Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bard. Me. Me Bard...

A little progress post.

Another piece from The Hobbit, as well as the "How do I work?" category.  I feel like I'm getting closer to figuring things out.  The beasty from the last post definitely got me thinking in more step-by-step terms, a set process to work through, if you will.  But I'm still not totally sold on a few issues.  I may just be hard-headed at this point...

This is Bard, and as I'm not sure if my Mom has finished reading the book yet, I'll leave it at that.

A little sharpie thumbnail, was digging this.  Lots of energy.

Learning from mistakes.  This is a terrible drawing, I debated not posting it.  I may yet remove it.  But it serves a purpose for the moment - this is out of my head, going off of the sketch above, and it is useless.  It solves no compositional problems, it's stiff, inaccurate, and just plain bad.  Now I think I may leave it up, just to shame myself into never drawing like this again...

My faithful assistant, getting ready to give some critique...

"Something looks a little off..."

"There.  I fixed it."

I had a lot of reference for this one, so I'm not gonna post all of them, but in summary:  I did pose using a stick and a curtain rod for the bow and arrow, and I definitely took a picture of one of our stew pots to get ideas on reflected metal... So here is the drawing thus far:

Well, that's not quite how the drawing stands, I finished most of it up (I think) before I sat down to post this.  Originally, I wasn't going to make this a self-portrait, but then I figured I might as well go for it, as I haven't done one in a while, Bard is a pretty cool character, and I didn't feel like looking up another face to plop on my figure.  I also haven't worked this realistically in a while, we'll see where this goes.  I'm not sure if I want to continue working with this much realism, but I have a feeling it may be good for me to really crank out some polished pieces.  Plan from here is to get a copy made of this drawing (it's 20x30, I just wanted to do something big) then mount the copy to masonite, seal it in, and then paint.  I'll make another brief post when I've got the painting surface ready.

One last note, I should have done a quick reread before I started drawing.  It's a thrush that comes to Bard, not a raven.  Ah well, at least I'll have a self-portrait out of it.  And another thing that this particular piece is teaching me, is that there is ALWAYS so much more to learn.  And after chewing on that a bit, I find it incredibly refreshing.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Informed Drawing

When I was in college, (I've been starting a lot of sentences with that qualifier as of late...) I had this stupid notion that using references was "not allowed."  Actually, it was a very stupid notion, but don't think for a minute I'm talking down about those supremely gifted folks who can pull just about any kind of imagery out of their head, God bless 'em.  I just don't happen to be one of them, I need help getting those images completely out of my head and onto the page.  So, for me, the notion of constraining myself to not using reference images was a stupid one, really.

So recently, after reading and listening to a lot of other artists who are working, and making fantastic work, I realized that a great many of them use extensive references while they are working.  Now this doesn't mean they're nothing but "copy monkeys," dear God no (and you would never even think that if you saw their work), it means they're smart and know how to make creating the image easier, more desirable, and more effective for them.

So, stepping down from the soapbox, I've been recently trying to incorporate more reference into my work, and I've been enjoying the results.  So onto the pictures:

Brief was straightforward:  Giant amphibious creature (my initial thought was frog, but then my inner 4th grader, which knew what was an amphibian and what was not, was silenced by my outer 26 year old which thought that turtles would be way cooler...even though they're not amphibians...)

So the sketches came quickly:

Now, the top three going clockwise, are about as close as I'm gonna get to pulling a frog/salamander creature out of thin air.  So I could spend another couple of hours trying to layer on details without having decent construction lines underneath, but that would be beside the whole point.  But I did know that the bottom couple of sketches would give me my composition - large creature rising out of the water to the left with a person or people on a cliff to the right (maybe they're cheering it on, maybe it's gonna eat them...I'm going with the former).

So now it's time to go get some pictures.  Do it to it Google:

Again, I was initially going with frogs, so the bulls seemed like a good idea (maybe I'll use that texture on their skin..).  I was also toying with the idea of boats getting tossed around as the creature rose out of the water (so that's where the junks fit in) and maybe some kind of village on the cliff instead of the people (hence the shanty town).  Now, I really started to drift away from the frogs when I stumbled across pics of the alligator snapping turtles - those guys are AWESOME, pure dinosaur.  As for page 2, subs and whales for clues to what water does when something big leaves it with a lot of speed and force, and the cliff just has a fantastic shape.  

So I've got my ref, time to put together a working rough drawing:

Was feeling pretty good about this for about 45 minutes worth of work.  Stuck pretty close to the comp in my thumbnail - creature left, people on cliff right.  Was totally digging the snapper's shell, so I pulled on a lot of that for the over all design of the creature, along with mishmashing it a bit with some humanoid anatomy as well as pretty much every dragon/monster/thing I've seen since I was a wee lad.  The grid is a handy little tool for making sure that the shapes and lines from this little rough carry over into my preliminary drawing (since this guy is about 4 in x 5 in).

So, with that, several hours of pencil twirling later:

Photoshop Trickery

I'll admit, I'm happy with this one.  It was good fun to really work through a project in this manner, as I feel I have always been a bit lax with my "process."  The initial plan was to then use this drawing which is 8x10 as my reference for a painting, which I will probably do sometime in the near future.  Several years ago, I would have probably asked, "What's the point of all this work?  Just jump into the painting already."  Several years ago...ahem...when I was in college...ahem...I didn't really know how I needed to work, or maybe I just knew how I thought I should work at the time.  But now, I really feel like the extra steps help me in getting the image out of my head and onto the page, this was really made clear to me by the vulture piece I just finished.  And I'm going to try and continue to work this way for a while, who knows maybe in 5 more years I won't need all these steps, and then in 20 years I won't need the reference...yeah, right.  Well, we'll see anyway.

Last question, if you're still reading, which of the two finals do you like?  Answer down in the comments if you're so inclined.  So, thanks and 'til next time...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Carry On Carrion

Finished Piece for the Art Order Challenge, Mutation Nation.

This was good fun, yet another visit to the category of "how do I like to approach painting?"  A little bit of Manchess towards the end of this one provided some much needed incentive, and a nice reminder to stop thinking so much and just paint.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Art Procedural

So I got distracted this week with a challenge from the great blog ArtOrder.  Going off of the prompt and Mr. Schindehette's description, it seems like pure favorite kind.

Plus I got off of my butt and did some process shots as well, so here goes part II of that challenge - Anthropomorphized critter (probably will be read as a vulture by most, but he's a turkey buzzard at heart):
The initial scribble.
The next scribble.  I liked the first one more.

Some thumbs to get my comp in order, I was feeling more of a portrait look for our carrion friend.
Working sketch.  Lots of Mad Max in this, as well as a bit of glare off the graphite.

Painting in progress with a few little tweaks from the sketch.

Things gleaned thus far:
         1.  It pays to hunt for reference material.
         2.  It pays to develop that working sketch as much as possible.

Funny how I tell these things to my students all the time and then think I can skip them...

Oh and here's that spider, I didn't forget completely:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

'bout Time

Remember this?

It finally turned into this:

This has been on my work table way too long, but here goes:

The Good:  Smoke rings and Thorin et al ( i.e. the dwarves)

The Bad:  Bilbo, totally dropped the ball on him and he's RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE COMP!

Things to take away:  More work in the drawing and sketching stages; start things and finish them - this sat for too long between too many sessions of paint, ergo, no flow.

"Queer Lodgings," 16 x 20, oils on Illustration Board.

P.S.  on the time issue and things sitting for too long...there will be a finished drawing for the next Hobbit painting posted by Sunday night.  

P.P.S.  there will be spiders.