Dream-City #1 – work in progress

I’m having a tremendous amount of fun with this one, and it’s going to be the first in a series of strange and somewhat eldritch dream-cities.

The main thing I have  learned with this one – I will never again paint on canvas without laying down some base color, I tried to jump right in and ended up with finished buildings that had little tiny white gaps which I had to painstakingly paint all over again to fill them in…very very annoying. I’ve spent tons of time on this fixing things that I could have spent painting new and exciting stuff, not only fixing the lame white gaps but also due to lack of planning…I was really making things up as I went along and kept painting over whole buildings, turning stone to grass, etc. It’s fun to be able to do that, like I added the channels of water right over what once was stone, but I want to plan stuff out a little better next time 🙂 This one was actually weird cuz I just grabbed a canvas and started painting the city straight away with some ultramarine and turps and a liner brush…just frantically sketching the city out in about 30 min. It wasn’t until much later that I sat down and decided I really needed to draw it out a bit on paper to figure out where I was going with it.

Influences / inspiration for this include the Thief series of games, Lord Dunsany, Tim Kirk, and H.P. Lovecraft.

Look at the Dream-City category to see all versions.

Here’s what I have so far. This is 14×18 inches, oil on canvas board. Below I will post the original painted sketch and an earlier work-in-progress…you can see how much different it has become. I still have quite a ways to go so we’ll see how it develops and changes…

Dream City 1 05-29-08

Dream City 1 05-29-08

Here’s the sketch:

Dream City 1 initial sketch

Dream City 1 initial sketch

More cracky-chan work in progress (cracky post #2)

Boy, I don’t normally paint more than a few hours in a day but I think I spent about 6 hours on this one today. There was a lot of stuff I wanted to do while it was still wet, and since I don’t usually add oil to my paint and it’s pretty thinly applied, if I wait until tomorrow it will mostly be dry. I also have all the colors mixed the right way and I don’t want them all to dry up on the palette either. I think it’s a common misconception (from ppl I have spoken with that don’t use oils) that oil paints always take weeks or months to dry — if they are thinly applied they are often dry to the touch in a day or so, or if you add turpentine it can be minutes. I don’t add turps that often though unless I am doing stuff with the liner brush like signing a painting or eyelashes etc…it feels kinda lame with turps, no longer buttery and nice 🙂

Anyway I spent 6-7 hours on this chick today, trying to wrap up this painting and move on to some other projects I am excited about. I think this will be done in a few days. This has been really tough, although I have a low-res photo reference it’s pretty useless for a lot of parts, and I have changed a lot anyway so I can’t use it much of the time. The lighting is tough for a beginner like me, and the added red nose and such have made this quite difficult. Next time I attempt a painting with lighting I am not used to, I am going to make sure I have a good reference photo…it’s been a bit silly trying to figure out what the heck to do here. I’ll still really happy with it so far though.

It’s hard to get a good pic of this at night, but this is fairly close to what it looks like in real life. This is 8×10 inches, oil on panel.

cracky early version 05-26-08

cracky early version 05-26-08

Pigtail gurl – finished

I don’t think this is really going to be called Pigtail Gurl but for now that’s what I call it.

Phew, the session where I finished this painting was stressful, as it often can be…I am usually wanting to keep messing with the painting but I have to draw the line somewhere so I can work on something new. On this one, I thought I was done many times and looked again from a different angle or in different lighting and noticed something that “needed” to be changed. I wanted to make sure I got everything while the paint was wet and I had all the right colors mixed up…sometimes I find it tough to re-match what colors I’ve put down already…I keep notes on each painting for this reason, like did I use black or umber to darken that red? Argh! 🙂 It’s also tough once a painting has dried to go back, I had to “re-wet”, i.e. paint over again, a lot so that there were not hard edges and to blend stuff in.

Here’s the finished Pigtail-Gurl-until-I-think-of-a-better-name. It’s 8×10 inches, oil on canvas:

Pigtail Gurl oil painting

Pigtail Gurl oil painting

Since I am still learning, and get excited and start too soon without enough planning as well, I tend to make huge changes to my paintings mid-way through…on this one, the major change was altering the background color which was blue before. It made a huge difference and instantly the whole thing looked way better once I altered the color to more of a raw-umber tone. Some problems arose though…the original was tough to cover up and it took a few layers (with days in between to dry). Since the hair and necklace and other things that touch the background were dry, I also had to deal with attempting to keep the edges soft…that involved repainting over the dry edges a bit so I could blend wet-into-wet. I also just used a color halfway inbetween the two in some places to give a softer look.

The lips and mouth took many tries and repainting to get the way I wanted them. I tried the highlights on the lips many times by waiting for the lower lip to dry, then adding titanium white…couldn’t get it to look good until I did wet-into-wet very carefully with a very small shader brush, squinting my eyes a bit to see the overall tone and looking at a bunch of reference photos, which I didn’t end up following 🙂

I thought I was done and was comparing the new painting to the last photo I posted here and realized her expression had changed…it’s amazing how the tiniest alteration in the corner of the mouth completely changes the expression…she was now smiling and looked a lot more “normal”. I felt like the whole painting had changed…it was no longer as interesting to me. I went back and messed with the corners of the mouth for a while until she again had that odd blank kind of half-smile.

I had originally planned this to fit in a faux-gilded oval frame, but I didn’t like the fake-looking gold color, it was too orange-y and looked fake and cheep (it kinda was :)). I painted over the frame in titanium white acrylic several times to totally cover the fake gold color, now I think it looks much better…very ornate white-on-white is neat and I think it fits this painting pretty well. Now on to the next project I want to finish…Cracky-Chan.

Pigtail gurl painting – work in progress

I’ve been working on this one for a month or so, I planned it out more than most paintings by doing some preliminary drawings and such (see below). This was initially designed to fit in an oval frame, but I’m not sure it will go in there now, since there is some stuff that would be hidden like part of the hair.

This was started after I did a study of ‘Daddy’s Girl’ by Michael Hussar. I was really impressed with that painting and liked it enough that I took the time to paint my own version of it to learn. I learned a lot from that one, and I’ll probably talk about that later in a post dedicated to that topic.

I wanted the following key points for my painting:

– very pale skin, overall light in tone as inspired by ‘daddy’s girl’

– kinda freaky lookin chick 🙂

– yellow eyeshadow (dunno why i wanted to do that?)

After working on it a bit I decided that the hair and eyes would be primary focus points, especially to help with my learning. I put in some time studying real photos of similar hair and eyes to figure out how to represent them.

Ao on this I made the eyes a bit more realistic, rather than the gem-type i have been doing previously. These have a bit more streaks and stuff and I realized the pupil should not have a hard edge (duh). I just hadn’t studied real eyes enuf. I spent a long time on the hair and decided that my favorite brushes for that are a medium sized round bristle and a small flat shader which is fairly coarse so it leaves some strokes. I used mostly titanium white, yellow ochre, and raw umber for the hair. I’ve painted over it a bunch of times so I experiemented with a bunch of different colors…  it prolly has a little burnt umber and cad yellow light too. Raw umber and titanium white are the two “colors” i use the most overall in painting at this point.

The painting used to have a bright blue (I think it was french ultramarine and titanium white) background…I realized it looked weird cuz that color was not in the shadows on the face etc, so once i changed the background to match the palette i was using for the face the whole thing looked way better. So far i just partially covered it with raw umber and white (if i just say white I mean titanium white, I use zinc white sometimes but so far no use of the holy and deadly flake white).

Here’s what i have so far:

Pigtail Gurl early

Pigtail Gurl early

About my painting blog

Airn LeBus

Airn LeBus

I like to paint strange and arcane scenes from mysterious shimmering dreams, the kind that float down while napping in an old Providence graveyard after eating too much ice cream. Perhaps my paintings could hang in an otherworldly manor, populated with spectral lords and ladies roaming the halls on their way to enjoy tea and scones.

I am a self-taught artist and started painting in 2007. I usually plan out my projects carefully with sketches and studies before starting to paint. I use oil on wood panel or canvas depending on the subject matter and feeling that I am looking for. When I paint on panel I often glaze transparent color over a “dead layer” underpainting. I paint thinly in short sessions over a period of time ranging from a month to more than a year per piece.

Regarding the name of the blog, chromatic black is a black-like color made from two complimentary colors, such as an earth tone and a blue…you could use raw umber and french ultramarine in roughly equal parts to make a chromatic black. I like the name since it sounds like an oxymoron – chromatic means “relating to colors or color”…so it’s colorful black.



To contact me, you can comment on any post or use the form here: http://www.chromaticblack.com/contact-me