Kev Crossley reveals the choices he makes when painting the legendary Celtic ruler Boudica in an old-school, rough ‘n’ ready style
Kev Crossley paints Boudica.
FJanuary 2015 or this workshop I’ll be presenting an example of a stripped-down painting technique using acrylics in a very loose way. A great passion of mine is the great fantasy art of the 1940s through to the 70s, so I’m keen to emulate that wild energy and excitement those great painters managed to capture.
I’ll also show in detail how the initial design and composition process develops, from the roughest thumbnails to the finished drawing. This part of the process is often quickly glossed over, but I think these preliminary stages are interesting to see, warts ‘n’ all! The subject I’ve chosen was the historical bane of the Romans in Britain: Boudica.
When thinking of Boudica there are numerous clichés that invariably come to mind. Popularised during the Victorian era, most of the images we now have of the famous, flame-haired warrior came from or were influenced by Victorian empirical thinking. So, my first problem is how to approach it? Would I embrace the well-known depictions or seek a more historically accurate portrayal? The initial idea I have simply to portray Boudica smashing into lines of Romans with her war chariot. Job done? Not quite…
A bit of research reveals that war chariots weren’t used in that way at the time, and there are other historical facts to take into account, too. The horses used to pull Icinian chariots would have been little taller than ponies, and because the historical accounts of Boudica were all written by Roman chroniclers, there simply isn’t any way of knowing for sure what she looked like, how large her army was or what she did during her campaigns.
All this means, of course, that I’m free to do whatever I like! So I decide to give the Roman soldiers authentic armour, with a few variations to keep things interesting, but for Boudica I opt for a less-historically accurate character. I want to treat her as I would any other hero in a fantasy painting, but as a warrior queen she had to be formidable: less feminine and defined by violence.
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After 15 years designing video games Kev turned freelance, illustrating beasts and warriors for gaming books before creating comic art for 2000 AD and various publishers in the US. www.kevcrossley.com