My Artistic Efforts

I've experimented with watercolours and oils but generally find them unsatisfactory.  I'm too impatient with their physical constraints (drying times!) and find they don't give me enough control.  I suspect that the latter reason is a bit irrational because some of my favourite artists use oils or acrylics, albeit on quite a large scale.

I like realism, or surrealism.  A guess you could call it "precision" although that sounds dry and boring.  I'm drawn to Science Fiction art -- I love works by people like Chris Foss, his almost photo-realistic renderings of imagined scenes sent me into raptures when I was younger (I wanted to be there).  One day, faced with an image I wanted to create but with no obvious means to express it, I thought of newspaper photographs and wondered if I could use that technique (tiny dots) to good effect myself.   I tried and have been trying ever since -- it remains my preferred technique to this day.

I've been able to scan photos of a couple of examples.
This is the card I gave my friends Nick and Lucy for their wedding.  The ceremony was on a beach back home in New Zealand and so had a bit of a "sea" theme:

Seahorses, © Copyright 1998 Mark Wilson

This is based on a newspaper photograph of a kite fair -- the giraffe is actually a kite:
...the giraffe flying over their heads, © Copyright 1991 Mark Wilson

I trace the final design onto paper in pencil and then ink-in the dots.  I've used a variety of pens, from expensive Rotring ones (the kind that have thin wires within the tip) to cheapish fine-tipped felt pens.   The images are usually done in black, the giraffe is my only coloured effort to date.   I'll usually make repeated sweeps through the image, adding extra dots to increase the local density.  Then it's usually a matter of focusing on specific areas; densifying appropriate parts even more and also dealing with "artifacts" and "holes".   This means glancing at the work to spot places where the dots appear to line up (I try to add them randomly) or where there seem to be slight gaps.  All it takes to fix these flaws is the odd carefully placed dot.

It's a fairly scary, exhilarating experience, I remember being quite nervous about the seahorse card -- would it turn out OK or would I need to buy one?   But I usually seem to pull it off somehow, and it is a great feeling seeing the image come to life.   Yes, it is quite time consuming.  Each seahorse probably took at least an hour, the giraffe was probably about 5 hours.  I tend to do the work in several sessions.

Generally, the images I'm interested in creating for myself have to have some little "twist" to them, something a little odd or surreal, but probably leaning more towards Magritte than Dali.  Having said that, roses have also been a favourite subject for simple, realistic renderings.  On the occasions when I've done something special for someone else, like a card, I can put aside my desire to play with the image.  I guess it's a matter of motivation -- if I'm going to spend a fair bit of time on something, I need to get some enjoyment out of it.