Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I've been moonlighting - New and Improved!!!

click the pic for full size image

My friend Sven pointed out that the images I had posted were pale and rather greyish looking, so I revamped them a bit. Sometimes it takes another pair of eyes.

It's been quite a while, but I decided to dust off my drawing/painting skills. This was done in oil pastels (Cray-Pas Specialist) on fairly heavily textured paper (Sennelier D-340) that's coated to be able to accept oil pastels or oil paint without needing to be gessoed first. The teaxturing makes for some harsh, rather ugly artifacts (hah... strange - computerese is now making its way into my vocabulary for "analog" art!). All I wanted to do really was get some practice, but I thought possibly I was ready to reach for that next level (which is fully rendered realistic painting in full color) - I often find after some time off my mind has been wrestling with the last set of problems I tried to tackle and has usually made headway during the down time. And this time was no exception! Aside from the rough texturing and harsh, gritty look of this piece, I'm quite impressed with a few things about it - things that I had been struggling (unsuccessfully) with in the past.

Up to this point, most of my color work has been pretty unrealistic (with the exception of the Fafhrd paintings and one or two of the others). Well, once again I find myself unable to find the right words when it comes to talking about art... you know what they say - "talking about art is like dancing about architecture". I guess by "realistic" what I mean is a good illusion of three dimensional solidity. Most of the full color art I've posted in the past has been more like colored drawings, and the colors have been pretty graphic and flat, sort of like old-style comic book coloring rather than painting.

But with this one I began to learn a couple of things that ended up pushing it past my former boundaries....

First, I seem to have gotten over my fear of blending colors. The way I tended to work before was to put down one color - for instance, for all exposed flesh areas I might lay down the lightest color I think I'll want there. Then I'll lay another color over that and, if my media allows, blend them together where needed. Then another color.... etc. It's a dull and laborious way to go, and results in blandness. And that's exactly the way I started this one, believe you me!!! But I was getting frustrated, because i wanted to push ahead, and I knew basically how to do it.

So what I did was to sort of scribble loosely with many different colors... all the colors I thought I might end up wanting in that area, put them all down BEFORE blending, and then blend away and watch what happens. It makes for far more interesting results than my old way, and usually comes pretty close to what I wanted, needing only a little more noodling. Not surprisingly, I first tried this on the background, where I wasn't afraid of messing up so much. It worked so nicely there I went ahead and started doing it on the figure, which was basically already fully rendered, but in the old painstaking and color-stilted method. It worked wonders.... made things look looser and more spontaneous and at the same time much more "alive" with color, which creates an energetic effect.

The other thing I learned from this piece is how to turn form with color. By using stronger colors along the edges (outlines and also edges of shadow areas, places where the form turns away from the viewer) you create a strong effect of surface being rounded.

I know it looks rough - that doesn't bother me, but I feel like I was able to fully "work" all the surfaces, so that no area of the figure looks unfinished to me (though there are a few areas that could use a little more.... I'm afraid to try getting too detailed in oil pastels).

Extemely helpful in this venture are a few things I've learned recently in my pursuit of stopmotion knowledge.... note the orangish fill light in the shadows and a little rim light here and there. Also, I kept thinking about that picture of Tom I posted a little ways below where he has his arms raised.... that picture benefitted incredibly from a painting I stuck behind him just to bring some color in. In fact, I was thinking about that when I started scribbling all those colors together.

I hope to be able to apply the same techniques to oil painting (actually Alkyd painting, but it's almost the same thing), where I should be able to get much tighter results.

Ok, I've danced enough about this architecture.... signing off now!


Shelley Noble said...

Yes, it looks like a whole new day in your art life, Mike. Beautiful.

grant said...

Very nice. I like the color palette the diagonals running within the composition. The lady reminds me of the actress Joely Richardson in Nip/Tuck.


Darkstrider said...

Thanks Shelley!

Yeah, it's Joely alright... good eye Grant! Though I did name the image JoelyR, which might have been a giveaway. I don't think there's much of a likeness (though that was never my intention) but she has such a distinctive look that even with all the rather extreme proportioning issues it still looks a bit like her. This is something I tend to do if I haven't drawn for a while.... very loose proportioning... eyes are way too high, nose too long, etc. Then usually when I realize that and get disgusted, I tighten up dramatically.

I like to try to work from pics of people who are attractive, but not insipidly pretty like most models, and it's good to use celebrities because you can find lots of pics of them from different angles, different expressions etc. YThis was from a screengrab from Nip/Tuck, and I have no idea what the background was. I think she's sitting in front of a picture window with some out-of-focus trees visible outside, but not sure. that's why I had trouble with the background and it ended up looking so flat.

Anyway, this was mainly just a warmup exercise, I hope to do some better stuff soon.

UbaTuber said...

Nice work, especially the shading on the face!

Ive never been a fan of oil pastels, but then Ive never tried the coated paper, will have to give it a go (I love oil paint on paper, but gessoing it is a pain)...

jriggity said...

Nice work dood!

strawberry werewolves is what comes to mind when I look at this piece of art.

Painting is some HARD stuff...keep posting your experiments.


Darkstrider said...

HAH!!! Strawberry werewolves!!! Too cool!

About that face shadow.... one of the most important things I ever learned is called Core Shadows - here's a good tut about it:


The instructor is Ron Lemen, and he spends a lot of time (or did anyway) on Conceptart.org, where he did a kick-ass Core Shadow workshop thing I took part in a year or so ago. You just draw and shade the basic forms of the head, no features drawn in detail to distract your eye. It's incredibly enlightening. In fact,I might post some of those drawings in a little bit.

Shelley Noble said...

Looks even better now, Mike. Great job