This year I’m working on blogging more often, and I thought monthly progress reports might be a good way to do that, if only to document what I’m working on, to help me date my own art later on.
Also, as of yesterday a selection of my paintings is available for sale at North Bay Oddfellows’ store, at 126 McIntyre Street East in North Bay, across from Alger Furniture.
Here are the two pieces I worked on last night:
The Day of the Dead painting is one of the largest ones I’ve painted to date, at about 2 feet by 3 feet. The stitching in the fabric is turning out to be quite a challenge, since I’m used to painting more loosely.
The fighting fish has been interesting, in that I’m using a modelling paste for texture and am having to add the pigment layers on top. If I were to start this one over again, I’d get some cake-decorating nozzles to control the flow a bit better, but overall I’m happy with how this one is coming out.
As of January 1st, I’ve had dedicated studio space for four years. It’s really helped me paint more, and improve my skills. Before, I would paint in a corner of my small living room, and it was a real challenge to keep the space tidy (in case clients dropped in), and to keep my cats out of my supplies.
Going into year 4, my goal is to complete a couple of really large, detailed canvases and to keep working on my realism and general painting skills. Here are a few pieces from the end of 2018 that I’m really proud of:
And this is the piece I started over my holidays, which is the most finicky thing I’ve ever attempted:
Wish me luck!
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.