Sunday, July 29, 2012

No Payne No Gain

This week's sketches involve animal metaphors! Enjoy.

"The pickpocket was a sly fox."

"Mr. Swineson was a greedy pig."

 "Kathy was a curious cat. And she annoyed the heck out of Scotty."

"She was such a chicken when it came to crossing the road. Then again, things always ended up badly when she did."

 "The elf had eagle eyes. His keen vision was a force to be reckoned with."

This past Saturday, I visited the Pasadena Museum of California Art which was exhibiting the work of master landscape artist Edgar Payne. The exhibit runs until October 14 and was worth the hour-and-a-half drive. Unfortunately, I was not able to take photos of the artwork, but here is a sample taken from google: 

His work is phenomenal, often described as impressionistic, but I think this description is misleading since from afar, the images are quite realistic if not a little idealistic. It is only when you are close to the canvas that you can see his brushstrokes, which are often uniform in width for many paintings regardless of the depth of the object. This can flatten forms that do no have strong shadows like the canyon above, but otherwise, Payne's work effectively portrays spacious scenes. 

When I first saw his work, I thought of how much it reminded me of environmental concepts for movies, video games, etc. Or, should I say conceptual art reminds me of Edgar Payne's work? The two share in common an affinity for composition, color, and dramatic light. Also, conceptual art is  often rendered loosely in a way where brush strokes are visible. 

I was also reminded of the art of some golden age illustrators, such as Howard Pyle (directly bellow) and Maxfield Parrish. The greatest similarity I found with the artists was in the color schemes, which included a wide range of colors, but relatively low saturation.

These artists also had a thing for the golden hour.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Many Moods of My Hair

Here is my finished portrait in gouache. All of the wrinkles came out after flattening except for one, which was too severe to start with and was more or less pressed into place. There are a couple more things I could fix (the way the right side of his forehead looks toasted, the left ear looks too small...),  but I am pretty happy with this as an experimental picture and am ready to move on to a new project.

There are a LOT of sketches this week! To start off with:
"Frozen with fear."

"Feeling blue."
"Green with envy."

"Red in the face." 
This is one is rather unattractive. I must have spent too much time in the tanning booth.

"Tickled pink."
"Bird brain."
"Wise owl."
This one is a bit challenging to make out, but I love the composition. She is an anthropomorphic owl-woman wearing 19th-century inspired clothing while reading a book in a tree.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Art Show

For those in the area, make sure to stop by the Edward-Dean Museum & Gardens in Cherry Valley, CA this Sunday. The gardens and museum will house a first annual art show from 10am to 4pm, featuring the works of over twenty local artists. I will have a booth as well! I will be selling miniature watercolor and ink paintings, a handful of large paintings, and prints of the artworks bellow:

 And here is an update of my gouache painting:
It is just about complete. Since the last post, I have touched up on the face, removing the Frankenstein-green forehead. Also, the background has several more layers. I used white watercolor (who knows where my white gouache ran off to) to blend the edges around the entire painting as opposed to thinning the paint with water to blend with the white of the paper. The last thing for me to do is to try to remove some of the warping in the paper by wetting the entire backside and then putting a weight on top to flatten the paper.
More metaphors. This one is "a colorful remark".
"A heart of stone."
"There are plenty of other fish in the sea."

Friday, July 6, 2012

Gouache is so Underrated

I took a break from my merman portrait to try out gouache. What is gouache? Gouache is a water-soluble paint that can be used transparently like watercolor or opaquely like acrylics. What I mean by transparent and opaque is that the paint can be used in thin "transparent" washes that allow the white of the paper to peer through or you can forget that and use a white tube of paint to mix lighter colors. This combination can mean both two things: gouache is sensitive to how it is applied, but also very  flexible.

In all honesty, my first go with gouache was not a pretty one. I was treating the gouache a little too much like oil paints, slathering it on in hopes that I could achieve the painterly quality I had seen in artworks such as those by the skillful Harry Anderson. Bad Idea. That painting will never more see the light of day. However, I was not ready to give up. I started over with a new painting and different reference photo.
I begin transparently and using only one color. This allows for a very quick under-painting. This stage was exactly the same as my previous gouache attempt, but here I took the time to tape my paper to a clip board so that I could paint on a near-vertical surface rather than the almost horizontal surface of my last painting, which caused a lot of distortion and consequently, frustration. I also developed the under-painting farther than the last painting.
Hey look! A face! There's not much process visible here, but what I did was first use a larger brush to blend semi-transparent layers of paint before moving on to a smaller brush and thicker paint (less water). If a section was thick with layers and I wanted to add more detail, I used a cross-hatching method instead of risking lifting up all of the paint off the paper. Each additional layer of paint = less wate. 
 The ears have been added. I was more successful with these than with some parts of the face as I was able to achieve a seamless blend.

Ch-ch-ch-chia! He has hair now. I used the paint more transparently for the hair, especially the edges, which I softened to add spatial depth. So far, I have only been working on the painting for two days. Gouache is a beautiful thing. With it, you can achieve so many effects in a timely manner.
 And now more of my "visual idea" project. This metaphor is "A blanket of snow fell through the night".
"Fear is a beast that feeds on attention."
"Breaking news."
"Bursting with flavor."
"His mind was caged by depression."