Blog vs. Facebook thoughts, Amsterdam, and Claudia from Interview with the Vampire

OK, so I moved to Amsterdam from California last August. I haven’t painted since then!

However, I finally set up a usable area in my apartment this weekend and started painting this smallish image of Claudia from Interview with the Vampire. This is something I drew on wood panel back in November 2014, specifically for this old oval frame I found. Spent a little while laying down the first layers of paint, feels good to be paintin’ again.

 

claudia 1 claudia WIP 1

I was also thinking about this site, one reason I don’t post very often is that it’s kind of like writing into the abyss, since I don’t get a ton of traffic and comments it’s a lot easier to post on Facebook or Instagram where I can tell people are seeing it. In any case I’ll make a bit of an effort for a while to keep this updated and see if it’s worth it.

 

Peppermint Butler oil painting (work-in-progress)

I love this little guy from Adventure Time so I’m doing an oil painting. It will go in a crazy ornate baroque picture frame that I have had sitting around for ages. This is supposed to evoke Sir Thomas Lawrence or  Sir Joshua Reynolds, an old royal/military portrait that would hang in an English country estate.

Here it is after a few sessions, still have a while to go. Mostly deciding what to do as I go along, without much planning.

 

Peppermint Butler WIP

Peppermint Butler WIP

 

Europe trip and new Hand of Glory project

I’ve been getting more productive art-wise again after an extended break. I went to Europe recently and saw a ton of amazing art in Spain, England, and France, so that inspired me. I visited the Prado in Madrid for the first time and saw some incredible stuff, including an important self-portrait by personal favorite Albrecht Dürer. I also saw some gorgeous paintings by Anton Raphael Mengs, with whom I was previously unfamiliar.

Another source of inspiration: while visiting Montmartre Cemetery in Paris, I came across Jean-Baptiste Greuze’s tomb. I love his art and did a study of The White Hat, so I feel something of a connection with his work.

I’m currently wrapping up another project that I’ve been working on for a couple years, and will post more about that later.

My next painting will be a dark realistic oil painting of a Hand of Glory. It will have tattooed symbols on it, inspired by some old alchemist illustrations/diagrams, and will be painted on wood panel in monochrome, subsequently glazed over sparingly with skin tone. I think it’s going to be a fairly simple project…I wanted to do something straightforward to return to painting. My last project was a bit too ambitious and complicated, so I ended up struggling and letting it sit for long periods of time. This new one should be much simpler but still interesting and will nicely complement my Memento Mori skull painting.

I’m not sure when I first encountered references to a Hand of Glory but I remember it from the original Wicker Man film and from the old game “Thief: The Dark Project”. There’s also a great song by the band Witch called Hand of Glory that may have inspired me to pick this subject. On a side note, I want to mention that the Thief game series has really amazing art and atmosphere…the first three games have inspired various projects of mine including stained glass and a song.

Hand reference photo

Hand reference photo

For this Hand of Glory project, I took some moody low-key photos of my hand a few months ago, and used one as a reference to do a pencil sketch directly on wood panel. I revised it over a few days, looking at my own left hand while sketching to alter it. After I was satisfied, I went over the outline with fine sepia sharpie marker and then erased most of the pencil. I then mixed black and yellow acrylic paint into a thin wash and sealed in the drawing, making the brushstrokes in such a way that if they show through later intentionally they’ll add some interesting underlying texture to the painting.

Here’s my start to the project. This is 11×14 inches and the hand is somewhat larger-than-life:

Hand of Glory sketch on panel

Hand of Glory sketch on panel

 

Hand on panel with wash

Hand on panel with wash

 

 

 

 

 

Workin on this painting again

Yup, I took something like a year-long break from this piece but have been working on it again.

This is a detail view of the painting. It’s oil on canvas.

 

Work in prog

Ghost Girl work in prog

Although I haven’t posted in a while, I have indeed been doing stuffs…here’s one of the projects I’m workin’ on.

Not sure what this one will be called but for now I’m calling it Ghost Girl. I started it at a party a few weeks ago where I was doing some live painting.

Ghost Girl WIP 12-12-12

Ghost Girl WIP 12-12-12

 

I normally keep a lot of notes on my projects but on this one since it’s supposed to be quick I’m not doing so…therefore I’m not sure how long I’ve been working on it exactly but it’s something like 4 hours. I plan to finish it in another couple sessions. It’s 14×18 inches, oil on canvas board.

This is more colorful than much of my previous work…the greens are Cadmium Yellow Pale Hue mixed with combinations of Mars Black, French Ultramarine, and Cobalt Blue. I wanted the landscape greens to be more drab so they are black and yellow whereas the face is using more of the blue and yellow. Other colors I’ve been using are Phthalo Blue, Yellow Ochre, Raw Umber, Cadmium Red Hue, and Titanium White.

Update: I finished this and realized it’s obviously called The Ghost Girl of Willowglen Manor. Here’s the finished version.

 

Master Study – Robert Campin

I decided that I need to do more studying with the old masters…to start I am going to try painting one by Robert Campin:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ARCampin.jpg (link opens in a new window)

I have a nice hi-resolution picture of the original painting, which I cropped so I can just focus on the face. I especially love the way he did the eyes.

I’m painting this on 8×10 wood panel in oils and will use a monochromatic “dead layer” underpainting to start. I will then glaze color over it and do additional work on the shadows and highlights at that point too.

This is after 1 hour of painting and a few hours of drawing:

 

Robert Campin study WIP 05-20-2012

Robert Campin study WIP 05-20-2012

I sketched this freehand on the panel but divided the panel into 4 sections, then did the same to my photo to give me a little assistance in making it more accurate to the original.

This underpainting is all in raw umber and titanium white…I did my usual method before that of going over the drawing in sepia Sharpie pen then putting an imprimatura wash of yellow and black mixed acrylic over the drawing. This time I also used an eraser to get rid of most of the pencil before putting the acrylic on.

Here’s what it looked like drawn on the panel and then inked with the imprimatura, almost ready to start painting:

Robert Campin study drawing and imprimatura

Robert Campin study drawing and imprimatura

 

Memento Mori (update 3)

One of the books I bought recently is “Imaginative Realism” by James Gurney and he has some stuff in there about making clay maquettes (scale models) to help with painting. On this Memento Mori project I wasn’t sure how the alcove should look so initially I just painted it based on my understandings of light and shadow. It didn’t look very realistic to me though so I decided to make a tiny clay model of the alcove and skull and light it in a similar fashion to the painting. It really didn’t take that long and it made a big difference…below you can see the earlier version and what it looks like now. The skull is the same but look at the alcove it is resting in:

 

Alcove changes from maquette

Alcove changes from maquette

Really this is something that I have been working up to – taking more time and effort to figure the piece out properly. Earlier I’ve copped out and just guessed but often it’s not that time-consuming to do a little research and experimentation…it can really have a dramatic effect on the art.

On this painting, I had also “oiled it out” too much and the surface was really glossy and weird to paint on. I wanted to radically alter the alcove’s shadows and lighting but the paint was acting weird since the surface was too oily (FYI this is on smooth wood panel). It’s also normally tough anyway to lighten parts that are too dark – it ends up chalky, even without the surface being too oily. I ended up breaking out some really fine-grain sandpaper and sanding away much of the alcove, then repainting it…that did the trick.

Here’s where this painting is at now (below). I just did the bottom row of text today which I painted in freehand by painting backwards, upside down etc to ensure all the spacing was correct. The background was dry, so every time I messed up (which was often) I could just wipe it off and redo it. I’ll be adding to the text later to make it look etched into the stone. I watched (or rather listened to) the film “Die Monster Die” while I worked on it. The title of that film doesn’t give any suggestion that it’s actually based on “The Colour Out of Space” by HP Lovecraft, an author who is a favorite and who has influenced me greatly. I usually “watch” something or listen to music that fits with the art I am making…much of the time I have been painting this piece I have been listening to the Cadfael score for its medieval feel.

OK, back to talking about the painting…when I first planned this I had two rows of text that were as large as the top row but since just the MEMENTO*MORI took me a really long time with tons of repainting I decided to simplify the lower line of text. I think a lot about about digital versus traditional art when I paint text…this takes a digital artist 2 seconds with minimal effort if they just type out a pre-made font but when you really need to do it from scratch it takes quite a lot of doing! I saw an Albrecht Durer masterpiece in Germany and felt a little better when I could see a faint haze around part of his lettering that made me realize that even genius masters like him were human and fallible when doing text on their paintings.

 

Memento Mori WIP 04-15-2012

Memento Mori WIP 04-15-2012

 

 

Memento Mori (update 2)

Although I haven’t been posting on here much lately, I have been doing a lot of art, especially sketching figures and learning stuff from a bunch of books that I’ve purchased over the past couple years. I’ll probably write about my favorite books later, but for now I just wanted to post an update for my memento mori painting. It’s looking like I’m going to have a bunch of pieces coming up with this theme, actually.

So here’s where I am at with this one:

Memento Mori work in progress Feb 25, 2012

Memento Mori work in progress Feb 25, 2012

I wasn’t happy with the diagrams of skulls I could find and so I ended up ordering a fairly realistic skull model. It’s made of plastic and is surprisingly heavy. I did a charcoal drawing of it and altered my painting a bit based on that. I’ll probably do another large skull study later and make it more accurate and realistic-looking.

Here’s the model skull I bought:

 

Memento Mori – work in progress

I just got back from a 3 week European vacation a week ago and I saw a ton of insane art over there that had me riled up to paint and draw and stuff. Then to top things off I spent a long time looking at Danse-Macabre.net which has SO many crazy works of art. The stained glass on the first page is one of the craziest things I have ever seen, especially given it’s age and the medium! Then after looking at a couple of Hans Memling’s pieces I instantly really wanted to do a skull in an alcove Memento Mori / Vanitas sort of thing. I’ve actually never painted a skull so that’s one reason I wanted to do it. I was also thinking it would be relatively easy and I think I could do a pretty good job on it, especially if I do it in monochrome. So I spent a few hours over a couple days planning and drawing directly onto an 11 x 14 inch wood panel and then started painting today. I spent about 2 1/2 hours today on this and am super excited about it.

I actually realized recently that it’s been about 6 months since I’ve painted! Yipes, that’s not how one gets better. I did do some drawing over the past months and I need more work on my drawing skills at this point anyway. In any case, I’m very excited about this project and have really been enjoying working on it, which wasn’t the case for a few recent projects :)

Oh the cherub at the top is grey because the pencil didn’t get locked in very well with my base coat of acrylic which was supposed to wash away the pencil too and prevent it from muddying up the oil paint, oh well. Later it should get covered by the raw umber I am using so it fits with the rest of the painting. That cherub was inspired by something I saw in Venice…I wanted to give a little glimmer of hope to the painting.

Dream City Girl 2 – WIP 2

This painting is moving along quickly, which is good because I am trying to finish it by next week if possible…in time for my art show. I don’t want to rush it though, so I might decide it’s not gunna happen. Hmm….

Oil on canvas, 11×14 inches.

dcg2-wip-03-23-2011-2