About Me

Basement Picasso was started to showcase the artwork that I had produced. I have now decided to take this further and to try and create a website for both myself and other artists, to create a website by an artist, for artists.

I hold an honours degree in Engineering (BEng Hons) and I am a Chartered Engineer (CEng) and full Member of The Institute of Engineering Technology (MIET) (Formally the IEE). I also have a professional qualification with the Certified Internet Webmaster board (CIW Professional). I have been studying fine art heavily for the last 4 years, and have previously worked as an illustrator in comics. This site aims to bring together my two main skills which are:

  • 20+ years experience in IT specialising in WEB based system design
  • A lifelong enthusiasm for Art and Illustration

The aim of this website

To provide a comprehensive, friendly and affordable service to fellow artists to help them learn to draw and paint and to create and sell their artwork, providing a secure and reliable site for customers to purchase artwork from.

Basement Picasso aims to act with

  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Enthusiasm
  • Friendliness
  • 100% customer satisfaction is a right, not a target

So where did it all start?

cam01

Basement Picasso started out as a love for comics. Around 3rd Year of University I realised that Electronic Engineering wasn’t the be-all and end-all of my life (No really), and about the same time that I awoke to this, I had the very good fortune to share a flat with the son of a very talented artist. The very talented artist is non other than Cam Kennedy, a true legend of the comic world, who has drawn just about everything including Rogue Trooper and Judge Dredd, before moving on to the highly acclaimed Light and Darkness Wars.
Personally, I reckon that the Light and Darkness Wars artwork is some of his finest work ever, and it seemed to convince George Lucas as well, because he hired Cam to draw two books worth of Star Wars comics. I was just blown away with the quality of the artwork and I thought “I want to do this”. Now, the fact that my art at school had been so bad that they had to invent a new grade for me was no barrier, a triumph of enthusiasm over stupidity really, but basically I picked up a pencil and taught myself to draw.

Starting as a colourist

Actually what I taught myself to do was colour. Although my drawing skills were (and to be honest, still are) terrible, I seemed to be blessed with a pretty good sense of colour, so I found a niche in the illustration work as a colourist. For those that don’t know many people can work on a single page of artwork for a comic. Somebody writes a story, somebody pencils the page, somebody inks it and somebody colours it. Finally somebody letters the page. Occasionally people do more than one element, pencil + inking being a common one. But I found a place doing the colour work. I copied pages of drawings by hand from Cam’s stuff, and from Tod Macfarlane’s Spawn series, and I coloured the pages myself.

jdmag01

Then I managed to get some photocopies of black and whites from Cam himself, and with these put my first portfolio together. Five years of hiding in a darkened room, music blaring, airbrush whirring, paint drying (no it really was that exciting) and I had a portfolio to present. One Glasgow comic convention later, and the Editor of Judge Dredd Megazine asked me to send him some samples.

One letter and a few phone calls later – my first job đŸ™‚ colouring a Brian Bolland drawing for the front cover. I was terrified, my first published work – eek. I didn’t know what to do, so I ended up doing two versions, one plain and one with the bolt of lightning in the background – they liked the lightning and ran it (with a silver bolt no less!)

page 3One hundred and fifty five pages of published artwork later – and there is no looking back right – eh well no actually. You see the money was poor, for somebody that had graduated and started working on computers, the lowly pay of an illustrator is tough (OK, OK I bought TV’s hi-fi, computers – you name – hey I love my toys). So unfortunately the art had to go on a back burner. But looking long term, the passion is there for the future.

The way ahead (2003) … ?

Which is where we are today, at the start of the future. Now that sounds like a pompous sound bite, but I mean it on a more subtle level. Despite all the pages published, all the paper that I have covered, I am still as much, if not more so, incredibly self critical of my work (sound familiar?). And I am also in a situation where I now really need to learn a lot – to draw, to paint, to illustrate, not because I have to, but because I really want to. And for me, that learning is a very scary place, because I do so much, but like so little of it. And so it hit me, that there must be a lot more people like me out there, that really want to learn to draw and to paint, but lack the confidence, tripped at the first hurdle named “fear of failing”.

So that is what this site is all about. It is about showing my work, and showing how I put that work together, not so much to teach how to draw and paint (because, lets face I really am not qualified to teach art), but to teach that it is possible to learn. It takes time, effort, hard work, motivation, but it doesn’t have to be pure gift and genius, and hopefully in the years to come, this site will become that record, the proof that learning is possible, that fears can be overcome, and (very hopefully) that I really have got better as the years progress.

And So it begins, March 1st 2007?

So, having spent a further three and a half years studying part time at leith School of Art in Edinburgh, and doing as much drawing and painting as I could fit in around a particularly demanding job, I finally came to the decision that I now want to draw and paint for a full time living. One of the bigger life changes that comes along every now and then, but sometimes these things have to be done. Basement Picasso is now going to become a focus for everything I do. I really want to push the website forward and try and make it something that is really useful to others. Lets see where it can all go from here …

March 2012 – So where did it go?

Well after a couple of years studying at Leith School of Art, the reality of the housing market hit home, and sadly another IT job came-a-calling. But I have learnt a huge amount in the last few years. This is a journey, not a destination, and I have so much more to share now in the coming weeks and months. It may only be a hobby again, but I think right now, I love art more than I ever have done for many years.


Peter B Smith, creator of Basement Picasso