'LOOK' The Unknown Story of Danielle Du Bois - Album Artwork
Nigel’s wonderful artwork for John Howard’s album ‘LOOK’ The Unknown Story of Danielle Du Bois attracted lots of positive comments among artists and John Howard’s fans, so it seemed only right to reproduce the original in a limited edition, to ensure others could enjoy the album artwork. Nigel gifted the original to John which makes these 25 copies extra special.
The 12″ limited edition prints are carefully reproduced and printed on the highest quality etching paper, to ensure they stand the test of time. They are offered in a very limited run of only 25. An 8″ ‘open edition’ print is also available and these are printed on an archival matt paper.
All prints are titled and signed by the artist. The limited edition prints are also numbered.
How The Project Came About
“I first got to know John Howard through the Fruupp project which I’m working on with Robert Cochrane. Rob had introduced me to lots of music and when he sent me the John Howard album ‘The Dangerous Hours’ on which Rob had collaborated, I thought it was exceptional.
I started chatting with John online and I began collecting his back catalogue on CD. Then I had an idea! I’m an artist and I love music: I’d always fancied the idea of painting an album cover, so I approached John offering to paint one for him.”
“A few months later John told me he was working on his new album and he had an idea for the album sleeve that he would share with me when he was ready. I had no idea what to expect although he said it would suit my style, which I call ‘watercolour realism,’ whereby I create images that look almost real, but you can still see they are paintings. I was intrigued”.
John Howard's Concept
“When John then explained what he was after I must say I felt quite challenged – it was going to be like nothing I’d painted before. How could I create a 1961 Parisian apartment with the young Daniel Wood in front of the mirror looking into the eyes of Danielle Du Bois, the person he is going to become? John didn’t waste much time and sent me photos of what he had in mind for the look of Daniel and Danielle. Lots of images of actors like James Dean and Audrey Hepburn, along with period shots of clothes from the era”.
Creating 'LOOK' The Unknown Story of Danielle Du Bois
“Meanwhile, I started working out how I’d create the interior, would it be from an actual interior with a mirror or from photos I had and from the Internet? I started sketching ideas and it became evident that I’d have to make it up, but using images of period features like the mirror, the furniture, the wall paintings and the architecture.”
“Getting the perspective and the dimensions right was relatively straightforward, achieving the right colours, light and shadows in this imaginary bedroom were going to be less easy, but neither was going to be as hard as making the figures look convincing as ‘sort of mirror images.’ Before all that I sent the sketches off to John via email and he liked “the look” (pardon the pun!) and most of it was about right, but John thought the original figure of Daniel, in James Dean style jeans and white T shirt, would be better in a well-cut period suit. So back to the drawing board and more of a nod to a David Bowie look but in a period suit was in order. “
The Stages In The Process
“Once I got the drawing right and John was happy with it, I was able to start painting the interior itself. This was in general fairly straightforward and I knew the hard work was going to happen when I started painting the figures, which remained as pencil sketches while I worked on the interior. John had sent me the digital files of the album tracks and I continually listened to the album right through while painting away and it definitely inspired me and helped me create the period feel. I painted Daniel before Danielle – this seemed more logical – and I had so many reference photos in front of me of faces, figures, suits, shoes and so on to put it all together! Daniel appeared quite easily – it was almost as if he was already real and so his appearance was easier to capture. John had stipulated that they must both have fair or blonde hair, so at least that was set in stone. Getting the pose of Danielle was challenging. It couldn’t be an exact mirror image as that would make Danielle look like a man which clearly was never the intention. Again lots of reference photos and images of Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn and others, dress patterns from the era, particularly in green brocade, court shoes and so on. Danielle very slowly emerged from the paper”.
“Any tiny errors in the figure, the skin colour or the hair were immediately and quite correctly pointed out to me by my best critic, my wife Lorraine! Gradually Danielle started to look real and the earrings, lipstick and nail varnish were applied to complete her look. I sent a photo off to John and he immediately loved it and said it was exactly how he envisaged Daniel and Danielle should appear.”
“I was and still am delighted that I had managed to create something that matched up with John’s vision. The saddest and most poignant thing to happen was that April Ashley who had inspired the story of Danielle died at the end of 2021. A copy of my fine art print of the painting was all ready for her when I take over the original to John’s house in Spain later this year. She was never to see the painting but I do hope she would have liked it.