Friday, December 17, 2010

Wreck The Balls (Merry Christmas)

Was running a bit late getting a card ready to send out this year. After last years card (here), the pressure was on, but i just couldn't get there... properly anyway.

This started as a sketch when i had christmas carols stuck in my head, and couldn't get them out. This is a take on Deck the Halls. It could have easily have been When Shepards Wash Their Cocks By Night, but after the commission i've just completed , the thought of another landscape just horrified me.

Not sure the blue glitter really worked out, but whatever - at this time of year, it's the thought that counts.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bring Me The Head Of Brian Cowen

Brian Cowen
A man can dream, can't he?

50 x 45 cm prints available, and, this year, would make the perfect Christmas gift!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Solitary Turf War

The finished commissioned piece. It was a Christmas gift for the husband of the client. The husband is referred to as Francis of Assisi by the surrounding neighbours, as when he goes for a walk, his 4 cats, 3 dogs and Billy the goat go with him. And because he uses colourful nylon rope as a belt, because he feels that a normal belt just doesn't cut it. The current colour is bright pink.

During the course of doing this work, the old labrador sitting in the cabbages died, so i was asked to kinda 'nice' it up a bit - i had made it a little geriatric and decrepit  looking.

For some of the background to this work, scroll down, or click here...

Client is very happy with the digital preview, as am I, though like most things, there is always something you 'd like to change, or would like to spend more time on - but sometimes you just gotta leave it alone.

Been a good experience, full of learning and patience - primarily hardware shortcomings. (Taking donations now for replacement gear ;-) )

The print came back quickly from Steve at and looked great printed on canvas, though paper would have been my preferred medium. After meeting the client on a cold windy day in the carpark of Coona Tesco the hand over was done.

Got a call on Christmas day to let me know everyone though it was great, which was nice, and a huge sigh of relief!

Submitted for Illustration Friday topic "Cultivate"

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Process Diary: Commission

Thought I'd upload some of the bits for the commission I'm working on at the moment - November has been a very slow month for blog updates! The image has a pile of animals, and getting the particular coats "correct" has proven to be a challenge, as has getting the personality of the critter too... great fun though. 

I'm having to split the job into different parts, as the required resolution and the size of the final output is giving my computer a nervous breakdown, and it's already teetering on the edge. 

For now, however, time is ticking.... 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Interview for Limerick Post

A screen shot of my interview with the Limerick Post digital edition. The paper copy is out this weekend, 23 Oct.

Pretty happy all in all - hopefully it'll drum up some business!

Thanks again to Rose Rushe at the 'Post for making me sound life i might be fun to be around.... sorta.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Still Life With Jeans

muffin top A second to add to the Still Life Series. This had some challenges - the crusty muffin look, and the denim were a bit of a pain. Which is to say the whole thing was tricky, but started with a good sketch, and it made it bearable at least...

I have a screen capture recording that i'll have to edit and speed up, to let any one interested to look at the process that was gone through to get this done. Could be anther couple of days...
Update: Video uploaded! Was a bit of a churn - 10.5 hours reduced to just under 9 minutes, speed increased by 8000% (for god's sake....). 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pencil 2D Animation Software Revisited

Well, maybe i should have found out about it sooner, but i just jumped straight in and began drawing... didn't look at te size of the area i was working to, just pushed through to about 1500 frames (no, not every frame, just the animatic...).

So, then i try to export and it can't handle a file over about 700px wide it would seem. Fine, i'll render it at 600 wide. But now the animation is really small, and can hardly be seen.

Try camera layer, you say? Right! Oh, hang on now nothing renders, though i do get a folder with an image sequence of the entire thing....

I think this may not be for me.

In import into Flash proved difficult with 1500, 1000px wide jpg's, and after a whole lot of crashing, went and batch resized the images for import in Photoshop. A million years later, importing a few humdred at a time seemed the best way.

Then came the deleteing of static frames - when pencil spat out the jpg sequence the were 12 frames or jpgs for every second that the picture stood still as well as for motion. This was expected but it did lead to a bit more arseing around than i was perhaps wanting.

Is there a lesson learned?


Anyway, here's where it's up to now spat out by Flash... the timing is still pretty bad but it's progress people, progress!

Monday, October 4, 2010


Submitted for Illustration Friday topic "Beneath".

I had worked through a few idea for this one, intending to go with the main gist that something would be partly submerged, one thing on the top, and beneath it turns out to be something else, eg, an island that is actually the shell of a turtle, sort of thing....

I had a sketch of an 'island' and the water line, then moved down and it ended up looking a bit like a body floating backside up. Then it got tied up in ropes. The i added a weight to it. Then going back to the 'island', i drew a palm tree, coconuts and a monkey.... it all got a bit stupid  - looked like the tree was sticking outta the date -  so i pulled back to just the body completely submerged.

Decided to try a new 'medium' of Painter 11 that i haven't used, the Airbrush. I quite like it , but it'll take some getting used to! Might need to look at getting one of these if i want to keep using it....

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Pencil 2D Animation Software

I've down load the free 2D animation software, Pencil. So far it's actually pretty impressive, and i appologise to the guy geeking away in his room for no money to make it, but i wasn't expecting much. But i'm kinda into it now....

Issues i've come across to date:
- Adding length to timeline doesn't always work. Toggling scrub size, and actually resetting the number in the timeline length field seemed to trigger it to work properly. eg i've upped it to 1000 frames one time, then dropped it back to 900 another.
- Re-opening the file causes the timeline to revert back some default length eg, my animation is currently about 600 frames, but i cannot scrub past about 280...
- Marquee tool to copy doesn't disappear automatically. To make it work select object to copy -> ctrl-c -> click another part of the screen to deselect before trying anything else... like pasting whatever it was you wanted wherever it was you wanted it.
-Adding a new key frame adds a blank keyframe. This requires one to redraw the whole frame again (unless you want to go copy the previous).... would rather it set a key frame with what is in the previous, allowing you to erase the parts that need to be altered, eg: hand or foot or face. Maybe i should be putting all this on separate layers, but sure....

Anyway, these issues aside it's great fun so far. Zero crashes, software freezes etc.

Keep you posted.

Until then, here's what i've been doing. It's a kinda detailed animatic (work in progress....) for a future attempt at animating the Acrobat image i did recently...

Blogger has compressed it , so it doesn't show up too well at the moment, but when it's actually inked in, it'll be much more visible.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Process Diary: Cowen

Starting off some of the process diary stuff. This is a work in progress of the leader of Ireland, Brian Cowen. I've done a quick one of him before, but wasn't completely happy with the likeness, so i'm having another stab at it.

Getting the jowls right is more of a challenge than i'd thought possible, in particular getting the to hang properly off those mammoth lips, but at the same time kinda prop them up...

Well see how this develops over time. Hope to keep going with it, but have to juggle a couple of other jobs at the moment too. Maybe it'll be ready for Halloween...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Paddy's Evening Out

A small picture book with no text by John S. Goodall, it has to be one of the first books that i ever owned. The hard cover is now separated from the pages at the spine from over use back in the day.

Paddy, a pig, goes on a date to a show with dancing girls, magicians, acrobats and a live orchestra - i suppose a kind of variety show... He and his partner are given balcony seats in a BOOTH up on one side the stage. While waving her fan, his partner looses it over the edge of the balcony, and in reaching to catch it, Paddy goes over the edge. The book is him running around trying to hide and not make an arse of him self in public - and failing.

The book has half page flaps that drive the story by allowing smaller incremental changes for each page, which i though was brilliant as a kid, and still do, as it turns out.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Inspiration and Documentation

Been clearing out the office a bit in the hopes of child-proofing it somewhat. Maybe it's just a fantasy, but the aim is to be able to do a little work periodically with the little 'uns up here…. may only be able to check and send an email, or something less involved than actually painting, but i thought it'd be worth preparing the space.

In doing this all my old kids books and art reference books have been rediscovered, so i thought i'd periodically have a flick through some and write a post on why they survived every book cull over the past 34 years or so...

I've also been thinking about perhaps documenting my process a little more - trying to use the screen capture stuff - mostly for my own amusement, but it's possible some other out there might get a kick out of it! Will probably go into how i'm using Painter as well, to keep track of the softwares many many many options. Like, i've just discovered Dirty Mode in the Artists Oils.... it's a little check box - been sitting there for the past year and a half - did i ever click t to see what it did? No....

Feel free to let me know if there's anything you'd like to see.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Submission for this weeks Illustration Friday topic "Acrobat".

Chance to try Painters Tinting brushes - i quite like them!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


A piece that was put on the back burner some time ago, as it all seemed too daunting a task for me - an actual landscape scene (of sorts).

Mostly i draw characters or cartoons that may or not be in some sort of environment, but with this one i was actually aiming to paint the environment, with the figure being a secondary consideration. It started with the mushroom on the tree, and the rain lead to the mushroom providing shelter, hence the figure.

Other opportunities of study for me in this work were the concept that objects in the distance are somewhat hazy, ill-defined and much paler than the middle ground, and the foreground objects darker and slightly out of focus too - all these aspects helping to achieve a more convincing 3D space; and using a somewhat limited palette of colour. I've used many colours now, and also have a history with black and white, so it was a fun challenge trying to limit the number or colours used.

I'm reasonably happy with this study, and somewhat relieved to have it finished...

Here's a still's animation of the process. Not great quality, but maybe next time.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Blacker Pastures

I've been playing with image ideas to go with the name of this blog. The name Blacker Pastures came from the idea that where greener pastures might be better than where you are, blacker pastures might be worse some how.

I found after 4 or 5 years living in The Emerald Isle there was a few different aspects that made me think that perhaps i'd moved to blacker pastures, which is in a sense why i started this blog - to pull my self out of a rut, and find something positive to focus on, and drawing and illustration has generally been has always been something that i enjoyed.

So in a somewhat literal translation of the phrase this image was produced.

A field or pasture - plenty of those in Ireland.
Lashing rain - plenty of that in Ireland, and on of the things that had begun to kill me.
Black ink and simple, chosen to make it kinda blocky and 'logo'.

Originally i was thinking of a making the animal a sheep, as it's what i think of when i think of pastures (possibly cows too), but i've had a few run ins with goats driving in the country, and i like the silhouette more. Besides, they're horny...

Submitted for Illustration Friday topic "Proverb", after finding the proverb "When rain fall, sheep and goat have to mix" (Trinidad and Tobago).

I stopped at the goat....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

International Rules And Greyhounds (For Trick:Tigers and Dogs)

International Rules is where the Australians get a team together from varied AFL teams, compete against Ireland - who have also put together a team from varied Gaelic Football teams - in such a way that generally leaved the Irish nursing many a bruise. In fact the Irish had cancelled the competition for the 'foreseeable future' after one bad year where several of the Irish players broke nails during the match.

oooooohhhhhhh - fighting words. C'mon, y'softies....

Anyway, it's on again soon.

Also, something about a new greyhound stadium opening in October.

Not sure what else to say about this one, other than i had fun painting it for the Limerick Post.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Nymph In Milk Bath. In The Snow (Normal Lindsay Made Me Do It)

I was looking to try out some more Water Colour brushes, and as i've never really tried to draw a female face i set out to do so. It seems i was unable to pull very far away from the cartoony faces i normally do, but managed to get closer to a 'pretty' face - though i'm not completely happy with it.

The ears turned up along with the hair as i began to be reminded Normal Lindsay's nymphs and playful nudes. If you don't know what I'm on about, look it up.

I needed to put her in some sort of context, and as i wasn't really in the mood for f*ck-arseing around concentrating on clothes, i just worked down the body til she appeared to be partially submerged. And i wanted to draw some boobs. Lets call it an exercise in painting buoyancy....

The Moon

Quick sketch that started out as nothing and didn't move too far from that.

Just wanted a very small light source on a dark night.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Still Life With Frock

I once hear a man lovingly refer to his annoying wife as pear shaped woman. It was at my wedding i think, and no, it wasn't me....

Alternate titles for this might have been:
"A pear, even in satin, is still a pear"
"Yes, but it looks good on"
"Satin 1. Pear 0."

There's something about this shape, and it's need to be draped in satin, that has a similar allure as a flame might for a moth.
Why? I have no idea.

A study of reflective cloth, and fruit skin. That being said, i didn't actually dress up a pear in a delightful lavender number, rather the scars on my brain, from witnessing outfits such as this, on nights out in Limerick, provided all the reference i needed.

Submitted for Illustration Friday topic Artificial -
"Sick of the artificial women in the media? Behold: the real shape of things to come."

Used in local rag's New Year's Resolution article.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Attack Of The Zombie Hotels

Zombie hotels, standing largely empty, lifeless, are being kept alive for no clear reason.

They are able to under cut accommodation costs of B&B's, Ireland's more 'traditional' form of accommodation, and the B&B's are feeling the pinch.

This is what i'm told, anyway....

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Willie - Published!

A post without an actual illustration, rather a digital clipping from the online version of the local newspaper - The Limerick Post - who have used my illustration of Willie O'Dea in an article about his life and reflections after the kerfuffle of the last year leading up to his stepping down as MoD.

Link to article in the digital edition here.

Link to the original post here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Breakfast: Ten Week Old Perspective

For Illustration Friday topic 'Breakfast'.

I have a 10 week old, and this weeks topic triggered the thought that this must be what she's looking at fairly regularly.....

Thursday, July 15, 2010


And i dont't know if i'm ever coming home.... take that last train t Clarksville.

Don't be slow.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

He Was All Like "Wha...??"

Quick sketch. Trying to capture a kind of confused look of the face of the hunter about to become the game.

Then i gave him ears like that...

There's a screen capture too i'll put up in a while.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Home Early

A quick study of skin, weight and shame....

No real reason for it, other than for the laugh.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Was just flaffing around, and ended up with something that was a cross between people i saw on a recent trip to Krakow, Poland, and a russian strength guru i've come across in my quest for fitting in exercise around small children.....

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Bear

Another in the Animal Series i'm working on.

Started this a while back and abandoned it as it wasn't clicking for me, but have it done now.....

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Octopus

Finally! Back to the animal series, and the octopus is complete.

This too a lot longer than the others because of the suckers and tentacles.

Damn near killed me....

Thursday, July 1, 2010

In Event Of Emergency

Ever run out of toilet paper?

Every so often, through practical experimentation, over the past 20 years, this technique has proved it's self to be relatively reliable, if not quite time consuming. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of steps 5 and 6, and urge any who need to adopt this technique when the time comes not to rush. Take all the time available to you. Trust me.

Just felt that some knowledge needs to be shared, in the interests of surviving various otherwise potentially disastrous scenarios.

Submitted for Illustration Friday topic Satelite - When a fresh roll might as well be in space....

Limerick Vs Kerry (GAA)

Piece for Limerick Post.

Looks like Limerick hasn't won the Munster Senior Football title in 114 years, and they're going to give it a shot this weekend.

Kind of bizarre that Limerick hasn't won in that long, and for the Irish that's just how long it's taken, but as some one who is relatively new to Ireland and really knows nothing about the sport (other than the suspicion it's where AFL came from), it struck me that Limerick haven't won this title in about half of the history of Australia under white settlement.

Seems much longer to me now....

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Australia Vs Ireland (Rugby)

See how i put Australia first?

Limerick Post piece, for the Australia Vs Ireland Rugby match played same day as edition. Needless to say, the picture, though dawn in advance, with the brief "Asutralia are gonna kick our arse" - or words to that effect, does reflect the gist if the match.

Ireland did play quite well, but unfortunately though numbering only 2, Australia were about 10 times the size, and looked like a couple of brawlers....

Saturday, June 26, 2010

No Weeding. No Pruning.

Cartoon done for the Limerick Post.

An article about the ruins on farmers property that are heritage listed, and as such may not be interfered with in any way - not even to clear away any plant-life that may have over grown these teetering mounds of prospective rubble, which is what many farmers would like to do in order to maintain them somewhat- though it's apparently fine for the farmers cattle and sheep to graze all over the things.

Was that the longest sentence I've ever written....?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cork Vs Limerick (Hurling)

Limerick take on Cork in the hurling, and are up against Aisake o hAilpin.

This is quite possibly a true representation of the difference in height between the average Limerick player and o hAilpin... not that we should let that lead to the assumption it will be an old fashioned arse-kicking.


Used in the Limerick Post newspaper (and online edition) for article about this match.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ripple (Watch That Flubber Fly)

This is another Illustration Friday piece - a quick Oil Pastel sketch of what i initially thought doing of after hearing the topic - "Ripple", but before i read about the oil spill fund raiser thing....

A fat man slapping his flab. I have done this myself.

This was just for the laff - the proper one is here....

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ripple (Death By Oil Slick)

New one for Illustration Friday topic: Ripple.

The word was chosen to coincide with a fund raiser to help with the Deepwater Horizon Catastrophe (Oil Spill), other entries can be found here.

My first response to the word Ripple was, as usual, puerile and mildly perverse, but then I figured it could give me a chance to do something that I hadn't done before, which was using the Water Colour brushes.

It was also nice, as they requested a particular size, which gave an added limitation to the piece.

What began as doodling away with the pencils, ended with some subtle colour washes and fiddling around, and I'm kinda happy with the way it turned out. Makes me feel all arty....

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ireland vs New Zealand (Optimistic)

It was suggested i do something for the upcoming Rugby Union match between Ireland and The All Blacks for Ireland tour of Australia and N.Z.

The possibility of it being used in a Limerick newspaper prompted me to pick one of Limericks most recognised and celebrated of rugby players, not to mention the current Munster captain, to use in the image.

I wanted it to be a Ireland supportive take of the match, with the giant man, O'Connell, towering over the kiwi's.

Later I learned that a) Paul O'Connell isn't on this tour, and b) Ireland are likely to be completely hammered by the apparently far superior team, the All Blacks.

I really should pay more attention to these finer details.... There's still time; i might have another go.

Surprised At Discovering No "Serious Consequences" Under The Sofa, The Taoiseach Practices His Look Of "Steely Resolve"

Taoiseach (tee-shuck) is the Irish official term given for the leader of the country; the equivalent, i suppose, of Prime Minister. The unofficial term given for the this leader of the country, is "Biffo".

Triggered by a great line uttered by a friend, in response to the news that there would be "serious consequences" for Israel should any harm come to the Irish being held after the Gaza aid flotilla massacre. Article here.

It was also a chance to practice painting this man, possibly the most uninspiring of individuals....

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Extol The Virtue

First illustration for Illustration Friday, this weeks topic was Slither. It's open to interpretation, but i found myself seeing the word and it's connotations in a slightly different way....

Update: I might just add here - i'm living in Ireland, where a report into the shocking child abuse, sexual and otherwise, of male and female children alike, was released recently.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Girl And Bear

Saw some pencil work recently that reminded me of how wonderful pencil work can be. I particularly like pencil for soft toys and children so, in an attempt to get away from using Painter's Artist Oils brushes and have ago at the Pencil brushes, I went with doing a bit of both.

But as i have been doing a lot of fairly straight ahead nice work, I couldn't help adding a little bit of blood to this one...

Update: Submitted this for Illustration Friday topic: Trail.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Willie O'Dea In The Heat Of Battle

Willie O'Dea is a Limerick man and former Minister of Defence for the Irish gov, but resigned recently over a recording 'scandal'.
He also pulled a strange photo shoot for the press a while back, and one dark evening, during elections, he and some of his 'representatives' knocked on my door and assured me he 'represents the area' and 'knows where i live' should i 'need anything'.... i've kinda been endeared to him ever since that.

Update: This illustration has now been published! Info here.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Gorilla

Don't afraid. He only eats graps...

One in a series of animals I'm working on.

This took a while, primarily because of the hair. First real attempt at doing any kind of hair, and it was tricky getting both the colour right and the underlying form of the muscle looking right.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Newt

He's really quite serious.

One in a series of animals I'm working on.

Interesting Woking on the skin and trying to get it to look the smooth semi-translucent look these guys have. Never realised there were so many variation in the colours too. Awesome.

The Parrot

"Squawk - fancy that!"

One in a series of animals I'm working on.

Really quite happy with the attitude caught in this one, and with the way the feathers turned out - without having to go into too much detail.

The Koala

Drunk on eucalyptus leaves, it sleeps high in the tree.

One of a series of animals I'm working on.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Better To Have Drunk And Lost Than Never To Have Drunk At All

This is about a short mans violent battle with alcohol and therefore everyone around him. It is the companion piece to The Gouhl, as after all - they are a couple.

It's amazing what people will do under the influence.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


A blend of maybe elephant, tortoise and insect. If I thought I wouldn't ruin it by continuing, I'd paint in the small fire it's supposed to be standing beside, that is warming the girl who was lost on the coast where it lives.

Maybe I'll revisit it later....

Australian Christmas

Headed back to the sunshine of home for Christmas 2009, and painted this as a Christmas card to irritate the loved ones we'd left behind to what turned out the be one of the most bitterly cold winters on record in Ireland.

Having spent the previous 4 Christmas' in the northern hemisphere, I've come to see the relevance the of icicles, snow men, and rugging up warm connotations that come with this time of year. This was my boys second Christmas, the first being in Ireland, and i wanted to see how he'd go building a snow man in the sand.

The Runner

Quick sketch of a beer bellied man in a large hat running nude though a post apocalyptic wasteland.

I can't really explain this one, other that i was doing a study of shadows on the man, and clothes got in the way; and also doing a study of background-as-pale-blur.

I've plans to revisit this at some point, but I'm not sure why....

Swamp Man

Quick sketch of a swamp dwelling man. Wanted a feeling of wisdom and patience, with a twinkle in the eye.

The swamp scenes from Ten Canoes got me thinking about how one might live in such an area. Clearly, you'd need stilt legs.

I've plans ot revisit this at some stage...

The Girl On The Hill

Quick sketch of a girl in a hill, with a fantasy vibe. Wanted a curious expression, and a posture of contained anticipation.

Like she's wondering whether to hurt someone or not, but in a nice way.

I've plans to revisit this at some stage....

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bi And Large (Volume Study)

This began as a pencil sketch of a stereotypical representation of some of the people one might meet in the streets around where i grew up. It was very a colourful, and flamboyant kind of area where one's gender had little to do with it's presentaion. Wanted to get used to creating volume and mass in colour, and also play with some fleshy tones.