Just kidding, it’s a kingfisher. 40″ by 40″ (a good meter squared), acrylic.

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I started work on Phoenix (which at that time was under the working title of Heledir, or literally “kingfisher” in Tolkien’s Sindarin language) last summer — it was the first time anyone had trusted me with a canvas as big as this, and I spent hours thinking about what exactly I would paint. In the end, I settled for this: a kingfisher soaring out of water, the kingfisher being my father’s favourite bird, and this being intended as a present for his 50th birthday.

As it turned out, I was not finished in time for his 50th. But I did make his 51st!

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I failed to take progress pictures last year, so they start from this year. It took quite literally weeks to finish it off, during which time I churned through three different audiobooks and at the end of which I was positively sick of bubbles of water. Anyhow, it’s done! Finally! And I have a new signature, which I think I’ll stick with (:


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Ok so first off I’m going to tell you a bit about the painting itself. Technically this isn’t a piece that I would have made of my own volition, though planning and painting it turned out to be a lot of fun. Forgotten is a painting I did for my IGCSE art mock examinations, and was the outcome for my coursework topic “The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword”. (The two might not seem obviously related, but I’ll explain everything in my sketchbook videos).

Forgotten is a tribute to those victims of war whose lives are torn apart, yet whose voices go unheard, whose faces go unphotographed; the thousands who suffer anonymously every day. To quickly draw an analogy to the original topic – their stories, carved and cratered by the destructive power of the sword, never have the chance to be healed or reconstructed by the constructive powers of the pen. There cannot be war without victims. Their stories overlay and are woven into the tapestry of conflict, of war, of the explosions and awful acts of terror that define it.

The drips were referenced from pictures of graffiti, again, again an integral part of modern war (the attempts of the pen to understand the sword’s chaos, and a bid by the anonymous victims to reclaim their lives by protesting the war which tore them apart).

The blank canvas beneath is just that – blank, open to interpretation. It could be the empty pages in memoirs that were never written, the empty futures of the victims, yawning like caverns beneath the immediate shock of war. Or perhaps, a futuristic city, a commentary on how war has shaped our civilisation, and the way we will never be able to wipe away the blood that smears the foundations of our skyscrapers. The inherently bloodthirsty nature of humanity. Your call.

… so yep, that’s the general idea behind Forgotten (: