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 :-)