Monday, September 12, 2016

Welcome New Contributor: Paul Bonner!

-By Paul Bonner



Persuaded and cajoled out of my creative solitude, I find myself in the esteemed and hallowed company of Muddy Colors – a diverse gathering of creative creatures, springing from a suitably diverse collection of backgrounds, to present a luminous display of diverse talent. A lot of talent - supplying fuel and fire power to both energy and inspiration. It’s an honor to be included and I’ll do what I can to match up to the lofty visuals ideals on show.

Having said that – this introductory post is not quite the meat and potatoes that often turns up on the menu here. Though I have done it before, a couple of times here on Muddy Colors, this post have to forego the pleasure of bombarding you all with out of focus progress shots, rambling descriptions trying to nail down the fine points of a non-existent technique, and slightly embarrassing, exploratory pencil scribblings (sketches being an all together unfair word to burden them with).

All the above will – I promise – appear in another post. Until then, as I’m embarked upon projects that seem to require a veneer of secrecy, I find myself a little limited in what I can serve up for you. Hence these two paintings.

One, you might have stumbled across in cyber-space, the other, the vampire chap – this is his first outing. I asked permission especially for you lot out there.






In the past I didn’t really enjoy single figure work so much, always being restless to get on with the next “proper” painting. I felt it was strange and frustrating having to present someone – or some thing – divorced from any kind of surroundings, backstory, light, shadows, weather and possibly – company. I wanted to give them all these things. Make them complete. But, I find the little worm has wriggled about, and managed to turn. After always ending up spending far too long on each “proper” painting – wrestling heroically with all the above mentioned attributes; surroundings, back story, light, shadows, weather and possibly company, I now find it a welcome relief to be able to ignore them. It’s a kind of little holiday. I still need to pack my paints, brushes and imagination, but there’s an awful lot of baggage that can be left behind. The ones that contain all the stress, frustration and passage of way too much time that all that wrestling inevitably brings on ( and a single figure requires a significantly lower number of pages covered in those tortured scribbles , as my imagination demands to be made visible). Also, the thought of starting another “epic” painting straight after the relieved completion of one – is a rather daunting prospect these days. Oh….I have the ideas; the sweaty anticipation of getting to paint the last jewel like little details – but blimey! It,s a long journey to get to that point. Must be getting old.


However – I have found out that it is fun and challenging (in a thankfully much more appealing way) to bring all those big, epic painting attributes and try and imbue a lonely little single figure with them. Little clues provide a viewer with the possibilities of making their own back story. Maybe a scar. Some specks of blood. Mud on boots or the hem of a tunic. Some strange tears in fabric. Dents in armour. A bit of war paint. Anything you want – even the trickier stuff that happens on the inside. Hatred. Anger. Weariness. Loneliness. Try doing those as subtly as you can……

More often than not, most of these little tweaks and quirks are made up as I go along. The character grows and develops his –or hers –or it’s – own story, and I feel like I have been commissioned to express that for them.. Painting little clues to their personality and their circumstances.




The dwarf sitting on the rather brutish ogre is obviously not a happy dwarf. Seems like he has a lot of issues, and you wouldn’t want to be stuck in the corner of the pub with him. There are a lot of buttons there that really don’t want to be pressed. His trusty steed is a bit more of an unknown quantity. Could be completely passive – or just one really big button that the dwarf wants you to give him an excuse to push.


The Vampire, hopefully comes across with a little more subtlety. I do like me some children of the night, but I prefer them to be the rather, sad, broken and lonely type – rather than the handsome, long haired, leather trouser, long coat – flapping around stylish leather boots kind of debonair, slightly romantic lord that has been done to death. I wish someone would make a medieval vampyr film. Mud, mist, dripping pine forests and our vampyr ( looking surprisingly like mine…..)– shuffling and snuffling around, emerging from his cave at edge of the moors, terrorizing the peasants, and making the one or two knights seriously question their faith. It would be marvelous – and no teenagers in it….or super heroes.

I seem to have digressed – but find myself without really anything to add. When it’s my turn, and when I can I will post some more things. Maybe next time, if I can find the progress shots – I will try to come up with something from the more “epic” end of things. Tortured scribblings, scrubbed out colors, paper scorched away by frantic brush work, tear stains, paw prints in the corner. Epic stuff.

Until then – thank you for your kind attentions. Always appreciated. All the best for now.

PS If anyone has any idea, or requests for a post – please feel free to throw it out here. I have some ideas, but could well be you lot have some better ones! No promises though.

22 comments:

  1. YES!, Paul Bonner a regular at Muddy Colors. Your one of my favorite artists (out of fifty). Great first post.

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    1. Thanks William. I,ll try to make sure the quality control people keep me on my artistic toes.

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  2. This is the best news I've heard all week! I know this is probably way to much to ask, but a video or time laps of a work in progress would be an awesome post.

    Will you be at SFAL 5 next spring or IX next month?

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    1. Not sure about videos and things Anthony. There are enough lapses of time as it is……..if the America I know and love still exists after November - I,m reckoning on being there.

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  3. Fantastic! Glad they brought you aboard Paul. Your definitely my favorite Fantasy Illustrator and it's a pleasure to see your process. How about some progress work on Beowulf? Or is that under some type of NDA? Cheers!

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    1. Kind words Michael. Much appreciated. Soon as Iv'e got some, I'll post Beowulf stuff. He got a bit stuck with the dragon and Iv'e had to leave him to get on with it……for now.

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  4. Yay!

    In future posts please do not change your writing style, nor the (negative) references to popular culture movies/stuffs out there. Was brilliantly funny!

    Your 'single character' paintings are superb and if they are a bit easier to do they will hopefully allow for more in-progress shots in the future.

    So good to see you are part of the MC crew!!!

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    1. Cheers Nicolay - I'll try and bare that in mind when I have to scribble some text, which in some ways is harder than coming up with pretty pictures!

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  5. You know I'll be looking forward to your posts Paul. In the future I'd like to know how you make you hair do what it does. Maybe even a little thing on how you've managed to keep all your hair. Really not fair, and on my list of proofs there is no God or at least that he has a sucky sense of humor. You'll be great here!

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    1. Aaaah - Bill! thought you might be out there somewhere. Sadly - the hair thing is an illusion, sadly and fraudulently perpetuated by facing each other when we meet. The proof indeed of the lack of Gods. And of the need to have a sense of humour……..

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  6. This is so awesome. I was waiting for this!

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  7. Huge fan Paul! Looking forward to more posts :)

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    1. Cheers Nick. Just got to think of something for next time now!

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  8. I would basically just like to know absolutely everything about your entire process... Everything. Methods, materials, thoughts, etc.

    I would also like to know more about your background. How/ when/ where did you learn the most? Who were some of your favorite illustrators growing up ? etc.

    I've been wishing you would join muddy colors for a long time... I'm very excited, Welcome!

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  9. Hi Daniel. I did two earlier posts - a lot earlier - where I tried to nail down some technique, but I,m sure I,ll get round to it again! Glad to be aboard.

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  10. I'm very happy to see you here. Can't wait to see more!

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  11. A bit late to the party but I'll chime in my appreciation as well! I love your take on the vampire, the "nosferatu" look has always appealed to me, and I like the the little marten or wolverine! Makes me wonder if it's his familiar or something that he keeps around for a blood supply? I must also say that I am quite relieved to learn that even a man of seemingly superhuman patience like yourself can be a little daunted by the process of creating a new piece, makes me feel less bad about myself for not always feeling enthusiastic about all parts of a painting process. Regarding future posts I'd say don't worry about writing about technique if that doesn't interest you, you've done that before like you said and there's a lot of it around anyway. Just write about things that interest you instead, perhaps places in nature that you've seen and been inspired by?

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  12. Also I think you are being way too hard on yourself calling your sketches scribbles in a derogatory way. I for one really like how free and exploratory they look and yet show an incredible sense of form and structure. Maybe you're so used to seeing your own style of drawing that it is not apparent to you but I for one am reminded to be more free (or "scribbly" if you will) in my own drawings, instead of being so focused on making something pretty that it cramps the whole thing up. So thank you for sharing your "scribbles" as well as your finished works! :)

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  13. Is it too late to comment? Love your work! Your book is a constant at my work desk, so very inspirational. I'd really like to know what kind of references you use for clothing, armor, weapons, etc. How do you come up with these amazing outfits that your fantastic creatures are wearing or busting out of?

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