Tuesday, September 28, 2010

smoke and mirrors and podcasts.

I'm still in my first year as a freelancer, so one of the things I'm experiencing is the "NDA backlog" of work I cant show because the products haven't been released. I'm sitting on 11 illustrations that wont be shown for months, so things may seem a bit quiet here, but they ain't. As I get further into the career, this should dissipate, as I can roll stuff out more regularly even if the work is old as the NDA timeframes pass.

Today's "smoke and mirrors" distracting you from the lack of work being shown is a little comment on art podcasts:
Working from home is great for concentration and getting things done, but the social aspect definitely lacks. I discovered a bunch of art podcasts (radio interviews) awhile back and they have been great for providing not just information, but the needed background chatter and simulated social interaction you need when working alone. I highly recommend artists put these on to break the silence. Having been to a couple conventions in the past year and meeting many other artists in my field, I am finding the podcasts very interesting because I know the work and personalities of many of the participants. Having your friends converse in the background while you work approximates an office environment where the water-cooler talk is always interesting and on topic. I have found many times the podcast conversation touches on exactly what I was thinking recently or broaches a topic that is perfectly timely to my current work.

Give these a listen:

I also just posted a poll to the right asking artists what pencil they use. I'm going to switch up to using a mechanical pencil again after using the col-erase for a few months. I think the choice of your tool is very important and tied intimately to your drawing style. I'm just curious as to what others use...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Last night's headstudy

Did another headstudy last night with my weekly group. We had "lazy-eye" John come out again to sit, which he was more than happy to do to get out of the house.

I switched things up this time and used flake (lead) white and a top quality oil primed portrait-grade linen rather than titanium white and crappy Michaels' bargain canvas. I'm usually painting on a pre-toned surface, but this time went just with the raw white background.
The use of these different materials resulted in a very different end-look. The stark white linen accentuates the thin, sketchy alla prima look but also allows for a more pure and fresh look to the colors. The flake white, also being less opaque added to this aesthetic, and its density shows a more obvious stroke. The paint surface overall is much rougher but more painterly and telling of the direct technique.

My usual approach is to paint an academic method in a sped-up manner, but I'm finding I run out of time trying to get a smooth finish while having enough information in the features. I am now leaving the backgrounds thin and the clothing simple as those things can be worked on later if desired. The goal is to find a formula where the materials and end result are in harmony with the task being attempted. This rougher look might be a more logical approach for males, while younger and female portraits may be better done with titanium white for a softer finish.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tuesday night's headstudy

Tuesday night we painted a girl with very red hair. Having just finished putting a coat of green paint on the wall behind, it turned out to be a lucky coincidence that the color went with the model. Her eyes were the same color as the wall.
My pal Scott, always the experimental one primed his canvas beforehand with the roller just used to paint the wall, giving him an instant and exact background to start with.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

New characters...

I've been away visiting the parents for a few days, but before I left I finished a new character...
Wrend The Vile "is a man seemingly wholly committed to the acquisition of power. Even having gone so far in his youth to sacrifice an eye to the worship of Xarx, believing the physical loss would reward him with greater magical prowess."

For these single characters with straightforward lighting, I don't use any reference, instead I construct the figure comic-book style and build the costuming on top. As I'm finishing I will often take a quick photo for parts that would be hard to invent, such as hands or complex fabric folds...

Today, I did the drawing for the next character... a "Trollblood Druid." This is my usual col-erase pencil on stonehenge "fawn" paper with watercolor and white highlights. For this particular one, I started using a black General's layout pencil to go over the linework for a deeper mark. I was finding the col-erase pencils are too light to get bold line-weight and hatching that stands out. I'm happy with this new pencil and will likely be using it now in addition for more line variety and control...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Last nights headstudy

I did another alla prima portrait last night with my weekly group. This week we had Scott's neighbour, John kind enough to sit for the price of a case of beer. Being retired, he was more than happy to add "art model" to his list of life experiences. He was still as a statue.

This photo is taken with my new lights but without the polarizing gels and filter. You can see the small specular highlights. One easy trick to minimize those is to use Photoshop's "despeckle" filter. It will slightly blur your image and isn't perfect, but it is a help nonetheless.

I picked up some flake (lead) white today. The added density of this white will help in the more sculptural brushstrokes used in single-layer work. Its one of the differences that you may notice in the surface quality of older paintings versus today's art which uses primarily titanium white. (which is brighter but less stiff)

Oh yeah, anyone in the Edmonton area interested in sitting, just contact me. We can pay $ or give beer.