Thursday, July 29, 2010
As opposed to sketches that I do with the intent for finished paintings, these are more like gesture drawings. I don't use pencil at all (though I've taken a liking lately to doing a light scribble with a pale grey brush pen, and also for shadows), just straight to the page with pen. Not being able to erase forces you to commit to the lines, and really try to make each mark matter.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Size: 20x40 inches
Gloomy, gloomy was the night,
And eerie was the way,
As fair Jenny in her green mantle
To Miles Cross she did gae.
At the mirk and midnight hour
She heard the bridles sing,
She was as glad at that
As any earthly thing.
-Child ballad #39A Tam Lin
The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, 1882-1898 by Francis James Child
* * *
I'll have full-sized limited edition giclees of this one in a month or two.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Meredith asked me if I finished whole sections before moving on. Sort of. I finish tiny areas sometimes (like the little fairy figures, or the foxes), and other parts (like the background trees) I lay in base coats and go back to them as I develop those portions of the painting. I tend to jump around a lot to whatever section catches my fancy. In a painting this size I have a lot of room to jump around to!
Jumping around also helps to minimize waiting time if I have large areas that I'm waiting on to dry (i.e. the background). Instead of setting the painting aside and waiting, I can easily move onto another non-adjacent portion. Frequent technique question I get is, "How do you keep colors from all just blending together?" Easy, just don't paint next to a wet area unless you intend the colors to bleed. Although the skipping around is mostly random, I do generally move from the background up towards the foreground.
A couple reasons for that background->foreground order:
* To give distance, background elements are less crisp in detail. e.g. the spreading tree branches, wet on wet in some places to really let them fade out into the surrounding green.
* Easier to lay crisp edges of foreground elements on top of the background. Therefore I can kinda be messy about background stuff early on. Not too much since we are dealing with transparent watercolors, but some amount of leeway for messiness can be compensated for with lifting, or just by painting much more saturated foreground colors on top of.
* Speaking of saturation, since I was lazy and decided to skip doing color roughs, I really have very little idea about where I'm going with this piece for colors. I wanted green woods, so that part is a semi-gimme. And so it's been easier (brainless) to proceed with the each [choices] first. The more defined color choices have been put off so far. I'm still not sure whether I want that large foreground tree on the left to be reddish-brown, or purple-black. But by painting the colors that I'm certain of first I can narrow the possibilities for the uncertain areas gradually until the choice becomes much easier. A kind of organic process of elimination.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
So I've always had a creative background and exercised my drawing and painting skills. I feel that all of that laid the groundwork for basic concepts that I take for granted these days - like color theory, blending, perspective, composition. If it wasn't exactly focused or intense studies of any of these, it was at the very least an understanding and integration of the vocabulary of art into the way that I think. You don't ever think about learning to speak your first language - it just happens as you develop; I feel that way about art and how the concepts of color and light are simply a part of how I think.
My painting style today was not the result of any dedicated course of study, nor reference to technique books. I never sat down and specifically took any class on watercolors or illustration. In this way I do feel that I am self-taught. But to use that term "self taught" seems to deny the wealth of disparate experiences and backdrop of artistic expression that guided me to evolve and grow as an artist.
I was at University of California in Berkeley from 1994-1998, studying Computer Science and doubling in Art. I'm frequently asked by students if they should consider going to Berkeley for Art. I didn't even go to Berkeley for art. I went there for their wonderful Computer Science program because at that time I had every intention of following a sensible career course and entering the workforce as a software programmer. I had been convinced by the time I entered college by various high school career advisers that making a living with art was a hopeless endeavor. My choice of school was purely to get myself an education with good career options (also I did grow up with a computer-geek father, and so I actually do enjoy programming). Art would be side hobby.As I mentioned earlier though, I was always picking up art classes on the side when opportunities arose. I began taking so many art electives that I eventually decided to simply double major.
What kind of art classes were these though? Certainly nothing of the sort you would expect from seeing my art these days. I spent those four years smashing bottles and gluing them back together, throwing paint and drips onto canvases, digging through junkyards to put together found-object art installations.... It amazed (and saddened) me to find how quickly freshmen learned to look at any work that was remotely representational and say with a faint sneer to their voice, "It looks illustrational." (Which was the worst possible thing imaginable!) I found it ironic that in the name of being open-minded and accepting of all forms of Art, they immediately shut out so many possibilities, and closed their thoughts to a whole arena of expression. I was disappointed, but determined to make the most of the experience, and not to close my mind to these more abstract forms of art. I threw myself (and my paints) wholeheartedly into it. (Incidentally, we were not allowed to use watercolors in any of the classes. It was deemed "an illustrator's medium").
And then in my spare time at night after my assignments were done, I did illustrations ("illustrational!!!!") for various Fanzines. I can't even remember the names of all of the fanzines any longer, except for one Moonlight Masquerade. They were distributed by snail mail. No ezines yet in those days. Labors of love!
That whole experience has shaped my opinion of art school. I believe that the most vital key to making your way into the world as an artist is not found in any class. I'll grant that there are many classes and schools out there that are vastly different from my personal experience; but courses can't put the drive to create art in your heart. And daily practice - forcing your eyes to see and your hands to understand how to make that translation from eye to mind to paper, is better than any teacher.
Even as my Berkeley graduation date approached, I still thought that I would be a software programmer, art hobbyist; but I distinctly remember when that changed in my head. I had just returned from a career fair, talking with recruiters from all kinds of tech companies. This was at the height of the dot-com BOOM! Programmers were in such high demand that some companies were offering bonuses to students to leave their studies and just come to work now. I had many promising leads.
All that evening I found I was inexplicably depressed. I couldn't understand the cause of it, for my prospects were looking fairly good. It was only when I realized that though I did enjoy programming, I did not want to do it for a living; that I wanted to draw and paint. Art was vital to my happiness and I couldn't conceive of it being secondary any longer. With that realization I took a few days to weigh my options and finally formulated a plan. I would take a software position, and the relative comfort and security of that job would allow me to have the funds to pursue art. It would afford time to put together a portfolio and seriously explore avenues. I had only begun to go to some of the local smaller conventions. I wanted to travel further afield to some of the larger shows I had heard of (GenCon! Dragoncon! Comic-Con!) The programming knowledge came in handy in that I was able to get started right away with writing my own website. Nifty programs that helped non-programmers create webpages were another thing that didn't really exist yet at the time.
.to be continued. Getting towards the midnight hour!
Sunday, July 18, 2010
and when the flame flickers, flares, and fails;
who will be the one to bear the last spark from its grave?
an ember of divinity,
it dares to wink and flash:
a promise made
a fragment of the sun
a transcendental aspiration
an incidental inspiration
* * *
At any rate, with the drive upon me, I dug around for something that I could do in a day. I can't concentrate on more than one painting at a time, and I know that as soon as my board arrives tomorrow I want to get started on that one. So it had to be something I could finish today. I found this sketch lying around in my drawer. It's been taped to the board and ready to be painted for months now but for some reason kept getting sidelined. It was originally an alternate pose for "The First Star".
Small, relaxing, and fun to do. Last few paintings (the myth and magic ones I've been posting lately are chronologically out of order here so they don't count) have been purple/green/orange tones. So, some variety here.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
40 pages, 12x12 inches. This calendar is jam-packed with astrological information to plan the year wisely. You'll find horoscopes, best days for planting and fishing, rewarding and challenging days, and travel forecasts by Bruce Scofield. There's also an astrology primer to help beginners use the vast amount of astrological data contained within. Comprehensive and practical, with original artwork by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, the creator of the Shadowscapes Tarot, it's easy to see why Llewellyn's Astrological Calendar is the best-known, most trusted astrological calendar sold today.To see the 12 images included in the calendar, -click here-
When purchased from Shadowscapes, the calendar cover is autographed by Stephanie, and you will also receive a bonus 5x7 inch mini-print/postcard of "The Queen of Spades Sends Her Regards"
Monday, July 12, 2010
Heart of the Wood
This dryad was based from one of my favorite ink drawings a couple years ago!
Wings of the Night
Friday, July 9, 2010
Then taking that initial thumbnail of the entire composition that I did last week, blowing it up real large and adding these figures. Complicated compositions like this make me really glad to have the aid of digital tools.
At this point I'm pretty satisfied with how it all meshes. I can print this out and transfer it as a more polished, detailed, and finished sketch to the final painting surface. This is still a very rough stage.
Alas...my 30x40 inch illustration board hasn't arrived in the mail yet, so it'll be a while before I can finish the transfer.
To give you an idea of all the different parts that were manipulated together:
Usually to much lesser extents, this is generally how I design all my compositions during the preparation phases.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Thanks ladies of #LesFantastiques, and Sandra for inspiration and suggestions on this sketch!
One more sketch to go before I start painting this series. Looking forward to it because so far I'm excited with how these two sketches have turned out.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Some thorny inspiration and references from the Berkeley Rose Garden this past weekend:
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
First sketch for Janet. Like the face and expression, but not too excited about the pose. Too..."standard fantasy woman".
Another go at it. Playing with background as well. Still not satisfied. Looks too static and pretty like an Art Nouveau poster.
Ah ha. Got it finally. Used the head/face from the first sketch.
Thumbnail for the composition.
Blending in some of those background elements from the second sketch. Visited the Berkeley Rose Garden this past weekend and got lots of reference photos of rose bushes and tangled thorny vines to use for this!
For the second panel, thumbnail of the composition.
First pass for a sketch of the faery queen.