Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Empire (red wattlebird), oil on canvas, 180 x 150cm

Another painting in the current exhibition 'Go, Said The Bird' at 45 Downstairs Gallery, Melbourne CBD. The central concept of this group show involves the perception of time, and the title comes from a line in a T.S. Eliot poem, Burnt Norton:

Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Morning religion, collage, acrylic and oil on canvas, 180 x 150cm

Another in my series of paintings, currently on show at 45 Downstairs in Flinders Lane, Melbourne as part of the group exhibition Go, Said the Bird, opening this evening and running until September 11, itself part of the broader Melbourne city art event Radiant Pavilion.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Skater and ninjas, oil 20 x 30cm, c.1998
Another old YA cover. This is the kind of painting one would normally render digitally these days, but the subtle brushstrokes lends this picture a charm that I think would otherwise be missing. There's something always pleasing about hand-painted, hard-edge geometry and slightly dodgy perspective, the mainstay of so much early modernism.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Long Weekend at Snow Bunny Farm, oil 20 x 30cm
Another of my early book covers for reluctant readers. I enjoyed trying to tell a complete story in a single image where possible. This was one of my favourites.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Cosmic Chef, acryic and oil 20 x 30cm

One of many covers I created as a younger illustrator for a series of chapter books aimed at reluctant readers. Much educational illustration serves this important role, trying to get a disinterested student actually interested. For a while such work was an important source of income for me (especially in lieu of decent picture book royalties), and while it was still not a lot in those days, I enjoyed visualising these funny and action-packed tales by different writers, combining cartooning with painterly effects. It's worth noting that digital editing was not available at the time, so these were all straight oil paintings, using little watercolour brushes on acrylic-primed paper. I often wonder if I'm a better illustrator now due to a lack of digital convenience, particularly in learning to use glazes to make the subtle colour, hue and saturation adjustments. These always seem better when done by hand, the old fashioned way.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Melbourne Writers Festival & Related Exhibitions

Erudite demon, oil and collage, 15 x 15cm
I'll be in conversation with the wonderful Belgian author and illustrator Kitty Crowther later this month as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival, here are the details:

Kitty Crowther & Shaun Tan: International Illustrators (session title)
Sat 22 Aug 5.30pm
Venue: Deakin Edge, Federation Square, Melbourne

You can also see some of Kitty's work and that of other French illustrators at this exhibtion at the Sofitel: http://mwf.com.au/session/exhibition-french-illustration/

Also in Melbourne, don't miss this exhibition of Australian children's book illustration at the National Gallery, in the ground level studio (near Flinders St) at Federation Square. It includes an original gouache illustration from The Rabbits.

Bunyips & Dragons
NGV Australia
Ground Level, NGV Studio
25 Jul 15 – 4 Oct 15 
Manhattan sunrise, oil 20 x 15cm

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

The Kingdom, oil on canvas 180 x 150cm

I'm participating in a group exhibition next month in Melbourne, my contribution being a series of landscape paintings such as this one above. Here's the show:

Go, said the bird

Marcos Guzman, Courtney Jackson, Inari Kiuru and Shaun Tan

fortyfivedownstairs
45 Flinders Lane
Melbourne 3000

1 - 12 September 2015
Tuesday to Friday: 11am - 5pm
Saturday: 12pm - 4pm

Go, said the bird borrows its title from the 1935 poem by T.S. Eliot and examines the ambiguous nature of time through images, objects and jewellery.

Shaun Tan considers urban landscapes as seen by the wild birds that continue to live there. Courtney Jackson presents souvenirs for a post-apocalyptic adventure park, a melancholy and romantic vision of a future past. For Marcos Guzman, time is inseparable from travel; Volar, Navegar and Caminar (flying, sailing and walking) bring us ever closer to imagined treasures. Inari Kiuru envisions a future where industrial structures and organic elements evolve into new, strange and playful forms.

Go, said the bird is also a part of Radiant Pavilion and Craft Cubed.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Friday, 7 August 2015

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Sparrow, paper, clay, paint, approx 25cm tall

Another Singing Bones sculpture for the Grimm story The Dog and the Sparrow, about a bird that seeks revenge on a wagoner who carelessly runs over a street dog.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Sunday, 2 August 2015

The Call, gouache and pencil, 20 x 20cm, c.1995

Another of my early illustrations for small-run SF magazines, this one I think for Aurealis about 20 years ago, for a cool $25. I worked a lot in black and white since the magazines did not have a budget for colour printing. When I first tried to get a job doing novel covers, I was apparently turned down because I "couldn't paint in colour". It's always a problem for editors that they can only make assumptions based on what they've seen published, and that work is necessarily very restricted in some way. The same goes for assumptions of genre and style, and any illustrator can fall into a kind of feedback loop if not careful, doing only what they are recognised for. For years I was being asked to illustrate very serious and dark stories, following the success of books like The Viewer and The Rabbits and a bunch of other horror titles, and that would have been fine, but what I really wanted was something personal and funny. So I started working on The Lost Thing, just trying to figure out a different path.