Finally decided to post the finished series, as I promised. If you haven’t been following along, I have various posts documenting the production of these illustrations. The series tells the story of an adventurer who signs aboard a seal hunting schooner.
The_vessel is out too late in the season and strikes ice. When the schooner begins taking on water, the crew abandons ship–all except our hero who was rendered unconscious by a blow to the head. He awakes to discover that the ice has closed around the vessel and locked it in place. After gathering supplies, he strikes out, knowing that the schooner could be lost at any time. Unfortunately, I had to pick and choose my scenes. I wasn’t able to illustrate many of the adventures he experiences on the ice.
However, I did one of my favorite scenes—when he finds the Ship with the angel figurehead just as he is about to give in to exhaustion and cold. After resting, resupplying and weathering a storm in the Angel ship, he strikes out again. Eventually (five months after the original shipwreck) he sights land and struggles ashore.
These are images from my recent show in Gallery 303 at the Harris Fine Arts Center. The project illustrated the story of an adventurer shipwrecked and stranded on arctic ice. All of the images were created by building miniature models, sets and props to photograph scenes from the story. Each prop and set was designed and built specifically for the scene in which it was used. I have included a few individual pieces as they were hung at the show, but I will be posting individual images of the whole series later too. Hope you enjoy. It was a lot of effort, but a lot of fun to spend five months on the ice with my character.
Lighting in the Gallery was a little harsher for my models than would be optimum, but their primary purpose was to be photographed in my studio for the illustrations and they looked great like that, so I won’t complain.
This frigate is taking so much work that, I thought it would be a shame to get only one image out of it. In its final form it will be a ship that the character finds locked in the ice and uses for shelter. It will have some weathering effects and a figure head. I am using the same handmade model here to represent the character’s original vessel as the drift ice closes around it—no weathering, paint or figure head.
Just like my other models, it’s built to be viewed primarily from one side.
One of my first posts on this blog was a concept painting I did for the shot I am working on now.
The character in this story has been trekking across the ice after his own vessel broke up and sank below the pack. He is out of supplies, exhausted and on the verge of hypothermia when he sights this ship locked in the ice. With things always shifting on the ice it is miraculous that the ship is even there, much less in a state to offer shelter or supplies. The figurehead is an angel, kind of symbolic.
I carved the hull out of styrofoam and then glued the planks in place. Like every other part of the project this frigate is coming together too slowly—but it is definitely coming, as evidenced by these photos of my progress.
Since the icebergs are finished, I’ve been painting the backdrop. Unlike my previous image with the dock, this backdrop will play a greater visual role in the scene. It includes the seal hunting schooner from the story. There have been some challenges painting it. The backdrop is 18″ wide, and therefore, decently sized for a portrait or something. However, the ship turns out to be a little small for my painting style. I think it will do, but it got pretty uncomfortable at times.
Below is a quick test shot with the icebergs. I still have to work out the lighting, the snow on the bergs may need some cooling. If I can’t do it with light, I might just have to whip out the paint.
Writing that made me want to try overlaying cooled versions of the bergs over the originals in photoshop. I only spent a couple minutes at it, but it definitely comes closer to my vision. I’ll be keeping that in mind for the final shots.
In addition to watching documentaries and looking at pictures, I thought I would do a little first-hand research this past winter. Since I spent all of my money buying art supplies, I couldn’t afford a trip to the arctic. Instead I drove down to Utah Lake. There weren’t any polar bears, but with temperatures 20 degrees below freezing I imagine it wasn’t too far off from April in the arctic. It didn’t help that I was only wearing moccasins, a blazer and socks on my hands (oh and pants too, in case there were any questions).
I’ve also finished the stone quay, from which my miniature man will be departing on a seal-hunting schooner. Now, don’t anyone get uptight, the story is set in 1860, back when seals were valued only for their coats and blubber. They hadn’t realized yet that cuteness is more valuable—therefore not to be shot or clubbed.
Anyway, the quay is made of styrofoam, which I carved, covered in plaster, textured with spray-on-stone and painted.
The photo’s above are from my not so arctic, but plenty numb adventure. The one below is my mini-quay.