Sketch of my honey.
Hello dear art lover!
I am a self employed, full time artist and have been for some years now. I struggle to make a living and most months I am one rent cheque away from eviction. I live very frugally and put as much as I can of what I earn back into new projects and materials.
I have never asked for money in any way online before, but I now see many people using this method successfully to enable them to continue working as a creative / content creator. As someone who works and lives alone I don’t really have much of a support network to speak of (don’t get out much, you see?) I’m really hoping that seeking patrons is the way to go.
As little as £1 or $1 a month for regular updates of work-in-progress pictures and sculptures could go towards keeping me with a roof over my head and food in my belly. Not to mention materials and supplies etc., which have become insanely expensive these days.
For larger monthly donations and one-off contributions I am offering original artworks, mostly illustrations, but also paintings and small sculptures. Simply send me a picture to work from and I will make an original piece of art. It can be a picture of anything at all.
I have also set up a ‘Goal’ on Patreon. The Goal is to make the garage in the garden into a studio so that I can work more easily all year round and create many more pieces of art and hopefully more sophisticated works of art too.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope it persuades you to become a patron, and if it does I will be eternally grateful.
It was my birthday late last month and my wonderful partner, Anna-Lena, got me a copy of Shaun Tan’s The Bird King – an artist’s notebook, and it is both beautiful and inspiring to read and look at. I will never grow tired of it. My sister also bought me an actual artist’s notebook and I now have a few more sketches and doodles to share with the world.
The picture below is a face, kind of, until you tilt your head to the left. Now it’s two cyclists about to go round a bend. I know that feeling!
Here’s one from way back when. Nude self portrait. Included for no special reason:
Below is the work in progress cover illustration for book 3.
Who are your favourite illustrators? Do you have a favourite illustrated story? Would love to hear from you as it is a great way of finding new art and artists and inspiration.
What story would you illustrate or like to see illustrated?
One day I hope to make one of my own!
Please check my website for more art and info on methods and pricing: Dean Harkness Artist
If you got this far, thank you, and Happy Holidays!
August came to a good end with the completion of a book cover design and set of 10 illustrations for book two of Jim West’s Magicae series. As always I was still working on things right up until the last day, but there was no rush and no panic and things had run to course extremely well due to setting realistic completion dates at the outset. I so often get requests for cover design work just a few weeks before the work is needed and it’s never a good start to a project. Felt great to have enough time to work on this set of illustrations which included nine black and white drawings and one full colour cover painting. It’s great working with someone who can think like an illustrator and has clear ideas about what is needed; It makes the whole process a joy.
Other than one or two rough pencil sketches at the very beginning the rest of the project was entirely made digitally.
I started off thinking that I may make all nine of the black and white illustrations by using just one brush type in Photoshop and try to best replicate a pencil, and then use cross hatching and other techniques for filling in large areas of dark and for all detail shading. This was partly to ensure that there would be continuity between book one and book two. – I had made all nine illustrations for book one using pencil and paper.
With the first one or two illustrations I could already see that I was slipping from my decision to stick solely to trying to mimic pencil. While it can be done it kind of defeats the point of working digitally. However I did not want to completely abandon the initial restriction I had placed on myself, and what soon developed was a mixture of techniques whereby I used a relatively strict pencil-like brush for the characters in the foreground, and for background work I used much larger, painterly type brushes and used them very sparingly. Then I played with settings so that the two styles did not seem at odds with each other.
For the majority of the time, generally speaking, I work from source images often taken by and featuring myself and anyone else I can rope into it, or failing that a search online. Thanks to my wonderful partner, Anna-Lena, this is made so much easier when we are together as we both enjoy photography and the acting about and dressing up that is always required. Once I have the photos I need I can, if necessary, adjust them in Photoshop to suit the required age and gender of the character being portrayed.
The first two images below are the only ones made with nothing but a pencil-like Photoshop brush.
Mada, and Maya with a pile of strings.
Alex leaping across a wide river.
Alex using a crystal to fend off a pack of wolves in a night-time forest scene.
Diades and Demetrius gathering flames into the golden band of power.
Man wearing a Minotaur’s mask and charging out of a labyrinth.
Archimedes working through the night.
Nyliaj and Alyal in the a night-time forest being chased by wolves.
The Guardian, Rawna, comforting a wounded guardian in the arena.
This is the completed cover illustration and layout design for the paperback version of the book.
I am very pleased to say that I will be working with Jim on book three of the Magicae Series next and expect to start on a new set of illustrations and a cover design any day now.
I hope you enjoyed the images and the bit of background info about the process.
Thanks for stopping by!
You can see more of my cover designs, illustrations and other artwork at my website here.
Well the weeks and months are falling off the calendar at a fair rate. It’s not been a bad first quarter of the year, and I’ve made good progress with using my digital tablet to work with much more than pens and paints etc. In fact I’ve used the tablet so much that it has become a real joy again to go back to pencils and other physical media in between. Still haven’t cracked open those paints yet – maybe as the weather warms and I can start to think about working in the studio again.
Am hoping to upgrade my version of Photoshop in the next few weeks, which will open up a whole heap of options and ways of doing things. Now that I have a new computer that can handle a better version I can’t wait to get one!
I’ve been working on a set of pencil illustrations for a children’s book about ancient and pre- history. It’s been interesting using the digital tablet and Photoshop too to get them ready for print. It still takes quite a bit of time but at least it is actually possible.
Here’s an example of one of the illustrations. Each item is actually a separate layer in Photoshop so things can be moved around, but also so that the background can be made transparent, which may be useful for layout purposes, so as not to interfere with, or be interfered with by any of the text of the story.
I don’t want to say much more for now, though I would love to introduce you to the main character, a boy called Archie, but I think I’ll save that for a later post when it is closer to being completed, or is published.
Anyway, like I say, it’s been a nice ‘change’ to use pencil for finished illustrations again. – I needed it! I did actually start turning several of these illustrations into digital ones but it just didn’t feel right somehow. And now I am sure it was a good move to use some graphite and paper instead.
Oh, and all the illustrations have been done using my new clutch pencil which I blogged about here, So I guess you can say that that has been well and truly christened. And the new KUM pencil sharpener came in handy too :o)
Clocks go forward this weekend, I think. And Spring is most definitely sprung!
This is a follow up post to the last one in which I blogged about going from traditional to digital media for some of my illustration work
It didn’t take long to get the bug for painting with the tablet. The first day or two were very hit and miss. I watched a couple of tutorials by this guy http://idrawgirls.com/tutorials/ and that helped get me going. Picked up some info about keyboard short-cuts for changing the size, colour and opacity of the brush nice and quick, as well as a couple of handy techniques for how to construct images in Photoshop. By day three I was hooked! Having some decent software and knowing how to use it makes a huge difference to working with a tablet, and are essential if you are to get any enjoyment out of it, and that is actually more important than some might think: How you are feeling will always show in the finished work.
Here is a set of images that show the progress of a monotone, semi-nude portrait I made after using the tablet for a couple of days.
Spent most of Saturday morning drawing this, with some tinkering later in the day too. I was happy with the results and it encouraged me to push on. I had a go at a couple of portraits next, and will tentatively use more and more colours as things progress. Learning how to mix colour digitally is going to take some time I think.
I now understand why I see so many ‘speed painting’ videos online. Graphics tablets work at the speed of light compared to working with actual paint and paper etc. I just thought everybody was getting obsessed with speed, whereas it just turns out to be the nature of the beast.
Working with the tablet this past week or two has been very interesting and is just like I thought it would be in some respects, and completely not in others. Things can only get better…. I hope!
You can see more examples of my first attempts with the tablet on my Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/BookCoverDesigns and there are links to that and other image hosting sites on my website: http://www.deanharkness.co.uk
Thanks for reading – hope you have a creative week ahead.
Have just added four more cover designs and illustrations to my Book Cover Designs page on my website (link at top of page). Have really enjoyed making these, and have used a good mix of illustrating with acrylic paints, and then tidying up in PhotoShop. I would be working digitally far more if I had better equipment, and I do hope to upgrade sometime soon. PC tablets save a lot of space, materials, mess, and most of all – time!
Have several new commissions again, so will be scribbling away on draft ideas very soon.
Do you have a favourite cover? Or cover artist? And have you ever bought a book just because of the cover, or because of the cover most of all?
Above is a link to my website. There is quite a selection of my work, which is varied in style, though not as wide ranging in subject and media as I would like. Hope you take a look and let me know what you think.
Do please share with me any links to sites you feel I may enjoy too. I particularly love finding new artists and poets etc.
I was quite busy over Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It seems there are some advantages to living alone after all.
The cover for Mat Coward’s collection of short stories was one of two designs to be completed. It is a wonderful collection and the second time I have worked for Mat. And an honour it is! This is not the cover I had in mind, but after several weeks working on the original idea it just wasn’t coming together. Then I had a moment of inspiration and came up with the following which, as it turned out, we both preferred to the original. Phew!
This is the second. It is a cover illustration for Indian Hill 2 by Mark Tufo, and again the second time we have worked together. It’s always a great feeling when an author comes back to me for another design, and is a great vote of confidence in my work. Means more to me than I can say.
The following is still a work in progress but I’m quite pleased with how it is going, and all being well will be the first of three book cover designs I will be doing for Stewart Arkass. It need some tweaking, and I am hoping to add some furniture to the room over the next couple of days.
This next one has a way to go yet, but I am loving striking quality the image has – it will make a great thumbnail, something that has become more and more important in my work due to how books are promoted and viewed these days. I’ve removed the author’s name as they don’t want their followers to know about it just yet. Luckily I don’t think any of them read my blog, but then again, who does? 😉
I have another commission on the go but not at a stage yet worth sharing. It’s a challenging one that will require a lot of work using at least two paintings, one layered over the top of the other.
So it’s busy, busy, busy for the next few weeks at least. And somewhere in there I need to find the time to drum up more work so there isn’t a long period of nothing happening, which is always a worry.
I love working with writers and their efforts in promoting their work is slowly rubbing off on me. It is amazing just how supportive so many of the authors I’ve come to know can be, and I enjoy just as much supporting and promoting them. It is a wonderfully creative process to be a part of, so here’s wishing us all well for 2012 – I think it is a year full of potential for a great many people. Let’s make it a memorable time!
So you want to draw but think you can’t…
I have often heard people comment that they wished they could draw, or paint, or whatever, and then follow that up with the statement that they know they can’t. Well guess what? Neither can I. I have no innate ability or skill for drawing, but what I do have is the desire to draw and the ability to not let the fact that I’m not particularly gifted get in the way. You may have to accept that you’ll never be as good as Turner, Leonardo, or Picasso but so what – the pleasure you will get from creating something that did not exist until you started it is immeasurable.
The trick is to do it for pleasure and not what you hope the end result will be. Try not to have a too distinctly defined idea of what it is you’re aiming for. It’s the process that’s fun, not the looking at the picture once it’s finished. Though that’s not to imply that you wont get great pleasure from seeing what you’ve created.
At best I have a slightly above average hand / eye coordination but that is not essential either. If you can feed yourself with a spoon you can draw. And the simple truth is that the more you draw the better you will get, and it is always surprising the speed at which we improve in anything we do so long as we make a commitment to it no matter how small that commitment. Ten minutes practice every day is infinitely more beneficial than an hour’s practice once a week! And no matter how little skill you start off with (including no skill at all) if you stick at it you will end up producing work that you are both pleased with and happy to show to others. You may even end up selling some of your work because those people that have never made the commitment of learning this particular skill will often admire what you’ve produce, even though you’ll be aware of all it’s flaws.
Tip one is to not try and be different, or unique, or special. You are all those things and you couldn’t not be those things even if you tried. The less you try to be original the more original you will be. Try not to be precious about your work, especially your first attempts – accept that you’re probably not going to be happy with them and move on; You’ll soon find yourself getting engrossed in the process when you least expect it.
After that it’s all up to you and how much time you want to give it. There is no substitute for putting in the hours. Practice makes perfect as they say, and it really does too, as in all things. Practice is more rewarding than any amount of innate talent.
Tip two is more of a rule than a tip, and that is: Don’t spend ages trying to think of what to draw; If it is not immediately apparent what it is you want to draw just draw. Draw the first thing that comes into your head, or the first thing you see in front of you, or even just let your hand move across the surface and see what it leads to – it will almost certainly lead to something if you just relax and don’t worry or panic. And don’t ever stare at a blank page wondering what to fill it with – that could go on for hours! Making a few random marks is a tried and trusted method of getting yourself started.
Good luck and most of all… Enjoy!