FINE ARTS IMAGE GALLERIES

ENGLISH ROBIN

I haven't done much with nature scenes in the past, but helping so many students with their drawings of animals gave me a sense of wanting to try it. So here it is, an original design cobbled together from different images showing these birds on perches of different kinds. The wood and doorway is, like the bird, a new creation. I started it in the winter of 2013, left it when I was working on other projects, revisited it before Christmas of 2014 and left it again until recently when I just sat down and finished it.

ENGLISH ROBIN

8.5x10", pen and ink, watercolour and gouache on vellum. Copyright C.A. Seaman, 2015

 

BUBBLE WORLDS

The challenge was this. For an art show held by Visual Arts Brampton at the 2014 Carabram festival, I was to create an original work in a 10x10" square placed on one point, within a circle that was at its minimum diameter, 8 inches. Beyond that, anything was possible. Using the design elements of the circle and square together, I came up with the idea of a girl blowing bubbles. The bubbles could float out of the frame or stay within it. The elements outside the circle, unlike the firgure, and other features, which were all curves, would use squares as the design motif, except around the border where oval or circular elements would complement the forms within the circle. I used french curves to complete the hills, stylizing them to resemble the hills from the 1939 film THE WIZARD OF OZ and matched colours accodingly. Working slowly from right to left, I carefully filled in the colour elements using Prismacolor pencils, keeping watch on the balance of hues to make sure lights complemented darks, warms with cools, and so on. I broke the wall of the circle frame with the girl's feet deliberately to build on the depth of the scene, but keep shapes and forms within the circle save for the figure relatively flat. The figure herself was originally posed in Poser 9, and I made several poses before choosing this one. Balancing her in the picture was hard and after a couple of runs using templates from Visual Arts Brampton to size her up, I felt what you see here worked best, using the back of the body to leave her engaged in the act of creating those bubble worlds without making eye contact with you. Drawing her freehand into the template using the model for reference was another case where the CG content saved time in the design process.

This was an exercise in design more than anything else. I am not the only person who has though it would make an interesting stained glass window...

BUBBLE WORLDS

coloured pencil on vellum, copyright C.A. Seaman 2014

 

WESTERN FRONT FANTASY

In 2013, before I gave a lecture and presentation on war art in Canada from the past to the present, I examined the idea of creating new images of conflict based on researching primary source material like photos and accounts and then working from there to draw or paint imagined scenes of action or devastation. The Western Front as a landscape subject itself inspired many artists at the time and was a formative influence on members of the Group of Seven who served overseas during the First World War. If you look at some of the landscapes produced in the 1920s by some of them, the stripped trees of the Ontario north could just as easily be Belgium or 'some field in France'.

We know the Group of Seven created oil sketches on site during their painting trips into Algonquin and other places, using them to develop finished paintings later in their studios. I wondered what I could do to create imaginary scenes from the photos in books about the war. The works below are the result. They were created with no rough drafts straight onto the final support as spontaneously as posssible, as if done 'on the spot' in the field. The first piece used charcoal, conte and Wolff pencils, carefully building the composition from background to foreground. The second one was done on some new black paper from Australia, recently arrived in Curry's art supply store. I was the first customer to purchase the paper and try it out. The surface is very grainy, like a kind of sandpaper, which made it great for blending the colours and creating light effects like the rolling smoke in the distance and the shaft of light coming through the shattered window of the ruined church.

When they were first displayed at the lecture in 2013, they created a stir next to the more recognizable aviation works I had done, which are shown if you scroll down the screen. We discussed the fact that video games, graphic novels and films already undertake this kind of historic re-creation in their media. Using traditional media to create images like those realised by official war artists years ago was not something any of us present at the show had recalled seeing before.

The other thing that struck viewers of the work as intriguing was how oddly peaceful the first image was. "The war is definitely over. Look at the hope in that sky," commented one person.

WESTERN FRONT FANTASY No.1

14x11" Wolff pencils, charcoal and conte on vellum. Copyright C.A. Seaman, 2013.

 

WESTERN FRONT FANTASY No.2

11x14" conte on black paper. Copyright C.A. Seaman, 2013.

 

The next piece was a little Christmas project, imagined the same way as the war pieces above. It was a piece to practice pushing backgrounds into the background, softening them up to not fight with the foreground elements.

 

WINTER FANTASY

10x8" graphite on acid free cardstock. Copyright C.A. Seaman, 2013.

 

THE SNOW GOOSE PROJECT

Since the fall of 2012, I've been taking courses at George Brown College in Toronto relating to Cartooning, Illustration and Anatomy. These are the first formal studio courses I've been in since 1983 where I had to complete work that was actually evaluated. It has been a great experience and I have learned a lot in terms of composition and technique as a result. My first course in anatomy led to many drawings being done on the human figure, both as a skeleton and in a more traditional life drawing setting. The next course, Illustration for Children's Books, led to this series of works related to Paul Gallico's novella, THE SNOW GOOSE, first published in 1940 after the evacuation from Dunkirk. Subtitled "A Tale of Dunkirk," it was a story about Philip Rhyadher, a reclusive artistic man, who while tending a lighthouse on the Essex coast in the last years before the outbreak of the Second World War, was approached by a girl of the marshlands who had found an injured snow goose that had been blown across the Atlantic from Canada. Rhyadher heals the bird and allows the girl, Fritha, into his life. A closeness between them develops as the years pass, with the snow goose being at the centre of their platonically loving relationship. Fritha becomes a woman who grows to love Philip, only to have the events of 1940 come between them.

No spoilers beyond that...

This award-winning story won awards when released in the U.S. in 1941 and helped Gallico establish himself as an author of note, creating later books like THOMASINA, and THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE. THE SNOW GOOSE itself was adapted into a film for the Hallmark Hall of Fame in 1973 with Richard Harris and Jenny Aguter. Moving, like the book, it has not been released on DVD and alas, can only be seen on Youtube. I chose this book as the core work for my study in the class, developing several works around it and spending a lot of time researching the time, the location and extrapolating on ideas I was developing for the costumes. I even created a music mix to listen to while working on it, using music from JOYEUX NOEL by Philippe Rombi in a rearranged form intermixed with radio passages from Churchill and Chamberlain to add more weight to the work. Ironically, the music did so well in my mix, it was hard to remember it coming from that wonderful and so tragic film. It is available from Virgin Classics (0946 338279 2) and helped greatly in the creation of the final pieces below.

SKETCH OF PROPOSED SETTING FOR STORY

10x8" graphite on acid free cardstock. Copyright C.A. Seaman, 2013.

THE LOST PRINCESS

11X14 in., graphite on acid free paper. Copyright C.A. Seaman, 2013.

I had never drawn a goose in my life. I used the same techniques I employed creating a piece I never put in the aviation art show of a Bristol Monoplane. The clouds were blended graphite with a white eraser being used to bring up the details.

RHYADHER'S BOAT

9x12 in. graphite pencil on acid free cardstock. Copyright C.A. Seaman, 2013.

This was a study of Philip's boat, which figures prominently throughout the book. I made the sails a little transparent, as I had noticed in some of the photos of small sailing craft I studied, you could see the shadow of one of the sheets through another when the light was right.

 

FRITH AND THE LOST PRINCESS

12w x 16h in. graphite pencil on vellum (60lb.) stock. Copyright C.A. Seaman, 2013.

Here, after creating various thumbnails showing other compositional possibilities, was the first run at the final piece, sized the same as the hand-in work but done as a graphite tonal study. It remains one of my favourites. Frith is as scruffy as Gallico describes her, with a dirty face. Mind you, if you seen the marshlands on the Essex coast, it would not be hard to imagine her this way. They look really wet. The overalls and top are all frayed and worn. Gallico never went into detail on her clothes, but I imagined one described as wild-looking as Frith could look like this when she showed up on Rhyadher's doorstep with this little bundle in her arms.

 

 

FRITH AND THE LOST PRINCESS- monochrome study

8w x 12h in. watercolour on 140 lb Arches block. Copyright C.A. Seaman, 2013.

The same piece, in a smaller scale with a watercolour treatment for value studies. It was a pretty mechanical exercise, as I had already set the tonal range in the graphite piece and the one that follows.

 

FRITH AND THE LOST PRINCESS- mixed media

8w x 12h in. mixed media watercolour and Prismacolour pencil on 140 lb. Arches block. Copyright C.A. Seaman, 2013.

I was also required to develop a 'thumbnail' full colour treatment like the other 'thumbnails' in graphite and monochromatic watercolour. Each of these pieces became finished works in their own right. This is the one, along with the graphite, that I'd like to frame.

 

FRITH AND THE LOST PRINCESS- mixed media detail

8w x 12h in. mixed media watercolour and Prismacolour pencil on 140 lb. Arches block. Copyright C.A. Seaman, 2013.

Here is my work up close. A few artists have found this detail very revealing about the technique, showing where the watercolour wash is left alone and where it is lightly or heavily covered in the coloured pencil. I have a slightly lighter touch here than in the aviation pieces below. As burnishing the coloured pencil heavily hurts my hand and wrist, it's for the best.

 

 

FRITH AND THE LOST PRINCESS

12w x 16h pen and ink on Arches (Canson) illustration board. Copyright C.A. Seaman, 2013.

This was the piece I actually had to hand in. The instructor requested everything, though, for the final evaluation, once we laid out all the 'thumbnails' for display in the last class. The technique I used was reminiscent of the kind of graphic ink work used in some illustrations in the 1960s and 1970s. The enlargement below with the crazy detail on the clouds really picks that up. It was not intended. It was instinctive. For the sky, I mixed a little white ink with the black to create lines painstakingly across the board with a ruler. That was some tricky work. As for the lack of detail on the bridge of the nose,, I kept the face a little bleached out, having had little experience with the pen and ink at this point. I was worried going too heavily with the ink would make her look horrid. I preferred the whiteness to be more symbolically pure- like Frith's character. It's also a little nod to my manga work from earlier. Some like it. Some don't. At least I got a reaction, and that's what made it successful.

 

FRITH AND THE LOST PRINCESS detail

12w x 16h pen and ink on Arches (Canson) illustration board. Copyright C.A. Seaman, 2013.

 

 

 

AVIATION AND NAVAL ART

I first became interested in aviation and naval art in high school, and still have some of the pieces I did then in my old portfolio. What is shown here is a collection of pieces done since 1990. Many are in private collections now and are not shown in public any more.

 

BRISTOL MONOPLANE

This piece was supposed to appear in an art show in 2012, but being the only black and white work, stood out as such an oddity that I left it home when it was time to hang the exhibition. Featuring the graceful and little known Bristol Monoplane of the Great War, it is a tribute to an aircraft that was ahead of its time and unfairly maligned by the powers in charge of the RFC during the war. Serving largely in the Middle East, it performed well and examples of it survived years after the fighting stopped in 1918.

BRISTOL MONOPLANE

Graphite on paper, 14x11in. Copyright C.A. Seaman 2012

 

REMEMBERING THE WAR IN THE AIR- AN EXHIBITION IN 2012

2012 was the year when aviation art returned in force to the studio. An invitation in early July to participate in a book talk at the Brampton Public Library on CANADA AT WAR, by Paul Keery, was based on the assumption that I would simply put old pieces lying around the house on display. However, the organizer of the book talk became concerned when I told her many of those pieces went into private collections and in some cases, were unaccountable in their whereabouts because the owners had moved, passed on the work or died. I proposed instead of hunting them down to create new works more reflective of my current style, rather than that of the 1990s when most of the original pieces were created. What follows is a catalogue of new works done in four months on a variety of British and Canadian subjects. For BOMBS GONE OVER BRUNSWICK, where the original is now in England and the process of its completion is documented below, I included a print of the image produced from photos I took of it before it left for its new home.

 

DEATH AT DUSK

Coloured pencil and watercolour media16x12in. Copyright C.A. Seaman, 2012.

 

COUNTERMEASURES- Electronic Warfare B-17 in Action

Coloured pencil and watercolour media, 16x12in, copyright C.A. Seaman, 2012.

 

HALIFAX FORMATION

Coloured pencil and watercolour media, 16x12in, copyright C.A. Seaman, 2012.

 

CANADIAN OVER COLOMBO

Coloured pencil and watercolour mixed media, 14x11in, copyright C.A. Seaman, 2012.

 

 

CHARGING MUSTANGS- 442 SQUADRON LIBERATES THE CHANNEL ISLANDS

Coloured pencil and watercolour mixed media, 14x11in, copyright C.A. Seaman, 2012.

 

TIP AND RUN- BOUNCING A BUZZ BOMB

Coloured pencil and watercolour mixed media, 16x12in, copyright C.A. Seaman, 2012.

 

 

CLOSING THE GAP- TYPHOONS OVER FALAISE IN 1944

Coloured pencil and watercolour mixed media, 14x11in, copyright C.A. Seaman, 2012.

 

 

REAPING WHIRLWINDS- HUNTING E-BOATS IN THE CHANNEL

Coloured pencil and watercolour mixed media, 14x11in, copyright C.A. Seaman, 2012.

 

BOMBS GONE OVER BRUNSWICK- PROCESS TO COMPLETION

In late 2010, I was invited to create an image of a Lancaster bomber for my aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary. The way in which the aircraft was created was left up to me. Not having completed a large scale aircraft piece in six years, I elected to use coloured pencil for my medium on 140lb. watercolour paper stock. Research took place early in March, after I had already decided on a composition. Admittedly, this was an odd way to compose the piece, but once I sorted out the aircraft, using Touchwood's Lancaster computer generated model in Poser and my own photo reference material for the background, I hunted through books and the internet until I read of an account of a Lancaster in trouble while on a raid over Brunswick sometime in 1944. Satisfied the account matched the composition, I transferred the squadron codes to the aircraft- already drawn out on the board- to create the first stage of the work shown below, as completed on a Friday.

Next, I washed in a kind of underpainting using watered down acrylics to establish a tone range for the background.

Yes, it was messy and the paper wrinkled badly at this stage. I was not bothered, however. The coloured pencils- Prismacolour, to be precise- were to be used next, and the sheer pressure of the waxy 'lead' on the paper would be enough to flatten the image and shatter more than a few pencils in the process. Detailed images follow the process as the picture progressed.

The final piece, completed the following Thursday after some 22 hours in total, looked like this...

BOMBS GONE OVER BRUNSWICK

by C.A. Seaman, copyright 2011

Original coloured pencil and watercolour mixed media. Original 20x14in

 

What follows are examples of older pieces I've completed in this theme, mostly in the 1990s. Click on the thumbnails for larger versions.

 

LANDSCAPE ART

Landscape art is a great challenge to create. One of the reasons why so few pieces exist in my collection- both of which are sold to private collectors- is that a) it stresses me out doing it, and b) it is not unusual for me to have to encorporate landscapes into military or aviation subjects. Whatever the reason, I should do more...

FIGURES- PAINTED

Here are some of my figure paintings, done in the 1990s on canvas or illustration board. Strangely enough, they are all of young females. Go figure... The piece with the three girls and the model airplanes was exhibited at the National Aviation Museum in 1996. It was a study of experimentation in flight- young women who might some day become the next Roberta Bondar or Julie Payette.

FIGURES- DRAWN

 

 

LIFE GESTURES 'ON THE FLY'

What follows are select sketches done at music jam sessions, life classes and even from sketching off the television from an image frozen on the PVR- just spontaneous stuff to keep my hand in. Some pieces go back to the 1990s and others are more recent. I watched a couple of documentaries by Albert Maysles on photography and his spotaneous work reminded me how valuable life studies like these can be.

 

 

 

 

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All images and essays printed here are copyrighted C.A. Seaman 1990-2014 and may not be reproduced with permission.
Last revised: April 12, 2015.