January 28th, 2010

andrew potter

Sven de Rennes: An Illustration History

It’s not the first time that I feature Sven de Rennes on my LiveJournal, but the last time I did, I noticed an interested for his artwork that I haven’t noticed before: many of my friends, authors, pointed out that the paintings were really short stories themselves, and they wouldn’t mind to have them as covers for their books. And actually Sven is not new to the cover art world, he did many cover for LGBT publishers in France, pity that the books weren’t translated into English or Italian, so I haven’t had the chance to read it.

Cover Art for Une Histoire Simple by Roger Vhere

When I approached Sven to plan this post, I asked him if he was still interested in doing cover art, and he told me “sure!”, so friends, if you have in mind something, and you like Sven’s work, and you want to contact him, he is open to your proposal… yes, yes, I’m a matchmaker, but I do that only in the name of Art and to bring good works on the cover of the books I love.

And now I will let Sven speak for himself!

“I’ve worked as an illustrator under the nom de plume “Sven de Rennes” since March 2002.

Ever since I was a little boy, I thought drawing was a magical power, the way to show others what I imagined or what I had in mind. My goal was to manage to represent all this in the most realistic way possible.

After studying at the art college of Rennes II (Bretagne, France), I became interested in science-fiction and fantasy universes; I was fascinated by the creation or distant worlds, unreal moods, bright cities...

It was in 2002 that I decided to “come out” and took an interest in the gay world. I like playing with erotic situations, sometimes soft, sometimes not so subtle, always trying to incorporate a bit of humour, tenderness and feeling in the bonds between my characters.

Notre cabane, loin du monde

As time passes, my subjects evolve, but I know I want to explore and deepen more and more the backgrounds, lights, staging, and, most of all, the mood.

In any case, I hope my illustrations arouse your imagination, send you dreaming, and let you escape for a while. That’s what they’re here for.

A lot of people ask me how I work. I'll try to take you briefly through some of the secrets of my trade, with an illustration I called "Le Ménestrel" (The minstrel).

Step 1: Sketches

The ideas for my drawings come from everywhere. They can come from my everyday life, from a sight I saw, a photograph I liked on the Net, a friend, someone I meet, or just some daydreaming I fell like putting on paper.

For "Le Ménestrel", I aimed to create a tender, both magical and private universe; some sort of a hijacked medieval tale... I started out with the idea of a cloister, full of life, with green everywhere, its fountain, and also shades and lights playing here and there.

I always take in consideration the context of my pictures, not just the background. I really wanted people to feel the whistling of the wind in the leaves, the soft rustling of the water flowing into the pond. Thus, I didn't hesitate to blend in numerous details, to make the drawing more lively, not forgetting to center the tableau on our two lovebirds and their little courting session.

Step 2: The original drawing

The last sketch done, I now have a precise version of what I want the end result to be. That's when I start the creation of the final drawing. 

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I don't use a tablet and I always work with my own hands on Canson 224g/m² A3 paper, with my pencils, eraser and pens.

Drawing and Laying-out require great focus. The gesture has to be precise yet dynamic, and I willingly confess it is a balance I still have a hard time to find.

Step 3: Colorization

This is it, the original drawing is done and inked up, at last I can scan it and start the numerical colouring, which I do with Adobe Photoshop.

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I already had a clear idea of the colours and the atmosphere I wanted to give this artwork the moment I started the preparatory sketches. There can be a playful side in the colouring, the creation of textures or effects often requires an elaborate strategy as a means to an end. I apply the colours, lightings, shadows and textures, and sculpt the shapes step by step while revelling in the sight of the picture emerging to life under my gaze.

Step 4: Finalization

The artwork is almost done, I've applied all the colours, textures, shading and I've worked the shapes, the only thing left is what I call the "Finishing Touch". This is when I tune the colours to give the illustration a "mood", a coherent set of colours.

For "le Ménestrel", I wanted yellow tones, maybe even golden nuances, in order to find both the spirits of a summer evening and of an old piece of time-faded parchment.

I hope these short explanations brought you some new clues about the way I work. Please do not hesitate to ask questions if you feel like it, I'd be glad to answer them.


Here is some example of Sven de Rennes' work as Illustrator

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Visit Sven at his website to see more of his wonderful works:


And here is Sven's previous work as cover artist:

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More Artists at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Art

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andrew potter

Seeing You by Dakota Flint

Cowboys and Gay Romance are quite a popular pair, and it has also almost always an angst feeling. This story is about a ranch in Montana and two cowboys who are grieving for the loss of the same man. Simon was Dylan's brother and Wade's lover; it was Dylan who introduced Simon to Wade and doing that it made of Wade an happy man and of himself a desperate one. Dylan was in love with Wade but Wade has never seen in him as nothing more than a friend. And when Wade found his happiness with Simon, Dylan was able to accept it since he loved Simon as much as he loved Wade if not more. But then Simon died in a car accident while driving with Dylan, and Dylan had not the courage to stay and see the sorrow in Wade's eyes, he dreaded the question, why did Simon die and did you not? To not loose also the best friend after losing the brother, Dylan severed any contact, loosing in this way also his family.

Years later Dylan is called back home: Wade's ranch is decaying as it's doing his owner. Without his lover by his side, and having lost also his best friend, Wade was unable to cope and let it everything go waste. Dylan knows that he can let it happen and he decides to be again Wade's best friend. But when Wade asks for more, Dylan has to understand if the man is searching a substitute for his lost lover, or if he is ready to love again.

Even if quite sad, the story is almost a sweet romance. There is more speaking of feelings than sexy scenes. The mood is definitely not light, but the story is very romantic. And there is the undisputed acceptance of Wade and Dylan's, and previously Simon's, sexuality, without trouble, with only love. There are not opponents to their love. The troubles between Wade and Dylan are of different nature, it's a question of too much unasked questions.

The strange thing is that I really think that Simon's death is the only reason why Wade and Dylan have a chance to be happy together, and it's not so obvious: Wade was really in love with Simon and I don't think he would have been the same with Dylan before. Wade and Dylan are too similar, they would have been probably shifted in an ordinary and boring life together, and sooner or later they would have split. Simon is the glue that sticks them together. With Simon, Wade had the chance to taste what is a passionate love; without Simon, Dylan had the chance to live outside the ranch. Now, both Wade than Dylan know what they want to be happy, and they know that they can have it together.

Side note: Dakota Flint paid an homage to James Buchanan, a supporting character on the novel was reading The Good Thief and was enthralled by the story.


Amazon Kindle: Seeing You

Reading List:

http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
andrew potter

The Wedding Planner by G.A. Hauser

The Wedding Planner is a bit more on the usual trend of G.A. Hauser’s previous Gay Romance, where women have not exactly an exemplar role, but at least they manage to redeem a bit in the end.

Perfect Groom Jordon is the dream of every woman: successful stockbroker with penthouse apartment near Wall Street and detached house in the suburbs, he is soon to be married with bimbo flight attendant Fawn. It’s not that Fawn is not a nice girl, it’s only that she doesn’t give the impression to be ready to marry, all the opposite of Jordon. Jordon is 30 years old, and has already reached all the right steps in his life, good work, beautiful house and now he wants the perfect marriage and maybe a family. I have the impression that, when he reached that conclusion, Fawn was right there, and Jordon picked up the first woman who fit the bill, at least a bit.

Jordon has some “old fashioned” idea in mind, on what is marriage and family, and being gay doesn’t fit it. Even more a misfit, if he considers his gay brother Bryan, that, to be gentle, is a slut. So, even if Jordon is the epitome of a Martha Stewart in a male body, and everything in him screams “gay”, he stubbornly refuses to consider even only the idea. Jordon is not simply bi-curious, he is totally with the nose in the “cream”, and he wants so bad to lap it all (there is a bit of pun here, yes, I know), but he fears that, if he surrenders to temptation, he will have also to loose his old fashioned dreams of being the next June Cleaver.

Then in his life enters Tyler, the wedding planner. Tyler is handsome and nice, gentle and caring, and so cute. He has also a past as debauched innocent (a porn star career when he was only 15 years old) that arise the protectiveness feeling of Jordon. And he is at the opposite of Jordon’s brother, Bryan; Tyler believes in love and in family, and it tears his heart to see how much Jordon want them and how few chances he has to find them with Fawn. To give him credit, Tyler doesn’t try to ruin Fawn’s image in front of Jordon’s eyes, she is very good in doing that all by herself.

Probably the most unexpected thing of this novel, it was that, even if there was a lot of sex talking, the act itself happens quite far in the book, something I’m not quite used in a G.A. Hauser’s novel. Here there is actually a story, a love story, and the author leaves a lot of space to it to evolve, in a nice and quite way, without rush or anything to make the reader feel like the character were skipping steps.

Loosely connected to The Vampire and the Man-Eater, Jordon is friend of Brock Harris and colleague of Adrian, Brock's best friend, and to The Kiss, Jordon is first cousin with Claire and Scott.


Amazon Kindle: The Wedding Planner

Amazon: The Wedding Planner (print book)

1) The Kiss: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/128685.html
2) Capital Games: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/210160.html
3) Love You, Loveday by G.A. Hauser: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/288895.html
4) When Adam met Jack: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/300519.html
5) Going Deep
6) Behaving Badly (Action! 4): http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/700268.html
7) The Vampire and the Man-Eater: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/401075.html
8) The Wedding Planner

Reading List:

http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle