Here are a few pieces I’m currently working on. So far this year, I’ve been enjoying the little 8×10 canvases. They’re quick and easy to work on; good for little studies and trying out new techniques.
Oh, So That’s How That Works
I’ve been obsessed with realistic paintings of gems and jewelry for about a year, since I discovered a realist painter whose work I really like. She paints Indian brides, so naturally there’s a lot of shine and bling in her art. I was puzzling for months about how to get my images of gems as realistic as hers, and then I discovered she actually glues glass gemstones onto her canvases; it’s not actually paint.
So in the spirit of being really amused by this, I decided to continue trying to get ultra-realistic gems into my work. I found this cool picture of an Arabic-looking woman online and took a shot at it. It’s not done yet, but I’m learning that a minimal touch seems to be the key for suggesting ornate jewelry.
Might As Well Go For It
I also finally committed to working on the biggest canvas I’ve ever bought. I started out by just filling the entire thing with an improvised abstract, forcing myself past a fear of ruining a beautiful, blank sheet of white potential. Then I went away to Toronto for a few days, came home sick, and had to spend another few days just lying around doing nothing — while contemplating my new abstract.
Today I decided it needed to tell a bit of a story, so I sat down in Photoshop and mocked up this design. I’m looking forward to taking this to the studio and trying to apply it to my big canvas. Not exactly sure how to pull that off yet, since the mockup is quite a bit smaller than the actual surface. But, we’ll get there. I don’t do much freehand drawing these days, so it might be good practice to tackle it that way.
My partner, Greg, and I have been getting lots of walking in this summer. We always did do a fair amount (because North Bay is a beautiful city and best seen on foot), but Pokémon Go has been contributing. We’re also more motivated to get to our art studio, because it’s in a Heritage building that’s been made into a Poké Stop. While we worked yesterday, we checked in at intervals to grab more Pokéballs. Very convenient.
On Art and Pokéballs: The Art Part
Here’s the most recent piece I’ve been working on. The right side started out planned; the left was essentially a doodle. Sometimes I like to improvise at the start, to make myself come up with ideas on the fly while the painting is in progress…and sometimes I just like to paint for the fun of it, with no idea what I’m doing 🙂
I’ve wanted to be a painter since I was quite young. If it’s true that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something, I’m still an enthusiastic amateur at art. (By comparison, I’ve got almost 30,000 hours into my website development career–but people pay me to do that for a living, so it’s easier to find time for it).
Even though I don’t get to put in as much time as I’d like to, necessarily, I can see how my own technique has improved over the years.
Case in point…my early efforts to be a painter:
These two pieces are attempts at painting a “hermit’s lamp” scene, separated by about ten years. The one on the right is still in progress, and is on my easel right now. I did the one on the left about eight to ten years ago.
I can see a quality difference, and I’m interested to see what another ten years of trial and error brings.
The main things I’ve learned are:
- get good reference material,
- study the material closely
- be prepared to put in a lot of time.
- Also, never get lazy about observing the reference material, because as soon as you get sloppy and start imagining the shapes of light and shadow, rather than actually seeing what the real image looks like, that section is going to start looking cartoonish.
Also, it’s a really good idea to push yourself. While working on this painting, I bought skinnier brushes than I’ve ever had, and used them to painstakingly work on his beard, and the tree branches. It’s my first time aiming for serious realism with the trees (not photorealism, which is a whole other can of worms), and I’m also hoping for the ground and the rose to come out looking like I put some major effort into them.
Tip: if you like to paint flowers, go to Michael’s and pick up some of their very realistic artificial ones. Being to control the light source, pose the flowers, and change the arrangements is really helpful.
Like most people, I was shocked and saddened to learn of David Bowie’s death yesterday. Over the holidays I’d given in to a strong urge to watch Labyrinth, for what must have been the 142nd time (I’m probably only mildly exaggerating, and may even be underestimating the number), so my most recent vision of Bowie was as the Goblin King (so young! So pretty! So much glitter!). He was one of my first major musician crushes, to be followed shortly afterward by Bono and Robert Smith.
I have a hard time watching my heroes age…seeing Val Kilmer in a recent episode of Life’s Too Short made it hit home for me that Willow, like Labyrinth (and the 80s!) happened around 30 years ago. Et In Arcadia Ego. I had seen recent photos of David, but I must have unconsciously expected him to eventually start aging in reverse, as a spectacular performance art piece.
Fangirl Portraiture: David Bowie
Realism not being my forte as a painter, I’m usually hesitant to try capturing real people. I did, however, do a fairly recognizable version of Bowie about 15 or 16 years ago. The original art fell victim to canvas rot about ten years ago, when I unwisely stored it under the spare bed, in my shitty apartment on Milford Crescent. But this postage-stamp-sized photo remains.
I may have to take another shot at it before long, now that I have a better command of how to do hair.
Boy, will he be missed.
Happy New Year everyone! It was just around a year ago that I made the deal to move into my studio space. At the beginning of 2015 I set myself the goal of 12 paintings over the course of the year, which was way up from my pre-studio output of, perhaps, two canvases.
Thanks for following my art journey this year. If you’re interested in artists’ progress photos, you can find quick snapshots from the studio here on my Facebook page.
I surprised myself by exceeding my own expectations, but thought I’d do a self-indulgent retrospective post to show off what I think were my best 12 paintings of the year. In addition to developing my “stained glass” style, I wanted to play with realism, and to refine my technique in capturing certain things like feathers and leaves. One of my friends recently said it looked like two different artists had been working in my space; I have to agree.
The beauty of having a dedicated studio location is the time and room to work with multiple canvases at once, and to experiment wildly with style and subject matter. I’m looking to do more of the same in 2016.
With thanks to everyone who offered compliments and suggestions, and extra love to those of you who bought pieces. I truly appreciate your support.
Click to see them larger!
Dark Angel, $350
Rainbow Rose, framed, $500
Twisted Tree, $300
Taoist Landscape, $200
Et In Arcadia, $800
Flatiron Building, $150