Thursday, May 27, 2010

Keyword Sketch Cards

Been getting a little bit of painting done this week for a small break, but did a few more cards. Down to 20 more, and then I'll start taking orders again from the waiting list.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

When Dragons Dream Sketch

Final sketch on the illustration board, ready to paint. I haven't pulled out the brushes in a while, so I'm eager to start on this! You can see it ended up being flipped horizontally from the original ink drawing.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Transferring Sketches for Large Paintings

After some of my recent posts in the past months about how I digitally play around with rough sketches in order to finalize compositions, I've had some people asking how I then transfer the composite sketch onto the painting surface, especially for large images.
For this particular piece I'm actually using one of the ink drawings I did for the upcoming Minor Arcana book. I didn't have to do any digital tweaking of composition, however since I want to paint this at about 10x20 inches (and the original ink sketch is 5x10 inches), I resized it in Photoshop.
After resizing, I printed it out onto a couple sheets of paper (since it won't fit onto one sheet). Most of the time I flip the image horizontally first so that the final drawing will be oriented correctly, but I forgot to do it this time, and unless it's necessary for the image, like a musician being left handed if I forget to flip (I had flautists berate me once with a piece that I forgot to flip!), or needing to be oriented a specific way to fit the graphic design of a book/game/whatever, I don't generally worry about it too much. This is just a personal piece not meant for publication so I don't really care which way it faces.

I placed sheets of tracing paper over these printouts and sketched in pencil. Frequently my initial sketches are extremely rough. Not so much in this example since I started from a finished ink drawing. But with a rough sketch, this phase is very good for me to start refining the details. The translucence of the tracing paper allows me to see enough of the initial drawing, but also gives me some opacity to make changes - like details, or fixing anatomy, or giving character to faces.

For this piece, I focus on simplifying to get rid of all the extra ink lines of shading because I need this to be prepped for painting. So on the one hand I'm getting rid of some of the detail from the initial drawing, and on the other I'm adding things as well because this is now twice as large!

Once I finish, I take the tracing paper and tape the pages pencil side down onto the final 20x10 inch Strathmore lightweight illustration board (series 500).
Using my thumbnail I burnish across all the pencil lines. This transfers the graphite from the tracing paper onto the illustration board, like carbon paper.
And speaking of carbon paper, if this method sounds far too tedious for you, that is an option as well. You can buy graphite carbon paper at most art stores. After printing out your modified sketch, you would just place the carbon paper between your printouts and your final surface, and trace over all your lines. I like the method I'm describing to you here instead though because it gives me a chance to reevaluate my composition with each iteration.
After removing the taped tracing paper you can see the image has been transferred to the illustration board. Some places I didn't press hard enough with my pencil and so it's a bit light.
I go back in and darken and further refine the sketch directly on the illustration board. You can see the piece of paper I keep under my drawing hand as well to avoid smearing the drawing as I work.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Keyword Sketch Cards

After tomorrow, I'll have gotten about half the Special Editions out in the mail. Still not taking any new orders, but if you want to be on a waiting list to be notified when I open it up again, you can drop me an email with the request.

It feels great to be doing this much sketching, and as always I love working in ink!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Dreaming of Trees

These are the trees that shape the lines of my paintings: their twistings and windings in fractal-like patterns, their beautifully contorted randomness. I consciously paint them all the time, letting my pen and brush trace the curves and wispy twigs of live oaks. Those elegant tendrils trailing into knotted strands of a spirit's beard, or reaching out in spidery long fingers. Shadowy arches in a wooded background. When I draw them I can almost smell the spicy aroma as the shadows close in around me and the cathedral pinpricks of light shine through the lattice of leaf and bough from above. I have only to raise my eyes and look out the window to have a visual reminder.

I didn't really think about how subconsciously I paint them as well, as all trees become an echo of the oaks that I see all around me; until I was reading Lisa Hunt's blog the other day in which she had some photos of her own beloved trees, and I was reminded how different they were from my own. And then later browsing James Browne's galleries as well that are graced by lovely sycamores. Even if our works weren't already easily distinguishable by disparate styles, the trees tell the story of the artist and leave their own indelible imprint. They sing a tale of an artist's memory and of the Home of the heart. And they dictate the patterns of the paintings.

Sausal Creek across from my house is a tangled ravine of blackberry brambles, live oaks, and ivy. It is a place of water and shifting shadows and light. At the base of the short trail that starts across the street from me, where you can cross the stream at a narrow point by teetering precariously on the rocks, the branches all arch above like a cathedral's flying buttresses and weave together to form a glorious ivy-draped amphitheater, more perfect than any painting could ever create.

The oaks near my parents house at Rancho Preserve are a different sort; solitary giants that spread their branches out into uncontested sunlight on the field of wildflowers and up in the signature dry, golden California hills.

An artist's love of natural beauty makes its mark in the artworks. The natural rhythms that I see around me suffuse my sensibilities, and those rhythms and patterns make their way onto my palette so that even when I'm not actually painting a live oak, in a way every painting is a live oak. The lines of my figures, the flow of my compositions are all influenced by the patterns of growth that surround me. These are the subconscious shadows of the live oaks that weave themselves through all of my art.

When I close my eyes, these are the trees in my dreams.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Keyword Sketch Cards

Another batch of these. Still having a blast with it. Clockwise from the upper left: Cats, Patience, Fairy, Metamorphosis, Magic, Glade, Raven, Cat, Grateful

Keyword Sketch Cards

Some samples, for those who were confused as to what the keyword sketch cards were, or asked how detailed these would be, or just are plain curious and want to see more drawings! From the top left going clockwise: Threshold, Badger, Fox, Cat, Water, Sun

So far I am thoroughly enjoying doing these sketches, and I hope the recipients enjoy getting them in the mail! I was a bit wary of letting people pick a subject for the sketches for fear of being overwhelmed, but I have to say it has turned out to be quite a good thing, giving me a little spark of an idea to start off with so that each one is unique.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Special Edition (YES this time!)

Finally set to go on this!

The Special Edition of the tarot deck is finally available, see here for details.

Please be aware when ordering this however that shipping time will probably take longer than for normal orders because of the customized nature of the sketch cards! If you're wondering about how detailed the sketches will be, if you have ever purchased any of my exclusive books with the sketch option, it will be approximately like that. If you haven't ever purchased one of my sketch options, stay tuned for a couple more days and I should have some samples I can post.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Llewellyn Article

The article I wrote for The Llewellyn Journal is up: -here-