Saturday, 6 June 2015

Part 2 : Secret Squirrels.

Having set upon what I hoped would be a strong concept for the cover, I now needed to work up a very rough illustration so that the band could understand where I wanted to take the image. So I spent the next few days pulling together reference material.  I always find it helpful to spend time doing this properly.  It's important to have everything you need so that once you begin sketching out, you have everything you need close at hand.  

I have built up quite a little library of reference books in my studio.  The best place to find them is charity shops and second hand book shops. So I pulled together those which I thought would be useful.

The next thing I needed to do was address the fact that there was to be a figurative element to the image : David had asked for a young girl and boy to be featured, cast in the roles of Adam and Eve.  My little library would not help me here and so I needed to source a reference "from life".  So I called upon my good friends Sam and Bev and cryptically asked if I could possibly "borrow" their children for an afternoon!  

Alistair and Bea-Bea were my wonderful models for Little Adam and Little Eve.  They were very excited to hear that they might appear on the cover of a CD!  What with that and the strategic use of 2 bags of sweets, we had a very fun afternoon, dressing them up in Winter woolies, cutting apples in half to reveal the "5 pointed star" and generally posing around whilst I took lots and lots and lots of photos.

As I left and handed over the bags of sweets, I made Alistair and Bea-Bea promise, promise, promise to be Secret Squirrels. They must not say a word to anyone about the record cover, who it was for or why we had just spent the whole afternoon playing with half an apple.  And to their absolute credit, they were little gems and kept their word for what would end up being 5 months.

Back in the studio, I began sketching out a very rough design.  I didn't want to spend long on it: the purpose was to give Greg and David a good enough sense of where the piece was heading and also to enable them to specify likes/dislikes and suggest other elements to include.  

David had mentioned somehow including an Adder, which has a strong pagan association but, in this instance, could also represent the Eden snake.  So I wound him through the wreath, in and out of the apple blossoms and Wassail cup.  Over-looking the entire scene is the Green Man - strong and powerful, the King of the Woodland/Tree Gods.  I gave him a beard made of leaves, to allude to the ideas we sometimes have of how God is depicted.  So there are a few elements of the painting which have a dual role : they represent both traditional, pagan symbols but also those from the story of the Original Sin.

The following piece was laid down very quickly, with bold washes of ink.  There was no desire on my part to give an accurate rendition, just to give a flavour.

I emailed the initial image off to David and Greg, kept my fingers very tightly crossed that they were able to share my vision and see where I wanted to take the painting - and then waited...

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