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.