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Chiaroscuro

Chiaroscuro is the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition. It is also a technical term used by artists and art historians for the use of contrasts of light to achieve a sense of volume in modelling three-dimensional objects and figures.Wikipedia

I thought I’d begin this post with a quote from Wikipedia. My recent Tweedle paintings have taken a darker turn, and I thought I might elaborate on them today. IMG_0238   A few years ago I came up with the Tweedles without really knowing what to do with them. They were a creation without a purpose. I have given them rules, emotions, a mind, a soul…  each of them even has its own backstory, and the story of Tweedles as a species (which I am still writing. Maybe I should try making a graphic novel rather than writing a book…) exists entirely in my head at the moment, awaiting it’s manifestation onto canvas, text, video and music. But even so, I still had no idea where I was going with my Tweedles… They were my creations, but they had no purpose. No reason to exist in my artwork. And then I realised that they were my creations. They were what humans are to a god. They were artificial life of a sort, and I began to explore that.


In my fictional world, Tweedles are created with artifical brains, mixing organic matter with analog and digital technology in nano scale. Because of the way they are made, they think, but differently to us. They feel, but do not understand how to express their emotions (especially with a stitched on mouth that holds their head cloth in place). They can sense the world around them, but cannot truly touch it. Tweedles don’t instinctively have free-will, and need to learn how to be free. Their existence is a confusing one once they can actually develop enough to stop and think about it. Their creators are not omnipresent. They are not omnibenevolent. They create Tweedles for reasons more linked to power and greed, and they create the Tweedles for reasons that are not entirely good but in fact selfish in some ways. Tweedles are made to be servants and slaves. The eventual development of true emotion and free will is just a side-effect of their construction.


I thought about how that would relate to what it’s like to be human. To live and die without knowing why. What your purpose is, if you have one. A lot of people live lives dedicated to a god or supreme being, but without ever questioning whether their creator is really omnibenevolent at all. The amount of suffering in this world seems unjust. Perhaps there is an evil, possibly sadistic being that enjoys messing around with humanity for entertainment? I was thinking about these deep philosophical and theological concepts and questions, and then suddenly the Tweedles had purpose after all. They were a vehicle for this philosophical exploration into life, death, morality, the creators and the created… through painting my recent Tweedle pictures, I am confronting some of my strongest fears in regards my spirituality, humanity and existence. IMG_0236 I wouldn’t really call myself a spiritual person, but if there is a god, how do I know they are good? If he told me that he was, could I really trust them? IMG_0239 And in regards free will, I assume that it exists because I think I can make decisions. But do I really have free will? When we look closely, living cells are made up of lots of dead matter and elements that are having a chemical reaction with each other to make the next part have a reaction and so on. Theoretically our entire bodies are a prolonged chemical reaction, so does that mean that we are even alive, or is humanity (and by extension all life) a strange and complicated quirk of chemistry that never was ‘alive’ in the way we believe we are?

Tweedles are made up of a few bio-engineered and grown brain cells linked into mechanisms and machines which allow them to move their bodies, repair it, respond to stimuli and even potentially build more Tweedles… but by our current definitions of life they are not alive because they are not composed entirely of cells.  Are they alive or not?

Is this Tweedle really dead or can it be repaired and brought back? Was it ever actually alive, and were we as humans ever truly alive?

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By using heavy, dark backgrounds in the paintings (a greenish-black colour) I could help express the gravity of these questions and the weight the answers would have on us if we ever knew them. I wanted to highlight the Tweedles in bright colour to emphasize that they are surrounded by darkness. The specific Tweedle that is the subject through my recent series of paintings walks its entire life treading through the unknown. And then, without realizing how or why, it dies.

No-one will ever truly know exactly what when on in our mind; we can only guess. Sometimes you may meet someone so like minded that you think you know what they’re thinking, and they can seem to read your mind, but in the end we can only hazard estimates and guesses as to the thoughts of other human beings. Eventually all our thoughts, our personalities, our very selves will disappear, as they are only made up of memories, and will eventually fade into darkness…

…and whether there is a light after that darkness will forever be completely unknown to us until we actually experience it.

“We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone.” – Orson Welles

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Better photos of the Tweedle Paintings

I took some clearer more accurate photos of the Tweedle Paintings in good sunlight. Please click below for the full image. 🙂

Tweedle – the Original Soundtrack

For a while, I’ve been working on creating a soundtrack for my artwork. I’ve heard of people composing soundtracks for films and even books, but can’t find much about composing for artwork. Yesterday, I finally finished my first soundtrack.

The Tweedle OST is an album consisting of a series of soundscapes, that are supposed to guide your imagination through the world of the Tweedles through the medium of sound.

I’ve created a Playlist of all my new songs, which you can now see on my youtube channel or via the link below. 🙂

My personal favourites from the OST are “03 – Hunted”, “06 – Stealing the Flagship Jabberwock” and “09 – Among Fallen Tweedles”.

Which song is your favourite?

One more PLC Print

TweedledumDuring my printmaking module, I got a chance to do some screenprinting. My first screenprint was the Tweedle featured in the Hidden in Plain Sight Exhibition.

The following print was created after that one and is based on the drawing I did a while back (click for a bigger image).

I thought it would be good to remake the drawing as a print and add some colour to it. The colours look much more dull than they eventually turn out, so the picture ended up much, much brighter than expected! I think the colour differences make the contrast between light and darker areas much more defined and help the characters stand out more.

I hope you enjoy the print below and thanks for reading!


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A Tweedle is Born…

Wonderland is a dangerous and mysterious place, but it’s dark, criminal underworld is even more so. Here’s a drawing of one of the many underground workshops where the Tweedles are created by hand:

tweedle workshop

Originally built for sabotage, each Tweedle has one working hand, and one blade-hand for cutting wires and breaking mechanisms. Each Tweedle is unique, with a different face, body and blade-hand. The working hand is virtually the same for all Tweedles, however, to operate the infamous mechanical Tweedledee and Tweedledum soldiers (which will be revealed in a later post…).

The scientist in the picture has genetically grafted arms onto himself to aid him in his work. A spare arm in a tube can be seen next to his desk. Each scientist and inventor assigned to making Tweedles has a different approach to his or her Tweedles, leading to subtle differences in their Tweedles’ appearance, size and personalities.

If YOU were one of the inventors making a Tweedle,

what characteristics would you give it?

Evil Tweedle

Yesterday, I sat my Art History exam and my next exam isn’t until Monday, which gives me a bit of time to draw another Wonderland drawing today:

TweedledumOne of the Tweedle-twins is on the run from the playing cards, having escaped from the laboratory in which he was built. In the world of my drawings he is one of many other mechanical ‘twins’, constructed for an unknown, perhaps sinister cause…

Although my drawings are loosely based on Lewis Carroll’s books, I think I’ve diverged quite a lot from his fictional universe, creating my own version of his Wonderland. Like many authors and artists before me, I have twisted and distorted Wonderland to my own design.

I don’t really plan what I draw; instead I discover the worlds and landscapes I create through my drawings, and the results can certainly be interesting. Some of my drawings are happy, however some of them can be a little bit dark or creepy, like the above picture or the war related picture in my last post. I’m not sure why some of my pictures are dark; maybe I’m intrigued by the mysteriousness and strangeness of the wacky world of Wonderland.

Off With Your Head!!

When watching the Tim Burton movie adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, I found it strange how the Dodo character only appeared one or twice and then, without explanation, was never seen again. My drawing below is just my interpretation of what could have happened. It may also shed light on how the Dodo became extinct…

Dodo

In the picture, the Queen of Hearts is giving her trademark execution order to the Dodo. The Ace of Hearts serves as the Queen’s bodyguard; his uniform inspired by playing cards. I drew the executioner as some sort of steampunk cyborg. I started off drawing him normally and I have no idea how he ended up that way, it just felt right.

Some of the castle buildings seen in my last drawing can be seen in the background through the windows.

I hope you enjoy the drawing and thank for reading!

Hoppy Halloween!

Halloween Bookmark

Halloween Bookmark

Here it is… my Halloween bookmark! Some of the black paint was quite glossy, so it didn’t show up as well on the scanner, but it doesn’t look too different. It is very similar to my Illuminated Night bookmark, and a lot of the techniques are similar. And as promised, I’ve included a frog!

The bookmark depicts a frog watching the dark sky as a witch on a broomstick flies past, over a misty mountain range. The witch didn’t come up so well on the scanner, looking more a pale brown colour than a pure black.

I actually painted three paintings before deciding which one to post, and I settled on this bookmark. I initially created a bloody frog, but it just didn’t work out, so I painted a mysterious yellow eyed frog over the top of it. I don’t think the ghost frog picture (below) worked out so well, but you might like it, so I posted it anyway.

Halloween is that one time of the year where we face the things we fear, or would fear if they existed. Both children and adults dress in costumes, skeletons and cobwebs line shop windows and pumpkins with twisted smiles illuminate our living rooms.

Apparently, the Celts believed that on Samhain (Halloween), the borders between this earth and the Spirit-world became weak. This allowed spirits to enter into our world; the family’s ancestors were revered and invited home while dangerous spirits were warded off. Celts wore costumes and masks, as they believed that it would disguise them as spirits and ward off the harmful spirits. They did this to avoid harm from these bad spirits, but it’s interesting how much has changed (or rather, not changed) since those times.

So to all you readers out there, I hope you enjoy my pictures and I wish you a very happy (and spooky) Halloween!

Ghostly Frog

Ghostly Frog

Frog in a Bog

Frog in Bog

Bookmark no.16

Since Halloween’s creeping ever-closer I thought I’d paint something a little darker than my recent bright and happy pictures. This bookmark’s not exactly spooky, but I think it has a more creepy atmosphere.

I haven’t included any frogs in my latest paintings, and I received a comment from a fellow blogger asking for more. He was right, I need more frogs! And so I painted a frog today. It’s been a long time since we’ve last seen our froggy friend, and he’s a bit shy today – he’s just poking his head out of the water of the swamp.

Upon reflection, I only seem to paint tree-frogs, and rarely regular frogs. I think I prefer their colours to other frogs, especially the redness of their eyes, which I thought would stand out in my swamp picture. The cartoonish tree-frogs I paint have become like a trademark of mine.

Anyhow, as I learned whilst painting my last bookmark, I’ve pulled down the grass to give the impression of a reflection. Upwards brush strokes made up the grass and the trees were created by dabbing the brush onto the bookmark.

When I post next week, it’ll be around three or four days from Halloween, so I guess I’ll paint something spooky and scary. But whatever it is, there’ll definitely be a frog somewhere in it!

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