Monday, December 31, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I hope your holidays have been merry!

I allowed myself one week this holiday season to take a break from "work". I nevertheless kept myself busy doing some sketching here and there as well as conceptualizing for my senior art project.

A view of Lake Silencio--er--Powell, Utah from the docks at Bullfrog Marina. I could spend a month painting the rocks there. Making paintings of the rocks would be cool too.

Pops relaxing on Christmas day.

Some pen concept sketches leading up to a more developed version in gouache. If you haven't tried gouache for making concept sketches, then please do it. It's fast and the colors are vibrant, which is great for getting the tonal organization of your composition down.

The above concept is based on Psalm 148 and is actually a triptych, in other words, three physically separate paintings that are meant to be viewed together. I almost forgot that a painting I did earlier this past year was also based on Psalm 148. This painting (digital), which you can see bellow, takes an entirely different approach to the psalm. Ideally, I just wanted to draw a giant sea monster, so he became the "focal point". Also, the piece remains unfinished, for now. My original plan was for there to be little fishes swirling around the leviathan's tail to give the creature a sense of scale.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Ok, so this missing a week of posts thing. I said it won't happen again, but it most definitely will happen, as it just did. I have been busy with college applications and commissions--something that's actually very new to me. I know what your are thinking. I have no excuse not to be putting up some work-in-progress shots especially since I should have some new work, hypothetically.

Here is my moth-marmoset-monkey. Thing. His name is "Three" and his nickname is Mittens. The reason behind his existence is that I have an "assignment" for my application to SVA that calls for two works under the symbolism-oriented themes of either "three", "evil", or "pie". Also, I really wanted to do a character/creature concept, which in my mind I thought would take much shorter time than doing a scene painting. Hopefully, this concept is acceptable as a "work". Too late now! Evil should be fun. I am playing with the idea of an evil weevil...

In the next post, you can expect a fully-colored creature with a detailed description as to why exactly Three has such long claws.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Pygmy Marmosets

I missed another week of blog posts, so to make up for it, I give you pygmy marmosets and moths...

I am preparing to do a creature design that is mostly based off monkey anatomy and has some moth elements to it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

My next painting is in the conceptual stages. In the mean time, I'm working on life drawings to supplement my portfolio. Who needs to hire a live model when your best drawing material is in your backyard? Thanksgiving weekend provided a multitude of models in the form of friends and relatives:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Moving On

The two pieces I have been posting progress photos of for the longest time have finally come to completion. Both utilize "under-paintings" in traditional mediums and have been colored digitally. one of them has a little bit of digital paint work (Psalm 17), but even most of that is semi-transparent.

"Psalm 73: Clothed in Violence"
Oil Paints and Adobe Photoshop CS6

"Psalm 17: In the Shadow of Your Wing"
Gouache and Adobe Photoshop CS6

Onto the next project! I am working on a smaller scale for the next painting. I learned that larger paintings complicate things when it comes to taking a detailed photograph to use when finishing the painting in Photoshop. Working smaller should also be much more manageable under the time frame that I have. Looks like I will be ordering more illustration board!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Ok, my painting is mostly done. I noticed after I took my pictures that the lower right of the vampire's shirt is a little weak. I also am not very happy with the quality of the photo that my camera produced, so I am going to borrow a friend's fancy camera to get a higher-resolution image.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Bosoms and Tangencies

You know how I said I was almost done? Well, now I am almost done.

Since the last post, I have nearly finished the background, happily finished the table cloth and waiter, changed the position of the woman's left hand yet again (to avoid a tangency with the couples' elbows), made visible the vampire's previously elusive right arm, and given the woman more significant bosoms. Yep.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


The surprise is...wait for it... I am almost done!

Things are starting to flesh out a bit. I intend on doing another layer on top of all this, but there's nothing like an under-under painting to make the second layer faster! I raised the woman's left arm so that it would appear shorter and more anatomically correct.

I took yet another round of reference photos to get the lighting for the woman's face more accurate. Also, I managed to cut off the first round of reference photos just above the knee, so I needed additional reference for the chair, table cloth, legs, etc. It looks like I will be taking yet another round of reference photos to solve the mysterious missing vampire arm issue. No, you would technically not see his right arm if it is still in the sleeve of the jacket that is being removed. Unfortunately, the real world does not always translate well within a visual composition.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Ball is Rolling!

In-progress shots of my latest painting:

Instead of laying down a sketch in graphite, I "sketched" with paint. It's a more haphazard approach, but when there are aspects of the painting that I am still not happy with, I can easily rub out large sections with solvent and a towel. 

In some areas I stopped working transparently (the woman's arm). I did this in places where I was making big corrections and could no longer "erase" a layer, which was dry at that point. I decided that I do not like the woman's body language. She went from sassy to inebriated when I really need ditzy. I take the time to shoot some new reference photos. 

Much better! The woman looks more flirtatious with the sharper body angles and tilt of the head. I am still not happy with the gentleman. I don't know whether I should show his right arm resting on the woman's shoulder or waist or whether that is physically improbable when his coat is being removed and I should leave it as is. See how I solve this problem next week!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Lovely Date for Dinner

While I am waiting for a new Wacom tablet to help finish my first official portfolio piece, I begin my next work, which will be in oil paint and digital.

This one takes reference from Psalm 73, especially the "clothed in violence" bit. It is not immediately apparent in this study, but the gentleman having his coat removed is a vampire in disguise. Right now, he kind of looks like he is about to take a bite out of the woman's hair. Also, the floating arms are somewhat odd...

I fixed those issues by having the woman look slightly towards the vampire gent and having more of the coat attendant visible. The waiter with the steaming entree in the background also gives a context clue that the coat attendant isn't just some random dude, but that we are indeed in some sort of restaurant. There are still a few issues: the vampire man looks constipated (and not quite recognizable as a vampire, even a vampire in disguise), the wine glass must be penetrating the woman's palm to be in that position, and the woman looks too sassy for the gullible, flirtatious character that I want her to be. It's time to take some pics!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Gouache Troubles

Here is a close-up of the finished rendering of the hole. This is about the only part of the painting I am satisfied with at the moment, but it is giving me some incentive to really work through the hardships of the medium that is gouache.

I started blocking in the dark cast shadows at this point.

I had this idea of making my creature glow vibrantly. I was excited about it for a moment, but realized how unusual it would be to have such dark cast shadows on an entity that was generating its own light source. It just would not make sense. At any rate, I thought it would be much easier to add a slight glow digitally. 

I kept my brushstrokes much looser for the background, which was a good choice because I was at my wits end trying to blend semi-transparent layers of gouache. Now I am faced with the task of going back and refining the multitude of feathers. I think the best choice for me at this point is to start my next painting and work on this one at the same time, which will push forward both of their completion dates. In the end, I think I will be just as productive, if not more.

Friday, September 28, 2012

First Official Portfolio Painting

I must apologize for skipping out on last week's blog post. It has been a crazy first couple of weeks back to school! To make up for it, this week's blog post is especially insightful. Furthermore, you will be able to see the progress of a complete piece of work, not just conceptual sketches and studies.

 After sculpting the muscular forms of my creature, I begin the tedious process of adding "feathers" to the body. I start at the bottom and overlap in spiraling rows. I make sure that the feathers radiate out from their point of contact, which is especially noticeable around the rim of the chest hole. The feathers reveal more about the form underneath this way and look nice and ruffly.

The complete maquette! The head needed an external support because the skeleton underneath was made too thin in my haste. The head is about 90% sculpey as opposed to the body, which is maybe 15% sculpey and 85% foil with tape wrapped around it.

Here is the drawing on watercolor paper. I put about 2 layers of gouache on the background and started rendering the image inside the hole. I discovered that gouache should not be painted on such a small scale. I used the smallest brushes in my possession and it still takes several layers of paint and several layers of "lifted" paint (mostly by accident) to get the smooth transitions I want.

One significant change I made to my composition was the removal of the apple in the eye. I was working with two pieces of figurative language, the other being "in the shadow of your wing". I felt that a much stronger composition could be created by focusing on just one of those images to represent literally. I could create a stronger narrative that does more to represent Psalm 17 without the unnecessary attention given to the apple-eye.

I took a break to put a layer of transparent gouache on the rest of the creature.

I fleshed out the feathers with one layer of semi-opaque white gouache per feather. This took no time at all from having a detailed sketch to work off of. When I drew and painted the feathers, I did not dare replicate exactly what was in my reference picture, but used the information it gave about "cast" shadows. These are the dark shadows created when an object is lit by a strong light source. Depending on the angle of the light, these can be long shadows that can be hard to reproduce from the imagination, especially when they are cast on a curved form, such as the cast shadow from the left head-wing that curves around the neck.

As far as my experimental sponge-palette is concerned, it is working very well. It does not keep the outermost surface of my gouache paint from drying while the tupperware lid is off, but I keep it pretty moist with a tiny spray bottle. I imagine you would not need to do this if you had smaller quantities of paint, which leads me into researching how I can make my own gouache paint. I certainly wouldn't have to remix my paints and make large puddles of goop in the process if I could just squeeze out a tiny bit from a tube at a time.

Monday, September 10, 2012

How to Prolong the Life of Your Gouache

I saw a brilliant post on about how to create a magical palette that keeps your gouache paints from drying while painting and especially while storing. It is likened to the Masterson Sta-Wet Palette, but uses materials found at your local grocery store and is quite inexpensive! Here's what I did:

I bought the three packs of sponges (4 in each) for a total approximating $7. I actually end up using only two of those packs, which is 8 sponges. Those 8 sponges filled 7 of the 3 x 3 in. bottomed Tupperware containers and 7 of the 2 x 2 in. bottomed Tupperware containers. I found those Tupperware containers at the 99 Cent store at 2 (the small and the big) for 99 cents! I thought I would end up using the smaller containers for paint storage, but I think now that seven of those larger containers will be just fine for that purpose.

I used a pair of scissors to cut a 3 x 3 in. square for the larger container and leftovers from that same sponge for the smaller container. There will be a small space that the sponge does not fill in the small container (seen above) if you are trying to waste as little sponge as possible, but you can also grab a new sponge if you want to cut a square that fits exactly.

If you are ready to start painting, then saturate your sponge and a piece of watercolor paper with water. The watercolor paper is cut to the size of the sponge and will serve as a moist palette paper. It took only one 11 x 15 in. piece (Aquarelle, cold press, 90 lb) to make thirteen 3 x 3 in squares and seven 2 x 2 in squares.

Put your paint on your palette and you are ready to go! To store, simply put the lid of the Tupperware container on. You may need to re-soak your sponge before your store the paint depending on how much water has evaporated while you paint. I do not know yet how long it takes for mold to start growing, but I will let you know if I find any!

Now for an update on my revamped concept for a painting I am working on.

This is a maquette in the works of an angelic creature. In the last maquette I made, I used real bird feathers to create the wings. Those were quite realistic, but read as feathery eyebrows and not wings. This time, I am using paper for the wings, each made by printing out a picture of a bird wing and cutting it out. Well, the right wing I hand traced over an image of a bird wing because I somehow managed to print that one backwards. I am also using wire, foil, tape, and eventually, sculpey.

His head was too big, so I took that off and sculpted a smaller one. He is still needing some eyeballs and head wings. More to come in the following week!

Saturday, September 1, 2012


I made it to fifty sketches! Here are the last 10:

A "Sphinx" moth inspired by the Teresa Sphinx moth.

A study of a Leyendecker preliminary painting. This one is done in full gouache. The paper I am using (recycled file folder) handles water surprisingly well. 

"By golly his thorax was a gold nugget irresistible to behold!"
Inspired by the Golden-backed Snipe Fly.


"The tortoise carried his house with him wherever he went."

Various turtles. My favorite is the Matamata. 

A "symphony of color". Instrumentation: 3 primary colors. Red, yellow, blue...

Hoofed quadrupeds.

"The design had rhythm and harmony."

Furry cute things.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Olympic Drawing Spree

To make up for the lack of sketches in the past week and to attempt to complete my 50 sketches mark for the summer, I give you a whopping total of 11 drawings this week. I'm going for the gold!

"She had a great number of frogs in her throat."

"He was a monster athlete on the pommel horse, using strong arms that would be the envy of any gorilla."

This guy is first in the "monster athlete" series. Some of my athletes are more monster-like than others, but all are meant to bring to attention the incredible physical feats of these individuals. None are meant as a mockery, rest assured.

"He dove with the fluidity of a fish."

"He fired his bow like that of a skilled centaur."

"She jumped with the legs of a goat."

"Her movements on the bike were mechanical."

"She lifted the barbell with beastly strength."

Nope, this is not a metaphor. These are wing studies I did for my painting that I had begun and failed last week. I thought it would be good to see if wings in nature can be found in the same pose that I was going for. 

This is further development of that painting. I went a new direction with it. I decided that I could not have the scene inside the apple like I was planning to do without having the "eye" be an extreme and somewhat cliche closeup. They had to be separated. There are a couple good things that came with doing that. The scene of the little girl is clearer, the composition has more energy, and I get to paint more wings. I can now proceed to making my maquette now!


These are anatomy studies from Bridgman's life drawing book that I sketched this morning to give my creative juices a break.