The Demon’s Ball

The Demon's Ball, by Soni Alcorn-Hender

The Demon’s Ball

Illustration (10×12″ acrylics on canvas-board) for Perna Studio’s trading card set: Halloween 2015. Detail images below (click to see their stories!)

John Uskglass, the Raven King & ivy

John Uskglass, the Raven King with a crown of ivy leaves, for ‘ivy binds English magic’. The magician King raised by faeries, from Susanna Clarke’s book ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell’.
Pencil and acrylics on old paper, 8×11.5″, finished digitally.

A detail of the whole (click to see full size) :

John Uskglass, the Raven King crowned in Ivy (detail) by Soni Alcorn-Hender

John Uskglass, the Raven King crowned in Ivy (detail)

And the entire thing : (if only someone would hire me to illustrate her next book).

John Uskglass, the Raven King crowned in Ivy, Soni Alcorn-Hender

John Uskglass, the Raven King crowned in Ivy

The Raven King & Ivy, work in progress

The medieval magician and monarch, the ‘Raven King’ from Susanna Clarke’s ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell’.
Pencil and acrylics on very old crunchy paper, 8×11.5″

Raven King (Strange & Norrell) work-in-progress 2, by Soni Alcorn-Hender

Raven King, work-in-progress 2

Raven King (Strange & Norrell) work-in-progress, by Soni Alcorn-Hender

Raven King work-in-progress 1

Thistle-down Hair & the Venetian Mirror

Gentleman with the Thistle-down Hair, in the Venetian Mirror.
The dangerous Fairy King from Susanna Clarke’s book: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. (An earlier, uncoloured, work-in-progress version here.)
Pencil, acrylics, and digital.

Gentleman with the Thistle-down Hair in the Venetian Mirror, Soni Alcorn-Hender

Gentleman with the Thistle-down Hair in the Venetian Mirror

Duchess of Richmond’s Ball, 1815

Duchess of Richmond's Ball, WIP sketch, Soni Alcorn-Hender

Duchess of Richmond’s Ball, wip sketch

Part of the preparatory sketches for ‘The Duchess of Richmond’s Ball’, (very rough version of the whole thing on the right, a more finished part of it on the left).
It’s been called ‘the most famous ball in history’ because half the guests had to leave suddenly for war; in many cases marching straight from the ball to the battlefield, literally.

But a few sketches, much research, and several days later I realised trying to draw a room full of people (many of whom in excruciatingly specific military dress) might need more time than ‘a few days’. So it’s been shelved for now, but perhaps every year on the anniversary of Waterloo I’ll work on it a little more.


The Duchess of Richmond’s Ball, 15th of June 1815.
Brussels, approximately 8 miles from Waterloo, in present-day Belgium.

It was intended as a merry night of diversion for Brussels’ nobility and the gallant young officers of the Allied army.  
Many of the guests considered war to be a distant thing, like storms on a far horizon; they’d grown accustomed to living with its threat and seizing every pleasure while they could. As they prepared for the evening’s festivities they couldn’t guess that war was only hours away.

But that night, in the middle of the music, laughter and dancing, a dispatch arrived with the impossible news that Napoleon’s army was upon them. Faces that had been flushed with pleasure suddenly became pale or sombre. The music played on but only the heartless could dance.
In the distance, bugles summoned men back to their divisions: they were to march out at three in the morning. Some officers had no time to change their attire, and were obliged to go forth in the odd splendour of their evening dress.
As they prepared to leave that night, some of the men looked grim, and others wildly elated, particularly the dashing boys who’d never entered battle before. But there were tears with the farewells, for many of the sons, husbands and dear friends leaving that night would not be seen again.

Classic Fairy Tales II

Sketch cards (2.5 x 3.5″) drawn for ‘Classic Fairy Tales II’ trading card set, from Perna Studios.

Waterloo Bicentenary Wellington sketch

To mark the 200th anniversary of Waterloo, a sketch of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington.

My heart is broken by the terrible loss I have sustained in my old friends and companions and my poor soldiers.
Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won.

Arthur Wellesley Duke of Wellington sketch, Soni Alcorn-Hender


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