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

 

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Rattus Magnus

I painted this for a Halloween thing in 2011. I think I did it in 1 day. It’s 11×14 inches, oil on canvas.

 

Rattus Magnus

Rattus Magnus

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Sketch after Ridolfo Ghirlandaio

I’ve really been drawing a lot but most of the stuff is pretty quick or for whatever reason I haven’t been posting the stuff here. Here’s one I did last night though, I spent about an hour doing this sketch from a photo of a really amazing painting by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio. This is about 3×4 inches and it’s Col-Erase pencils on a greyish paper. I really like being able to add highlights onto a drawing…my primary medium is oil paint and it’s so flexible! I usually feel pretty limited when I am drawing instead of painting…

Anyway, here’s the sketch:

After Ridolfo Ghirlandaio

After Ridolfo Ghirlandaio

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Digital art – Barnabas Collins from Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows film

So I don’t normally do digital art but I decided to enter a Deviantart.com contest and I thought digital was the only way to go based on the time I had to complete it and the nature of that site.

I submitted two versions to the contest. I included one of them below.

This took me a lot longer than I expected! Probably about 25 hours or so, over 5 days.

Hardly anyone viewed it, so I was a bit bummed out by the whole thing since I did work really hard on it. I’ve found that site to be like that though and won’t be spending much energy on it in the future…lots of art of dubious quality (in my opinion) gets thousands or tens of thousands of views but other stuff is almost totally unseen. Not too surprising I guess given the viral nature of the internet…and the audience on that site in particular seems partial to anime / cartoony art, retouched fantasy-style photos, etc.

In any case, here’s my digital “painting”:

Barnabas Collins digital painting by Airn LeBus

Barnabas Collins digital painting by Airn LeBus

 

I’ve unplugged my digital drawing tablet now though and have picked up a real brush to finish the oil painting I have been working on :)

 

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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

 

 

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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:

 

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New server

OK, I just moved this to a new server so if you notice anything broken please let me know by leaving a comment :)

– Airn

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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.

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A Country Girl near the Dream City

Update: I revised this painting later, new version is here

OK, I finished this a while ago but didn’t post it partly cuz I have been planning for a big Europe trip which I just came back from. I got to see lots of amazing art and scenery and stuff and am now fully inspired and ready to start on some new projects :)

I wanted this one to be a fairly quick project and I succeeded in that respect, this took me only about 12 hours to paint – that’s very short for me. It’s 11 x 14 inches, oil on canvas. I call it “A Country girl near the Dream City”:

A Country Girl near the Dream City

A Country Girl near the Dream City

A main goal was to use some atmospheric perspective in the landscape background and to use canvas instead of wood panel to try to get a nice soft feel, especially in the background. I am really happy with the way the landscape turned out and also had fun with the hair, which I did a bit differently this time. Some influences on this one were Tamara de Lempicka, Albrecht Dürer, and Leonardo da Vinci.

I used cobalt blue in the sky, landscape, and clothing. The landscape is mostly yellow ochre and other yellows plus cobalt blue.

I’m not sure how long I spent on the drawing and planning but I started painting on  March 2, 2011 and was done on April 3. I had a show I wanted this to be in so I didn’t putz around – it’s funny how much faster and smarter I work when I have a deadline. Looking back over my notes I had a good time painting this and it went very smoothly with minimal frustration – very nice after a couple recent projects that I kept changing over and over.

Here is the drawing:

Country Girl drawing

Country Girl drawing

 

After I completed the drawing I xeroxed it in order to preserve the original and rubbed graphite on the back of the copy. I then taped it to the canvas and went over it with a ballpoint pen to transfer the lines onto the canvas. I then went over those faint lines with a fine sepia sharpie and put a thin wash of transparent olive-green (black combined with yellow) acrylic to wash away the graphite and lock everything into place. I then painted everything directly with oils, no glazing or monochromatic underpainting on this one.

 

Transferring the drawing to canvas

Transferring the drawing to canvas

 

 

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Duplicitous Dionara and Devious Diandra

This is my finished painting “Duplicitous Dionara and Devious Diandra”. It is 11 x 14 inches, oil on wood panel.

Duplicitous Dionara and Devious Diandra

Duplicitous Dionara and Devious Diandra

Duplicitous Dionara and Devious Diandra (detail)

Duplicitous Dionara and Devious Diandra (detail)

For this one I used a monochromatic underpainting / dead layer which I later glazed over in color. Here are the work-in-progress posts I did which include some photos of the dead layer: Duplicitous WIP posts

I spent about 30 hours painting this over about 8 months. I’m not sure how much time I spent doing studies and planning but I would guess 10-15 hours. That’s more than I usually spend planning…it helped me to avoid having to change stuff in the middle of the project.

Overall I spent the most time on the hair. When I first started this project it was supposed to be a quick one…I ended up making the hair complicated though and spent a rather long time on the faces too, so the project ended up being much longer and more complicated than I had expected.

Here are the main oil colors I used for this painting:

Underpainting of flesh areas: Raw umber and titanium white

Flesh tones – glazed and opaque color: Yellow ochre, cadmium red hue, titanium white, raw umber, burnt umber

Dress: Titanium white, phthalo blue, raw umber

Here are a some of the preparatory drawings I did for the hair and dress as well as a detail of the main drawing:

Hair studies for Duplicitous

Hair studies for Duplicitous

Dress studies for Duplicitous

Dress studies for Duplicitous

"Duplicitous" sketch

"Duplicitous" sketch

I don’t look on the studies as being just useful for this painting since they help me increase my drawing skills in general. On the hair I also wanted to learn how to do ringlets and curls better and I’m sure I will use that style in other works.

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