Ardent Shadows

Gothic Fantasy paintings by Jemima Mantle


work in progress

Changing Faces – A Dragon Sickness GIF


I love looking back at the early photos of a painting and watching it come to life as I add each little detail. A GIF is the best way to showcase these photos and share this insight. Photos of these early stages hint at, but not describe, the full process and whilst it looks like it’s all linear progression there’s actually a lot of tweaking and an almost continuous need to adjust. Facial tones are difficult to do in one sitting, and when you add elements like the hair and background it can highlight subtle details which a first pass has overlooked. The face has many different contours which need describing but lighting and expression can drastically change where highlights and shadows should be.

This is the first ‘portrait’ I’ve painted in a long time. Whilst nearly all of my painting feature female characters, they’re usually a secondary part of the painting. Second to an idea or concept that I’ve wanted to capture. This painting’s concept works so well that there’s no need for anything outside of the character. Dragon Sickness, something from the imagination of JRR Tolkien, needed nothing else to come to life. As I started out I wondered whether I had set too much of a challenge but I feel I have achieved a really beautiful painting. I can’t wait to share the finished piece.

Ardent Shadows on Instagram

#TBT This was the beginning of something great! This was snapped during one of my mindfulness drawings when my hubby peered over my shoulder and asked what I was doing. I matter-of-factly told him “it’s a tree” #mindfulness #drawing #meditation #tree #doodle #wrd

October 29, 2015 at 06:24PM

We’re nearly there!!! #Halloween Countdown. Are you ready for the final piece? #zombie #sclera #demon #cryptobotany #pumpkin #spiderweb #wrd

3 Days till Halloween

This little black dot has a big future with just 3 days till #Halloween … #darkart #wip #wrd #darkart #cryptobotany #timburtoninspired #zombie #acrylic #painting

4 Days till Halloween

#pumpkin still in progress and only 4 days till #Halloween !! #wip #workinprogress #spiderweb #gothicart #zombie #darkart #demon #wrd

New Painting: Halloween Special

Scaling up my new piece from linear sketch to canvas. I guess this is probably the old fashioned way these days! #creativeprocess #canvas #painting #wrd – and yes this is a Halloween special 😉

The Bees Made Honey – New Painting Video

I’m very excited to have just finished my third YouTube Ardent Shadows for my new painting ‘The Bees Made Honey’. Please head over and give it a thumbs-up. I’d love to get some feedback on these videos!

This piece has been a bit of adventure. It’s a little smaller than my usual pieces being approx 12 x 16 inches and  started as a way of painting with a different colour palette and a different approaching limited colour schemes. I really wanted to do something a little less planned and a bit more instinctive. Accepting that the bees and honey would always look best when painted golden yellow, I felt that the skin could be any tone or colour way. The only other decision I’d made ahead of setting up that first palette was the decision to have a solid black background which the face and hands would dissappear back into. I wanted to ensure this piece felt a little uncomfortable, and empty darkness lends itself well to unnerving the audience.

I decided that I wanted to hinge the scheme around the use of Buff Titanium and Pale Violet and chose not to plan the rest of the scheme but instead, to mix as I painted, allowing the colours to essentially choose themselves. I really loved the interaction between these two paints. I left open sections of each colour unblended and allowed them to describe areas of highlight and shade. Each owning it’s individual values. This was a really pleasing approach and something I would like to use in future paintings. The main stumbling point I found in not have a planned palette was in the shadows. Particularly when I was adding the finishing touches such as the shadows underneath the bees. At first it felt like they should be warm toned perhaps matching that found on the skin of the hands, but after inspection is appeared that a cooler brown looked much more realistic.

It’s also been interesting to push fantasy toward abstract with the honeycomb. I would usually paint this sort of detail to appear as a tattoo or a pattern on the skin itself. But it’s been fun to leave it open to interpretation this time. I intend to continue pushing forward with this as I find it very difficult not to tackle every idea in terms of ‘how would that work’. Although in my usual fashion I did research some bees and used the UK buff-tailed bumblebee for my reference.

So without further ado please use the following or click on the picture to view this short video and watch me paint these lovely bees. I’m also going to be posting on the blog later this week regarding the inspiration for this piece. The song used in the video is Earth’s ‘The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull’, which had a lot more to do with this painting than you might think!

The Bees Made Honey by Ardent Shadows
The Bees Made Honey by Ardent Shadows

Painting Bees!!!!

#bees !!!! Just got back in the studio after spending a few weeks celebrating my 30th with some awesome adventures. Lots and lots of little bees – so much fun but i need smaller brushes!! #bufftailedbumblebee #bumblebees #honey #darkart #thebeesmadehoneyinthelionsskull #wrd

Painting in Progress

One hand down… #darkart #acrylicpainting #wip #paintinginprogress #wrd #bees #honeycomb

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