Unstable Babel Brief Tabled

This brief from the Irish Times Innovation supplement was simply handed to me on a plate by the editor , 'This is an article about the U.N. being in a shakey condition. How about an illustration of the Tower of Babel?'. I duly scrawled out a sketch which was passed:


...proceeded to the final. What I did differently this time, though, was to use oils for the entire piece. I reasoned that, since I have a half-decent digital camera, I may as well have a go. I was a little concerned that it might take longer to do but it turned out to take about half the time that I usually take. I didn't work up a more detailed sketch; there was no time. I just found it easier to apply oils and move the paint around than the more laboured approach for acrylics. I gave the stretched paper a couple of coats of acrylic wash and then drew the general composition right onto the paper. The sky, for example, was far easier to achieve; the 'biblical' dramatic sky and clouds appeared very quickly. Even the details of the rubble cascading down the walls was a simple matter of applying thicker gobs of colour.

You may notice that I departed from the sketch in that I made the tower more 'massive'. I moved the building further away and daubed in a 'city' at its base. The crevasses and tumbling brickwork are smaller in relation to the building and that gives more of a sense of drama, I think. I also negotiated the removal of the flag. I felt it detracted from the composition and would appear ridiculously large in comparison with its surroundings, Besides, I reasoned that Irish Times readers are intelligent enough to know that the illustration relates to the text next door!

I took the finished illustration out into the garden and photographed it. There was a certain amount of retouching to do, to bring up the colours and contrast, etc. but it proved a worthwhile method of production. This all may justify the expense of a nice new digital SLR camera though...

Last of the Summer Wine

I recently completed an illustration project for Brandever, the specialist brand developers for the global wine industry.

Brandever wished to create a series of circa 1900's fruit wine labels that celebrate the old fashioned style of Fruit Crate Label art. With ten different wines currently in production at this winery, each line would feature a different illustration produced by nine different illustrators, other than me.

This blueberry dessert wine, called Sweet Nothings, obviously suggested a love theme and I sketched out various 'love' scenarios, including a Romeo and Juliette scene and swans, the symbol of fidelity.

You can click on the illustration below to see a reasonably sized version of the final illustration without the branding. Once you've done that, we can go and sit in my aviary and have a glass of how's yer father.

Common Sense

All this bad news about the economy and the reckless stupidity of the banks brought to mind the short but succinct poem by the late Ivor Cutler, Scotland's improbable bard.

I've got no common sense,
And neither has nobody else,
I spread my brains out on the table
And push them about with a fork

All bank chief executives should be made to recite it ten times a day.

New Fashions for Arts Professionals

Sophisticated young ladies appreciate the generous cut and suave sophistication of this ensemble. Ideal wear for openings, poetry readings, soirées with Tom Paulin or arts discussion programming on RTE.

A Little Early for Caterpillars, Dontcha Think?

Apropos of nothing really. I was trying to clear my desk of paper and see the actual surface when I came across this. I did it during a particularly tedious networking meeting. Perhaps it'll transform itself into a beautiful illustration? I don't think so.