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Ardent Shadows

Gothic Fantasy paintings by Jemima Mantle

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bees

Last weekend I exhibited at the Ink and Iron tattoo convention with the Light and Dark Exhibition. It was a really enjoyable show with a fantastically friendly and welcoming atmosphere. I think it’s important to mention that there’s been a change of venue this year and the light and space in the venue was perfect for displaying artwork. Additionally all artists were given ample hanging space along with a table for displaying prints and other interesting creations. The standard of work across the show was very high and I think everybody exhibiting enjoyed excellent feedback and good sales. It’s always a struggle for artists to make money from their art so simply covering costs of exhibiting is always going to be a gratefully received bonus.

bees made honey ardent shadows
The Bees Made Honey by Ardent Shadows

Personally I had a fantastic experience, receiving lots of encouraging feedback and meeting some great people. As I haven’t exhibited for a while it was also a chance to look at my full portfolio and identify which pieces interest people and capture attention. This all helps me develop as an artist and explore what work I may want to produce in the future. My highlight was seeing ‘The Bees Made Honey’ go to its new home. It’s always sad to see a painting go as I get really attached to them, especially when they’re a fairly recent piece, but I have to say I don’t think I could have picked anyone better to buy it. Sue, if you see this post, thank you for falling in love with this painting as much as I did painting it! It’s such an honour when somebody invests in an original piece. For those who haven’t seen it, you can watch the creation of this painting on YouTube – The Bees Made Honey

I also treated myself to a few small purchases and have got some excellent new curiosa for reference along with some prints that I’m busily framing up to add to my little gallery wall at home. If you want to check out a couple of amazing artists and a really lovely shop for curiosa check out the links below:

These are just a few of my favourites but check out the Ink and Iron website to see a full list of the wonderful artists that attended.

Finally I just want to say a big thank you to the Ink and Iron organisers, Jo Farn for so successfully organising Light and Dark Exhibition and everyone who stopped by to see it on Sunday; whether you bought something, chatted about our work or just simply stopped to say hello, thanks for supporting artists creating original artwork in our constant fight against a culture of cheap mass production. I’m already looking forward to next year’s show.

inkandiron2016

If you’re viewing this post of Facebook please see the full links below:

Ink and Iron Convention: http://www.inkandiron.co.uk

The Bees Made Honey video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwwzJKpPYgg&nohtml5=False

Feathers and Fur: http://www.instagram.com/beetlesbonesandbutterflies

Annabel Leigh: http://www.instagram.com/annabel_leigh

Crows and Crossbones: http://www.crowsandcrossbones.com

 

Painting Inspiration – The Bees Made Honey

It’s weird for me to hit a subject that’s almost trending but I feel that for whatever reason, bees are rather popular at the moment. I’ve signed plenty of petitions in the last year regarding the ban of particular pesticides, but this was not my inspiration for the piece. Neither was it the fact that my husband’s got a rather beautiful honey bee tattoo, done by Matt Youl in Birmingham (Instagram @theyoul). It’s certainly a bug rising through the ranks in the tattoo world. A year ago it was beetles with wings outstretched and moths adorning knees and ankles, but the bee is definitely an alternative gaining in popularity. Perhaps with all things considered it could be argued that bees were in the back of my mind before inspiration struck.

I was working, as I always do, with music in the background and found that I was particularly enjoying an Earth album (https://www.facebook.com/thronesanddominions) I’d recently discovered. I think in part maybe I was drawn toward the album because of the artwork; something which despite the popular doctrine of ‘not judging a book by it’s cover’, I always allow to influence me. So that’s where I was, head in my work, letting Earth’s spellbinding drones wash over me, when I found myself entirely focused upon the music and starting to feel my creativity awakening. I looked up the song title and found that I was on the track entitled ‘The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull’ from the album with the same name. I found the title so evocative that I immediately found myself exploring concepts around lions, or rather lionesses, not as skulls but as beautiful women hard as bone and powerful as a lion. My original concept drawings were very much along these lines; a powerful female character with bees swarming out of her mouth and honey dripping from her fingers. I really wanted to capture those words – the bees made honey in the lion’s skull.

Eventually as I moved through roughs and my ideas developed I realised that I wanted to focus on the mouth and use the hands to frame this, providing further places for the bees to crawl and creep. All the time the words going around in my head like a mission statement.

It’s unusual for me to be able to pin point the exact time when an idea was born but in this case I can say with all certainty that this piece would not exist without Earth’s fantastic album and it’s stirring title. I have named my piece to honour that moment of inspiration.

If you haven’t already taken a look, you can now view the short video for the painting of ‘The Bees Made Honey’ on YouTube, featuring the beginning of the 8 minute track by Earth. Follow this link (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwwzJKpPYgg) or click on the image below.

Painting Video - The Bees Made Honey
Painting Video – The Bees Made Honey

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

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