Tattoos and current progress.

11 07 2009

Hi there people!

God Nouveau

God Nouveau (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus

I have been working almost exclusively in a couple of tattoos this last week. They were commissioned and had one of my favourite themes, which is the pagan gods. It was very rewarding to work on them, and my client was wonderful, she knew very well what she wanted and gave me very clear instructions, but at the same time she trusted my artistic ideas to bring her vision to life. I am very excited for her, these will be her first tattoos, and I really hope the tattoo shop does an excellent job on her.


Goddess Nouveau (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus

Since I have designed a few tattoos I decided to open a new page in my blog dedicated to them so you can see them all together. Some of them are freebies, some of them are not, so please, make sure that if you want any of them on you they have not been commissioned by someone else. I am open for tattoo commissions, so if you would like me to work with you on designing one just contact me at faerywitchart(at)

In the meanwhile I have been working on a couple of pieces, one that is finished and uploaded to my gallery, the goddess Criede who was created for a contest on Addictive Hobby with theme Scottish Myths. Criede is the goddess of women and faeries, and it was an excuse to paint yet another celtic knot. I love knots and I really would like to learn to make them without having to rely so heavily on existent references, so I need to practice 😉

WIP (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus

WIP (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus

On the other hand I am working on a piece that I’ve been toying with for many months (over a year?) and that has been evolving nicely.  The objective in this piece is composition aided with color, so I found some inspiration in the wonderful Cris Malidore who really know how to use complimentary colors to make the images pop. I hope I can achieve at least half of what he does 🙂

How to Make Stained Glass Art: A Reviewed Tutorial by Constanza Ehrenhaus.

7 07 2009
Holy Cow! (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus

Holy Cow! (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus

1-To make stained glass-like art it is important to be acquainted with real stained glass. So the first thing you should do is go to collect references, look on the internet, visit churches and old mansions, bring your camera with you! I Googled a lot of images before starting my stained glass artwork.

Some stained glasses do not follow perspective rules, some do, some of them are very colorful, and some are monochromatic. Whatever style you decide to follow, make sure you keep it consistent!

HC tutorial 022- This is my original sketch, a really old one too, that I had lying around there. I decided to resurrect it and finish it in Stained Glass style. I always liked religious themes Stained Glass, so I thought that the Holy Cow would fit well for this technique and would follow up with an earlier work of mine “Sebastian d’Orange, Prophet of the Bubbles”.

HC tutorial 033- So now I imported the sketch into Photoshop and revamped it a bit. I consider the story of the image to be essential for its artistic development, so I decided that she was a virgin and martyr. Therefore I gave her a red cloak and a bunch of lilies. Since she would have died willingly she would be smiling beatifically and angels would be coming for her. But since she is a cow, what would fit better than the little birds that are always on cattle? So I replaced cherubs with Cattle Tyrants. Yeah, I know… but that is how my brain works anyways.

I wanted to give it a vertical composition to enhance the “ascension” idea. I also wanted to focus on her face; therefore I worked a triangle with the birds and her head.

HC tutorial 044- The next thing to do is to define the areas in which the glass will be “cut”. In this stage it is important to go to your references to see how these areas are treated. Stained glass will have different sized areas which will be painted inside in detail, so you don’t need to make an area for each different color. Also notice that for stained glass to be strong and long lasting, the pieces need to be connected to each other.

I have found that large windows have different weight lines, and I like that effect. I used heavy lines for the frame and the large panels that form the main rectangle of the image. For this I opened a different layer and used the tool pen with no simulated pressure.

HC tutorial 055- I now add the “lead” lighter lines around the figures. I make sure that I separate areas by main color but not being too detailed about it. For example, the lily bunch will be only one piece that will be later defined with brushstrokes of “paint”.

I will keep the halo separated in different areas, like wedges, to keep coherence with the “Prophet” piece. Also, notice that the radii of the circumference do not go to its geometric center but they go a little lower. In this way the image is not too rigid and the radii help me to focus attention on her face.

The sky and clouds are separated in smaller areas; this will help to bring her figure out, since Aurora (the cow) is the only element composed of big pieces of glass.

6- OK, so here I am showing you several steps at the same time. On one hand you can see HC tutorial 06ahow I defined details that were not defined by the “lead” lines, such as the lily flowers. With a thin round brush, and using the pen tool, I outlined the figures in a color that is darker than the color that I will use to paint those areas.

I also colored the sky, using a set of different hues of blue, spreading them around the stained glass. I gave a base of color to the clouds and started painting the cherub-birds.HC tutorial 06b

HC tutorial 077- I based the color scheme on a stained glass of St. Cecilia of Rome, virgin and martyr, to match a religious imagery. I proceeded to color the rest of the image, continuing to use color “painted” lines to define details in the glass areas. I also started shading the image. Stain glass usually does not follow a very realistic approach of light and shadows so I didn’t. I just used a darker red, darker blue, etc. to give a shading effect.

On of the most important things that I imitate from real stained glasses, and I think that makes them more believable, is the fact that the glass looks “burnt” next to the lead lines, and lighter toward the center of the panel of glass. I use the burn tool (Oh, the horror!!) to achieve this look, going around the margins of the glass piece. I also use the dodge tool to lighten up the center a bit.

8- To keep the composition uniform I used deeper tones of red and blue in the frame. They HC tutorial 08looked too saturated, so I lowered the saturation in a later step. I worked on the shading of Aurora, keeping the light from above to enhance a religious theme. These are the final stages in which I go and add details and work on what needs to be fixed. Here I worked on the face features, the shadows to add volume to her body, adjusted the colors of the lines of the robe (they were too bright before), worked on the prayer beads, etc.

HC tutorial 099- The last stages are to make the piece more real and less computer generated looking. I like to add different textures to different colors of glass. For this I choose a texture that I like, eliminate the color, and add it in a transparent layer on top of the color that I chose. Notice that this will tone down the colors a lot, which is not bad if they were saturated colors in the beginning. If desaturated colors were used this might be a good moment to adjust them.

I also like to add a black frame around the artwork to bring up the colors.

Don’t forget to add a nice story to it! That makes for half of the fun!

Interview to James McPartlin

2 07 2009

James McPartlin is probably one of the last true romantics left in the world. A great artist, whose works depicts beauty and danger, fantasy and romance, he masters colored pencils and uses fellow artists as his beautiful models. Many models have expressed their admiration for what he has seen in them that they were never aware of. Having gone through some really harsh time himself has not stopped him from being very supportive of others, with a huge gold heart that is always willing to have some nice words for those that are in distress.

Little Red Riding Hood by James McPartlin

Little Red Riding Hood by James McPartlin

-Are you self taught? Did you go to art school?

Yes, I’m self-taught and no, I didn’t go to art school, I did however go back to college to freshen up on my pencil and paint techniques as well as my anatomical knowledge which had been letting me down with my figure work, I did too have plans to achieve my masters degree in art but family considerations forced me to shelf that for a little while

-How important is art in your life?

Art is the most important thing in my life apart from my family and the people I love

-Are you a full time artist?

I’m not a full time artist although I do produce the odd book cover and some commissioned work…most of which is mundane to me but helps to buy me sugar for my coffee and a few good books to read

-Why do you choose colored pencils over all other media?

Ah now! This is in a way out of necessity! I travel constantly between Scotland and the south of England where I live, I need to do this because my mother is getting older and needs a bit more care from me these days…specially with the heavier duties around her house, I find that pencils and paper are a more convenient medium to travel with…I would love and I will get more into the oils and acrylics when I get the chance to sort this out….heh heh not quite sure if my mother’s heart can take the though of oil paints being splashed across her house!

Do you have a favorite brand of pencils that you can recommend to growing pencil artists?

My favourite type of watercolour pencil is “Caran D’ache Prismalo I” but I also like the “Derwent watercolour” these are both great because you get the lovely sharp details of a pencil combined with some great watercolour effects when you add touches of water with a brush… or you can wet the tips of the pencils to get a more vibrant colour which is great for highlights
I also like to use lightly colour card or paper with these pencils, that way you can benefit from the white and lighter colours

-Do you have a special technique to achieve those rich uniform colors?

The sad thing is no matter how good you photograph your work the real details and feeling never show on the computer screen so I do add a touch of artificial contrast to brighten my works up a bit

Have you ever finished a piece and noticed that you really did not like it right after you were done?

Oh my! All the time, I have at least a dozen that I want to go back and improve on
-Why do you choose to portrait fellow artists instead of models?

Another simple question to answer, Coty, it’s all about inspiration, I need to feel a connection with the characters that I’m creating or it simply doesn’t do it for me, I have tried using stock material but this just feels like working with cold stone! I love to portray creative people and models too that I feel are vital and alive, I just love the challenge of trying to capture the intricacies of their personalities in my work! I remember a time when I asked an artist/model to pose a certain composition for me, and I sent her a stock photo ref of the pose that I would love her to do, so she then asked me “well, why don’t you just use the stock model” and I replied simply “well, she just isn’t you!”

Modesty Blaise by James McPartlin

Modesty Blaise by James McPartlin

-Do you have an image in mind and then you contact an artist that fits it or you get the photos from them and then you find the topic to your image?

Ha ha, yes, I do but after I dialogue with the artist usually the first idea goes right out the window to be replaced by a hopefully better idea, I encourage strongly artist collaboration to all my pieces… it is kind of interesting for them and more inspirational for me that way

-Many of your works include nudity, how do you approach a fellow artist to pose for you?

I am extremely careful about that and I am usually very sensitive to how I make my request, my main aim is to portray my inspirational model refs in a way that brings out who they are in an unusual and vibrant way, as for nudity, I would never just ask any artist to do a sensual or nude composition ref for me unless I was certain that they would be happy and comfortable with the idea first… I would probably do a bit of research to find out their views on this or if they had done some sensual work in the past first, and even then I would not presume a positive reaction, after all I am to all intents and purposes a relative stranger to these girls and not a renowned professional….it really is all about trust and respect and I am amazed and humbled at the reaction I have so far received

Suzanne... by James McPartlin

Suzanne... by James McPartlin

-I have heard more than once from an artist that you have portrayed that they were amazed about how you perceive them. How do you find the beauty and character in each artist? Do you believe that there is something beautiful in each person?

I’m glad you asked me this, a superb artist I know (Emily Veinglory) sent me some amazing photo shots some months ago, I created one piece called “Shades” from these but I intend to produce a whole batch of artworks from the rest of her pics, the strength, beauty and character in this woman’s images just simply blew me away, I think that it was one of those rare moments that you see an image that matches exactly the idea in your head!
As for seeing beauty in everything, I’m not so sure, I’ve known physically handsome people whose souls are as ugly as sin and I’ve known unremarkable folks who can give you that certain eye glint that makes you want to take them back onto the dance floor time and time again…..those are the people I want to paint!

-Lately, your art is a mix of beauty, darkness and danger, except for few pieces. Do you feel that what you have gone through in life affects what you express?

A lot of the work that I’ve done so far is along the lines of collaboration material, although I do have plans to create some more personal pieces dealing with my own personal experiences…of course I don’t want to get too heavy preferring to stick to a slight fantasy type genre!

Secrets by James McPartlin

Secrets by James McPartlin

-Many times you seek to provoke discussions in the artistic community that are very mind provoking, and then you sit back and watch them unravel. How is it important to you to open the grounds for a certain topic?

I am, I would like to think, a classical artist. I think it is important to know if I’m going in the right direction, whether I agree with it or not I have absolutely no intention of being self obsessed or falling into a destructive artistic hole… a few of the last centuries artists suffered for their art…in other words became unpopular at the time because their work was being criticised by the public for being too far out
On that note, I like to get a feeling on what moves people what motivates them and what disturbs them in life, by provoking discussion I get to know a bit of this as well as the speaker… kinda throws up a lot of ideas into the air as well!
And I think most important, I get to meet some lovely interesting people in the process

-You seem to be in love with love, why is love so important for you and who is the greatest love in your life?

I think that love is the most precious gift that we possess, it really does not matter what God you follow it shifts between cultures and religions like air!
I am and have always been in love with a woman that I’ve never brought to the table, although I keep her anonymous she influences most every thing I do in life, she is my soul mate, my lover and my best friend… she is my perfect inspiration.

-Likewise, you seem to be in love with women as an ideal. How is your ideal woman?

Without women my existence would be meaningless, women have influenced every aspect of my life, most of my historical heroes are women, nearly all of my favourite authors are women! Heh, I think Julie Bell can knock spots off Vallejo most of the time! I think that what gives women the edge on most of the creative media’s is their humanity! When Superman with his super powers saves the world it’s marvelous, when little miss grey gets battered to a pulp but endures through sheer will power and manages to save the world with a hairgrip now that’s BLOODY marvelous! I loved the movie “Death Wish” when it came out in the 70’s but Jodie Foster just blew the lid off the vigilante genre when she stared in the 2007 hit “The Brave One” her femininity and humanity added something powerful and relevant to most human beings!
Heh, heh, as for my ideal woman! Well I guess that a woman that doesn’t give a rat’s kiss whether the toilet seat is left up or down is pretty ok with me

-How does music inspire or affect your artwork?

Yeah I’m a massive fan of good music, my love ranges from Okeh soul to the classical piano stuff of Rachmaninoff…in between are heavy doses of rock and crying in the rain country ballads…and I’ve got space on my boat for the arctic monkeys and green street and any other band that hits me right!

Tears from Heaven by James McPartlin

Tears from Heaven by James McPartlin

-What made you decide to start living again and rebuild yourself? How hard was to take that step?

Dead simple really! When my young daughter saw me as a bum on the street! Even through my drunk sodden mind I felt the shame, before this I thought that what she did not know wouldn’t hurt her..! The little girl asking her Mommy “who is the funny smelling man” did it for me! After that day I started the hard road back! It was not a fairytale thing and I have nightmares about it till this day, hospital commitments and breakouts ending up in gutters of towns I just can’t recall…I nearly died twice but the Angel who was looking after me was having non of my shit and eventually I got sober!

How did you reconnect with your daughter after you became sober? Are you good friends now?

Yeah we are the best of buddies now and I’m so proud of her, she is back at Uni now after spending her gap year in Thailand teaching English language.
Like a lot of clever alcoholics I managed to hide my problem from her and my family for some years, even when I ended up on the street I was too proud to tell or ask anyone, including my family, for help, I had managed to devise an elaborate set of circumstances that led most people to believe that I was living quite comfortably! That all came crashing down though when quite by Chance my ex partner and my little daughter spotted me sitting and drinking with the rest of the hobos in a public park! The shock for them and me was devastating and profound! obviously I could not drag my ex and my beautiful little girl into my deceit, after that day I had no choice but to seek help for my addiction and pull myself out of the gutter and back into the real world.

It had taken me nearly two years of ups and downs and a lot of pain to get my life in order and eventually chain my addiction, you cannot cure alcoholism, you can only learn to control it! These days I pretty much never drink alcohol, although I have had the odd small relapse but nothing on a grand scale, I have far too much to lose in my life now to let the past be repeated

If I had one piece of advice to give to anyone suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction it is this, seek help it is almost impossible to beat the demon on your own, do not let pride or guilt or even disillusionment continue to drag you down into a life of despair and hopelessness, and no matter how strong the addiction is or how rough the road to recovery may be… that little light of hope at the end of the tunnel never ever goes out!

James through the eyes of other artists:

Chris Griffin

Oh, cool! James will love being interviewed! He’s one of those guys I can easily say is quite a tender soul…a real romantic at heart. Nice, to the very tips of his toes. [When he portrayed me] I didn’t do much, by way of posing, except send him a few rather poor photos! So he really didn’t have much with which to work. 😉 He marches to the beat of his own drummer, James does. A true eccentric. An old soul. Sometimes I feel he would’ve fit better in a time when chivalry wasn’t near-dead, and men wore jackets and gloves, as a matter of course! (Keep on marching, James!)

Elin Josefsson

James is so good at portraying emotions, and at showing the beauty that lies within all women. He can paint all kinds of people, and always show what is beautiful with them, while still keeping them real looking.

Rita Ria

I saw James artwork first time at another online gallery many years ago, at Epilogue. And I already loved his work there and was so amazed and pleased when he asked me to model for him for a portrait. Now we wrote emails back and forth and I got to know him a bit better.

James is not only a most awesome artist, who seems to become better and better with each new work, but also a great person and friend. Whenever I need advice or just want to talk about some artwork, he is here to listen and to share his knowledge! He is encouraging, helping and having great ideas! I call myself just lucky to call him my friend.

A very special point of his work is that he uses very normal people/women as models and always turns them into something mystical and enchanting. I love all the portraits he did of me or my kids. He turned us into magical creatures and wonderful beings.

He tells at his homepage: “My aim…..hopefully, taking the ordinary and making it a bit…extraordinary!” and I think he just succeeds 100 %!

I have some originals from him hanging in my home, and WHENEVER I see them (which it is several times a day) I have a look at them. So often, I also have another look, closely and still am amazed about his strokes and still in love with his work. I guess all of us know that feeling, when you look too often to a picture, one day you want to change it and see something new. This never happened with his work, and one painting I have already for 4 years (called Romeo and Juliet, painted as a fennec and a wolf).

I am happy that Coty asked me for some words about him, because now I can say: James, you are a great artist and thank you for being a wonderful friend!

Inge Vandormael

James’ art truly takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary. His passion for fantasy art and mythology is easy to recognize when looking at his art. He creates magnificent portraits of fellow artists. While doing so he is able to make the soul of the portrayed shine through, and that is a talent that is extraordinary and highly admirable.