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.

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