Wednesday, July 29, 2009


So I finally did a livestream and found myself surprisingly nervous. I've talked to classes before and done tons of portfolio reviews but working live in front of people was a bit nerve wracking. Made me more timid and slow. Next time I'll have to make it something more focused like rendering some sharp texture on something. That would limit the length and eliminate stress.

Anyways I've been doing some actual oil painting. While I've been happy with how these little paintings have gone, I'm excited to soon be trying some new materials. Hopefully in a couple of months I'll be experimenting with some alkyds and water miscible oil paints. At the moment I've been mixing in a lot of painting medium to increase flow and it extends the drying time. I also mix in a lot of medium to lower opacity when laying down the base color.

I like to do my drawing on illustration board but it soaks up the paint a bit too much. So I go over my pencils with pure matte medium. That preserves my pencils and makes it so that if I want to make highlights later, I can rub off a touch of paint with a rubber tipped color shaper to get back to pure white. Dan Brereton does something similar. He does the matte medium thing to preserve his pencils and than paints with watercolors but doesn't add much water. Then later, he can just rub anywhere with something wet to erase back to pure white/his pencils.

In college I had to use acrylics so that I could transport art and it would dry in time. I always hated using acrylics though. They dried too quick and dried darker. What I found worked best was to paint much lighter than you planned on the final image being. Then after the acrylics are dry, go over it with a thin wash of a very dark oil paint. Then rub off the wash for your more lit areas. Picked that up from some demo in a mag by David Michael Beck. He's another Cincinnati artist.

Anyways, I haven't continued the dark wash at the end with oils since they take so long to dry. I'm hoping alkyds will allow me to bring that trick back or that water miscible oils won't require medium and will therefor dry faster for the wash at the end.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Notes to Self

Just more notes I've written down that I wanted to put on here in case I lose my little pieces of paper. Several are from Stapleton Kearns blog. Some are probably from Loomis and maybe a couple from James Gurney. A couple are mine. The more obvious ones are probably mine.

A picture is more articulate where the light is concentrated on a certain part rather than all of it.

If you face strong sunlight in a picture, your color is in your shadows.

If two or more figures are together you can bind them together by running a shadow of same strength from one to the other.

Imagine the texture under your brush as you paint. (Boy is this one helpful.)

It appears I can easily fall into work mode rather than learning mode. I work better and smarter when I have some bit of new art theory or trick on my mind. Repeating past process seems to make work stale.

If colors work together at full saturation, they should still work when completely toned down.

No pure black. There is bound to be some ounce of light between your eye and whatever is in shadow.

At the same time though, make entire image slightly darker than you'd expect to achieve a greater sense of light.

Eyebrows cast shadows dumby.

Reflections can sell realism.

Dust and fog is useful for separating planes.

When bright light hits a light surface there's a halo affect. Some anime seems obsessed with this light effect.

Repeatedly blurring until well developed and then add edges. Can really make things pop.

Image>mode>index color. Image mode>color table

Repeat shapes to establish depth.

Contrast of shape to create focus.

Contour cannot be continuously defined all around all units and a sense of space be achieved.

Blocky paint rather than smooth can add interest to heads,drapery and clouds. Very counter intuitive.

When your picture is dead or unpleasant, the fault is usually too much raw unrelated color, rather than not enough.

Use cloth underwater to simulate capes in the wind.

Clients are like stepping stones that immediately begin to sink under your weight. You must find the next which will also begin to sink. Keep looking forward.

Learning to paint from photos is like learning to swim at home on the sofa.

Put the note down and leave it alone. If you don't like it, repaint it, or throw more paint down onto it. You can't worry the paint into a picture once it's on the canvas.

The more white you use, the less color you have.

Observation should not rule, but suggest execution.

Style is how it is a picture of, rather than what it is a picture of.

A painting should be one single image on the canvas, rather than a number of smaller images clamoring for our attention.

I should probably have to write all of those 100 times. It would either make me better or give me carpal tunnel.


Seems like a big part of improving has to do with finding increasingly comfortable methods of working. I've realized that my work goes much slower when I enter into a piece without confidence. For years I'd say I've continued a practice that leaves me with no confidence when it comes time to render. Going into photoshop with loose sketches. It locks elements into locations but forces me to flesh out the full structure and details on the fly. This gives me some hesitation and I work much slower. I seem to work fastest when I have a detailed line drawing going into photoshop OR if I'm going into photoshop with practically nothing at all.

I may have been aware of this subconsciously for a while but I really get impatient with drawing and rush into photoshop when something happens where I like an element but want to re-size it or change the angle slightly. Also, I don't enjoy drawing in line. I prefer to erase out of a base or work with bigger charcoal marks. I think it's been a process problem that I've been avoiding addressing. Well I think I've finally found a more relaxing process that also allows me to head into my digital finishing with more confidence.

In the past I've done thumbnails to work up comps and they've literally been the size of a thumbnail. Lately I'm instead starting at a larger size which I've always thought was insane because I'd never tried it or heard of many artists beginning that way. I've been getting out big sheets of cheap paper and doing more gestural charcoal drawings to work on my characters and comps. Takes the focus away from line work and puts it more on proportions and pose. After I've got some good poses I get out marker paper. Marker paper is a lot like tracing paper except sturdier and can take more erasing. It also won't have all of those crinkly lines you'd get from scanning tracing paper. Using the marker paper, I can turn my messy mass drawing into neat line drawings that I can flip over to get a fresh perspective. Then it's easy to do another layer and adjust any proportions or angles I might feel could change. Then I can use a micron to go over the lines and then really pour on the markers. Then I scan in all of the individual elements and combine them.

I used this on my latest entry for Art Order and I got the piece done very quickly. I'm currently using it on a illustration of Kali with all of her arms fighting 4 other characters. Such a busy scene might have slowed my working to a crawl with my past habit of doing the most minimal drawings. I always thought I was taking a shortcut but I think it likely caused me more stress.

Anyways, get out there and try some marker paper if you haven't. It's nice stuff to draw on.