Peter Cushing

This post uses a few ‘Work in Progress’ posts from my Patreon back in 2017 but also some new bits that I thought would be quite interesting. This is a chance to show the couple of times I’ve painted actor Peter Cushing but in two different roles. The first instance is really just the actual finished image and I have no behind the scenes progress to show for this Artist Card small (3.5″ by 2.5″) painting but I like to show it off anyway.

Watercolour and gouache Artist Card sized painting

25th February 2017

“This is, I think, a two-pipe problem.”

I guess everyone has their favourite actor in the role of Sherlock Holmes but like the Doctor in Doctor Who you accept all the other incarnations as a part of the whole. I couldn’t comfortably say who my first Sherlock Holmes actually was. I certainly recall seeing a season of Basil Rathbone films but more in passing than in a effort to see them. Probably around the same time I saw the Hammer Film version of The Hound of Baskervilles starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. As a young child I did take seeing any Hammer Film as big treat so I would have watched this film adaption as ‘must see’. My favourite Hammer Film was Dracula so I always had issue with accepting Lee and Cushing in these other roles but eventually I grew fond of Cushing’s portrayal through seeing a repeat of his BBC TV series from 1968.

I wouldn’t say there was anything unpredictable about the way Cushing plays Holmes, in fact it seems a pretty straight forward expected depiction especially for the time it was filmed. However Cushing brings a warmth to the character, you like the actor and therefore find it easier to accept the super sleuth. Lots of actors have played the great detective exactly the same way, especially during the 70s, but they’ve brought nothing extra to the role and the warmth has been missing. As much as I enjoy Cushing as the Baker Street detective he isn’t my favourite Sherlock Holmes but I certainly rank him one of the best.

A return to watercolour for this painting as I thought the delicate detail of the Victorian wallpaper and Cushing’s fine features would be best served in that medium.

Blue lead pencils

13th November 2017

“You have transferred us in time and space and I haven’t even set the controls.”

In the last few years I’ve had a lot of similar conversations about Doctor Who at the various comic conventions I’ve attended most of them to do with if I’ve actually painted ‘all’ of the Doctors. In general I’ve always said I have painted all of them with the added proviso of ‘all the TV series Doctors’ but you always have some people who mention the film Doctor to which I counter ‘why not Rowan Atkinson, Richard E Grant, Trevor Martin and a whole lot of other people who have also played the Doctor’. Most of the time that just draws blank looks though.

So to combat some of those who like to mention the two Peter Cushing films I’ve decided to get around to painting him as the good Doctor, not from Gallifrey but the eccentric English inventor who just happens to create a time machine and bump into the Daleks a lot. This painting is based purely on the first 1965 film ‘Dr. Who and the Daleks’ which sees Dr Who, his two granddaughters Susan and Barbara and Barbara’s boyfriend Ian accidentally travel through time and space. The films can be a tricky thing for avid Doctor Who fans to accept but I’ve always enjoyed the charm of them and it is easy to accept Peter Cushing as the loveable ‘grandfather’.

As you can see here are the pencils ready for painting, I couldn’t resist painting a film Dalek and I’m going to play with the plume of smoke that the film Daleks shot and make it more like the blast of fire/smoke that the film posters preferred to depict. 

I’m often asked about using sourced reference shots for painting well known actors. While some likenesses of famous people can often be based on just one good picture I prefer to use a few sources to try and come up with enough information to create something new or not just ‘oh they’ve used that well known publicity photo’.

Aside from that I like to create ‘mood boards’ in Photoshop to help give me an overall feel for the subject. Below is the mood board I created for this illustration mostly showing Peter Cushing but also the sense of colour scheme the used in the film. I ended up mostly painting the petrified jungle colours for the background but having a board to refer to is great for keeping you ‘on brand’ with the overall look and feel of the movie as a whole.

Mood Board
One of the film posters that I wanted to reference.

15th November 2017

Originally I was going to leave the background quite stark and fairly colourful in an attempt to highlight the quite brash look the film had but I actually realised that the petrified forest that Tardis lands in covers that brief well. It may be a dark forest but the colours used where very striking. Purple lighting against green lit tree trunks and yellows seeping into the ground, it certainly wasn’t dull.

I did think of adding a hint of the Dalek city through the trees but I decided against it as I wanted to concentrate on the figures more. I knew I was going to use gouache to add the brash highlighting so I was quite happy to slap on the watercolours and see what would happen.

The final painting scanned in and tidied up in Photoshop.

16th November 2017

“In electro-connective theory, space expands to accommodate the time necessary to incorporate its dimensions.” Granddaughter Susan explaining quite simply why Tardis is bigger on the inside. I’ll take her word for it.

As you can see the piece is finished and I’m quite happy with it even if I do say so myself. I think it looks nice and vibrant and I’m pleased with my likeness of Cushing.