Category Archives: painting

Going Live (He-Man On Rollerskates & Guess Who Concept Art)


He-Man On Roller-Skates (Concept Sketch)

So I completed a concept sketch of He-Man wearing roller-skates. I really had to hold myself back and sketch as true to the toy as possible even when I was sorely tempted to make him go full roller derby girl. I might be rather cruel to the memory of He-Man because every time I draw this character I want to make him exaggerate his masculine body shaper but still give him overly feminine features and gestures similar to how Arnold Schwarzenegger looked in Conan the Barbarian. I think I can take it further with this sketch later as a personal illustration and draw him with stripe knee socks along with elbow, knee and wrist protection pads. At the moment I can’t think of an appropriate derby name that will not offend transvestites or transexual people. Humour and political correctness is getting harder to balance nowadays.


Guess Who Board Face Concept Art

I also did more design sketches for the faces for the Guess Who Board. This is my first attempt but I stopped midway when I realised that I was going completely off tangent. As fun as it was to paint this, the angled tilt of the head as well as the addition of the neck and the shoulder just doesn’t make it a Guess Who face. So I am setting this aside for now and moving on to another style that would be more suitable.


Parallax Art Fair


Parallax Art Fair!

It happened! The big weekend came and went, it was incredible fun and quite a success. Daniel and I travelled to London on the night bus on Thursday and arrived early Friday in plenty of time for my hanging slot at 5pm. With all the other artists scrambling to put up their work it was hectic, crowded and stiflingly hot. We did manage to get the frames, name card holders and stickers up before the opening ceremony and I had a few minutes to explore and admire the rest of exhibition before the crowds arrived. I have to admit I was felt nervous about how my work would be received, not only by the visitors but by the other artists at the fair. However, I still felt pride in my work and of my space which looked well put together and presented. No regrets at all.


Constellation Owl & Cheeky Fox

Since the space that I had was about 150cm in width I decided to feature only the best of my smoke paintings; The Fox & The Crane, Red Stag, Qilin, Chinese Dragon, Constellation Owl and Cheeky Fox Face (everybody seems to adore the painted fox’s sweet face as much as I do). All of the paintings are Gicleé prints on Awagami’s Washi paper that I bought online from Japan. I wanted the prints to appear as if they were printed traditionally and the combination of Gicleé and washi paper worked.


Qilin & Chinese Dragon

I spent most of the next two days standing by my work, greeting and talking to anyone who stopped by. Everyone who came forward to chat with me were very kind and seemed genuinely interested to know about me and what I did. I had lost count of the number of people who asked how I painted them and to be honest, this is a question that I do not like to answer. Most of the illustrations are at least finished digitally and most people still have this notion that digital work is considered a ‘cheat’ when compared to traditional paintings. My opinions about people who assume this are not exactly positive but I always try to explain that for me digital work requires as much consideration as traditional does and that each artist will find their own work pattern when utilising either medium. I can’t say that I enjoyed having to defend how I paint to practically every person I spoke to But I understand that if I want to continue showing and selling my smoke paintings publicly that I will have to. For the time being I can accept this.


Looking Awkward & Terrified In Front Of My Work


My Assistant For The Weekend

I am very happy to have gotten through this weekend in one piece. There’s no doubt in my mind that I would not have been able to get through this weekend without help from Daniel. For one thing, I wasn’t tall enough to attach the top picture frames and the organisers did not provide chairs nor ladders. Or tools. I knew that it will take a lot of effort and heavy lifting to get everything from Dundee to London, set everything up and haul it back to Dundee but first hand experience is the best teacher as usual. I do not know if I will take part in Parallax Art Fair again as it is quite an expensive endeavour but I am not ruling it out entirely as they have another show in July and one in New York as well. At the tail end of my adventure I can state with confidence that it has been a very rewarding weekend in all aspects. I always enjoy visiting London because it makes me feel so grateful that my home is Dundee. Whether I stay in Dundee is up to fate (and a lot of handwork on my part) but I wouldn’t trade the first fresh breath of Scottish air I get when I come back from this journey for anything.


I Managed To Sell Something!

Constellation Owl


Constellation Owl

This week has been very busy as in a few days I will be heading off to London for the Parallax Art Fair (!!). Exciting times and I still have plenty more to do. During the weekend I completed another smoke illustration of Zeus the owl. Zeus is a wee screech owl living at the Wildlife Learning Center in California. They’re not sure how he became blind and theorised that it was through an attack from a larger bird. In any case, a combination of blood clots and cataracts have now made his eyes look as if they are windows into the galactic universe. I can’t remember where it was that I first saw a picture of Zeus, but I was so smitten with his sweet face and incredible eyes that I got to work immediately.

I have to admit I did have another incentive for painting Zeus. Actually two incentives. The first was that I need to complete one more original illustration to feature at Parallax Art Fair London. I was also motivated by my own project Little Guardian which has hit a temporary creative rut. I am still sketching and researching different designs for the spirit character so this illustration is in part also a concept experiment. Since the spirit character is supernatural, it would be interesting to design it with constellation eyes that are similar to Zeus’s.


Zeus The Owl (Wildlife Learning Center)

I’ve also been running around getting prepared for Parallax Art Fair this weekend as I’ll be leaving Thursday night. Thanks to the guys at DJCad Make I had a vinyl sticker of my name logo made and ready to go in an hour. I think it will give my exhibition space a clean, professional look and I’m pretty chuffed about it!


Logo Vector Art For The Vinyl


The Finished Vinyl

I had trouble finding good name card holders in store or online and rather than spend more time searching for one it occurred to me that I had plenty of MDF wood left over from when I made the Chinese Zodiac Lantern Lamp. I used Adobe Illustrator to prepare the name card holder design and the laser cut file was ready in time for my booking hour with the laser cutter machine. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed working with the machines at DJCad make and the guys there are incredibly helpful and accommodating. I couldn’t complete all of my work within the first hour because I ran into other problems with the picture frames that I ordered and I had to improvise a quick solution for them. I do have a time slot with the laser cutter booked tomorrow so I’m confident everything that needs to be cut will be completed by then. The name card holders will need to be glued and painted after wards.


Lasercut MDF Pieces For My Namecard Holders


Incomplete Namecard Holder

The frames that I ordered for the large prints had inside mounts that were for the original size of the paper which was 483mm by 329mm. As the paper is imported from Japan their size of A3+ didn’t match UK standards which is 350mm by 320mm (in case you were wondering, yes I am putting the exact measurements on this post as a permanent way to make sure I don’t forget or lose them). So the first attempt the printer made with the original paper this morning ended in a sad crumpled print. He offered to cut the remaining paper to SRA3 size and print again. This time the prints came out perfectly but now I had a gap between the mount and the frame in the print. The best solution I could think of involved buying black mount board and using the laser cutter to cut it to size so it can fill in that gap.


Printed Qilin Image On Washi Paper (Paper Was Crumpled By The Printer)


First Dragon Print (Success!)

When I went back to printers at the end of the day to collect the rest of the prints I just had to try out the inner black mount that I had just cut. The part of me that wants perfection is a little bothered that the black edge at the top and bottom is thicker than the sides but I’m happy with how the entire frame looks with everything put together. The difference between the black and cream mount gave the overall look of the frame an interesting presentation so I’m not disappointed. Oh, I have not yet removed the safety cover for the frame yet which is why it is still tinted blue in the image. In summation, I was productive today!


Framed Qilin Painting

Little Guardian (Concept Illustration)


Spirit Character Concept Illustration (Qilin Version)

I revisited my personal project this week with two concept illustration of the spirit character. Both concepts are based on Chinese mythological creatures; a Qilin and Long (Chinese dragon). Chinese legendary beasts are described to be chimeric and they take on different physical attributes from different animals such as deer, carp, tiger or fish. Both Dragon and Qilin are symbols of benevolence, prosperity and luck, but they also represent judgement and righteous behaviour. The spirit character in my project is presented by its physical form (it house statue) and it’s immaterial form that better represents its personal character which is innocent and pure. The statue the spirit lives in by contrast should visually represent the spirit’s duty and resembles a fierce protective statue that Oriental cultures used to place in their homes to guard them from harm. I was toying with the idea of making each design a complete opposite in appearance. The gentler, immaterial aspect of the spirit manifests itself as a peaceful looking Qilin while its physical housing is presented as a powerful and strong Dragon. But now that I have completed a concept illustration of each creature…. I don’t think it would work. Back to the drawing board.


Spirit Character Concept Illustration (Dragon Version)

Million Hairs Club

This is my double page spread for the Future Of Money project. My idea was that somewhere in the future the majority of the human race have lost the ability to grow hair on their heads and they are bald. To compensate for the lack of a crowing glory, people have begun to wear wigs. And because of the scarcity of natural hair and people’s dissatisfaction with synthetic wigs, the value of real human hair has skyrocketed and it has overtaken paper money and coins and credit cards as the main form of trade and commerce.

Within the concept of hair currency itself, different hair colour and types have varying values with silky blond hair being the most highly sought after.  I wrote a short article set in this fictional universe.


The human race has gone from keeping their wealth and money from the wallet and bank to wearing it on their heads. When you walk down the streets of every village, town or city in the world today you will see a mixture of people in brightly coloured synthetic wigs. Retro-fitted to their scalps with powerful electromagnets to prevent hair theft, each wig will have strands or thin locks of woven natural hair (most commonly coloured black) carefully secured into their weave. Through touch pad and genetic coding each strand of hair can only be carefully removed by it’s owner during a transaction. What transaction? Well hair has replaced money and gold as the method of payment for all goods and services now.

It’s been 47 years since the population of the world succumbed to Folicfailure, the drug that became a disease. Once known as the Fountain of Youth, it was hailed as the answer to eternal life, it instead transmuted into a disease that infected 96% of the entire population of the world. While it may have prolonged youth and vitality by an extra 10 years, the drug also caused every human who ingested it to drop every single strand of hair on their scalp. Soon it evolved into a infectious aerial disease, jumping from one person to the next until only 4% of the world’s population is able to produce hair.

The governments call them Growers, we call them the Rapunzels or Million Hair Clubbers. The elite pool of genetic lottery winners born with the genes naturally resistant to Folicfailure. Kept in a secret location and separate from the rest of the population to prevent any possibility of new infection. Herald as the wealthiest people on the planet, these members of the Million Hairs Club live in a utopian paradise where every need is met and provided ten fold. All they need to do is stay alive and grow healthy hair. We know almost nothing of the actual people who grow our wealth. Not even what they look like, only that the Rapunzels carry the planet’s wealth on their shoulders.  Literally.

With the world’s currency shifting from money to hair, humans have proven once and for all that they are at heart; narcissistic creatures.

Illustrated below is an artist interpretation of the most famous of Rapunzels; Kenneth Dollziwack.  As the only person in the world left with golden blond hair, a single strand of 20 metre long hair from his head is worth a three bedroom house and a luxury car.

MillionHairsClubIllustration(Online)The richest man in the world; Kenneth Dollziwack.

First Digital Character Painting in Five Years


Mihara Saitou (First Portrait) 2014



For the theme of ‘Eden’ I explored the concept of personifying the realm of Eden as a character instead of a physical space. Similar to the garden paradise in the bible, the Eden character was once ‘perfect’ but eventually became corrupted and tainted by ‘sin’. Eden is portrayed as a flower and a predator at once in order to parallel human evolution and simultaneous deterioration from ‘purity’ throughout the ages.

(Online)EdenFinal Illustration (Digital, 30cm X 30cm)

(Online)(Sketch)Eden01Developmental Drawings

woland scanFinal drawing used for the final illustration.

(Process) Eden (GIF)Digital Painting Process

Ishtar : An Immortal (Narrative Book Project)


 Ishtar An Immortal Book Jacket (210mm X 145mm)

For the Narrative book project I designed a short illustrated book entitled Ishtar. It is written as a poem in the first person narrative of Ishtar, Goddess of war and love. Each illustration is originally drawn in pencil, scanned and then taken into photoshop to be make into a digital collage. The book is sixteen pages long bound into a hardback book with a cover jacket. Eight pages are laid out to fit onto a single sheet of  A3 or A2 sized paper and later folded and cut to size.

(Mock Up) Ishtar Celestial Maiden (Mock-Up)-Ishtar-Celestial-Maiden-BackDigital Mock Ups.

Video of the completed book.

photo 1 photo 2

I also designed a symbol/sigil motif unique to the character of Ishtar. It is employed  in the creation of a pattern of two different colours in different variations for the book wrap covering and inner binding of the book. These can be seen in the inside cover.



The motif is also used in the different illustrations  inside the book.

(Online)IshtarAnImmortalPages01-08 Pages One to Eight.

(Online)IshtarAnImmortalPages09-15Pages Nine to Fifteen


(Online)(Sketch)IshtarAnImmortal02 (Online)(Sketch)IshtarAnImmortal03Developmental Drawings

After settling on which of the original drawings to use I edited the colour, composition and texture of each illustration in Photoshop. Below is an animated Gif of page 10 and 11 showing the process I used to create the illustrations.


(Process) Ishtar An Immortal

Warrior Women & Gender Representation Inside My Art Work

Queen Boudicca  Source: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

I’ve never been fully convinced of conservative social convections on femininity and how women should be passive, subservient and domesticated. My mother is the strongest woman I know and so I while I spent most of time growing up around my father and brother (whom each possess more than their fair share of “Alpha Male Ego”) there was and still is a strong feminine presence in my life.

For me, there has always been a fascination with the female warrior figure. I learned early in life that even though woman can appear demure and ladylike; under that veneer there is more likely than not; a core of iron. And there is a lot to admire and respect among strong feminine archetypes. Examples of strong historical female warriors include Artemisia I of Caria, Tomoe Gozen, Fù Hǎo, Joan of Arc and the ferocious celtic queen Boudicca. And despite coming from a fictional source, the positive influence garnered also from stories from folklore, novels and movies are undeniable. I think there’s a reverence in the strength of women; all kinds of them. Whether a fictional heroine, or capricious Goddess of myth and legend or a modern day female politician standing up against misogyny in male dominated parliament; women are strong and while not necessary of the physical sort, strength and honor is not exclusive to men.

The Crimson Lotus is In Bloom (2009)

“I was never deceived by Chinese women, not even by the flower-like lovely girls. They are the strongest women in the world. Seeming always to yield, they never yield. Their men are weak beside them. Whence comes this female strength? It is the strength that centuries have given them, the strength of the unwanted.” 

– From Letter from Peking by Pearl S. Buck, 1957 (1)

In continuation to the subject of Gender Representation in the Arts I would like to take a piece of artwork that I had painted as a object of study. I chose my own painting for this experiment largely due to an interest in dissecting my own artistic psyche and I would also like to look at my painting with a fresh perspective as it was after all, completed three years age. It is a digital painting titled The Crimson Lotus is in Bloom and it features a female character I created named Ren which is the Japanese translation of lián (蓮) meaning lotus (2).

I’ve chosen this particular painting as an example to represent an expansion of the lecture’s theme because it explores the concepts of gender identity and androgyny. It depicts a human subject who is certainly female yet also possesses certain qualities that give her undefinably masculine and feminine characteristics. I wanted to paint a character who appeared young. deeply stricken but very strong. Despite the lack of expression on her face, there would be intensity in her eyes that would identify her as a strong person despite the physical evidence of violence that she carries along with an armful of lotus blossoms.

As the artist who painted Ren, I know her history, character and motivations intimately and so I painted her with the intention exposing her inner character and not her body. Whilst the majority of her physical nudity is concealed by the delicate lotus blossoms she is nude in the sense that it is her soul that is exposed. Every element in the painting from the her scars to the clinical background was chosen to represent Ren’s personality and state of mind. The predominantly green color palette represents nature, regeneration, honor, virtue and beauty (3) and the splashes of blood (that may or may not belong to Ren) in crimson red to bring her inner violence and her rage into context. It is meant to be a portrait and she appears nude and is carrying an armful of flowers. Her posing is a satirical approach to what is employed in traditionally demure portraiture and the lotus flowers, while also symbolising purity are mainly passive objects that absorb the color and mood of their surrounding environment. They are the symbols of Ren’s gentle womanly nature that is still a part of who she is.

In the case of scopophilia, Ren appears to be a prisoner in the portrait and is both the object being consumed but also the one consuming, in this case either the actual viewer themselves or an unseen character/s inside the world of the painting. It is possible that Ren is gazing at her own reflection thereby consuming herself. Whoever she is consuming with her stare, she remains stoic but defiant and vengeful too.

Ren is striking and beautiful but she is not an object of desire and yet she is also not an object of horror to soothe Freud’s castration anxiety by giving the male viewer a female object to conquer either. Her androgynous features are meant to offset and confuse the traditional norms of female beauty and to perhaps lead a male viewer into a sense of security. What they see is a figure who defies the gender binary system and hence traditional gender norms in not clearly definable in this case as Ren cannot be fit into a comfortable gender role. She is a rare creature and she is absolutely her own person. A woman warrior and Alpha female who will not sacrifice any part of her honor and integrity. She apologizes to no one and is prepared to retaliate in violence in order to protect herself and those that are under her protection.

But it is a very rare woman to be taken for who she truly is. And I would like to conclude that while I may be ambitious in my attempt in portraying my vision of a idealistic woman warrior whether I succeeded or not is entirely subjective to whomever is studying this piece of work.

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