Ardent Shadows

Gothic Fantasy paintings by Jemima Mantle



A Little Progress Report

As you know, I quit half the day job at the start of this year to spend more time on Ardent Shadows, and you can see this in my work! I’ve had a fantastic few days in the studio this week so here’s a little peek at what I’m currently working on:



3 days until Halloween


One detail I was never in doubt about including in this year’s painting is the stylised pumpkin flowers and stripey vines. I absolutely love them! As always it’s a featured that’s painted in steps. This photo shows me mapping out these elements and placing the vines along the figure. You can also catch a little peek of how the face is coming along.

4 Days To Go

4daysZombie texture added I can now start going back into the figure and tightening up the shading and details like the fingers. You can also see where I’m starting to develop the pumpkin and build up more of an idea of how all these different elements are going to work together!

And so to the finishing touches…

And so to the finishing touches… almost time to call this one done! #gasmask #fetish #painting #wip #wrd #darkart Counting down to the final reveal.

Developing A Face

In the early stages of this painting I loosely painted a cat face so that I could get a feel for how the painting would come together. Over the painting process I continued to change the features of the face in order to capture exactly what I wanted. As I didn’t have any reference for this element I was trying to work out exactly how the cat would be positioned and what angle it’s head was likely to be. I found it difficult to work out exactly where the leg would be. It wasn’t until I had thought about how the anatomy of the leg and where it would bend that this particular element started working.

Before I began to finalise the face, and went through the steps shown in this week’s photo, I decided that I needed to make sure I’d got the facial expression correct; so I gave my cat a good fuss with a camera in my hand. Luckily I managed to get just the reference I needed and could begin filling in the light and dark areas of fur. All of a sudden a realistic face started to appear.

I considered several possibilities for the eye but in the end settles on a simple vivid blue which is the accent colour for the whole piece. Since taking the photo to the bottom right I have added more shading to the fur around the chin and added some definition to the base of the whiskers. I love this little kitty and I’m really happy with how it came together. He’s the purrfect companion to my ‘mouse lady’.

New painting in progress
New painting in progress

New Painting

I’ve been quietly working away on a new painting and will be sharing progress pictures every Sunday. Follow me see it unfold.
I’ll be discussing techniques and inspiration along the way with more detailed posts. But for now, I hope you enjoy this sneak peek!


Mr Tibbs’s Annual Fundraiser 2015

The painting you can win this year.
The painting you can win this year.

In memory of a my dearly missed best friend Mr Tibbs, I have created this painting to raise awareness for the Cats Protection.

I’m also excited to share the link for my first ever ‘painting in progress’ video. Any comments and/or feedback are welcome. I’m still trying to get used to the technology and I have made a few beginners mistakes.

My beautiful boy. The inspiration for this yearly fundraiser .
My beautiful boy. The inspiration for this yearly fundraiser.

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

One Stroke Technique in Painting Tattoos

So once again I found inspiration on Youtube. This time I stumbled across a video of artist Tatyana Kudryavtseva, doing some amazing free hand artwork in the street. I couldn’t stop watching it and soon found other videos by various artists practicing this one-stroke technique. Primarily used for decoration of household objects and keepsakes, it appears to be a craft in its own right. What particularly interested me was the speed with which very beautiful flowers could be created.

The technique itself involves loading your brush with separate colours which mix as you apply the brush to your chosen surface. Flat head brushes are key to this technique however chisel brushes are also recommended. There is also exploration to be done in prepping your brush in terms of how and where to apply your colour and how to work it deeper into the bristles before use. I have also seen examples of artists applying a third colour to the brush with hugely interesting and successful techniques.

One Stroke Painting
One Stroke Painting

It was with speed in mind that I decided to use this technique to create the tattoos on the female figure I was currently painting. After spending long hours carefully blending acrylics to create the smooth seamless skin, it was a joy to experiment with this super quick technique. I knew in advance that I would need to work back into my initial creation to make create the adjustments to make the painting look like a real tattoo. For example, tattoos are not going to be lighter than the rest of the skin with the exception of white highlights in fresh tattoos. You can therefore assume that the lightest colour in the tattoo would be that of the natural skin. This is important when skin is in shadow but particularly important when a tattoo wraps around an area falling into shadow. Ignore the light in your composition at your own risk! It will flatten the form and drastically reduce the level of realism. Also bear in mind that low light levels reduce chroma. Coloured light will have several colour interactions which should be observed to maintain realism.

One Stroke Tattoo
One Stroke Tattoo

I do admit that testing out new techniques should never be done on a primary work that you’ve already invested many hours in. If I had invested some time working in my sketchbook exploring this technique for myself I’m sure the end result would be technically stronger. Whilst what I created fit the requirement here, I’m sure one-stroke artists would be able to give me lengthy advice on how to better my technique. I hope to spend some time practicing this for future use. I can see where its application could save me a lot of time in roughing in many elements of my more complex pieces.

You can view Tatyana Kudryavtseva’s Youtube video here:

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