How long did it take you to do this magnificent work weeks, months?
And an approximation of how much they paid for it?
If you do not want to answer here, I'll send you my mail
This was a delight to read! Thank you for the post! Seeing your process is very educational and I would love to have a 'sensory overload'. From my perspective it would be very hard to overload the educational value of your post. Great work!
Thank Ricardo. much appreciated. From the initial scribbling of ideas – I think it was nearly three months.Just over two? Can't remember! I was glad when it was finished! Money – well, I'll keep that to my self, if you don,t mind. Certainly didn't come close to covering the time spent on it – but that,s pretty much always the way. My fault – but I have to be happy with it, and they take as long as they take!
Glad you enjoyed it Kevin. Never thought of it as being particularly “educational” – but I can only be happy if someone can learn from it, or find some inspiration…….so – many thanks!
For if the satisfaction of seeing the finished work and especially the dedication and time of doing it with all the details should be the greatest pleasure
thanks for the reply
Can't help think that if we let pay packets and deadlines dictate absolutely everything – the results risk being very dull,grey and un-inspiring – especially to our selves. Still – sometimes you have to stand up for how much you think you are worth, even if it's just seeing what respected contemporaries earn on jobs.
By the Gods…
Hi Paul. I have your book showing your artwork. You are an amazing artist. Do you plan on creating a book on how to paint step-by-step? i.e. how to make shiny armor etc. I am a noice artist and I feel I draw well but using painting is tough. If you dont plan on a book….can you recommend books on how to get the same effect in your paintings? Thank you, Joe
Thank you for this. I love seeing your pieces from start to finish!
Tough one that Joe. I,m not so big on finding a tutorial for everything. We all need help – but you'd be surprised how much you can accomplish just by sitting down and trying. I usually have clear mental picture of what I want and the feeling I want, and I just muddle around 'till I get there. And the path is never the same. What works one day might not work the next. I,m afraid I don't really know of any step by step books. Maybe if you look on You Tube or Amazon. I know there are a lot of fantasy artists who have made “how to” books – but I can't say if they have specific techniques for paint. Anyway – you want to paint like “Joe” – don't you? Not me. Just keep trying and you'll soon amass your own little repertoire of techniques and tricks. Thanks for the comment. I do appreciate it.
Cheers Darrenn. My pleasure.
No problem Paul. Thanks for your reply.
Ack! I've shown up late! Paul, Thank you for sharing all this! It's marvelous work. The details here are glorious and the background is just perfect. You're an actual wizard.
Wizard? Funny you should mention that. I was trying to turn base metals into gold – as usual – and this is what happened. No more dark arts for me.
Gorgeous!! It makes want to get my sword, hop on my horse and join the fun.
Just saw your comment Noelle! Thankyou – and feel free to join in!
Thank you for this. I love seeing this. My pleasure.
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