Dream City #1 completed

Multiform clouds of mist obscure unearthly blue pools and strange lichened structures loom over crumbling tombstones. Anubis watches over an arcane garden with its odd flora and steaming central pool…eroded, swampy cemeteries adjoin surreal towers. A silently staring eye peers down upon the city…a floating aqueduct hovers above a Scarab-shaped building and the glowing water tumbles down through another peculiar edifice.

I finished my Dream City #1 painting after many months and a plethora of major revisions…paint over a building here, add a channel of glowing water there, slap in an Eye of Horus here, a tombstone there…

Dream City 1 by Airn LeBus, oil on canvas, 14x18 inches, 2008

Dream City 1 by Airn LeBus, oil on canvas board, 14x18 inches, 2008

(I updated the picture above on 03-18-09 to a more accurate one, especially color-wise, and without the frame)

Really happy with the frame I had made for this one. I got it at Craft Essentials in Goleta…the color and distressed texture look great with the painting and I think the gold design around the edge fits well with the Egyptian motif.

I compiled some of the various stages and revisions this went through…it looks so much different now than the initial sketch and early versions!

Early versions of Dream City #1

Early versions of Dream City #1

Later versions of Dream City #1

Later versions of Dream City #1

Definitely going to do another Dream City, next time I will plan it better and do it on smooth panel rather than canvas so I can do details better…it was rough to try smaller details with the heavy canvas texture. Much like the Cracky-Chan painting, I have been working on this so long I have become a better painter whilst working on different paintings in the interim, so when I came back to this one it was tempting to try to “fix” a ton of stuff that I think I could do “better” now. I generally resisted that urge, although I did modify some buildings and clouds/smoke/fog and water and such on my final night of painting this, 11/05/08. It always takes me at least a week to post a finished painting cause I let it dry a while then put retouching varnish before I take a picture.

Overall I am happy with the look and feeling of this painting; my three favorites I have done so far are this one, The Well III, and Jovial Jack O’ Lantern. The next painting I will start is related…another odd girl kinda like Pigtail Gurl but I want to include part of this cityscape behind her so that she is sitting for the portrait in the Dream City.

Cracky-Chan painting completed

I finally finished my Cracky Chan oil painting after many moons had waxed and waned and after countless revisions. Many times I thought I was done but decided to make changes, sometimes major. Most recently I debated for a couple weeks over whether I wanted to make major changes again or not…I had mostly decided to revise it yet again, but then today I realized that I have been spending my time thinking about this painting and forgot all about Dream City #1 which I am close to finishing as well…I realized that I have many other paintings I want to complete (and start) and this Cracky painting is as good as it’s going to be without totally altering some stuff and taking huge steps back…I would rather start new paintings instead.

Cracky-Chan painting, oil on panel, 8x10 inches, 2008

Cracky-Chan, oil on panel, 8x10 inches, 2008

I’m pretty happy with this painting when I look at it in real life, however when I look at these photos of it, it’s much easier to see some of the overall issues that aren’t as apparent when you are only a couple feet away from it. When it’s condensed way down it looks different, it’s also darker in real life then what you see in the picture…anyway it looks better in real life, I swear :)

a bit larger than life-size detail

a bit larger than life-size detail

I have learned many strange and wonderous things whilst on this dark and disturbing journey…mostly that it sucks to try to paint something in this semi-realisitic style without planning everything out properly beforehand and when you are a beginner :) I also didn’t step back enough and notice overall issues but was focusing too much on details and textures and such. Although I think the main problem here is that I didn’t plan it out beforehand well enough, many of the issues I encountered couldn’t really be avoided without having more experience…this was a learning process, that was one of the main points of this painting. I worked on this for so long too that it’s like some of my skill improved and left this painting behind…I mean I was working on, and finished, many paintings while this was still being worked on concurrently, so I would return to this and notice things that I could do better now, but it’s sort of too late now on this one…I have completely sanded out and painted over eyes, moved one, repainted it, sanded it down again, totally changed the necklace 3 times, the hair took many wildly different tries, etc etc etc…time to wrap up Ms. Cracky-Chan, varnish it, and finally be done. Oh that’s another thing too, after spending crazy amounts of time on something I wanted to make sure I was as happy as possible with the painting, it’s a fine line between excessive amounts of time and ensuring that you have given it your best try and not given up or been lazy at the end after all that time and effort. I ended up feeling kind of unhappy with the end result, but mostly just when I look at these computer images of it, when it’s on the wall in my house I’m fairly satisfied.

I had a bunch of problems towards the end trying to make small changes to the dry painting, where it looked OK until the changes dried and then they didn’t match the surrounding areas. I “oiled out” the painting by rubbing linseed oil into it before one of these final changes and although it seemed to help the new paint blend in to the dry parts, when it dried sometimes it was more screwed up looking than before I made the corrections :)

Colors used and notes (titanium white used in pretty much every section as well) :

Background: initially a chromatic black mixture of raw umber and some kind of blue (french ultramarine?), later ivory or lamp black with alizarin crimson and some white / raw umber or if I had skin tone mixed up I put some of that into the background so it was not a solid black.

Skin tone: raw umber / perm alizarin crimson. I didn’t use any yellow in this mix partly to fit with the style of the ref photo which was very red and also so it wasn’t too difficult to re-mix the same shades later, my paint dries out pretty much overnight so each session I usually have to re-mix the colors…I keep notes and such to help with this. For the red nose and such I used vermilion and a cadmium red along with alizarin crimson.

Necklace: raw and burnt umber, yellow ochre. Jewels were alizarin crimson and cad yellow light.

Eyes: Changed a lot so not sure but I think cobalt and cerrulean.

Hair: It took me SO many tries to get the hair to where I am mostly happy with it. The latest layers are yellow ochre, burnt umber, indian red, raw umber, burnt sienna, maybe some cadmium yellow light (hue). The brushes were the most important part for this, I used a spayed out liner for much of the details and coarse bristle brushes…I also have this one weird small flat shader that works really well for hair ’cause it shows brushstrokes which become individual hairs.

Shirt thingy: burnt sienna, cad yellow light, raw umber, lamp black.

The Well III (completed)

I completed The Well III a week or so ago, after letting it dry enough I put a layer of retouching varnish on it and here ya go:

The Well III oil painting by Airn LeBus

The Well III oil painting by Airn LeBus, oil on panel 9x9 inches, 2008

I think maybe this is the best painting I have done so far overall, and it was one of the fastest to complete! I didn’t have to make very many revisions even though it wasn’t planned out at all…although I sort of based this on other drawings I have done I didn’t sketch this out beforehand, just started painting and went with the flow. I am happy with this one and want to do more creepy landscape type scenes, I’m loving the creepy night scenes.