This is a wee series that has been in my head for a while. It did take some time to successfully resolve the illustrations, but I am so happy with how they turned out. Normally my work rests upon environmental themes as the source of its inspiration, however in the case for this series, a sense of social commentary crept in from the start.

Dark Beasties 2014 by ellaquaint

In many Western countries, black animals are often overlooked for adoption in shelters, this is called Black Dog syndrome. It stems from a variety of different stigmas, some superstitious; while others relate to the breed of the animal. I know when I was looking for my 'Monster', I had actually overlooked her initially in her cage, as she was so tiny that with her dark coat, she was almost absorbed into the background. It wasn't until this little creature reached out of the cage to swipe me and squarked, that I realized that she was there. Their invisibility in cages / pens too could possibly play a factor in their sad adoption statistics.

My own dark beastie, 'Monster'.


Other influential factors in my latest series was the desire to express the idea that we need darkness in order for light to exist. This stems from some personal experiences that I have had of late. My initial visualization for the dark beasties was for them to have like sparks flying out of their chests in a manner similar to fire crackers or sparklers. I also loved the idea of having the dark tones constructed of super subtle hues of colour. Sometimes less is definitely more . . .


Black Dog in progress


Black Dog was a blend of a few gorgeous little black dogs that I have known, as well as the most adorable image that I found on pinterest. In the end I am so pleased that I went with a more subtle approach towards his rendering. The idea of 'what is there' is just as important as 'what is not' plays a key feature with the use of negative space to enhance the sweeping brush stroke that fades out towards the right. In some ways it is particularly reminiscent of some of the work that I produced while at art school, where I was very interested in exploring zen inspired aesthetics and the qualities of the materials being inherent in the way it has been used.


Dark Horse - gilded by ellaquaint  Black Dog by ellaquaint  Black Cat - gilded by ellaquaint


The use of black and shifting shades of grey tones, as well as being inspired by the use of Indian ink, would also have been inspired by one of my favourite illustrators at the moment, Ruben Ireland. His use of positive / negative space is stunning; combined with the darkness and beauty of his own mythological narratives.

Dot Dot Dot by Ruben IrelandWork from Borrowed Memories by Tran Nguyen


Equally as influential on this series is a woman whose paintings I have loved for years, I used to use her as an artist model for some of my students when I was teaching. Tran Nguyen. When I was having difficulty deciding on how else to bring in 'light' into my works, with out the overt use of sparkler / firecracker shapes, it was her work that helped me to resolve that issue. 


Experimenting with gold leaf on Black Cat


Hopefully this post has helped to inform you of some of the ideas around these works, as well as some of the visual influences; subconscious and otherwise. If the Dark Beastie series appeals to you, please keep an ear to the ground as they may be more to add to the pack. As a special introductory offer for the release of these enter the code DARK BEASTIES at checkout for 15% off for a limited time only.