Monday, April 26, 2010

Miscellaneous Updates.

Kind of a catchall entry this time around - no specific theme, just a few updates and tidbits.

First off, two more of the car pieces are finished. A 1929 Ford Model A Tudor Coupe:

And a hodgepodge vintage racer that I just refer to as "Lucky Seven":

It occurred to me recently that matching art styles with vintage cars would be an interesting exercise. It immediately got me thinking about drawing some drag racers from the late-60s psychedelic era in their full mind-blowing day-glo glory. Hell, that could almost be a book in itself. So far I'm leaning towards some type of Mopar funnycar at night, foot-long flames shooting out of the zoomies. Or maybe a lace-painted Corvette with a rocket engine.

Next on the blog agenda is this 54 Chevy:

I'm seeing this one in my head as being inked with a brush, and then coloured with watercolour paint splashed all over the place. As I've indicated before, inking is a real chore for me, so obviously I need to do a lot more of it.

In other news, I just shipped a commissioned piece that I've been cleverly referring to as Top Secret Painting. Once the lucky recipient gets it and I know everything's cool, I'll show the whole piece. In the meantime, here're a couple of macro detail shots:

The skulls are just a minor background accent; unless the light hits them just right, they're practically invisible. But I think they really make the piece.

This glossy green bit is a more significant part of the painting. I used a faux-encaustic technique to add depth, and as is often the case, it resulted in something I couldn't begin to capture with a camera.

This last shot is of a green pearl paint I mixed for this piece - a mix of Tri-Art Liquid Mirror and phthalo green, with a subtle touch of interference green.

Finally, I wanted to mention that I may be participating in a group art blog with some artist friends of mine. Things are still very much up in the air right now, but I think it's an idea with some promise. More info to come once things get finalized.

And now I think we're up to date. What are the rest of you people up to these days?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Repurposing an Old Piece.

It's a funny thing when you've built up a backlog of art - sometimes you suddenly remember a piece you'd forgotten about, or have a brainstorm about how you can spin off something new from it. In 2006 I did a poster for my brother featuring two of his favourite cars: a Plymouth Cuda, and a Chevy Chevelle SS, both from 1970 (pretty much the twilight of the behemoths as far as the original musclecar era was concerned).

Anyhow, tonight it occurred to me that with a bit of tweaking, this could easily fit in my next book:

So that's 5 illustrations down, and only 45 to go...

Friday, April 9, 2010


Okay, confession time: drawing is something I struggle with from day to day. Some aspects more than others - hands, for example, are a real bear. They're gradually getting easier, but they still take a lot of work. Which doesn't come as much of a surprise, given how complex the structure of a human hand is. Definitely one of those areas where practice is the answer. I also used to find hair pretty difficult as well, but not so much anymore. (Oddly enough, it was harder to draw back when I still had hair.)

In comparison, pulling a long, even, curved line in ink never gets easier for me. I've never had the steadiest hands for that kind of thing. Short lines aren't a problem, so if you've seen me do something with lots of loose, sketchy lines, now you know at least part of the story.

Take this illustration for example:

I inked this today. The rough sketch was printed out at about 10 inches wide, and I inked over that. Now, knowing how tricky the linework can be, I got out my French curves, my oval template and my ruler, and I decided to just keep drawing through if something went wrong, rather than agonizing over something I could fix after the fact, and letting that derail the whole process.

So finally I got the linework finished and scanned, and then I spent a few hours on the details - smoothing out uneven curves, duplicating repeating elements like the louvers, and just general touchup. Probably spent almost as long cleaning up the illustration in Photoshop as I did drawing it in the first place.

This is often a dilemma on my part, of course. On one hand I'm tempted to draw the stuff fairly small, so it's easier to get smooth curves. But then the gaps between the lines fill in, and I can't use reduction to clean things up.

On the other hand, if I draw it large I have to freehand all the lines, because none of my French curves and oval templates are big enough.

I guess it's largely a matter of what sort of touchup I want to do. Do I fix a lot of little, niggling details, or do I use Bezier curves in Photoshop to fine-tune the bigger areas of the lines? By now I'd likely have hit upon the optimum procedure, if I didn't work in so many different styles.

Something to consider in the future, I guess. Not like my hands are magically gonna get less shaky.

Thanks for listening, everybody. What aspects of drawing trouble you?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Dropping the Ball.

Currently working on a commission for a friend - a fairly simple composition with a partial human figure in it. At the risk of sounding like I'm rationalizing, the painting is more about texture and colour than it is about anatomy.

Anyhow, there I was building up textures, laying down washes of phthalo green, messing around with black lava gel and Liquid Mirror... and then I noticed a minor detail on one arm that needed tweaking. So I made the tweak. Put it aside for a day or so while I was busy with other things.

Then I noticed it needed another tweak.

This went on for several days, but eventually I got things to a point where I was happy with the painting again. At which point I took a long look at the opposite shoulder on the figure and realized it was massively out of proportion with the other side. And of course, the edge of that shoulder and arm was defined not by some simple linework or brushwork, but by areas of fiber paste, black lava gel and high solid medium gel that butt together. Which is to say it wasn't something that I could just paint over - oh no, it was too sculptural for an easy fix like that.

Here, maybe this photo will give you a better idea of what I'm getting at:

Note that this is the post-error photo. What I had to do was take a palette knife and gouge off all the offending extraneous material, then sand that part of the panel down to bare wood (good thing I didn't do this on canvas, huh?), reprime it, patch up a couple of divots with some molding paste, and then start again with the black lava gel. Which, fortunately enough, is quite forgiving.

All this being done, it finally occurred to me to dig out the initial rough comp for comparison purposes. And sure enough, the pose and composition had mutated a lot when I transferred everything to the wood panel.

A lot.

So I guess that's the moral of my tale: keep your eye on the ball, folks. Don't get so caught up in one aspect of the art ("ooh, shiny!") that you blank out on another. Especially when that other is something as crucial as anatomy.