Hey! What's the big idea?!
Surreal imaginative drawings exploring ecology, biology and nature.
This planet is home to a wonderful variety of living organisms that are each individual in their biology and behaviour. They form large webs of connections amongst one another in ecosystems that are vast and complex. From whale migrations that encompass the entire globe, to ants that scurry along the forest floor.
Earth, the tiny little planet that we inhabit somewhere in the unfathomable depths of the universe and bursting with life!
The drawings are made using dip pen and ink. The animals are imagined as living planets or landmasses, with their own landscapes and ecosystems.
Good gravy! How long do these take to draw?
Drawing lots of details inevitably takes lots of time. As a general rule my largest drawings take 6 months to complete, of which 3 months will be drawing time.
Drawing big projects is a mental and physical challenge. When I have studio time to dedicate to these drawings, I will try and make the most of it by working up to 12 hours a day, sometimes 6 days a week. Finding the motivation and the discipline is difficult and I find long working hours helps me maintain focus and drive.
I don't always make big drawings - a smaller drawing might take me a few days to a couple of weeks to create.
I mostly draw using dip pen and ink onto 400gsm watercolour paper. Before starting a drawing I will try and make a detailed plan in pencil, the more that is planned out the better - I've found that a good plan saves lots of time and allows me to create more complex compositions. Once I feel like the plan is sufficiently complete I will start applying ink and just see how it goes!
For smaller drawings the logistics are easy and simple, however the larger drawings take a bit of thinking - for these the paper is secured to a large drawing board and I manoeuvre this board accordingly. If I am planning a composition then the board will be lifted upright for me to step back and get a good view. If I am detailing then the board is laid flat and I lay down over the top of it to draw. I make sure sufficient layers of protection are used so that the paper isn't damaged in the process.
My two main interests in life are marine life and astronomy. They are the unknowns that I find most fascinating, and for me unknowns are the greatest source for the imagination.
The ocean world is difficult to explore and home to organisms that seem so wildly different from my own being. I love to learn about these animals, where they live, how they behave and think about what other creatures are lurking in the cold dark depths beneath the tremendous mass of the worlds oceans.
Our universe interests me for almost exactly the same reasons. It's a wonderful exercise to try and put oneself into perspective next to such a vastness. Amusing that we take ourselves so seriously considering we're not even sure where we actually are. Of course we do! I hear you say, 'we are on earth, in our solar system, within the milkyway, one of many galaxies in the universe'. Yet the horizon of this space broadens almost indefinitely to a point where the universe become difficult to define. What else might exist in this space? Do all the same rules apply?
It's at the limits of our understanding where the imagination can really take root.