The Blog

Man’s Road

A couple months back I started to realize that many of my favorite contemporary illustrations have light back grounds and dark foregrounds while many of my favorite old time paintings are the opposite. Since I was doing master studies at the time a great deal of my own compositions were always light to dark. So the basis of this painting, Man’s Road, was to challenge myself to make a composition that had a light background and a dark foreground. Add in other things that I have a love hate relationship with such as horses/ hands and I was set! 

The concept behind the painting was to show a more gritty scene from the middle ages that most movies or paintings don’t show. Knights are too often recounted as gleaming heroes of the past, when in reality, more often than not, they were a bunch of rowdy higher class men who were kept on out of necessity for protection. They would cause all sorts of trouble when there was no one to fight and boredom threatened. Though, admittedly, they probably wouldn’t go around burning villages because property damage would be unacceptable to their overlord but peasants were usually fair game and bastards were common. Better the evil you know and all that

This is also the first painting that I’ve done where I’ve worked with such thin layers of paint, something that I’m continuing to explore. 

 The title of this piece was taken from one of my favorite songs from the animation The Last Unicorn.

Valkyrie

I am quite a fan of Norse mythology; this and the fact that I have been watching the History Channel’s Viking series inspired the subject of my recent painting. Valkyries are woman warriors in Norse mythology who choose which souls of the fallen are brought to Odin’s hall, Valhalla. Really who can resist painting winged women when the opportunity rises?

So when I set out to paint a Valkyrie I really wanted to portray a woman who looked and felt strong, looked like a warrior. From time to time I tend to slip into only drawing certain kinds of beauty, the soft feminine features that get used over and over again. I knew from the start that I wanted to go in a different direction with this painting.

My goal was to use strong/ powerful features, really just to represent a different kind of beauty. So I finished the drawing and was so excited to work on this painting I dove right in. I had my reference, value drawing, and a general color scheme (note: not a color comp) what more did I need…

Turns out that when you don’t have a strong color comp to work from you can waste a lot of time. What a headache (and days!) I would have saved myself from if I took the extra time to do a comp beforehand. Let it be noted that I have learned my lesson.

Other than that earlier struggle I really enjoy how this painting has turned out. It looks different from previous work and it feels like I’m moving into another step of progress.

 

Half Sick of Shadows

 And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed;
“I am half-sick of shadows,” said
           The Lady of Shalott.
This painting is to illustrate the Arthurian poem “The Lady of Shalott” by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1842). I was Inspired by having heard this poem through multiple songs and seeing the paintings done by Waterhouse. Saying that I still had to actually read it to get the story. 

The Lady of Shalott is the story about a woman living in a tower upstream from Camelot. She is stricken with a nameless curse that will take hold if she dares to look down to Camelot, to avoid this she sees the world through a mirror. So she sits day after day weaving her “web” looking at people passing as they journey to Camelot. 
This continues until one day she sees the Knight Lancelot and forgets the curse to run to the window (silly Victorian poets). The mirror then breaks and the Lady of Shalott; knowing she will die goes down to the river, writes her name on a boat, and lays down singing a mournful song as she travels to Camelot. When the people of Camelot find her she is dead. 

The idea that this woman would be so stricken and lonely that she would risk the unknown fate of a curse just to see Lancelot with her eyes just once was so heartbreaking to me. Which is why I chose that moment where she sees what would be her one happiness, I wanted to show a look of hope. As if the good Knight Lancelot would save her from her dreary existence.    

The Process Behind “Through the Cracks”

I love mythologies and have wanted to do a painting of the Minotaur myth for weeks. A current painting I was working on wasn’t going so well so I decided now was the time to face the Minotaur.

At first I didn’t give the story much thought at all jumping straight into the design of the creature, emotional range, and referencing pictures of bulls. I was facing difficulties planning a composition that would make both the bull look intimating and include the maze without making the bull too small to work in details. The size I was painting this was a tiny 8×10, I was experimenting with my painting approach and wanted to work small to save time.

I have found that I really struggle with details when it comes to working in paint. My goal was to combat that by doing a really detailed drawing on the illustration board, seal it, then work in thin layers of paint over it to keep the amount of detail and values. I was also thinking that this would add levels of textures and colors, in turn depth.

So I had the approach I wanted to do for the painting, now for the composition. Coincidentally at this time I read an interview series done by Kiri Ø. Leonard called “Women in Fantasy Illustration.” These can be found on Leonard’s blog http://kirileonard.com/blog/ . The one that really influence me was Kristina Carroll, I went to her website to view more of her work then continued to her blog where she posted about her own minotaur painting http://kristinacarroll.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-minotaur.html

I was so struck with the character she had created with her minotaur, the beauty and loneliness of the character. Up to that point I hadn’t thought of the Minotaur as anything other than a mindless beast of legend but it made sense that since he was part human and had known comfort and life in his earlier years that he would experience emotions just like anyone else or any animal would. He is what he is because of his mother’s folly, innocent in all aspects except for his appetite of human flesh which condemns him to a life of being imprisoned until a hero slays him.

When I went back to working on thumbs I found that I couldn’t think of the Minotaur as a mindless beast anymore. I changed the direction of the work and came up with this lonely beast reaching out to the only warmth he has now. Alone in the labyrinth of caves he is trapped in with only memories of the outside world to contend with.

The name of the piece “Through the Cracks” means more than to describe the light. The Minotaur slipped through the cracks of life. A monster that had no business being created, no purpose to his life, is left alone to eventually die.

Pilot

Pilot 2- websizeI originally started this painting so I could have at least one young male in my portfolio and to keep exploring painting on a smooth surface. It was inspired by old war propaganda, I love history and wanted to do a painting that had the look of those old illustrations.

There was a lot of time spent researching since I wanted this to be as accurate as possible. This is a WWII pilot (I liked the planes from WWII more than WWI) in front of a Warhawk.

I do think that this piece is successful in looking similar to the era illustrations but looking at it now it has such a different feel and subject matter than anything in my portfolio that it just doesn’t fit. Also, it’s picturesque but really lacks emotional depth that I can see now that I have moved on to other projects.

Over all it isn’t going in the portfolio but was a great learning experience in how to work with paint.

Art Order: Tiny Paintings

I’ve proudly participated in my first Art Order Challenge. It was a small one, maybe even tiny! I submitted to the Tiny Paintings challenge (other entries are found here http://www.theartorder.com/challenges/past_challenges/15 ). The rules were that the painting had to be traditionally done and 3×3 inches, so I gave it a go! Now it’s going to Spectrum Fantastic Art Live with Jon Schindehette next month along with all the other entries.

I’m glad that I finally submitted to an Art Order Challenge, it is something that I’ve been skirting around for months. Always thinking “I should do that” but never getting up enough gumption to do the project let alone submit it.  So while this is a small project, it is a step; making way for the larger steps of progress.   

The Whispers of Ravens and a New Technique

Hey there! In this blog post I’m just introducing one of the newer works I’ve done, the process I used, and a new technique I tried.

First, I had excitedly began my painting “The Whispers of Ravens” after immersing myself in Norse mythology for the weekend because of the History Channel’s TV series Vikings. I wanted to do a painting inspired by the old myths and take the opportunity to insert more male characters into my work since my portfolio had a majority of female characters.

Odin, in Norse mythology, had two ravens named Huginn and Muninn (“Thought” and “Memory”) who would fly around the world and report to him everything they saw. I liked this concept and the composition came to me rather quickly. This shot of Odin listening to his ravens while looking forward with an age old calm.

Now I’d become frustrated with working on canvas because it feels like a fight with the paint to get detail on such a textured surface. I like working with thick paint and wanted to get tighter with my work so I looked around online to find some kind of technique, whether it was to change oil mediums or the surface I was painting on, that would accomplish that.

I discovered a video tutorial by Cynthia Sheppard, I love her work, which details her process with her painting “Omens.” In her preparation Sheppard used Matte Medium to seal the drawing on illustration board and then painting over it. I had heard about this method very briefly before but discarded it until I saw the video, I ordered the Matte Medium to try it for myself.

Also, I did try some under painting but found that for the most part it was excessive in my process.

So I found I really liked this technique because I can get as detailed with the drawing as I want and be able to keep the feel off it. I also love the slicker surface and even use linseed oil to “oil out” areas before I work on them.   

I really enjoyed painting this piece and adding fun effects with the brush. If anyone has any questions about this process I’ll be happy to answer them if I can. 

Summoned

I finished this piece some time back as a learning experience. Below I’ve put together what my process was for it. If there are any questions just comment below.

I was doing some embarrassingly rough doodles when I started noodling with the idea. I liked the whole mysterious figure that I was coming up with so I just went for it as a painting.

 

 

I began by taking lots of pictures for the hand and the face that I put together and loosely referenced.

Usually I’d sketch some line work smaller and then scale it up to the actually size the painting would be. This time I skipped this step since this was something I was doing for fun and I’m currently without a printer. I went to sketching it at full scale, which was on an 18″x 24″ drawing pad.

As a whole I was really happy with the drawing as it was and made a transfer to canvas by using charcoal covered tracing paper.

Before painting I put the drawing into Photoshop and made a rough color comp. Which I did decided to change the hood color after a discussion with the husband, the face changed as the piece went on as well. Overall this was a fun painting, really great to just work with the paint and learn from that.

The Sea Dragon

sea dragon

It’s been awhile since I last posted. Life has been exciting: finishing school, getting work, and getting engaged! So much has been happening and now I get to post all my final projects. I was really excited to do this sea dragon piece, as soon as I got the idea for it I started. It ended up butting another project I was working on out of the way. Anyway I just thought it would be a great piece to experiment with expression and exaggerations. Also I pulled out my smaller brushes to tighten it up. The value study/ sketch below:sketch

Fair Skin Study

Paint study #8 web size

I really wanted to try a fair skin tone with this paint study. After looking at the finished product I do realize that I rushed the drawing which I wish I saw before. I feel that this was a great exercise in very light skin. It’s amazing

how many cools are in that fair skin. I found that in this case the most cools were near the half-tones/ entering the shadow area.

The photo reference I used- link 

I want to try harder next time to really get the gesture of the face so that my characters seem less static.

I’m so excited for Spring Break! I’m doing homework the entire time but I’m so excited!