Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Hipgnotised


Although a plethora of artists influence my work, ranging from classic sci-fi and fantasy artists to the old masters of surrealism, one of the biggest artistic influences for me has been that of musician Peter Gabriel.

Not only does Gabriel's music inspire me artistically, but it was the accompanying visuals to his work that originally caught my eye. The images are always a perfect match for the music. His groundbreaking videos to tracks such as "Steam" and "Digging in the Dirt" absolutely blew me away, but it was really his early album covers by design company Hipgnosis which really inspired me to become a graphic designer. The raindrops on the car bonnet of his debut album; the torn away scratch marks on the second release and the iconic melted face of his third album all made a significant and lasting impression on me.

I remember at the age of 15, when I first discovered his music and started buying up his back catalogue with what little spending money I had – back then, CDs cost no less than £15 a piece, so I'd find myself doing odd jobs for my grandmother and babysitting for the family across the street, in order to save up enough to buy these sacred albums! The first Gabriel album I bought was 1992's Us, just after it's release, followed by his best-of compilation, Shaking the Tree (on cassette – remember those?!), and in the fold-out inlay card, there was a series of tiny thumbnails of his album covers, and these absolutely fascinated me. I'd walk into HMV and find the albums and stare longingly at the full-size covers, quite often earmarking the next album on my purchase list by cover preference!

During my GCSE year at school, I drew an A2-size version of Gabriel's classic So album cover in my art class – my art teacher went on to tell me how he had seen him performing with Genesis at Sheffield City Hall in the early 70s. That same piece of artwork was presented as part of my portfolio when I was interviewed for art college, and to my delight, the lecturer interviewing me, instantly recognised it.

If I ever get the chance to meet Gabriel (it's high on my list of ambitions!), I'd want to thank him not only for providing a soundtrack to my life, but for inspiring my entire career in design and art. Even his work ethic (decade-long gaps between albums aside) is an inspiration, and I would just love to visit his Real World Studios and feel the creative buzz in the atmosphere. I've always been a believer that places, rooms or buildings can have certain creative vibes, and that place must be bursting with them!


Thursday, 8 December 2011

A year of hope and awakening...


Well, December already. This time last year, I was working on my painting Hope, and thinking it was the best thing I'd done to date, which at the time, it was. Every new painting often feels like your best to date, and with each one, you also learn something new, whether it be a painting technique or the discovery of a Photoshop brush – something more often than not, you wish you'd used on your previous work!

Since early 2010, it's safe to say I've been "unbottling" - picking up where I'd left off in fine art over a decade earlier, with a relentless artistic outpouring which I'm now proud to call my portfolio. I've learned a lot in a short space of time, and I have produced well over 20 digital paintings; over half of which this year alone, including Awakening, which is the one piece I'm the most proud of, being my first to go on public display at the Brave New Worlds exhibition in Richmond Upon Thames in September. Awakening is now safely back with me, and I'm looking forward to finding more opportunities to showcase it, among others.

I'm also looking forward to producing more art and hopefully experimenting with some new subject matters, as well as continuing my current series of Hibernus paintings.

Onwards and upwards...




Wednesday, 23 November 2011

New artwork - "Hibernus" series

I'm currently working on a series of pieces which I have given the seasonal title of Hibernus.

What started out initially as an exercise in painting snow and ice has evolved into this suite of artworks exploring the snow-covered planet of Hibernus, with your subtle hints of other-worldliness along the way. Three pieces are currently in production, with two of them possibly completed with a fourth to follow. Maybe even a fifth. In the meantime, here's a preview...

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Last Patrol

I thought I'd go into a little more detail into the making of my most recent painting, Last Patrol. I began with a digital sketch, under the working title "Grounded", continuing the theme of space exploration and the fear of being stranded on alien worlds.

This was the first sketch, which I did using the Intuos tablet (my initial sketches are usually pencil on paper):

Happy with the general composition, I opened a new canvas with the sketch as a layer which I could work over and continually refer to. I started off by blocking in the snowy background.


The next step was to create the half-submerged crashed spaceship. I wanted to give the impression that the viewer could only see a portion of what was clearly a bigger ship, so it's mainly the booster section that is on show, but with a conveniently located escape hatch!


Following this, I worked on some of the atmosphere; snow and cloud, and began to paint in the main astronaut's figure.


The final stage was the addition of the silhouetted opening which frames the image – this could be a nearby cave. I wanted to create a tension and feeling of apprehension as the figure gazes into the unknown.



Finally, details like astronaut's reflective visor, the planet's outer rings and various shadows and ice are added, and here is the end result!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Walter Tevis - Mockingbird

With its eyecatching cover illustration, Mockingbird is a novel which has been tempting me on and off for a few years. I finally bought it, and have been absorbed in it for the last week, right until turning that final page just an hour ago.

Mockingbird is one of the most engaging and thought-provoking dystopian books I have read to date. The quirky blurb on the back cover doesn't properly prepare you for the story you're about to follow. Mockingbird falls somewhere in between Farenheit 451, Brave New World and Tevis' own The Man Who Fell to Earth. 

Written in 1980, Mockingbird tells the classic tale of how man created robots to help then, ultimately becoming reliant on the robots and technology, resulting in the downfall of society – and it's some time after this that the book begins. The story is set in New York, in an initially undetermined future, where humanoid robots make up a large part of society and the government. Buildings lie abandoned and overgrown and the population is sterile. There are no children. People cannot read. What remains of the human race spend their days doped up and high, dependent on freely-dispensed Sopor pills, avoiding eye-contact and 'privacy invasion', not learning to love or make love, with 'quick sex' being merely a pastime.

Mockingbird brings together a trio of protagonists, starting with Robert Spofforth, a Black, towering youthful Make Nine robot. The last Make Nine ever made, with a brain fuelled by real human memories from a long-dead creator. Spofforth is troubled by his fragmented dreams and memories and has only one thing on his mind - his own death. However his inhibitor circuits prevent him from self-destruction. Spofforth continues his duties as University Dean and oversees maintenance of the other worker robots throughout the city and the psychic Thought Buses.

One day Spofforth meets Bentley – a man who can read. The chapters which follow cleverly alternate between Spofforth and Bentley, and follow Bentley's discovery of reading, writing journal entries and watching archive films. Bentley feels that something isn't right. Something under the surface; something about his upbringing and conditioning. He starts to question things. Why are the children in the streets robots? Why are there no young people? Why can't people read? Why do people immolate themselves in public? Why are the animals in the Zoo robots? And it was whilst at the Zoo that he meets Mary Lou – a woman who somehow escaped the conditioning in her youth.

We follow Bentley and his relationship with Mary Lou. Together they break every rule in the book. She moves in with him, he teaches her to read, and together they explore fragments of the forgotten world that went before the age of robots and sterility – until Spofforth intervenes.

Mockingbird almost reads like a film. It depicts a troubled society in a near future, in a very assertable way. It is sad, haunting, unsettling and exciting. The storytelling perhaps follows a more commonplace style from the midpoint of the book, but never drifts too far away from the main story to become tiresome. Tevis' characters are solidly developed and believable. I found myself feeling for them - even Spofforth - and desperate to read on at the end of every chapter.

The themes may not be anything radical or revolutionary; we've seen and read it all before in various forms, but they're done so well in Mockingbird. I don't doubt that a well-read copy of this book sits on many a film director's bookshelf, and deservedly so. Yet Mockingbird feels undervalued and seldom mentioned, which is a great shame.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Brave New Worlds exhibition - private viewing 05.09.11

It was good to get down to Richmond Upon Thames this week, for the private viewing of Brave New Worlds. Twenty-five works of art make up the exhibition - all of which had been painstakingly selected from over 500 submissions.

My painting, Awakening greets you by the door as you go in, which is nice. What struck me about the exhibition was the wide variety of styles, mediums and interpretations on offer, although the majority of the work depicted dystopias, which perhaps reflects the mental state of the nation at this present time!

It was a good turn out - the two small exhibition rooms in Richmond's Old Town hall were literally jam packed with people at one point during the evening. I had the pleasure of talking to fellow artists Martin Kerrison and Freeda Sangra, whose painting No-One Looks Evil in the Eye and Wants It was my personal favourite work on show and simply dominated the wall it adorned.

What with the Out of this World... exhibition of sci-fi art currently running at the British Library and now Brave New Worlds just a few miles away in Richmond, it does feel like a healthy and exciting time once again for science-fiction artwork. Let's hope it's just an indication of the shape of things to come!

Talk in Pictures gallery

I finally got round to adding my gallery of synaesthesia artwork to the website:

Talk In Pictures gallery

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Brave New Worlds - now open!

The Brave New Worlds exhibition opened today. There is an official opening night/private viewing on Monday evening, which I'm heading down to Richmond for. Exciting times!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

BRAVE NEW WORLDS Press Release

Brave New Worlds, Riverside Gallery, Richmond

3rd September-5th November 2011

Utopias and dystopias are the themes of the forthcoming exhibition at the Riverside Gallery in Richmond. Encompassing a wide range of media such as painting, drawing, photomontage, fused and painted glass, digital art and sculpture, Brave New Worlds brings together a collection of 25 works by local and national artists.

For centuries, artists and writers such as Hieronymus Bosch, Sir Thomas More and Aldous Huxley have explored ideas of utopianism and its dark, antithesis. As we move forward, widespread technological advancement, industrial expansion, and increased consumerism continue to affect our daily lives and change our environments both in positive and destructive ways. Fantastical Utopias are often upheld as idyllic retreats from the dystopian realities we face domestically and globally. 

This exhibition offers varied perspectives on the theme of Utopias and Dystopias: the unchartered territories of dreams and reverie, imagined Orwellian societies and otherworldly, alien realms. Alongside the imaginary and spiritual, inspiration has been drawn from everyday life - the news, popular culture, films, and novels. Reactions to war and violence, the destruction of natural environments, the power of politics, media, and propaganda, and the adverse effects of materialism also feature as important themes in many of the works. 

Exhibiting artists include: Lulu Allison, Gareth Barnett, Samuel Capps, Raquel Helena Louro Felgueiras, Gareth Gardener, Catherine Hargreaves, Martin Kerrison, Neil Metzner, Tutte Newall, Patrick O’Donnell, Charles Pearson, Nick Pollen, Paul Richards, and Alex Storer.

Brave New Worlds continues the successful run of open exhibitions organised by Orleans House Gallery in Twickenham. Each year, this open exhibition opportunity helps over 200 national and international artists to showcase their work in group exhibitions across three galleries: the Orleans and Stables Galleries in Twickenham and the Riverside Gallery in Richmond.  Recent open exhibitions include the acclaimed Making It/ Faking It: Copies, Homages, pastiches and Picturing Science.


Curator of Exhibitions and Collections Mark De Novellis states: “This potent theme has captured the imagination of artists for centuries. Where formerly, western artists would depict visions of Arcadian Edens and cataclysmic scenes of Judgment Day, contemporary artists have translated these concepts to reflect the here and now, while revealing our hopes and fears of possible worlds and potential futures.”


The exhibition runs until 5th November 2011 and admission is free.

Riverside Gallery
Old Town Hall
Whittaker Avenue
Richmond
TW1JP

Opening Times:
Monday: 10.00-6.00pm
Tuesday: 10.00-5.00pm
Wednesday: 10.00-6.00pm
Thursday: 10.00-5.00pm
Friday: 10.00-5.00pm
Saturday: 10.00-1.30pm
Sunday: CLOSED


Friday, 26 August 2011

Too much choice?


I'm a grumpy old man. I'll admit that. Except I'm not old. OK, so just grumpy! Anyway. Sometimes the internet feels too big. Too much out there. In the past, you had to use that funny thing called a phone (note the absence of the word 'mobile'), and when push came to shove, you had to go and meet somebody in person! Proofs had to be sent by post and things generally took a long time to happen. There's a whole generation growing up for whom the speed and accessibility of the internet is perfectly normal – and they look at their parents gone out when they tell them about the world before the internet and smartphones.

But I digress. Sometimes it just feels like there's so much – too much – to try and get involved in. Have a Facebook page, get a Twitter account, join forums, get a website, join DeviantArt, get a Flickr account – it's almost endless! And do we need all of it? And if you try and participate in all of it, do you simply end up doing a halfhearted job? With so many people doing the same thing at the same time, it makes you wonder how on earth and even if you're going to get noticed. Although in theory it's quite simple – so long as your work stands out – but it comes back to my previous point of feeling swamped by technology. Now there are websites where you can go and sketch online, you can paint by finger on your iPad or iPhone. Let's not forget there's those great things called "Pencils" though, which you use on that paper stuff!

Although I love technology and the convenience and speed it presents, not to mention the digital art medium (i wouldn't be the same without it!), I do sometimes miss the simplicity of days gone by - or lack of so many outlets, to put it a different way. Yet at the same time we're in an age where your work can reach other parts of the world within seconds and be seen by thousands of people who would previously never see what you're doing. It's a funny old time. I wonder where we're going.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Prophecy

I posted a half-finished version of this painting a few weeks ago. Here's the almost finished thing.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Sci-fi art on the rise


Is it just me, or does sci-fi art feel like it's on the rise at the moment? A couple of weeks ago there was an article on the BBC News website publicising the lovely new Chris Foss book. When was the last time we saw an article on space art on the BBC?! Magazines such as ImagineFX stand out in the shelves on newsagents, and the internet is bursting with great artwork – in fact it feels a bit like too much at times, which is part of the reason I haven't yet become a regular poster on forums – it's easy to feel lost or swamped. But on the other hand, these are great places to get honest feedback and discuss arty things with other arty people.

In fact, it's not just sci-fi art that's growing, but digital art. And by that I mean painting. About ten years ago computer art – especially sci-fi art – basically meant rendered 3D stuff. It was everywhere, with artists like Steve Stone taking centre stage. Even books on fantasy or sci-fi art were full of epic CGI. But for me, I always felt that it lacked soul and emotion. Where was the touch of the artist's hand and where was their personality? All absent. The imagery may have been pixel perfect and lifelike, but to me it no longer felt like artwork. I find that when it comes to digital painting, the atmosphere and personality of a piece are key to its success. 

Either way it feels like the tables have turned a little, and while CGI has found its vocation in movies and is now capable of producing stunning, lifelike visuals such as those seen in Avatar or Tron Legacy, hand-painted artwork is clearly back to stay. Maybe people have realised what they had been missing in artwork and maybe Photoshop had been used to make montages for far too long – another article on the BBC recently hinted at the return to the sadly forgotten trend of hand-drawn film posters. No matter how good a 3D piece is, you still can't beat a good painting.

We are in an age where we're engulfed with technology, sometimes to the point of insanity, as there are very few things you can do that don't have to be done via some sort of screen, whether it's on your phone, at the bank and of course, on the computer. But with that in mind, it's a good time to be a digital artist. Looking back to my days pushing pixels around on an Amiga and my first Photoshop work on Apple Macs in the mid-90s, the software and hardware is finally at just the right place for digital painting, and it's encouraging to see so much talent out there on the world wide web.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Sunday afternoon speedpainting

I've had this image of two waterfalls in my mind for a while now, so I thought I'd try and get something down. Created in about 3 hours. Now it just needs a title.


Saturday, 13 August 2011

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Site updates

I've added the new trendy 'Share' buttons to my site, which appear to be all the rage at the moment. So please help spread the word, by posting to your Facebook pages, Twitter feeds etc!

I have also added a new links page. Not much on there at the moment, as I'm pretty selective, but it'll develop over time.

And I've been working on a new piece of space art. It's not finished yet, but currently looks like this:

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Brave New Worlds exhibition


I'm pleased to announce that my work, Awakening, has been selected for part of an upcoming exhibition of utopian and dystopian artwork, "Brave New Worlds", at the Riverside Gallery in Richmond, near London from September 3rd.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Work in progress


"Prophecy"...another piece depicting doom and gloom! It's almost there I think, I just need to add a bit more detail to the buildings and work on some of the textures a little. Not my most polished piece, but quite spontaneous, with more of an illustrated/sketchy kind of feel. Inspired my the recent exhibition of John Martin paintings, I mentioned earlier.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Painting songs




In a previous entry I talked about the fusion of art and music. For years I thought it was perfectly normal to associate colours and textures with sounds and music. Then one day I read about synasthesia, and realised that this was not something everybody experienced, and a few years ago, I decided to put it to the test.

Peter Gabriel's music remains closest to me, as he was the first artist I seriously got into at the impressionable age of 15. His use of music and imagery, from his album sleeves to song videos simply blew me away, and in fact probably inspired me to become a graphic designer. However, a few years ago, I decided to try and 'illustrate' several Gabriel songs, based on the colours, forms and textures that came to mind whilst playing the music.

I produced about 6 pieces in total, all of a similar abstract style – which wasn't at all planned. I did send copies of the finished pieces to Peter's fanmail address. I wonder if he ever got to see them. I haven't looked them for a while, but upon doing so this morning, I'm thinking it's time they went back online, maybe in a new section of my main website. In the meantime, shown above is one of them, and my personal favourite, which was created to Gabriel's track, "Come Talk To Me".

Monday, 11 July 2011

Boy, have we got a vacation for you... for you... for you... for you...

Westworld.

The classic 1973 sci-fi thriller written by Michael Crichton, remains my all-time favourite SF movie. It's got everything - an unsettling ambience, a haunting soundtrack, the future, the past, Yul Brynner's finest performance, technology gone wrong (surely Crichton's favourite subject!), a gunslinging robot on the rampage and moustache-ridden 1970s style sex with androids. Well, I'm not sure of the latter is a prerequisite of a great movie, but it's one of the may facets of Westworld.

Flares and facial hair aside, it's one of those movies which still stands up strong today. Any big budget remake would never recapture the tense atmosphere and suspense of the original, not to mention Fred Karlin's grating, nightmarish soundtrack. The bulk of the movie sees the manic gunslinger robot pursuing  Richard Benjamin's character through the inanimate theme-park worlds of Medieval World, Roman world and West World, in a superbly directed sequence of events - the nightmare robot who refuses to die, which Terminator used so well was started here.

I was probably around 7 or 8 years old when I first saw Westworld, and it was one of the few movies which utterly terrified me, and is one of the few movies of it's kind that I can still enjoy over again today with the same sense of thrill and excitement.

What a shame they had to go and make Futureworld!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Music for painting


I find it very difficult to work without music. I've always felt there's a certain artistic inspiration to be had from music, particularly when it's the more textured, atmospheric kind. How I got through all my art classes at school and college without music, I'll never know! OK, so maybe I can work just fine without it - but much better with it, where I can enclose myself in a musical bubble of concentration.

My taste generally consists of iconic and influential artists of the last 40 years. I'm talking people such as Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, Gary Numan, John Foxx, Kraftwerk and Mike Oldfield etc. However 
a lot of the time, I may choose instrumental music, as somehow it often feels more suited to the kind of paintings I produce. I
n particular I'm a big fan of Jean Michel Jarre, and have been since an early age. When I was little, every time I heard my dad listening to Jarre's classic Oxygène album, it would send me to some place else. I still have associations of that album with a superb book of SF and fantasy art called Space Wars, Worlds and Weapons, published in the late 70s.

Oxygene 7-13, 
Jarre's 1997 follow-up to his 1976 masterpiece, was the first thing I bought with my first ever paycheck. I remember the thrill of getting home and putting that album on and being swept away across epic dreamscapes. Much of Jarre's work, in particular the two Oxygène albums – as their titles and album covers suggest – deal with environmental issues. You only need look at Michel Granger's striking artwork on 
Oxygène to know that under the famous melody, it's a suite of music centered around our own destruction of the Earth.

But themes aside, this kind of music for me is just perfect for painting environments and landscapes; no lyrics to dictate otherwise, and, being a synaesthete, the music affects my mood and the colours of the piece I'm working on. It's with that in mind, that I often find whatever music I'm listening to, integral to the creative process. But it has to be the right music!

Friday, 1 July 2011

John Martin - Painting the Apocalypse

Sheffield's Millennium Gallery heralded a surprise for me today - a free (and impressively big) exhibition of paintings by British Romantic painter, John Martin. Entitled "Painting the Apocalypse", it showcases Martin's work which depicts the end of days, often with strong Biblical undertones.

I had never heard of John Martin, but it sounded interesting, so in I went. I was simply astounded by the magnificence of his paintings and sketches, not to mention the scale of some of them. The light, the colout. Epic proportions. I never associated the Romantic movement with apocalyptic imagery – paintings well out of their time! Absolutely wonderful - I'm going back for a second, more in-depth look.

John Martin: "The Great Day of His Wrath" (1851-3)

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Big Dog

Here is a speed painting I did last night, inspired by a scene from Brian Aldiss' Non-Stop.  I suppose this is a bit of a spoiler for anybody who hasn't read it, but I'll say no more, other than it's an absolutely amazing book.

Friday, 24 June 2011

That profound effect…



My artwork takes a great deal of inspiration from what I'm reading. Up until my early twenties, I'd never been much of a reader of novels. One day (in the poignant year of 2001 I might add!), all that changed. I don't even remember what possessed me to decide to walk into Waterstones that day and go straight for the sci-fi section – the Arthur C. Clarke shelf in particular. The stunning array of cover artwork which adorned the SF Masterworks range of books from Orion was utterly compelling, and it was one painting in particular, by Chris Moore, which instantly grabbed my attention and sucked me in. The book was Clarke's The City and the Stars. And thus began my obsession…

Since then, I've been slowly working my way through the SF Masterworks range of books (and a few others). On many occasions upon finishing a book, it's easy to think "that's the best thing I've ever read!", only to think the same thing about the next one. But from a visionary and inspirational point of view, I thought I'd start to list the books that have had a profound effect on me; novels which broadened my SF horizons and really changed the game. Of course this list will go on expanding and evolving, but here it stands, as of today...

THE CITY AND THE STARS by Arthur C. Clarke
Nothing will ever knock this off the number one spot for me. When you consider this was written in the mid-1950s, Clarke's vision of future technology and civilisation is absolutely astounding. Granted, there is perhaps a bit more fiction than science here, yet it is still believable, which is what is endearing about all of Clarke's work. One of my favourite themes is that of escape and discovery of an unknown outside world, and that's exactly what The City and the Stars presents us with, as we follow Alvin, in his lone quest to go beyond the domed city of Diaspar. The timeline may be a little far-fetched, but the technology of the self-sustaining, regenerating city and it's populous, generated by a central computer, is absolutely fantastic. Not only did this book fuel my own inspiration, but it introduced me to Clarke's work and turned me overnight into an avid reader. And I loved Chris Moore's cover artwork so much, I bought a signed print from him, which hangs on my wall with pride.

WHEN THE SLEEPER AWAKES by H.G. Wells
This book is something of a hidden gem; underrated, and seldom referred to. As with the above, When the Sleeper Awakes deals with a vision of the future, in this case a future version of London. The story follows Graham, an insomniac with suicidal tendencies. When on the brink of throwing himself off some cliffs in 18th Century Cornwall, a friend comes to his aid, and he suddenly falls into a trance-like slumber – for over 200 years. He awakens in a very different world, of chaos and disorder, only to find that he is not only the richest man alive, but the apparent owner of everything. This was one novel I simply could not put down, ultimately prompting me to paint a pivotal scene from the story, of Graham's awakening in the new world. For me this is Wells' best work, undoubtedly inspiring many literary brave new worlds for years to come.

RENDEZ-VOUS WITH RAMA by Arthur C.Clarke
The second of three Arthur C. Clarke books in this list, the story tells of a vast spinning cylindrical object heading towards Earth. A specialist team is sent to investigate and once inside this vast, mysterious object, they find a whole other world, though seemingly uninhabited. Clarke's vision is again, huge and awe-inspiring. It may well be his best writing in terms of vision and science, but it is his knack of writing and describing things with such mystery and intrigue which really makes Rama work. This book blew me away, although I've deliberately avoided any of the later follow-ups.

NON-STOP by Brian Aldiss
I write this as, I'm about to finish the last few pages of this novel, so although the final outcome is yet to be determined, it can't go without mention. A very character-based story, Non-Stop is one of the most exciting books I've read, full of twists and surprises, with enough subtle hints throughout to keep you guessing, but without giving too much away. The story follows Roy Complain, of the Greene tribe, who live in a metal complex overgrown with hydroponic plantlife. Complain decides to investigate the various rumours of worlds and races beyond the enclosure and the ponics, and is in for a rather alarming journey of discovery…

CHILDHOOD'S END by Arthur C. Clarke
The mysterious Overlords arrive in huge saucers over the world's major cities and bring order and peace… Yet another Clarke classic, and certainly the most epic novel I've ever experienced. I say 'experienced', as Childhood's End is more than just a damn good read. It spans generations, raises eyebrows and poses mind-blowing questions. Possibly Clarke's most clever writing, and a book to be enjoyed over again.

FLOW MY TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID by Philip K. Dick
I've come to realise that once you've read one PKD novel, you pretty much know what you'll be in for in many of the others. Although I'm yet to read his acclaimed Valis or Ubik, from what I have read to date, Flow My Tears… was the one that struck me the most. Cinematic in approach, almost comic book-like, the story takes place in a dystopian 1988, and follows the theft of TV star Jason Taverner's identity. As with many of Dick's other novels, such as The Penultimate Truth or The Simulacra, Government conspiracy forms a central theme, as do character crossover sub-stories and the overall subject of identity. 

Okay, so my planned 'top five' became six, and that was without mentioning Joe Haldeman's The Forever War or numerous other Arthur C. Clarke novels such as The Songs of Distant Earth or Fountains of Paradise!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

First blog

Well, technically, it isn't my first blog. I've been blogging for years in one form or another, across various sites and subjects. This blog however, will be dedicated to my artwork and it's influences - which means I'll be talking a lot about whatever I'm reading at the moment.

Speaking of which, I recently read H.G. Wells' classic The War of the Worlds. I've no idea why it took me so long to get around to reading it, perhaps always having been content with the movie versions or the more accurate musical version. However, as with everything of Wells that I've read to date, the book blew me away - so epic, so visionary. And a thousand times better than any interpretation thus far!

This led to my attempt at creating some artwork, depicting one of the climactic scenes in the book. However, it looks unfortunately like it'll be one of those pieces which is left unfinished for a few months, if at all. Maybe I need a break from it, having got so far, but here is the early stages of the piece, raw and rough, and lacking most of the planned detail. But you start to get the idea...