WestWorld fanart

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Dolores from HBO’s “Westworld”, photoshop, 2016

I can’t say that I’m loving HBO’s “Westworld” as much as, say, “Game of Thrones”, but some of the characters are pretty compelling.  I’ve enjoyed Dolores’ transformation from “damsel in distress” to “total badass”, but more than that, I’m a big fan of actress Evan Rachel Wood and the proud jut of her chin!

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Study of “Lady in Black”

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Study of Lilias Torrance Newton’s “Lady in Black”, oil on canvas, 8″ x 10″

I thought that it might be fun and different to try copying a proper oil painting.  I was blown away by the Beaver Hall Group show at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts a little while back, so I opted for a classic 1920’s portrait by one of my favourite painters from that group, Lilias Torrance Newton.

Back in the game!

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Commission: Duke & Falcon – The Rift.  Photoshop, 2016

I’ve been pretty quiet lately, but I’ve been busy!  Not only have I been on the hunt for a job, but I also had to wrap up this commission for a long-time loyal client.  I’m always happy to  come up with new G.I.Joe art, and the money I made from it paid for a new pair of ankle boots – just in time for a job interview!  Huzzah!

 

 

Running in circles

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Face Study, pen on paper, 5.5″ x 7.5″

Long time no blog!

And I have an excellent reason for that: since the end of the “30 Paintings in 30 Days”challenge, I have had to face the facts (and the finances), and hustle my butt to get a job.  This is a particularly arduous task because I’ve been a full-time parent for the last decade, and, like most stay-at-home-moms returning to the workforce, I have lost all of my confidence (to be fair, though, it was never very high).

To make matters worse, my former industry (computer animation) is very tech-heavy and very youth-oriented.  I was certain that I wouldn’t be able to make sense of any 3D software after being away from it for so many years, and even if I did manage to wrap my head around it, I’d be a middle-aged woman surrounded by bright-eyed 20-somethings (cue Sesame Street’s “One Of These Things Is NOT Like The Others”… or was that from The Electric Company?  Oh God, my memory is failing already!).

Fortunately for me, I still have friends in medium-high places, and one of them is willing to pass on my demo reel (watch it here on YouTube!) to his studio’s HR dept.  I have a copy of the latest version of Maya, and I’m happy that most of my animator’s instincts have come back to me.  There’s no guarantee that this will turn into an actual contract, of course, but it’s the most positive outside feedback I’ve had in a long time.  Believe me, I will take what I can get!

The other reason why I’ve been quiet lately is because I’m tired of the Face Studies – not because I dislike making them, but because I want to concentrate on original work.  The trouble is, I can’t decide what I want to do or how I want to do it (the usual refrain), and this lack of original work weighs on me more and more with each passing day.  With all that stress, who has the gumption to make ART?

Well, I’ve written up the glowing cover letters, I’ve fine-tuned the resume, and I’ve re-cut the demo reel.  They’re out there in the world at this very moment, impressing or boring recruiters as we speak.  There’s nothing left for me to do except wait*.

So Hell YEAH, let’s make some art!  Inktober may have started weeks ago, but better late than never. 😉

*And panic.  Can’t forget to panic.

 

“30 Paintings in 30 Days” challenge post-mortem

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Just FYI, I am ALL about post-mortems, and I’ve been itching to do this since I started this whole venture!  So without further ado, here are my observations from my first time participating in the “30 in 30” challenge…

Greatest benefit:  Instead of only talking about painting and building up a body of work, I actually DID it!  And, bonus! I learned that I could actually handle the paint pretty well.  Well, most of the time…

Biggest letdown:  A sense of… I don’t know if I’d call it boredom, but rather the nagging feeling that I should have been devoting my energy to making original art and not just studies.  You can see that by the end of the challenge, I started to waffle and take more time with my paintings.  This was less because I had become a fussbudget, and more because I frequently contemplated abandoning them altogether.  I’m still not sure if I took on this challenge just as a way of putting off the more difficult task of coming up with original imagery.

The Mediums are the Message:  I tried more than a few on my acrylic paintings over the last few weeks, but I’ll save that breakdown for a future post.  In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this: they are NOT created equal.

(F)oil paints:  They took me for a ride, no question!  Remember Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, when he first flies the Tie-Fighter (“WHOA!  This thing really MOVES!”)?  Well, that was me with oils.  It was a bit of a bumpy ride at first, but I’m proud of myself for giving them a go and getting to know them a little better – one more tool at my disposal!

Painting mistakes I made all the way through:

  1. mixed too many colours together and ended up with mud
  2. painted thoughtlessly and ended up with too many layers (i.e. more mud)
  3. didn’t take the time to establish VALUES

Things I’d like to try with my painting from here on in:

  1. less mud, more vibrant colour
  2. gestural brushwork
  3. non-linear imagery, i.e. don’t rely on the reference images as much

Saving the best for last:  The engagement with other artists who were crazy enough to do the “30 in 30” challenge, and their support, has been one of the best takeaways from this experience – bar none!  It was a welcome opportunity to connect with fellow artists, learn from each other, and see some great art.  You can bet I’ll be back when the next challenge rolls around!

(More or less) One-line summaries of each painting:

  1. Scared and nervous, but rarin’ to go!  Then I chicken out and use acrylics on PAPER.
  2. Convinced I can’t paint accurately so I try some faux 1920’s European look.  Whatever.
  3. Screw it!  Go fussy or go home!  And, miraculously, it works!
  4. Matte Medium almost makes me want to chuck the whole thing but dry brushing saves the day.
  5. First oil painting!  It’s about %300 linseed oil and is STILL not dry.
  6. Brazenly mix (water-soluble) oils with acrylics and nothing explodes.  Yet.
  7. 2nd oil painting!  I try blending and start to understand why people love oils.
  8. Try “Painting Medium” with oils and, well, let’s just forget that ever happened, ok?
  9. By this time, I’m feeling so “oiled”, I’m practically marinated.  Back to acrylics!
  10. And I get fussy-fussy-fussy, AND… run out of time to finish.
  11. Try to keep things loose and rough.  Add blue hair because why not?
  12. Learn that too many layers of acrylic paint is a bad thing.  Love her hair, though.
  13. Oils again!  And sweet perfection!  One of my favourites!!
  14. Oils aren’t so bad after all, at least that’s what I think until I start with the hair.
  15. Starting to miss the crisp detail I can get with acrylics, so this is my last oil for now.
  16. Worked my butt off on this one and I LOVE it!!
  17. I’ve had a few successes in a row and am feeling the pressure so I choke and avoid finishing this one.  Too bad…
  18. Feeling guilty because of my over-reliance on internet images so I cobble together a Franken-picture, but don’t have the guts/drive/self-confidence to finish.
  19. Feel like going out with a bang, and what could be easier than African Albino skin tones, amirite??

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Painting for September 29

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Face Study no. 16 – oil and acrylic on canvas, 6″ x 8″

Here she is, folks: my final (finished) painting for the “30 Paintings in 30 Days” challenge!  I don’t know if I can really call them daily paintings anymore, though, because I’m taking longer and longer to finish them, but I digress…

Some notes about this specific painting:

  • painting albino skin tones is NOT an easy feat.  If you’re up for the challenge, proceed with caution! 😉
  • I finally realized with this painting that it’s in my best interest to add another coat or two of gesso (with some light sanding in between) to my pre-gessoed canvasses.  The basic Omer Deserres canvasses are fine, but these small Apollon ones would pill here and there and leave tiny bits of matter in the paint.

Things I’ve learned about oil painting in general thanks to this painting:

  • I really should use more paint.

Next time: A complete rundown of the pros and cons of doing this daily painting challenge – what I learned, where I stumbled, how often I asked myself “why the frig am I doing this?”, etc!  Stay tuned…

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Painting for September 27

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The Star’s Daughter – acrylic on panel, 6″ x 8″

I have… mixed feeling about this one.

First of all, you really should see it live and in person.  Trust me – the colours of her hair have a nice depth, and her skin tones are far more delicate than what you see here.  For some reason, WordPress just makes this one seem garish.

But wonky colours aside, I’m not sure about proceeding this way.  I can look at this painting and know exactly where I stitched stuff together (and I will always see that!), and don’t get me started on how long it took to find all the right elements!  Even when I got the right shoulder and head pose (and the hair!), it didn’t always follow that the shadows matched.  In fact, finding all the reference images ended up taking much longer than the actual painting!

What I like about this painting:

  • the fact that it’s an ORIGINAL work.  I promise: there ain’t nobody nowhere walking around looking like this!

What I like less about the painting:

  • I couldn’t find very hi-res references, so it feels a little “fudged and slurred through the difficult passages”.  But more than that, I started the painting with a sense of “why bother?”, and that’s just not the way to do it…
  • I will always and forever look at this painting and wonder “Do all the elements coalesce?  Can anyone tell it’s a Franken-painting?”

What I learned through this process:

  • coming up with original ideas is HARD.  And SCARY.
  • and ultimately, that is why some artists are strictly representational.  If it’s not directly in front of them, they won’t paint it.
  • I miss the zen factor of painting from internet images.

What I MIGHT change…

  • Her hair.  I liked my initial colour layout and just kept it that way, but now I wonder: does it look too unfinished?

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Changing Course

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The start of a beautiful friendship? or imminent disaster?

I won’t lie: I have really enjoyed the “30 Paintings in 30 Days” challenge (even if I’ve only done about half of it.  I was a late beginner, after all).  It was a fantastic opportunity to force myself to get comfortable with paint, as quickly as possible.

And it worked!  Already, I can see a huge improvement in my painting over the last few weeks, and most of that can be attributed to the fact that the more confident I felt, the more I was willing to push myself.  Heck, I even tried my hand at oil painting (shocker!), and not only did my studio NOT spontaneously combust, but I also managed to churn out some pretty decent work.  High-fives all around!

BUT… there is one problem: all of the work I’ve done so far has been reproductions of images I’ve found on the internet.  To be fair, I never claimed that they were original images, and have always been careful to title them as “studies”, but still my conscience is not clear.  Someone else took the time to hire the model, the hairdresser and makeup artist, set up the lighting, rent the studio, develop the art direction, etc, etc.  I didn’t have anything to do with any of that.  All I did was say “Wow, I’d love to try painting that”, and then proceeded to do so.  Most of the artistic decisions were made by someone else.  In a way, this is just another variant of Fan Art, and I’ve already gone on at length about my problematic relationship with it.

Which means we’re right back at Square One: if I want to make completely original work, I need to photograph my own models.  I don’t have the monetary funds for that, so the next best thing is to cobble together a few choice images and hope that the result is harmonious (or at least, a mostly harmless Franken-picture, if you will).  Behold my first try (see above)!

And here’s where the fears and doubts come crashing in because now I’m the one making the artistic decisions.  My mind is constantly second-guessing, oh, just about everything, and I’m having a lot less fun.  I’m even dredging up some serious existential garbage from my subconscious, wondering “Is this what it means to be an artist?  Because, quite frankly, I don’t know if I have the strength of character to pull off a lifetime of these insecurities!”  Honestly, how does Rose Miller of Wolfgang and Rose make it look so easy? 

Just so we’re clear, I may have a few more meltdowns before this picture is done, but I promise to give it my best shot!