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Some months ago, I concluded that I really, really must do some work, and that therefore I should not participate in the planned Eagle Big Bang festivities.   Then that demon_rum persuaded me that I could do some charcoal drawings, and that would be quite quick really.  HAHAHAHA.

I had no idea which author was writing what from the list of story synopses, so I picked more or less at random the now complete story  'Where the Hills Run Red' from a brief synopsis even more delphic than most of the rest.  

I was curious.  What would I have to illustrate?  Would it be lurid, graphic and disturbing?   Would it involve entangled naked gentlemen?  Most alarmingly, might it be hideously badly written?   Whatever it was, I was sure it would be an interesting technical challenge...

Then I got the early draft through, and WOW!  I had picked quite by accident, a meticulously researched, very well written story that was very solidly grounded in a very specific landscape - across two times, modern and ancient.  The feel was a little Alan Garner, I thought.    Specifically, it is set around Mam Tor and Winnats Pass in the Peak district, and is very clearly somewhere that the author knows very well and describes vividly.  The draft arrived with a brilliant set of reference photos of the setting, a scan of the guidebook and loads of location information... I climbed into google maps and began perambulating along lanes, gasping at the views.

Charcoal was definitely not going to be good enough (I can't do landscapes in charcoal).  Acrylics seemed the only medium where I stood a chance of doing the landscape porn justice.   At one point I realised that none of the reference photos were from quite the right angle, so I sent my author scurrying up a hill fort to take photos from the top...

So here they are.  The figures are definitely my weak spot, and I think I might not have spent that much more time drafting and re-drafting if I'd tried to write 20,000 words instead...   I still haven't got sodding Channing Tatum's face right in the last picture but then he is supposed to be severely hung over, so I blame the booze.  But I have done my honest best to do the story and the landscape justice and what more can you do? 

All of these were 20" x 16" apart from the last one which I foolishly did as A4, under the mistaken impression that this would be quicker.  Um, no.  You just end up painting with a hair!  A single hair!   Note to self : faces should be painted as large as possible. Otherwise you can transform someone from god to gargoyle with a dot smaller than a Very Small Thing that is professor of Being Very Small at Oxford University. 

Mist in the valley of cloud and shadow
(Deliberate mix of modern and ancient clothing here)

The expanse of hills stretched in every direction, an unspoilt, undulating landscape of rock and lush green grass and purple heather as far as the eye could see, all washed in soft, golden sunlight.
(modern setting : paved paths & hedges)

"In the name of Diana, in the name of Morta, this is not your place."
(modern setting, on the ruins of a Roman fort with Win Hill in the background. Cottia is in fancy-dress)

“I dreamt I’d lost you”
Second century : the sun rising over Mam Tor. Oh, and the little girl has a certain greyhound :-)


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
3rd Apr, 2012 20:23 (UTC)
Hmph, that would be a short lesson: Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine, Titanium white, and acrylic medium, and Bob's your uncle...

I'll take you up on it though, you can teach me composition in return. Also, faces. Somehow Marcus has morphed into a troll. You wouldn't think painting such a potatoish face would be so HARD.

I commend the story to you! It's a long one, but when I got the first draft it was only 2/3 done, and I was on eggshells for ages waiting for the end!
3rd Apr, 2012 13:59 (UTC)
Ooh! 2 and 3 are particularly wonderful!! And you've made me curious about the story as well, as if I didn't have enough fanfic on my ereader already.
3rd Apr, 2012 20:33 (UTC)
I thought the story worth a second read despite the length, and I think I'm relatively picky... it's a whodunnit though, not sure if that is your sort of thing ( I love a whodunnit!)

I'm glad you liked the paintings.
3rd Apr, 2012 21:00 (UTC)
I like whodunits. I shall download!
3rd Apr, 2012 14:04 (UTC)
As I've mentioned to you before, I am absolutely in awe at how you've managed to capture not just moments from the story and geographical features, but also so much atmosphere and what I would call the soul of the landscape. And, since I've been flailing about your paintings for a while now to various people, it's so nice to finally be able to show them :)
3rd Apr, 2012 20:40 (UTC)
I felt that your work gave me a lot to try to live up to. Thank you for writing it.

I can see a holiday in the Peak district may be necessary sometime to visit the landscape in the story in real life... ( I will remember not to wander idly in the middle of the road and annoy the residents... :-D)
4th Apr, 2012 12:22 (UTC)
It's a lovely bit of the world, I grew up just down the road from it :)
3rd Apr, 2012 14:06 (UTC)
These are all very nice, but there is something about the second picture that takes my breath away. The layers of color in the composition, the palette of greens and blues, the contrast between the airy clouds in the upper left and the earthy solidity of Cottia in the lower right - I don't know what it is, but I really love that one in particular. Well done!
3rd Apr, 2012 20:42 (UTC)
Glad you liked it. It's a fabulous landscape to paint, very dramatic: I don't know why I didn't know more about it before this.
(Deleted comment)
3rd Apr, 2012 20:47 (UTC)
I'm interested that picked that one - I almost dumped the moonscape and did it again because I wasn't sure about the composition with the figures so far apart, but I think in the end it more or less came together.

I'm still not sure about Cottia's face - either of Cottia's faces, actually. Mind you, I think faces always start to look weird if you spend too long staring at them! :-D
3rd Apr, 2012 14:49 (UTC)
Those are really great! Your landscapes are beautiful, I love the colours and the trees and the moodiness of them. And your figures aren't bad at all, the faces are good - the main thing I noticed was that Cottia's arms look a little small in the moon lit one. They are way better than I'd manage though - people are *hard*!
3rd Apr, 2012 20:57 (UTC)
Aren't they just? I had no end of trouble with Cottia's arms in that one, you are right, they still look slightly odd but drawing the knife was so difficult that once I'd got it at least looking vaguely sharp & reflective I wasn't touching the damn thing again and had to arrange everything around it...

I used to avoid drawing people at all as I was so pants at it, but the last couple of years I have been trying to tackle the problem head-on, which is one reason I wanted to have a go at illustration... I was just lucky with this one that it ended up being so landscapy in the end!
3rd Apr, 2012 15:09 (UTC)
Wow, these are so lovely!
3rd Apr, 2012 20:57 (UTC)
Thank you!
3rd Apr, 2012 15:27 (UTC)
Those are superb. That nightscape gave me goosebumps!
3rd Apr, 2012 21:02 (UTC)
Oh good! I was aiming for 'eerie'.
3rd Apr, 2012 18:03 (UTC)
I love your skys, particularly the night one.
3rd Apr, 2012 18:03 (UTC)
Wow, I spell really well.
3rd Apr, 2012 21:10 (UTC)

I really can't do realistic looking skies, they always end up sort of... hammered looking. But I have decided that hammered looking skies actually look quite effective, even if they aren't entirely realistic.

One day I should learn how to do realistic skies just so I can feel smug about knowing how to do them.
3rd Apr, 2012 19:17 (UTC)
Oh, these are absolutely beautiful! I think the first one is my favorite! Wonderful, wonderful landscapes! :)
3rd Apr, 2012 21:11 (UTC)
I'm glad you like them. I went through a phase of hating them slightly, but I've become reconciled to them again now! :-D
4th Apr, 2012 18:34 (UTC)
i love these so much! Your landscapes are really outstanding; they remind me of William Blake's art for some reason. And the people look excellent--well, CT looks more like someone else than like CT, but then half the pictures I see of CT confuse me and I think they're mislabeled. (And CT usually looks like a large, attractive thumb at any rate, so who's counting?)

This pictures make me want to go to England and take early morning walks.
5th Apr, 2012 14:47 (UTC)
He does look like a thumb. Or a potato. I live in hope that one day I will actually draw a thumbpotato that looks like him, but so far no joy.

"I wish I loved the Human Race;
I wish I loved its silly face;"
I find myself chanting...

Come to England (or at least Cornwall) and do early morning walks, the hounds will be delighted. :-D

15th Apr, 2012 23:08 (UTC)
Aah! Found your BB art post. The CT=potato/thumb comments made me laugh.

You should definitely visit the Peaks, though Cornwall has all the drama of this and more, what with a coastline as well. But, there are some fabulous vistas and a lot of history, and Alan Garner really caught something with his historical/modern tied to a landscape stuff; a trip to Alderley Edge repays dividends.
16th Apr, 2012 08:02 (UTC)
I find faces so hard. At least, faces that are supposed to look like a specific person (or, potato) Still, try try again...

I've been to Alderley Edge a couple of times (used to live in Cheshire) but for some reason never ventured to Derbyshire. It looks such a spectacular landscape and I was fascinated to read of all the caves!
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )

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