Ardent Shadows

Gothic Fantasy paintings by Jemima Mantle



Black Bryony - final HQ detailed image

I’ve finally got round to getting out my proper camera and flash unit. This is the final thing with accurate colours and no blurring unlike some of the progress photos. I’m going to set up my SLR on a tripod for my next progress photo set!

The inspiration behind Black Bryony

I get asked a lot about my inspiration and where it comes from, so although the creation of a new piece is as natural and ephemeral as breathing, I thought it might be interesting to explain a little about this piece.

Following on from ‘Sense of Self’ I’ve known I wanted to do a neck corset for a while and the uncomfortable feeling of a nightmare was also something I was keen to portray. I felt that insects in the neck corset would create this emotion in the audience. An uncomfortable, uneasy feeling that there’s something creeping and crawling inside you. The exact insects to use was a much more difficult thing to decide. I originally wanted to use insects from the UK but eventually I had to change my mind and search globally for bigger and more varied insects. It was important to get bugs that were not too attractive for risk of ruining the emotive response I was looking to invoke in the audience.

Using the plant, Black Bryony, came about very differently. I was stopped in the car, parked next to a hedgerow in the countryside. From the window I noticed a beautiful plant that was winding it’s way through the hedgerow, creating beautiful shapes as it searched for places to cling to. I wanted to find out what the plant was but it took a lot of searching to find it. A waxy, heart-shaped leaved climber was the only thing I had to search for. Eventually I found Black Bryony and through my research found that it’s named after the black poisonous roots. It was instantly a keeper and something I knew was perfect for Ardent Shadows due to my interest in poisonous plants.

The colour scheme came about naturally after the concept had come together – black bryony and insects in a neck corset. I knew it was going to be largely green due to the subject and as I like to work with limited colour schemes depicting the flesh in blue tones seemed a natural choice. An accent in the complementary colour range is always a favourite of mine. I can’t explain why I chose do the hands and lips in this colour – that’s one of those little mysteries of the creative process. It just felt right.

Here are a few photos that illustrate my journey:



Black Bryony – Progress 12

Continuing progress of my latest piece. Work continued across the canvas sharpening up lines and adding depth and detail where needed. Black Bryony produces berries which I decided to add at the final stage. The colour of the berries (some ripe and some not) bring the entire colour scheme together and finish it off perfectly.

Black Bryony - progress pic 12
Black Bryony – progress pic 12

Black Bryony – Progress 11

Continuing progress of my latest piece. The bugs come to life and sharpening/detail work continues across the piece.

Black Bryony -  progress pic 11
Black Bryony – progress pic 11

Black Bryony – Progress 10

Continuing progress of my latest piece. Introducing the stars of the show. This is early progress of my bugs where I’m still developing their look and feel. As you can see they started life as block black shapes as I worked out positioning.

Black Bryony - progress pic10
Black Bryony – progress pic10

Black Bryony – Progress 9

Continuing progress of my latest piece. Here I’ve started to add more definition and depth to the hair and increased the detail of the plants in her hair. The plants will keep developing throughout the final stages of this painting. The balance, detail and amount changing to match the needs of the final piece.

Black Bryony - progress pic 9
Black Bryony – progress pic 9

Black Bryony – Progress 8

Continuing progress of my latest piece. The corset detail has been added and I’ve started to rough out the leaves in the hair. Have you worked out the choice of title yet?

Black Bryony - progress pic 8
Black Bryony – progress pic 8

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