The Making of 'I'll Walk Into Your Parlour': Part 1

I'm very pleased to reveal my new painting 'I'll Walk Into Your Parlour'.

To tell you about the creation of this painting I need to go back in time, back to when I was a young 8 year old whipper snapper. Every summer I went to stay with my Granddad in a small village called Owston Ferry that's a fairly lengthy ride from Doncaster in a permanently dusty bus. One of the highlights of visiting him was going out for long walks. Well, they seemed like long walks at the time but now are barely a stroll. We would wander along the River Trent picking up stray beetroots that had fallen off the lorries and generally pottering around a bit. The highlight - albeit a dark one - was reaching a low wall, that when leaned over revealed a huge pit that went down for miles until reaching the darkest, murkiest water I'd ever seen. It filled me with such dread and I'd often think of it just before going to sleep, thinking about falling into that hole and being taken down into the depths never to reappear...

In actuality, it is where the Warping Drain meets the River Trent. And it's not that deep at all. In fact, when I went back to take reference photos for this painting I was distinctly underwhelmed.

Admittedly the water was higher due to it being the middle of winter, but even so. Imagine it from the perspective of a short 8 year old though and you can probably see the disturbing allure of this location.

For this painting, I wanted to represent the same feeling that I experienced as a child but in an adult form. This led to a desire to ramp up the height dramatically and add a malevolent presence at the bottom. I knew that I wanted to work with one-point perspective, with the vanishing point at the centre of the creature's eye. So I started with some thumbnail sketches to develop the main composition.

Once I'd played around on paper for a while, I started using Photoshop to refine the composition a little more. I worked first on the negative space left by the walls - the black section in the image below - getting it to look good in this orientation plus when reversed and turned upside down. This process often shows up any problems in the composition.

The next stage was to collage together elements from various animals to create a small section of an enormous creature.

I created a repeating beetle pattern to fit into the composition. The position of this changed over time.

I then began to find textures from my reference photos taken in Owston Ferry and add them to the vertically descending walls.

It's hard to say when this happens, but I generally reach a point where I need to go back to pencil and paper. I find it a lot easier to draw on paper than a tablet. It's all to do with the feel of the paper. Anyway, I worked more on the design of the creature, including as many different animals as I could while maintaining the appearance of a credible animal. I planned the elements around a whirlpool pattern to suck in the character and the viewer.

You'll notice in the next plan (see below) that I've flipped the composition. This was for two reasons: to fit in with the compositions of the other paintings within The Seven Gates series and also to add to the meaning. In the West we read from left to right, and we do this with paintings as well. Our eye travels easily from left to right. So I wanted the small figure - not yet present in this plan but would eventually appear in the upper left corner - to be descending from left to right from our point of view. It is easy for our eye and it is easy for the character.

This flipping caused me major hassles when I had to draw the creature on to the final illustration board. I had to draw a reflected version of what I'd created before. Mmm, fun...

Another major change is the colour and brightness of the walls. I wanted to represent pain so I decided on a molten look to the walls particularly at the bottom.

There was one problem that I hadn't yet solved: how to make the walls look three-dimensional. From this viewpoint the sides of the walls wouldn't be seen so I couldn't add depth that way. They just look like flat rectangles. I actually came across the solution by accident but I'll give you more detail on that next time and I'll also look at the painting process. See you then!

For part 2, Click Here.

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