I've been thinking about what the point of this blog is. So far, It's just been a repeat of what I post on and Deviant Art except with a much smaller audience. Seems kind of silly for me to be repeating myself when I already post art on a half-dozen sites other than those two. I think the blog will benefit me best if I treat myself as the target audience.

New plan. From now on, this blog will be dedicated to me talking to myself...about what I'm learning or simply documenting the criticisms I have of my own work. Much like a teacher forcing a student to write, "I will not ____" over and over again on a chalk board, I think the new format will help me improve by seriously committing some of these fleeting thoughts to memory.

This week I began a traditional painting for a contest over at Art Order. It's probably been years since I've even attempted a traditional painting. In college, I loved oils but their slow drying times made it difficult to do last minute work. So I would paint on ungessoed illustration board because those oils would soak so quickly and dry. Anyways, back then I didn't think much about my options because usually teachers wouldn't give you any. If it was painting class you had to use oils on canvas. Drying times meant you practically had to use acrylics for illustration class. I found it either difficult or time consuming to gesso masonite. So through college it was either oil on canvas or acrylic on illustration board. So I never gave much consideration to the material I would be painting on.

Cut to this week. Having been a digital artist for the past couple of years, I've become attached to the "undo" button so I started my painting off this week in the most chicken shit way possible. I drew my creature on my illustration board and then conservatively inked my creature. Then I covered it in a couple of layers of matte medium. So my pencils were still preserved and I could now lay watercolor down as opaquely as I wished and even after drying could wet and remove it. The traditional equivalent of undo. After getting my values to where I wanted them, I started laying down oil paint. I think working digitally has gotten me prejudiced towards re-applying paint to my brush because I couldn't help but load up on winsor newton painting medium. It was nice smooth areas of color without that evil gravity interfering like it does with watercolors. In the past, I've always felt that if I used paint straight out of the tube I'm being lazy so I spent a great deal of time trying to mix my paint on the palette. I would waste tons of paint and would get really frustrated. That could be because those were paintings from life but with this illustration, I had no shame in using paint straight from the tube and modifying it a little once it was on the canvas. So much paint saved and so much less stress.

It's funny that Stapleton Kearns says that when he tries to paint in photoshop it's like painting with gummy worms because with my super wet and fluid oils, I often felt like I was trying to paint with gummy worms. Note to self;wet oils means sharp edges but poor gradation. Thicker oils on on a dry surface allow for some nice transition through dry-brushing or scumbling. Before, I'd always thought I had poor dexterity because I was unable to execute some technique I'd seen William Whitaker display once. Lightly touch your brush to canvas to place the paint right on top of what was there before. Press harder for the stroke to blend in. I always had trouble placing the paint on top. I figured out this week, that I'm not the clutz I thought I was. I simply hadn't worked my paint to the right consistency. My titanium white from Gamblin is super thick. Dragging it lightly across a canvas only picks up paint from the canvas and if you add too much medium it will automatically blend rather than sitting on top. It was something, I'd just been to rushed to notice what the problem was in the past, but would instinctually move on to a different light color or would wait for the paint to dry.

As a digital artist, waiting for paint to dry is the most discouraging part of traditional art. I couldn't help but think,"I could have completed this illustration in a day if I wasn't having to wait for this to dry." That has killed all of my attempts at traditional painting in the past couple of years. Plus I can never get any traditional work scanned into the computer where it doesn't look like crap. This painting will be especially challenging since there's enough painting medium in there that it's like painted glass. I think when I have my GenCon booth this year, I'll be regretting that I didn't fight it out more with traditional painting.

I doubt anyone made it through all of that. Anyways, I've been commissioned for a pretty massive amount of work for a product and I'll be doing about 90% of the work. I started doing work for this particular company and although they were commissioning work in greyscale, I was doing it in color and showing them both versions. A couple of times they broke down and paid the additional fee for the color work and now they've asked me to do a ton more and have switched many of the pieces to being color. It's great to have a client loving your work enough that they practically decide to give you the rest of a book and greatly increase their budget. I really like several of the pieces I've done for them, hopefully they'll release some previews and I'll be able to show a couple of them before release.
Joe SlucherComment