The Monument

Dimensional Illustration of woman pondering monument with tilt shift effect. By Jameson Gardner Art

Many of the ideas for my illustrations are driven by a mood or feeling. I had an idea in the back of my mind for awhile for an illustration of some kind of monument. I remember a war monument at Soborna Square in Chernivsti, Ukraine that kind of inspired me in this regard. Having lived there for several months, I walked past that monument in all sorts of weather. It was the wet and misty days, though, when the monument seemed to really tell its story. Those were the days when you wondered about the old Babusya who’s father was taken in the war, and how it must have been for her widowed mother so many years ago. That was the feeling I wanted to convey here.

I sculpted a little angel 7 or 8 months ago and started gold leafing it right before we moved. The process was kind of tedious and when it was halted for the move, I ended up setting it aside until now. So, when I finished the gold leaf I wanted to do more than just have a gold angel laying around and I thought I might be able to use it as part of the monument in this dimensional illustration.

Below is my original thumbnail. I sometimes wonder if I should even bother showing those—they are often just a pile of scribbles that allow me to think the image through better.
Preliminary thumbnail of woman and monument

With a basic idea of the composition and the angel already sculpted, I proceeded with planning and building the other components. Everything had to be scaled with the angel in mind, so I did a lot of measuring and looking through my lens (as usual). I cut my cobblestones from the chipboard on the back of a big drawing pad and glued them down to a sheet of foam-core. I did a radial pattern where the monument would sit and a sort of path leading up to it. This I sprayed with a stone texture, then painted with acrylic and doused in model building “water”—you know the stuff they use in rivers by tiny railroads. Same process for the monument pedestal, except for the star which I made from super sculpey and covered in gold leaf. I painted the background in oil over the top of the background for my crashed spaceship illustration. Why stretch another canvas when you already have a big one that will never be displayed in its current state anyway?

Set up for dimensional illustration of woman and monument by Jameson Gardner Art

The woman was also made from super sculpey, onto which I glued the tiny clothes that I made for her. I also made her hair from deconstructed yarn and put new fabric on one of those little cocktail umbrellas.

Here is more detail on the Angel:

Sculpture of angel with sword and wings for monument illustration by Jameson Gardner Art

As with almost all of my dimensional illustrations, the final image  (top) is composited from several shots from the same angle. I’ve learned some good tricks for studio lighting, but I always try a few different things with the lights so that I have plenty of data and detail should I need it in the final. For example, I could only get the kind of wet reflections on the ground by having a diffused light source directly behind the monument. Obviously, my background is directly behind the monument, so in addition to my standard shots with the background, I took a couple shots with a piece of white foam-core.

This last image just has an artificial tilt shift effect on it. It kind of brings back the miniature feeling that I work to avoid when shooting my photos 🙂

Dimensional Illustration of woman pondering monument with tilt shift effect.  By Jameson Gardner ArtHope you enjoy!

Caerphilly Castle

Nothing says British history like castles. The word originally meant a fortress or stronghold, though Disney has managed to make in synonymous with a medievalish looking palace. That isn’t totally their fault, though. Nor is it totally inaccurate. Castles were definitely inhabited by rich people. But not because they liked a grand facade of wealth. Rather, they liked to be safe from their enemy’s soldiers. Caerphilly castle is just such an example. It was built by a nobleman who’s family was intent on subjugating and dominating the surrounding area. Having a castle meant he could be relatively safe from attack, while having a base from which to deploy his men and maintain control. Being safe from attack wasn’t just theoretical either. In 1294 the Welsh, unhappy about being taxed and repressed, rose up. Morgan ap Maredudd led a force that attacked Caerphilly. Half the town was burned, but they couldn’t take the castle—in which our nobleman Gilbert de Clare was cozy and safe.

Ruins at Caerphilly Castle, Wales. By Jameson Gardner Art

In its day, Caerphilly castle was quite revolutionary. It had extra-fortified gatehouses on concentric defenses including artificial lakes and moats. It even had a semi-fortified island where the townspeople could come during a conflict. Just because it was a fortress didn’t mean the noble family shouldn’t live in style—so, their interior accommodations were rather lavish.

Hundreds of years of decay, shifting soil and possibly some intentional blasting during the English Civil War, while rendering it a little less grand, have given it the patina of age and authenticity that sparks your imagination. Yet, enough restoration has been done to guide your imagination in the right direction. Our visit was accompanied by cloud and rain—it seemed only appropriate.

Restored windows at Caerphilly Castle, Wales. By Jameson Gardner Art

The windows in this restored section of the castle show that accommodations for the noble family weren’t so bad as the shabby arrow loops on the exterior walls might suggest.

Outer defenses of Caerphilly Castle, Wales. By Jameson Gardner Art

Ivy growing on ruins at Caerphilly Castle, Wales. By Jameson Gardner Art

Crumbling stone ruins at Caerphilly Castle, Wales. By Jameson Gardner Art

Duck near water defenses at Caerphilly Castle, Wales. By Jameson Gardner Art

Once upon a time, the water defenses may have repelled attackers. But they certainly aren’t repelling a variety of waterfowl.