Monday, 29 December 2008

Season's Greetings

(Please try the large view; somehow the reds look dull in the preview.)

It's a bit late, but here they are: my best wishes for the holidays :).

Every year I paint a number of cards by hand, because I know there are a few people who like getting one of my pictures. I have been doing this since I was a teen, and always integrate a character that fascinates me at that moment. I have a distinct memory - and some physical evidence, unless I am much mistaken - of drawing Gawain as one of the three kings, somewhere in the nineties. This time, I picked Morgana. That's basically because this card was done for Nout, whom I have been sending ugly wizards for years, so I thought he'd be pleased to get a picture of a beautiful nun for a change ;-).

The inks were done with brushes. I'm particularly happy with the lady's face: her skin is really luminous, and her mouth is as perfect as I'm likely to get it. The paper is Fabriano - I chose it in an attempt to attract some of Cecilia's watercolour mojo ;P. Well, I don't exactly reach Cecilian levels, but for me it's not at all bad...

Have a wonderful new year!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Kundry and Co.

I finished Der Rote Ritter. Eine Geschichte von Parzivâl (Adolf Muschg, Suhrkamp 1993) this week. I'm glad that I made it, but sad that it's over. It's a great, great novel and I only wish I could ever create a work like that. *sigh*

I'm always trying to recommend the book to people, but unfortunately it does not seem to have been translated. So unless you know enough German to read a 992-page Swiss novel, I guess you will just have to take my word for how good it is :-).

Anyway - my task now is to shake off Muschg's version of Gawain's adventures at the Castle of Maidens and to formulate my own. It is funny how I feel more or less obliged to stick to Chrétien and Wolfram's accounts of the Grail adventure. I have to remind myself that I can really deal with it any way I want. Best of all, Chrétien's story breaks off just as Gawain has survived the ordeal of the Bed of Wonders, so I can really take it anywhere from there. I can introduce Morgana in the tale if I like. I can make of the duel with Guiromelant/Gramovlanz whatever I like. It's like fanfic, but better. Hah!

Now, one effect Muschg has had on my (poor) storytelling brain is seriously to rekindle my interest in the character of Orgelûse (Chrétien's Orgueilleuse de Logres) - the lady I call Kundry (because to my mind Orgueilleuse isn't a proper name but an epithet). I have been drawing quite a bit of Kundry as a consequence.

When Gawain first sees her, she is sitting by a well under an elm tree, looking at herself in a mirror. Gawain falls in love with her on the spot. And she looks through him. Oh, she's wonderfully snarky! - In any case, I would like to do a nice picture of her in watercolour, and I have made a few quick sketches that I rather like. It will take more effort before I can turn them into a painting, but...

The version above is the first that I did; in reality it's even smaller. It was drawn with a ballpoint pen, and so is the one below:

(Click to view a larger version.)

This is another typical example of my very wrong way of going about pictures :-). I start drawing the character, and then I start to worry about their surroundings. I think the normal thing would be to draw the place where the character is supposed to be sitting, think out the composition, and then place the character in the surroundings. Me, I really only care about the character, so I finish it entirely, and then stop because I suspect I am going to ruin the picture by my ineptness at drawing surroundings :/. So she's not sitting on anything. Ah well.

I have much, much more, but no time right now to comment on it, and as they are all sketchy pictures, they need some text. So: more soon.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Morgana: a pastel

This time I tried to use my pastel pencils without a graphite outline. Instead, I did the sketch in a pale blue pastel. I'm pretty pleased with the result, even though everything is less sharp than I usually have it. But that's why they are pastels, right? :-)

I much enjoyed doing this one, and I tried to be bold and not use the felt smudging thingies (no idea what they are called, sorry!) so much.

I know her eyebrows are a bit extreme, but you will know by now that I can never resist doing extreme things with eyebrows :D. And Morgana is not supposed to look ordinary anyway.

This was fun. I'm going to do it again. Yay pastels!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Teen Gawain pastel

There, my first Gawain in multicolour :-). I did this pastel exactly one week ago, but didn't upload it earlier because I wasn't able to take a photograph of it. For some reason, pastels don't scan - or I don't manage to scan them, in any case. I was waiting for some daylight for the photograph, but all week I come home when it's already dark outside. Then yesterday the sun shone, but I forgot all about the photo X(. And today was cloudy. So I finally took a photograph with artificial light, which never looks very good. The colours here are therefore not as they should be... I'll try to do better :-).

I don't seem to manage to use pastels like pastels, do I? I always try to make them smooth... I can't help it: I just like detail :P. So I always do a pencil picture first, and then colour it. I always go back with my pencil to make the lines sharper, too...

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Project: Gawain (continued)

Morgana, straight from the draft of a brochure :D. This pencil sketch is tiny, but I like it very much. It determined Morgana's general look for me, and I guess it contributed to my determination to make her a nun *g*. I have discovered that I enjoy drawing veils and capes, and that they can be very flattering :).

I'm still debating whether I'll call this gentleman Myrddin or Merlin. I am rather partial to Myrddin, but there seems little point in using this Welsh name if I don't have Welsh names for each character in the story :/. It has crossed my mind to simply rename the more "classic" medieval characters, but then I remembered how much I as a reader like to find familiar names in my Round Table books...


Still pondering the matter.

Happy with this Morgana, by the way :).

Two Gawains.

I'm very fond of his nose, it's going to be cutesy ;).

In fact it rather looks like my Ambiorix's.

With and without beard. Think black hair on the beardless Gawain's head to see the alternative version of Medraut/Mordred.

I'm trying to draw my heads smaller ever since Cecilia made a remark to me about the size of the head in proportion to the body, but I have to confess that when I draw them closer to their "real" size, they always look too small to me. Maybe that is because I have a large head and narrow shoulders myself...?

A tiny sketchie, just to get some idea about my hero's build. Of course stuff is wrong with it :P. I haven't started seriously studying anatomy yet (I should start with arms and hands, methinks), so I'm sort of trying out how far I get on my own. I know I would be better of really studying, but I haven't got the energy in weekends. Basically I need to SLEEP as much as possible, and to relax. Since I get worked up about my pictures' shortcomings, studying anatomy is *not* relaxing :/. So I keep putting it off. But I'll get to it. Seriously.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

A few characters

Below are a few characters in random order. They are not final yet - these are mostly the first sketches I have done of them and liable to change. Most look a bit clumsy. Of several characters I have in the meantime done better pictures, but I haven't got round to scanning them yet. Will do when I have time :).

This sketch of Morgause, Gawain's mother, looks very much like the Morgauses I used to draw when I was fifteen. (I remember doing a comic for my bestest friend in which a similar Morgause complained to Morgana about an unfair decision during an international football game of the Belgian national team. Don't ask.)

Her hair is supposed to be black, though I did not bother to colour it here. Her eyes are blue. She has changed a bit in the meantime, but the general idea is: petite, pretty, otherworldy - and cold.

Morgause's younger sister, Morgana. I have considered spelling her name as Morgain(e), because it would look nice next to Gawain and Owain, but it reminds me too much of Mists of Avalon, and I positively detested that book.

Because I am always contrary and got very tired of the whole Morgana-as-a-priestess-of-the-Goddess ado that is so very popular, I decided to go with the one book I ever read (I don't even remember which it was) that says Morgana was actually an abbess. Hah! She makes one cool nun, I tell you ;D.

Two archenemies: King Pellinore and King Lot. I have this idea that Pellinore is Scandinavian - I got that into my head after I realised that his name has the same ending as Elsinore, Hamlet's castle, which is an Anglicised form of Helsingør. So I started thinking of Pellinore as Pellingør. Again, don't ask :-).

Pellinore, contrary to popular belief, is a pig. It annoys me that he is usually painted as good and noble when one of the first things we hear about him in Arthurian lore is that he is a rapist. Blergh. BAD pig.

Lot is a pig too. Ask Morgause. He amuses Morgana, though, so he is slightly better than Pellinore. That, and I'm biased because he dotes on his sons.

A tiny picture from the margins of one of my brochures: Cai. He has very long brown hair, a very long brown 'stache and a long brown beard :-). Oh, and cool eyebrows that he hasn't got here yet... Ah well. I want him to have all the strange powers he has in ancient Welsh texts, so count on him being able to keep his breath for three days, grow as tall as a forest tree, and have a high enough body temperature to be used as a stove by his mates in winter XD.

I see we have arrived at Gawain's three wives. Yay! I like them all very much - not these sketches, really, but the characters behind them :-).

This is Ragnell, Wife the First. When she married Gawain, she looked - not very good. In fact she looked her real age, which is ... a few hundred years? Fortunately the kiss of a handsome prince can work miracle, at least in fairytales.

She is a fay, and Gawain loves her to bits. Unfortunately, she dies ;_;.

Ragnell is the mother of Gawain's eldest son, Cillian.

Wife Number Two is called Rhonwen. Her father threw a spear at Gawain as soon as he set eyes on him. He's a giant, incidentally. How he begot Rhonwen on her normal-sized mother I just don't want to know. I think it's called poetic licence, or something of the kind. In any case, Rhonwen is a fay too, and lives with her mother and father in a fairy hill until Gawain comes along.

Rhonwen's daddy is known as the Carl of Carlisle. His name is *not* Carl ;P.

This is Kundry. She is bad-tempered and sarcastic, and sets a record for keeping Gawain dangling. But as she takes the place of Third Wife, you know the dangling doesn't last forever. Gawain cannot perhaps convince her that he is the best and most interesting man around, but Kundry does end up believing that he might just be good enough for her. Of course *nobody* understands what he sees in her because - well, she's really not nice. And she never smiles. Or at least not in public.

Obviously she's my favourite :P.

And here he is: the bad guy.

I'm sorry. He is really bad. I haven't found a single redeeming virtue in Medraut yet. That is a bit frightening.

I really like how he looks here. Nevertheless I am seriously considering making him a black-haired version of Gawain, to posit them as clear opposites. I'm thinking it over.

Gawain looks very ... Asian here. It's not just me, is it? Clearly I have to sort the funny fay eyes out before I can get down to the serious work :). Maybe I have been reading too much Tsubasa lately *g*.

Apart from that, his looks are pretty stable now.

More next time - I have a few pretty Morganas on the shelf...

Wednesday, 17 September 2008


Look, piccies!

I have been trying for, what, two weeks to write a decent post about my chouchou Gawain and the project as a whole, but I don't seem to be able to manage without getting very long-winded and giving away every single plot point I would like to use XD. So I have a few pages stored on my hard drive that I just can't post... Ah well. I *will* post something on the characters, an introduction, and also the sketches I have done so far. There's a bit of story in there, but nothing major, just loose little ideas.

Below are some - very quickly - inked sketches. The first I'm including especially for Nout, who found it amusing because he discovered a parallel between my 'serious' version of Gawain, and Kaamelott's hilarious Gauvain. Gauvain is a complete loser who constantly makes a fool of himself - possibly even more so than the other characters in the series, and that's saying something :P. The saddest thing is that he really means well. So when Arthur once again loses his temper about one of his nephew's amazing stupidities, Gauvain tends to react with a disappointed, "Mais, mon oncle..." In fact, the 'serious' Gawain, too, has an impressive number of truly embarrassing adventures, the poor darling. The difference is that he manages to remain quite heroic all the way through. *g*

I did a number of sketches on the train, mainly to exercise in drawing King Lot, because I was enjoying his character so much. Unfortunately the sketches all turned out to be amazingly bad. Yesterday, thinking I had nothing to lose, I decided to take my Faber-Castell pens to them and try if there was anything I could salvage by inking. The result isn't brilliant, but it's certainly an improvement :D.

Lot, Lot, Lot - except for, top right, one Gawain drawn directly in ink. I'm doing a lot of Gawain pictures these days to figure out his built. He's supposed to be muscular and yet slender - I don't find that easy :/. I keep trying though.

The middle one is Gawain; apart from that, Lot and Morgana. You'll notice that Gawain and Morgana have strange eyes - I use the eyes to distinguish between humans and (part-) fays.

More later!

Saturday, 30 August 2008


Just throwing a few pictures at you... I have been doing too many Arthurian sketches to put in one post, so I'm giving you the more finished ones to get a taste for my new project ;-). The others require some text, because they are mostly character studies. Have these first, in a quick post :-).

(...if you needed more proof that I'm bad at drawing kiddies...)

(Making a mess with watercolour, YAY! This is SO not thought out... *g*)

(Happy with my inking. This is done with a brown Faber-Castell PITT pen.)

(My new favourite couple :P... It's Lot and Morgana!)

Tuesday, 12 August 2008


I have once again not been able to do any of the things I *wanted* to do this evening, but I don't want to wait any longer to share this:

Veridicus, all coloured!

Nout, a.k.a. the Comics Expert, gave me the little gem on Saturday. It seems that he keeps putting subtle (?) pressure on a real colour artist to make my lines look a bit more presentable... The great colours gracing my modest pencils are the work of Bartel Bruneel, whose art you can find on his blogspot Willborough, and the same artist who did the colours on Comm here.

Thanks a million, Bartel :D! This is absolutely wonderful - Veridicus looks alive! It's incredible how this colour art gives him substance. In my picture he was simply flat. I would never have believed that he could look so real, and the skin tones and facial muscles are gorgeous...


I told you, didn't I, that Veridicus was handsome? Well, you have the proof now! :P

la la la lalala la la la la lala lala la la la la laaaaaaaaaaa...


Sunday, 3 August 2008

Gawain Again

I am not sure how it happened, but I have suddenly found Gawain again. Between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, I was absolutely obsessed with this one knight of the Round Table. I thought Lancelot was a bore - he didn't seem to have a sense of humour, and he was universally acknowledged as The Greatest Knight of All. Blah.

Now Gawain, he is quite different. Somehow he gets into the strangest adventures of all, usually involving a wide array of ladies (young, old, seductive, distant, pretty, ugly, lethal, protective, possessed of magical powers or not) and really weird opponents, like green blokes on green horses or even the devil himself. He is at once the most courteous and considerate, as well as the most savage of King Arthur's knights. That is, he does not anger easily and never seems eager to fight; but when he gets into a rage he seems to lose control entirely, much in the way of ancient Irish heroes like Cúchúlain. He also has a kind of superpower: his strength waxes and wanes with the sun. This is a striking thing, because it shows clearly that his origins are more ancient than those of most other knights in the medieval romances. His ambiguity of character also shows in the fact that though in British romances (the notable exception being Malory's Morte Darthur) he is always a hero, while in French romances he is either used in contrast to the central hero of the story (mostly Lancelot and Percival) and portrayed as not living up to their standard, or he is simply a villain and a thug. I can't think of any other characters in medieval Round Table stories who serve both purposes.

When I was fifteen I started to write my own Gawain trilogy - yes, even then I never settled for small projects ;-). I actually made it through the entire first book, and with characteristic naïvité showed it to a teacher, who told me I should try to get it published. I did try, twice. Of course the manuscript was rejected, and when I look at it now, it is obvious why XD - so obvious, in fact, that I'm rather relieved that nobody can produce a copy and confront me with it... But, well, I was only fifteen after all. The great thing was that one of the publisher's professional readers, an author of young adult books himself, invited me to his home to give me tips about writing. I am still grateful for that, because even though I lost courage after the two rejections and stopped in the middle of my second Gawain novel, it dawned on me much later that this writer thought I had it in me to write a good novel one day. The novel is still not written, and my attention has for a large part shifted towards comics, but his encouragement has strengthened my belief in my capacity to tell a story - a capacity that I do my best to hone, even if, like everything else, it takes me a lot of time.

Now, why did I start about Gawain again? It is just that a few pieces about his character fell into place, like that, out of the blue. It crossed my mind that, unlike with my Gauls, Gawain might actually furnish material for short comics. That means that I could take on something that can be finished within a limited timeframe. Also positive is that the settings would be rather similar to the ones I need to picture Gaul, and so these short stories could provide good exercise. I already have a lot of material in terms of plot. And a new version of Gawain just found its way to paper, so...

Here are the first sketches, mostly in bic pen. I wanted to try drawing with bics because I see that lots of artists do it, with great results, even though the medium never really attracted me. Trying it out has warmed me to it, though I'm not really projecting any finished pictures in it.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Doodles from work...

I gathered a few doodles from one of my notebooks at work. Whenever I am distracted for a moment, I draw a doodle :-). Three characters were actually born in the office! *g* Andecamulos was the first. Vitios the blacksmith was the second - you haven't seen him yet. The bard Cantorix is the third:

(my first few Cantorix sketches)

(crouching people without reference = AARGH)

(first sketch of Comm without a beard.
doesn't look a lot like Comm at all, does it?)

Friday, 27 June 2008

Double Comm

I was thinking the other day that a nice, and very clear, way for Comm to show his allegiance to Rome would be to adopt the clean-shaven, short-haired Roman style. Such a gesture overcomes language barriers. It's a little painful for me, because I love Comm's long hair, and to have to sacrifice it... But it makes so much sense to me that I have decided to put aside my personal preference :-).

Now, the tricky part is of course to make him still look like Comm, even when the beard has gone. For me that is not an easy matter. One reason why I gave him a beard is, of course, to make it easy to distinguish him from other characters. So far I have only one dark-haired man with a beard, and that is him. When I remove the beard, he looks awfully much like a generic Roman :/. Of course that is the point, but it doesn't make things easier for a reader. For me personally it is quite obvious that this is Comm on account of the shape of his nose, but that is probably not enough, because his nose doesn't have any particularly striking features. It's shorter and rounder and more turned-up than other characters', but I'm not sure that is obvious to anyone but me. I'll have to think of other ways to distinguish him - like giving him a torque. That would make sense :-).

Apart from experiments with Comm's look, these two pictures are also the first two that I have inked with brushes. I'm not sure how I feel about the results. I like what brushes do to the inked look of Comm's hair. But I was not quite at ease with the lack of control I had over the brush, and the lines did not come out as I had hoped. No doubt I shouldn't expect a lot when I do something for the first time, and I do think that inking with brushes requires serious skill - something I can't have unless I exercise a lot. Nevertheless, it annoys me that my brushwork lacks crispness, and that the broad strokes were still obtained by going over a line several times, which is the same thing I do with my Staedtler pens. I wanted to see if brushes could give me a more flexible stroke, and in that respect I was a bit disappointed. Then again, it may be the lack of exercise. Which only means I should try plenty more :-).

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Volca & Veridicus

I tried out my watercolours on ordinary drawing paper. The result is better than I thought... It may depend on the paper brand, though. This is Daler-Rowney; so far I have painted on Canson and that never looked good - I got the feeling the Canson paper absorbed the paint so quickly that I couldn't push it around, so to speak.

Anyway, here is Volca, looking, I think, rather prettier than I supposed her to be - but maybe that is because she is holding a dagger. She just feels a lot better when armed. She does not normally appear this confident :-).

Her story is developing. I'm liking her better and better *g*.

I'm getting more confident with my watercolours, and I do feel like I'm learning to understand the colours better. When I mix paint, I get closer to the tint I had in mind than I did before :-). Now I just need to exercise more until I know how to control this medium better and get the effects that I want...

Oh, btw: please click the painting for the large view. I think it's better :D.

Look, Veridicus has a face! Well, I had sort of given him one before, but it didn't quite feel right yet. Now he has a particular nose and a particular mouth and very lovely curls and I know it's him. I happen to think he's rather cute, but you aren't obliged to share my opinion :-).

This was drawn on 160 g/m² Daler-Rowney paper. I was intending to paint it, just to see how the paper would hold, but in the end I spent so much time pencilling the hair that I didn't want to risk obscuring the pencils on the curls with paint. I also fixated the pencils, and I wasn't sure what would happen if I tried to paint over that.

I have been wondering about Veridicus' rank in the Roman army. I am reading a biography of Caesar by a Major General Fuller, but I have trouble grasping the mechanics of Roman politics and the cursus honorum. It seems a very complicated system; I will have to read more about Roman society in order to get a grasp on my Roman characters. At first I thought of Veridicus as an eques, but he can't be an eques if his father was a consul :/. I had quite forgotten that the equites weren't nobles; and I didn't realise that only nobles could become consuls. He can't be a Tullius Decula and not be a noble. Now, seeing as he is of senatorial rank, he will automatically be among the high-ranking officers in the army. He can't be a tribune, because he is too old to be a laticlavius, and the angusticlavii were equites. On the other hand, he is too young to be an evocartus or a praefectus. As for a quaestor, I'm quite sure that Caesar had only one with him, and that we know who it was - definitely not my original character ;-). That leaves the legatus. To be a legatus would make him a general. That's rather higher-up than I intended him to be... Maybe I'll come across another possibility on further reading. I'll keep my eyes open.

Sunday, 1 June 2008


I saw this news item last week, entirely by accident, but I have been so busy at work that I forgot all about it until I found it linked at Colleen Doran's blog:

A bust of Caesar was found in the Rhône! Here's the article plus photo in the Daily Telegraph. Apparently it's the oldest depiction of Caesar to date...

Cecilia, if you read this: never again say that I draw his cranium too large! ;)

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Watercolour in Gaul

Last weekend I had great fun messing around with my watercolours. I have rather come to adore them, even if the results don't always live up to my enthusiasm :P. It suddenly occurred to me that I have bought two Moleskine watercolour notebooks, but that I have been nervous about using them. It's always like that with me: I am addicted to notebooks, but somehow I have the idiotic notion that I shouldn't use them unless I am going to produce a masterpiece. But why on earth shouldn't I use them to doodle and experiment? *shakes head at self* At least it would mean I have my pictures (good and bad ones alike) together in bundles instead of on loose bits of paper that lie around or get lost and/or damaged. So I gathered my courage and started painting furiously. The six little pictures/portraits that resulted are of various quality and can be found below.

My War in Gaul story is developing very slowly. I have a large cast, I think, but recently I realised that in fact it is still too small. That is, there are many more characters surrounding my main ones who need to have a personality and a history (even if those are never made explicit or treated at length) if the story is to work. Also, for one thing, canon (hee hee, I find a silly glee in applying that term to Caesar's writings) has it that Ambiorix flees with four of his warriors - those people have to be real, because he's going to be spending a considerable amount of time with them. So far I have only got one with a personality; a second one has a name and an occupation. The other two - no idea yet. But they'll come along.

I am also happy to say that as of a few days ago, dear Comm has three wives. Their names are Verctissa, Momora and Cunovinda. As of today, Verctissa has a story. I love her :-). Expect a portrait soon...

The paintings. As you may remember (but probably don't), I had given Ambiorix four sisters - two are older than he, and two are younger. They are gradually acquiring distinct personalities, and I amused myself last Sunday by painting little portraits. The thing is that the four women and their brother all look very much alike, but that they should be readily distinguishable from each other nevertheless. I have so far experienced a bit of difficulty with that :/. I am rather happy with how they turned out in the pictures, even though some of the pictures aren't particularly good as pictures.


I painted this one last, but I am putting it first because Avitoriga is the eldest of the siblings. She is probably closest to her brother in terms of character; he learned a lot of his cunning ways from her.

Avitoriga is married to Wulfilas, a Germanic noble. Originally I thought of him as king of the Chatti, but I have decided it would be more fun if he were a Cheruscan king. After all, he is supposed to take Ambiorix & friends in when Caesar has destroyed their land for the second time. The Cherusci receive a short mention in De Bello Gallico. In 9 AD, the Romans will suffer a crushing defeat at the hands of the Cheruscan prince Irmin/Arminius in the Teutoburgerwald. It's just too tempting to forge a connection between Ambiorix and Irmin, though I'm not sure yet how it is all going to work. I may at one point have to change Wulfilas' name into Segimerus (or Sigmar; Sigmar sounds extremely German, but if you ask me, Segimerus could as easily be made to sound more Celtic - as far as I am concerned it is pretty close to a name like Segomaros...)*. Another fun detail is that the Cherusci are thought to have been at least partly Celtic, so it all seems to fit marvellously well.

Drawback: Enrico Marini is currently making a comic about Arminius, Les Aigles de Rome. The linkie takes you to a site that offers a few page previews, demonstrating some of Marini's brilliance. One does not, as a pitiful amateur, wish one's readers to think of Marini's gorgeous watercolours when perusing one's own feeble attempts at the art of the comic ^_^; ...

*The mix-up between Celts and Germanic peoples is fascinating. Look at the name of king Marbod of the Marcomanni. The Marcomanni are supposed to be a Germanic tribe. But Marbod is apparently a kind of mangled form of Maroboduus. Now, "boduos" means "raven" in Celtic and is found in Celtic names like Catuboduos, Boduogena, Boduognatos and Boduocos. Maro - well, plenty of maros and maras in Celtic names too: Britomaros, Segomaros, Coviomaros, Dannumara. And then the name of the nobleman he exiled: Catualda. Catualda! "Catu" is Celtic for "battle", as in Catuvolcos, Catumandos, ... Catual, Cadafael Cadomedd, Cadwaladr ap Cadwallon, anyone? It doesn't get more Celtic than that :D! Though I must admit the "-lda" part sounds pretty Germanic. I dunno. It seems to me we are just a little too keen to divide these people into different ethnies when they were actually rather alike.

But I digress :P. Back to the matter at hand. I like the colours of this picture, especially the green and burgundy. They are the kind of tints I have long been wanting to mix, but I had no idea how, and finally stumbled upon them by accident.

Allicia & Visurix

This lady who is far too pink/reddish in the face is Ambiorix's second sister, Allicia. Her husband (not looking too good here, sorry) is Visurix (a cool mix of Germanic and Celtic too, that name: Germanic "wise" and Celtic "king", and I didn't make it up), whom I have made king of the Menapians. He lives on the hill of Blandinion, which happens to be the Hill I am currently Under :P. Canon says that the Menapians were Ambiorix's allies; that is why Caesar came to hunt them down in their marshes and handed the command of the tribe over to Commios.

Visurix is a lucky man. Allicia is the sweetest of women.


Abesa is Ambiorix's younger sister, and the drop-dead-gorgeous one. She's a bit of a pain, though, which I trust will lead to some sparks in the plot and the dialogue ;). I have thought of a few nice twists for her, but I can't reveal them yet.


This is Albiriga - Aia for short - the youngest of the siblings. The painting looks better in reality than it does on the scan, but it's still not very good; the dark shadow is basically my clumsy attempt at hiding the fact that I did the skin tones as badly as I did them for Allicia :/.

Aia is a bright and cheerful girl and possibly Ambiorix's favourite. He likes to think he has to protect her, but actually she protects him :). She deserved a better portrait.

Finally, there are the first two pictures I painted - last Saturday that was. This is a character I invented only last week: Andecamulos, Ambiorix's best friend. (He really needed one.)



If I said that he's my Obelix, I would probably be giving the wrong impression. I just find Asterix rather inescapable when cooking up my own Gaulish universe, even if the comical and parodical tone of that series is completely inappropriate to my story. But it seems obvious that whenever a bard is mentioned, lots of people will think of Assurancetourix/Cacofonix, and when you read about druids anywhere, a spontaneous association with Panoramix/Getafix comes up. That happens to me all the time, in any case. I'm not entirely sure why, when I thought of Ambiorix's best friend, I immediately conjured up someone heavy-set, physically strong, and obsessed with good food. It just happened. Then it struck me that sounded rather like Obelix. So to differentiate clearly (*g*), I have made Andecamulos a druid - or at least an aspiring druid, because he is too young to have finished his studies.

Andecamulos is a darling; you'll see. I'm afraid he can't stand Rigantona, but I forgive him :).

BTW, I have been looking for a solution to my problem with the length of all those Celtic names. I think it is probably best to use nicknames for the main characters, and to that end to split those long names into their constituent parts. That means that Ambiorix and Andecamulos can call each other Ambios and Camulos, and Rigantona might address her brother Vercingetorix (try fitting that in a word balloon when you have some dialogue to report too!) with a tender "Cingetos" (whoo! that's only three syllables instead of five!). I'm so relieved that one of my blokes is called simply Comm. I'm not sure what to do about Catutigirnios. I have been calling his father "Catu" in my head, and two Catus would be confusing. Maybe I should switch to Volcos.

Incidentally, in another instance of the Great Celtic Confusion I have read a translation of "volcos" as "wolf" (and it's the premier Celtologist Venceslas Kruta who says so). Previously I have encountered it everywhere as meaning "falcon". Rah. So is Volca now called She-wolf, and her father Battle-wolf? I wonder.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Two watercolours

I have been very busy with - well, work. My job, and especially the commute, is such that in the evenings I don't get round to doing any art. That pleasure is now restricted to the weekends. So I spent most of last weekend playing around with my watercolours. Ever since Cecilia came over during the Easter weekend and gave me a few sorely needed watercolour tips, I have been curious to try them out. Here's a try or two :-).

This picture of Ambiorix (click for a better view) was started when Cecilia was here. She taught me about adding separate washes, in one colour, to all the separate surfaces in the drawing. When she left again, Ambiorix looked like a Martian - I had painted the whole picture in Sap Green. It remained like that for a few weeks, until I had gathered enough courage to test whether I would be able to carry out the tips I had received.

Now, this picture is not exactly a work of art. Cecilia told me to draw something quickly, just to chuck some paint over it and see what kinds of effects could be got. The drawing was no good; even I can see that the arm and hand are too large and the shoulders too narrow, and let's just not mention my expertise at landscape drawing ^_^;... But hey, I don't think that in terms of painting it is quite so bad. Cecilia is probably wincing now, but seeing where I come from... I mean, if things look wonky, it is not the paint that does so, which is a huge improvement for me! It probably looks a lot of other things, things that unfortunately don't include 'brilliant', 'sparkling' and 'amazing', but nevertheless I like to think I have made some progress, no matter how small :-).

This picture I did after the one above. I started it as a commission from a friend, who asked me to design the card that is to announce the birth of her first baby. She did not want any babies, cribs or other classics in sight, and sent me pictures by Dulac and Rackham by way of guides. The paper choice was risky: it is lighter than watercolour paper, and the pale yellow was bound to have an influence on the colours. I did not dare to add layers, and the colours indeed all turned out different from what they would have been on white paper. They all look very pale, the reds and blues turning out pastel. I am not unhappy with it, though. It is difficult for me to pin down my own feelings about the picture because I haven't done - or really felt the urge to do - something like this since I was a teen. I like stronger effects than those of my old books of fairy tales. This is too much sugar - but the fact that it was supposed to announce a baby did not exactly invite sharpness. For too much sugar I am pretty happy with it; but as I said, it is something I have sort of moved beyond mentally.

Friday, 14 March 2008

I'm a hopeless consumer. A months or two ago I bought a box of 12 sketching pencils. I never use sketching pencils! But the box had been brought out as a homage to Arthur Rackham, and I happen to love Arthur Rackham... Ah me. - Anyway, I opened the box last Wednesday and thought I would give the pencils a try. They come in sanguine, sepia (light & dark), white and black, and there are two 'smooth' ones - never seen anything like that before, but I think they are primarily meant for soft shading. Just guessing. There's also a charcoal pencil and a pure graphite stick, one of those things that I used to know as a Progresso pencil. I rather like those, despite the fact that I have no idea of their specific use. Last but not least, there are three watersoluble pencils in HB, 4B and 8B. I was most curious about those, so I tried them out at once... :-)

This is what you get when you start drawing out of the blue. I guess that it has the charm of the spontaneous...? *g*

Another experiment: sketch pencils, watersoluble pencils and some Photoshop. My drawings from photos are always bad. Poor Caesar looks like a zombie, but this was fun to do...

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Caesar in Berlin

I spent three days in Berlin earlier this week, and have returned as a Berlin-enthusiast :D. What a wonderful city! I must go back sometime and visit all the sights and museums I didn't get to see during my short stay...

One of the visits I did make was to the Altes Museum. My specific purpose was to see the famous portrait bust of Nefertete, but I was delighted at all the other treasures on show as well - I never expected the collection to be as fine and wonderful as it turned out to be. The Egyptian collection is exquisite; the head of Nefertete (truly lovely, and touchingly so) is one among a number of Amarna-style pieces, and I am very fond of that period's art.

When I was at the museum, the Boxer of the Quirinal happened to be on display. It belongs to the Italian Terme Museum, and I had no idea it had been given on loan... Lucky me, I got to see it! I had learned about it in my Hellenistic Sculpture classes, but in real life the statue is so much more impressive than I could have guessed from photographs.

In the museum's last room I came across an acquaintance: good old Julius Caesar carved in grey stone. I took a photograph of him which I felt like sharing :-). It's a great portrait, I think, and I stared at it for a long while, reminding myself that I should do some more War in Gaul stuff soon...