Graveyard Girl from the Dream City completed

I just finished this painting, which I started in late November 2008. It’s called Graveyard Girl from the Dream City and is 11×14 inches, oil on panel. It’s a kind of surreal portrait of an imaginary girl in ornate finery standing in front of a tombstone-strewn night landscape with a dream city background.

For all posts about this painting, see the dream city category. I have a lot more info about this project in the earlier posts.

Graveyard Girl from the Dream City by Airn LeBus. Oil on panel, 11x14 inches, 2009.

Graveyard Girl from the Dream City by Airn LeBus. Oil on panel, 11x14 inches, 2009.

I’m pretty happy with how this turned out, it has a kind of shining dark clarity which I think is unique. Painting on panel and leaving a lot of hard edges yielded a crispness which contrasts with the surreal nature of the painting. It took “too long”, but I learned a lot. A lot of time was spent on the face fixing some issues, and a lot on the clothing which I had not planned out properly and which I changed halfway through. So like many of my paintings, much time was spent re-doing stuff or experimenting / figuring things out. I think painting on panel is more difficult for me than canvas, but I can’t glaze in the same way on canvas so I have been using panel when I am going for harder edges and lots of glazing.

Total time spent on this: about 40 hours painting and 14 hours drawing and planning.

Graveyard Girl from the Dream City (detail)

Graveyard Girl from the Dream City (detail)

On the clothing, I suffered from lack of reference material and the small size of the details. I wanted to do some gold embroidery like in the Ghent Altarpiece but after trying it for a few hours / sessions, I ended up painting over it and adopting a simpler approach. The gems in the middle ended up looking cool but part of the effect was accidental — I wiped off some paint and removed some lower layers by mistake. It made a kind of glow-effect that I kept and built on.

I like the final glazed-over face, even though I initially painted a dead layer that was too dark and it took me many careful sessions to lighten it. I left some parts “too dark” since she looks kind of corpse-like and it fits with the graveyard scene. I’m not quite sure if she is undead, or a ghost, or what. Her eyes follow you around the room though, so that must mean she is still alive :)

I glazed vermillion (hue) and yellow ochre over the raw umber dead layer underpainting to get the flesh tone. I also put more opaque white/yellow/vermillion for highlights and to lighten up the underpainting.

Graveyard Girl from the Dream City (background detail)

Graveyard Girl from the Dream City (background detail)

Once I finished this, I didn’t using retouching varnish. Varnish in general can really unify and deepen a painting and just overall make it look way better, but you can’t use a final varnish on an oil painting until it is truly dry; a general rule of thumb seems to be a year. You can put retouching varnish on when it is only touch-dry though, like maybe a week or two after your painting is done. I used to do that with all my paintings but a few of them are still sticky months later so I am going to stop using it. This one would be at major risk for the same thing, since many parts are thick with many fairly oily layers so I am already concerned about drying times.

Switching to mars black has helped, since it dries much faster than ivory black which I was using before. I also started ‘oiling out’ much more lightly after parts were sticky for many days due to too much oil in the oiling out and glazing process. Dust is also a major concern when the painting is sticky like that. Now I very lightly apply oil with my fingers and wipe as much off as possible, again with fingers or very gently putting a paper towel against the painting and running a finger over it to get the excess oil up. Even after a week of drying, rubbing a paper towel over the oiled-out painting seems to remove paint. I usually try to paint very thinly so depending on the color used and oil amount, a week is usually enough time for me to oil out and do another session. I use bleached linseed oil which I understand dries faster than normal linseed and also yellows less.

Who knows about all this stuff though, because scouring the web or books gives conflicting info, and there are so many different combinations of technique and materials which can yield different results. I just read books and search on the web, take everything I read with a grain of salt, and try stuff and if it seems to work I keep doing it.

Graveyard Girl from the Dream City – work in progress

I’ve been working on this painting since late November 2008, this is tentatively called Graveyard Girl From The Dream City and is oil on 11×14 inch panel.

For all posts about this painting, see the dream city category.

You can also jump to just the finished version here: graveyard-girl-from-the-dream-city-completed

Graveyard Girl from the Dream City (work in progress)

Graveyard Girl from the Dream City (work in progress)

Detail view:

Graveyard Gurl from the Dream City

Graveyard Girl from the Dream City (detail) - work in progress

Planning, transferring the drawing, imprimatura

I initially wanted to paint something like a combination of my old painting Pigtail Gurl and Dream City in a larger format and with the idea that I can do a better job now that I have more experience. I wanted to experiment more with the “dead layer” technique too, especially after trying it with my Christmas Angel painting and having some success with it there. As I was planning it out the drawing got more complicated and the buildings and such ending up being a bit less weird than the Dream City, although I will still use a similar palette and the skyline and sky will be similar.

I used Poser software to create a model of the girl that I lit and posed as I had envisioned and then used that as I would a normal photo reference. I did the line drawing all in Photoshop, and then printed it out at Kinko’s. I also did some color study stuff in Photoshop. I used graphite transfer paper to get it on the panel (tracing over my printed-out drawing). This is the first time I’ve tried this technique and it worked well, but I dislike the overall process and aesthetic of digital art so on projects I have been going back to traditional media (pencil/paper/etc) for everything, including the planning and initial drawing. After recently looking at some Albrecht Dürer stuff I’m even more inspired to get better at drawing and to generally eschew digital techniques. I ended up changing the drawing considerably later, I will post that later as a comparison to the final painting.

I went over the drawing on the panel in sepia ink (ultra fine Sharpie) and put a thin wash of olive greenish color over everything (imprimatura) using Turpenoid, a little Galkyd Light, tiny bit of red ochre, yellow ochre light, and ivory black. It really didn’t need to be that complex…a couple times recently I have used a few transparent coats of acrylic, very thin to keep it smooth, just black and yellow, for an olive green color. The imprimatura is partly to wash away the graphite and seal the pen, and partly as a ground for the next layer since the panel I was using was too smooth and shiny. You can also let the brush strokes show through to add variety and texture, although in this one I didn’t do that. I made sure not to use too much turps as it will cause the paint to lose cohesion, that happened to me on my Two Mushrooms painting. Using Turpenoid in the paint is not my favorite thing, that’s another reason for me to use acrylic for the imprimatura.

Dead layer underpainting

With the girl’s face, I am again glazing over a raw umber dead layer underpainting. It is very nice to just focus on the tonal values and such without worrying about color initially.

My first session of underpainting for the face ended up being way too dark, partly cause I had a rather bright light on my easel and it was too close to the painting, duh. I’m getting better about physically stepping back from the painting a lot, moving the light around and viewing under other lights, looking at the painting in a mirror, upside down, etc. I also know from reading and my experience with “failed” glazing attempts that the underpainting should be rather lighter that desired for the final result, since I will be glazing onto the shadows as well as the lighter areas later, darkening most of it except the highlights.

Here’s a photo close to the end of the dead layer stage (although this was too dark!) and then a pic of the work-in-progress after I had glazed on some color:

Dead layer version of Graveyard Girl from the Dream City

Dead layer version of Graveyard Girl from the Dream City

In the first dead layer underpainting session I spent about 3 hours mostly on the face. I used raw umber and titanium white with no turpentine, oil, or other medium. I mixed up 4 shades on my palette and was happy at first to have a fairly nice reference (for a change) from my Poser rendering. Later I bemoaned the poser reference for the lack of realistic details, a real photo would have been superior.

I used several of the same-sized flat and filbert / tapered brushes so that I could use one for each value of umber…I painted all the darkest areas, then moved up in lightness and painted a bit wet-into-wet, doing a little blending afterward with clean dry brushes.

After that I spent several more sessions working on the face, lightening further and defining features, etc. It seems generally better to err on the side of it being too light rather than too dark…as long as you don’t lose the drawing and definition between elements, it’s easier to go back and darken shadows than to lighten everything up. It can take several sessions to cover up a dark area with light since I paint thinly, and it can look funky and chalky putting white over a darker color when the dark shows through.

Palette and glazing over the dead layer

I used cadmium yellow light (hue) + mars black for the greens so far, and have been using fairly fine bristle brushes a lot lately. Pthalho blue for water and sky, french ultramarine in the sky too. Clothing is prussian blue. For black I use mars and white is titanium.

The flesh tone glazing has been vermillion and yellow ochre with bleached linseed oil. Before I glaze I “oil out” the skin area by rubbing on the oil with my finger, letting it sit briefly and rubbing off the excess with a finger or very carefully with a paper towel. Dust has been a major issue with glazing, I constantly need to check for and remove dust from the painting as I am working on it. Storing the painting in between sessions face down carefully leaning against a wall helps. Dust on big brushes is probably the biggest culprit.

So far I have spent about 24 hours total painting this with another 10 or so drawing and planning.

The next post on this will probably be in a few weeks and will be the completed painting.

I am going to do a separate post later about what I have learned so far about glazing and using a dead layer.

My first dead layer painting – Two Mushrooms

Check out the category “dead layer” for more paintings using this technique.

This was my first serious try with using a monochromatic “dead layer” which was later glazed over with color. I’ve tried some glazing stuff before but I really had no idea what to do so it didn’t work out very well. This time I used the technique put forth by Alexei Antonov which uses 7 layers to (hopefully) yield a glowing painting that’s not physically possible to do without the transparent glazes. Plus “dead layer” sounds cool and is fun around Halloween, which is when I started this :)

Here’s the finished painting, this is “Two Mushrooms” by Airn LeBus, oil on panel, 10×8 inches, 2009:

Two Mushrooms dead layer oil painting

There are 3 free tutorials on artpapa.com, one of Antonov’s sites; I had to bounce back and forth between the apple and rose one and also peek at the forums and do other internet searching to feel more confident I understood what I was supposed to do. I still ended up being a bit confused and not sure if I was following the instructions correctly. Antonov’s paintings are really breathtaking by the way, I would certainly call him a modern master and feel comfortable taking his painting advice.

Here are 4 stages of this painting, including the shadow layer, dead layer, a later color layer stage, and the final painting which changed a bit from the initial plan:

Two mushrooms painting stages

Some of the Two Mushrooms painting stages

I deviated in what I hoped were unimportant ways from his tutorials and guidelines, including using panel rather than canvas, using Galkyd at one point and bleached linseed oils, etc…I think much of his technique is designed to yield paintings that will last for centuries, but for this painting that’s not my top priority, I just wanted to try glazing with step-by-step instructions.

Planning

I chose mushrooms as the subject of this painting for a few reasons: since the drawing could be simple and I could get to the actual painting quickly, because they are weird and cool, and because I was visualizing them looking great glazed so they are a bit luminous and glowing when the light bounces off the brighter underlayers through the transparent layers of color.

I looked at some pix of mushrooms on the internet and did some quick sketches of them, then did some little thumbnails and decided on the composition and perspective. I was in a rush to start the painting so I just slapped something together…that’s pretty much been the case with all my paintings except the very recent ones, I was just so eager to paint for the first year or so I just started the painting without much planning.

Imprimatura layer

I drew the mushrooms on the panel in pencil and then in sepia ink, I just used a Micron pen. I put a ton of Turpenoid for the 1st layer (“imprimatura”) and it didn’t bind properly…it had plenty of time to dry but came off the panel when touched with a finger. I then re-did the imprimatura with approx 50% Turpenoid and 50% bleached linseed oil…that time it worked better.

Shadow layers

Next layer in Antonov’s technique is the 1st shadow layer…I did this with just burnt umber, Galkyd Light, and linseed oil. It dried quickly to a enamel-like finish which was probably not ideal. FYI I don’t normally use Galkyd, but wanted this to dry extra fast. I believe the point of the shadow layer is more for archival reasons, in some other paintings I have started recently I skipped that layer and went from imprimatura to the dead layer.

I repeated the process as above for the second shadow layer. At that point I was still not really sure how I was going to do the ground area around the mushrooms, but I wanted it to be pitted and worn stone. Of course it would have been better if I had planned out everything first.

Dead layer

Next came the dead layer. I ended up doing this in several sessions, it ended up being more like two dead layers. Before starting I tried rubbing an onion on the panel as instructed in the Antonov how-to guides and “oiled out” with bleached linseed oil, which I normally use. In some of the sessions my color mixture was more olive in tone…I used yellow ochre light, red ochre, titanium white, and ivory black. It was a bit frustrating to be honest, I was concerned about keeping the paint thin and smooth so it would dry quickly and so there would not be rough spots later when I glazed over it…I also regretted the lack of planning since I wasn’t really sure what to do on the ground around the mushrooms. The dead layer also did not always offer the coverage I was expecting, which is one reason I said it was somewhat frustrating. Overall the paint just wasn’t responding the way I wanted it to, the enamel-smooth surface due to the Galkyd was probably the main factor. I have started two other paintings on panel since this one where I did a dead layer in raw umber and titanium white over an imprimatura (no shadow layer) and those went on nice and easy (Christmas Angel and Dream City Girl). With those I used some Turpenoid and oil in the imprimatura but then just a tiny bit of oil or no medium at all for the dead layer.

Color layers

In any case I wasn’t too happy with the results and decided to move on to the color layers…the dead layer part was not as complete as it probably should have been. I let this painting sit a couple weeks while I finished The Well III, Cracky-Chan, and Dream City #1, and then thought about what to do for this to make it better. I decided it would look cool and mesh well to include a thin layer of water so it looked like a pond or swampy area in which the mushrooms were growing. I tried to find some good reference photos on the web but didn’t come up with anything good…so I ended up just kind of guessing what it might look like.

I tried to “oil it out” but the oil just pooled on the smooth, enamel-like surface of the painting…rubbing an onion slice on the dried painting did seem to help the oil absorb in better. I rubbed it in with my finger and then wiped off the excess with a paper towel. I was glad that I used less toxic paints because I used my finger for blending a lot in this session…I was using titanium white and cadmium yellow light hue which I think is less toxic than cadmium paints, it doesn’t actually have any cadmium in it. A lot of painters have said flake i.e. lead white is crucial and that titanium white will not cut it…I don’t believe them yet :)

After I added a water droplet, darkened the background, started adding the swampy water effects, and added a layer of cadmium yellow light hue and more shading on the mushrooms I started to get much more excited about this painting…see the image in the lower left of the painting stages photo above.

More planning and major changes

I decided to let it dry a week or so before continuing, since I was not sure exactly how to add the water highlight / reflections for a swampy / murky look…there would be some trial and error and I wanted to be able to wipe off mistakes without affecting what I already put down. At this point it didn’t look like water so much as a mist hovering over the ground.

Since I wasn’t sure how to proceed I again tried looking at a bunch of paintings and photos of swampy areas but wasn’t able to find much. I imported a photo of the painting into Photoshop and spent a pretty good amount of time trying different things and finally came up with something that seemed OK.

I had realized from looking at some Bouguereau paintings containing water and stuff by other artists that the surrounding area was very important to clue the viewer in that it’s supposed to be water. I decided that having the whole painting covered in shallow water would not be as good as having a rock or earth edge to add contrast and further suggest to the viewer that these were mushrooms growing in a kind of swampy pond or deep puddle. Later I found a slightly similar pond area in real life to what I was trying to paint but photos and observation of it again weren’t very helpful. I’m often trying to create these very dark and dramatic lighting effects without a reference, so I’m just kind of guessing as I paint as to how it should look. I’m getting over the laziness and working more on learning what something might actually look like in that lighting, for instance I could have created a scene with some of the properties of what I was painting and lit it similarly in a dark room…in this case I guessed and that caused me some trouble. Of course it also makes sense to do studies and planning first for the tone of the painting, I’ve been doing that more in Photoshop lately so that the tougher-to-change oil painting does not need to be altered. In Antonov’s technique the shadow layer also helps plan that tonality out in monochrome so you can easily set up and alter the light and shadow areas of the painting.

I liked the way the rocks came together, they were pretty quick too and fun to paint. In the last couple sessions I glazed over most of the background and a lot of the water area with raw umber in a fair amount of bleached linseed oil, this really helped to unify stuff and overall helped the painting a lot. I added some yellow to the water droplet which was too white, added my signature, and finally decided I was done (about 3 months after I had started). I put a layer of retouching varnish over it a week or so after I finished it. In a year or so when the paint is completely dry I will use a final varnish.

It was really difficult to get a good photo of this one without glare, I finally took some pictures in the morning indirect sunlight that were good enough to use.

Dream-City #1 – work in progress (update 2)

Ahh, I’m feeling much better about the direction this is going in now…I just spent an unknown amount of time (3 hours? 5?) on this…ate a scone and drank bunch of tea, then totally lost track of time as I painted. Tea’s good like that.

Lately I have been really bummed about doing this on canvas and was wishing I had used panel so I could use a small liner brush and just do details easier…but today I finally loosened up, stopped trying to nitpick with a liner brush, and do broader, looser strokes with more highlights and such with a smallish #0 flat shader. It’s very short bristle-wise, and kind of thick…if you were looking at it from the top it’s like this: [ ] Anyway I am loving that brush right now, I’m using the edge to add white highlights and such so it can do fairly thin lines, but it introduces a randomness to the application of paint that is really helping this painting. It’s so nice when you can use a brush and/or technique that causes the paint to skip around and fall perfectly onto the canvas, with little effort on the painter’s part…that’s one thing I love about oil vs. acrylic, sometimes I feel like I’m cheating when  the paint falls into place magically seemingly of it’s own will.

I’m also working more on getting over fears of screwing stuff up, as a beginning painter often I am afraid to change something because I am not sure I can put it back the way it was :) I made a bunch of major changes to this one today that made me face that fear a bit.

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

Here’s what I have so far, see below that for a detail a bit larger than life-size.

These parts aren’t totally done yet either, but here is some mostly-finished detail. I’m really happy about the old soggy graveyard, I dunno why but I really like that idea, a graveyard that’s kind of flooded and old like that.

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.

Look at the cracky chan category for all similar posts or look in the gallery for all cracky painting images (link below).

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.

Cracky-chan work in progress

To see all posts on this painting look at the cracky chan category.

The girl in the photo below is referred to as Cracky-Chan…she’s a kind of internet meme that was/is famous/infamous on various imageboards and such, particularly on an imageboard called 4chan. I thought she would be great to paint, what with the red nose and ears and expression and such, and I like the idea of taking people you would not expect to see on someone’s wall and putting them in a “serious” oil painting…I want to paint people like Darby Crash, Edmund Blackadder, etc, in a kind of old-school way that looks like a painting that would hang in an old castle or creepy mansion. I’m constantly watching these British shows set in crazy manor houses and they always have amazing dark portraits all over the walls…I love that. I want my house to be filled with crazy oil portraits glaring and staring down from the peeling wallpaper.

Anyway…this has been a tough one but I’m learning a ton! I think noses are hard to paint normally, and this one is all red and complicated, and the reference photo I used is all crappy and small and hard to see wtf is going on.

I wanted this to look kinda old school, and did a lot of looking at it with blurred eyes and such as I painted it to get the overall lighting and tone down correctly. I’ve taken a bunch of artistic liberties, partly to match the feel I want and partly cuz I can’t see wtf is going on in the photo. I saw some other pictures of the chick and she has blue eyes, at first I painted them brown based on the ref photo!

The necklace was inpired by stuff from the incredible Ghent Altarpiece, one of my favorite paintings. I hope to see it this Fall on a trip to Europe.

The background is chromatic black, I mixed pretty much equal parts french ultramarine and raw umber, with a smidge of titanium white. The reds are cad red light, alz crimson, maybe some vermillion, and the shadows are raw umber with some alz crimson. I had never painted gold before, I looked a lot at the Ghent stuff, I used tit. white, yellow ochre, raw and burnt umber. I tried to use some golden present-type bows and ribbons to figure out what it should look like but it didn’t help much. I read something elsewhere online about feeling the weight and coldness of the metal as you painted, I thought that was cool. Another tip I read was that metal should have a hard edge or the brain does not interpret it as such…makes sense!

Ignore the hair…I’m gonna fix that later. I want to finish the face first and then tackle that part, which I’m not sure how to handle yet. If you look at the reference photo you’ll see what I mean…painting the hair from that photo would be tough I think.

Here’s the photo of “cracky-chan” this was based on:

cracky-chan

And here’s my work in progress (detail). There’s a lot of junk that needs to be cleaned up and such, needs some eyebrows, etc =), but overall I am very excited about it:

(Update: Eww I had to delete this old version of my painting, it looked too crappy to leave it up on the internets (:-B)

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