Gareth A Hopkins

These pages will be kept updated with forthcoming gallery shows and news on completed artwork.

Pages from my ongoing surreal/abstracted comic 'The Intercorstal' can be found here: The Intercorstal

My deviantart gallery, chock-full of my art, can be found here: grthink

Stories from my (old) walk to and from work can be found here: Trolleys In Odd Places

Friday, 13 January 2012

Laura J Martin: Part 2

As mentioned in PART 1 this week I've done two illustrations of Laura J Martin for Amelia's Magazine. PART 1 covers the illustration I did for Richard Pearmain's review of a live show. This part (predictably called PART 2) details the process for getting an illustration prepared for Amelia's review of LJM's album 'The Hangman Tree'.

After the image of LJM playing flute in a wood, I was eager to do something a bit more familiar, and had originally planned to do a 'grthink portrait'. After carefully selecting a photo off of the internet, I sketched out what it might look like, and to be honest it wasn't looking good. I'd suspected as much, to be honest -- my particular style of portrait, with all the lines and black ink and abstract shapes ages women in the most unflattering ways. It's OK with men and animals, they can take a bit of extra age, but I've not found a way to get it to work for women. So I toned it back, and played with some more ideas, sellting on a simpler style where all the work goes into the hair, which is still pretty abstracted.

So, I thought I'd do a more finished version of the simpler portrait, and put in a Japanese-inspired abstracted background, becasue there's a lot of Oriental influences in the music, particularyl because of the flute (also, there's a song called Fire Horse which is about a Japanese lovestruck arsonist). And here came my first mistake: For some bizarre reason, I made the portrait a double, with LJM looking knowingly at her own reflection. I still can't remember why I was so sure that this was a winning idea. Anyway, I did the double portrait, and coloured it in, and here's what that looked like:

After I'd done that I set to doing the background, deciding to use some of the shapes from one of Hokusai's 36 View Of Mt Fuji as a starting point. In the picture below, you can see what that looked like in my sketchbook. 
When I tried to combine this new backgorund with the double portrait, I realised a number of things:
1. The new background was too small, and no details showed through from behind the portrait.
2. The lines in the background were too bold, and totally distracted from the portrait.
3. The double portrait wasn't going to work for me.

So. First things first, I deleted the right-hand portrait and moved the border in. Then I played with the background, trying to tile it and layer it and lighten it and darken it and a whole other bunch of stuff, but it wasn't working. So I dumped the background and pulled out another one I had saved. And then considered the space I had, and the sie of the portriat and stuff, and whacked in a light green fade, and was finished.

The lesson I'm going to take from this whole thing: paints. Digital colouring and manipulation is one thing, but in general I get much better results if I've got paint to hand.

Laura J Martin: Part 1

This week I've done two very different illustrations of Laura J Martin for Amelia's Magazine, and had a range of stuff I wanted to mention with both of them. So in my sporadic series of 'Process and Frustration' blogs, here's what happened and why. The two articles are HERE (live review) and HERE (album review).

I got involved with illustrating Laura J Martin after seeing a callout for illustrators on Twitter. Normally I'm a bit wary of taking on illustrations of musicians, becasue if I don't particularly like the music I find it really hard to build up any enthusiasm for the project. But I took a look at Laura's soundcloud and she had a collab with Buck 65 on there, and he's one of my heroes which made it difficult to say no. And then when I heard the two tracks on there I was really, really impressed and immeidately got in contact with Richard Pearmain, the writer. And from there I was off, desperately eager to impress.

After listening to the tracks on soundcloud and videos on YouTube, I had an idea of drawing LJM (that's what I'll be calling Laura from here-on-in, LJM. It's just shorter, and avoids the chance that I'm getting unduly overfamiliar with 'Laura' or ridiculously formal with 'Ms. Martin') in a forest, playing flute to woodland creatures. I smashed together a pencil sketch of that, during which the 'woodland creatures' turned into 'imaginary woodland creatures'.
Then I inked it, during which I weirded-up the rabbits, added a bit of details to the birds and accidentally gave the big bear/cat thing a beard. I was stymied throughout the inking process by my pens giving up the ghost and the fact that I might have rushed it a little bit.

Then came the colouring. I was without my paints or pencils or anythnig like that, so I scanned it and coloured digitally. After a few false starts I decided to give each element it's own gradiated colour, and ended up with the final image. To be brutally honest with myself, if I'd used paint I'd have been happier with this. As it is, it has a certain charm, but I can't help being reminded of Arabic textbooks from the 90's (maybe a slightly odd point of reference, but an accurate one.)
Turned out that this illustration was to be used in a review of a live performacne, becasue as I sent this image off to Richard, another callout appeared. Eager to exploit the chance to do something I was happier with, as well as use the chance to do two very different illos of the same subject, I jumped for that one. Which I'll detail in PART 2.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Commissions still open

Here's a picture of one of the commissions I did in the run-up to Christmas, of a cat called Smartie (apologies for the photo quality).

If you'd like a portrait done then get in contact -- prices listed below.

A6: £20
A5: £40
A4: £60
A3: £100
A2: £200
A1: £300