A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie

I worked on this painting for about a year and recently decided that it’s finally done. I’m calling it “A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie” and it’s 16 x 20 inches, oil on canvas:

A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie

A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie

Initially this painting was going to be for an erotic art show that a friend was having, but over time it ended up being more restrained in that regard and I decided to make it more arcane than profane and stress the psychotic over the erotic.

I spent about 65 hours painting and maybe another 10 to 20 hours on planning and drawing. I had to change the face and figure many times since my original planning had a bunch of issues. I basically painted them over to the point where I could have finished several other similarly-sized paintings in the time I spent on this one. It was worth it though, because I have learned a ton and my next paintings will go much smoother. I have learned a hard lesson about planning and using weird blurry photo figure references that are basically useless and cause more harm than help…next time I might hire a figure model instead.

I also had to radically alter the overall tone of the painting a bunch of times, especially the tombstones, in order to get closer to the overall look and feel I was going for. The sky was probably the only thing that was not painted over a bunch of times, although just like everything else I radically changed it halfway through. One reason I had all these problems is that I was excited to start the painting so I thought I would leave some things to figure out later – that didn’t work out so well this time.

These are the main colors I used:

Flesh tones: Titanium white, raw umber, yellow ochre, cadmium red hue

Landscape: Terre verte, yellow ochre, raw umber, titanium white

Sky / clouds: Mars black, titanium white, ultramarine blue, yellow ochre

In my newest painting I am using cobalt blue and cadmium yellow medium for the greens and am liking that better that the terre verte + raw umber which doesn’t provide much coverage and really sinks in a lot. By “sinks in” I mean it dries out and becomes very matte-looking, so I need to rub oil onto it later to get it to look more glossy like the rest of the painting. I normally need to do that in places anyway but it was more of an issue with this painting than usual.

Here are a couple detail views of the painting:

A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie (detail 1)

A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie (detail 1)

A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie (detail 2)

A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie (detail 2)

As is often the case, I love parts of this and am loathe to look at other parts…but I guess that is pretty common among artists. Time to start the next project, hopefully learning from this one! I took something like 19 pages of notes on this as I was working on it, so I have plenty of info to digest about what worked well and what I want to avoid next time.

Graveyard painting work in progress

I don’t have a title for this one yet. I have been working on it for many months…it’s an original work in oil on a 16×20 canvas. I have a lot of stuff I need to fix or add to, including details on most of it, but here’s what I have so far:

Graveyard work in prog 07-19-2010

Graveyard work in prog 07-19-2010

The sky is pretty much the only thing that is complete at this point but the overall idea of the painting is going to stay the same, I just need to finish up a lot of stuff and make some stuff darker, etc etc.

Witchy Scone Scone watercolor

Everyone gets a scone! This is watercolor and pen on watercolor paper, 5×7 inches.

Witchy Scone Scone

Witchy Scone Scone

I have at least one more little watercolor drawing in the works, will post it when done. I also want to do more stuff with witches…witches, medusa, sphinxes, and Egyptian stuff! :)

P.S. This is pretty much the first thing I have done with a figure in it, so I’m pretty excited about that.

Work in progress – Witchy Scone Scone

Besides the oil paintings I have in progress and lotsa sketching and learning to draw stuffs, especially figures, I’m working on a couple little watercolor and ink things…here is one of them :)

Witchy Scone Scone

Witchy Scone Scone

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.

The Well III – A Lovecraft-inspired oil painting

Tentacles emerge from a subterranean well as sickly broiling vapors swirl around the misty oozing swamp. Luminous fungi cast an eerie radiance on crumbling stone as the slithering, ropy tentacles writhe in the moonlight.

Update 11-02-08: The Well III is done, go here to see the finished painting.

The Well III, oil on panel, 9x9 inches, work in progress 09-28-08

The Well III, oil on panel, 9x9 inches, work in progress 09-28-08

This painting is inspired partly by H.P. Lovecraft’s writings and his Cthulhu Mythos. It’s a kind of sequel to a couple watercolor illustrations I did and also a companion piece to my dark and creepy Lovecraftian song The Well.

I finished my Jovial Jack O’ Lantern painting directly before this and picked up some new techniques for painting grim grass, forbidding flora, slimy stone, and other such goodness. This is a rather small painting so I wasn’t able to cram in any tombstones or anything but I’m excited about the overall look and feel of the painting, there’s something super creepy and cool about steaming swamps and weird glowing mushrooms. I’m starting to figure out what I like painting the most: creepy night scenes with fog and smoke and lots of glowing stuff (like Dream City #1 and Jovial Jack O’ Lantern :B).

Priestess of Dagon completed

This painting is done.

Priestess of Dagon, (after Bouguereau, kinda), oil on panel, 9x12 inches

Priestess of Dagon, (after Bouguereau, kinda), oil on panel, 9x12 inches

Another Lovecraft-inspired painting, it started out as a study of a Bouguereau painting (see initial post) but I deviated pretty completely from it except for some shading and the pose. This was another painting that I didn’t plan out at all but kept painting over stuff and learning as I went along. This is the most complete portrait-thing I’ve done so far, the first one outdoors with a landscape background.

Dream-City #1 (update 5)

Here’s the latest update to my Dream-City oil painting…actually about a week old but I got a good pic of it in outside lighting with dry paint today so I’m able to post a picture where you can actually see the sky and such :) This is still a work in progress.

Dream-City work in progress 09-10-08

Dream-City work in progress 09-10-08

Look at the Dream City category to see all posts on this topic where I talk more about the painting and such.

Priestess of Dagon (work in progress #1)

I took some stuff from a Bouguereau painting for this one…I had a nice large reference photo for a change and want to learn some of his awesome techniques.

Priestess of Dagon, oil on panel, 9x12 inches, work in progress 08-16-08

Priestess of Dagon, oil on panel, 9x12 inches, work in progress 08-17-08

This is the first outdoor portrait-type painting I have attempted and the first with a substantial background, but I didn’t plan anything out here so it just kind of evolved as I painted it. The Lovecraftian Dagon motif wormed it’s way in at some point…originally I was just messing around studying the Bouguereau painting as I painted over some abstract experiment.

I just started learning to represent bushes and landscapes and such so I’ve been experimenting with that as I go along. Originally I took reference photos of some Goleta, California landscapes but ended up covering up most of what I painted from those.

The pyramid is going to have a somewhat evil-looking eye on it which will also be mirrored on her brooch. I’m going for a contrast between the wholesome landscape, her flaxen fair, puffy white clouds, etc., and the soon-to-be weird and creepy structures in the background, her strange brooch, and her less than happy expression. The eye symbols will be the same stylized eye used in the movie Dagon, which was based on Lovecraft’s story The Shadow Over Innsmouth.

Lovecraft is a favorite of mine and some of his influence (and that of the author Lord Dunsany and the artist Tim Kirk who, among other works, drew some wonderful illustrations for Dunsany) is creeping into another of my paintings, Dream-City #1.

Here’s the Bouguereau painting I borrowed from, my painting doesn’t look anything like it anymore but I still feel I must disclaim since I used that painting heavily as a reference for the eyes and such:

Dream-City #1 (update 4)

I made a ton of changes to this one tonight and over the past week. I started a bunch of Egyptian stuff including a giant scarab building, Eye of Horus, and a building with the head of Anubis. I altered many other parts, my painting has improved a bit since starting this in April so I’m going back over some stuff I was not happy with. I am really having fun with this one, once it’s done I plan on doing more along these lines for sure!

I really like doing the vegetation and grassy bits, I’ve been using yellow ochre/cad yellow light/viridian/raw umber/titanium white/terre verte. I’m mostly using a splayed out cheap round brush for the flora and it works great! The water is also super fun and it’s mostly phthalo blue and white, maybe with some lamp black and raw umber which I use a lot in general. I really like the way it looks to have the earth/grass sinking into and decaying into the water like on the left where the tombstones and crosses are…also the parts where you can see stone and stuff under the water like in the lower left…I dunno why but I really love that :)

Dream City as of 08-07-08

Dream City as of 08-07-08