Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Stages of Progress

Since I have a few days that I can't be working on my Espiritu I figured I would show a few of the steps I have taken to get where I left off. This is a fast painting for me so taking more detailed steps was a bit of a challenge as my progress was moving right along.

Stage 1: This is the basic drawing. I do a sketch, enlarge it, and then transfer it onto my suede board. Suede board unlike paper can not be erased upon. Once a mark is on there that is it. Some people are braver than I am and will sketch on the board, but patience is everything and I like to ensure I can be as accurate and careful as I can be. There is nothing worse than having the scrap and start over. I have to also take great care in the transfer process as you have to use just enough pressure to make the graphite dust stick, but not so much that you scar the board. If you scar the board the pastel will not adhere as well over the lines and you will have a 'ghost' of your initial line drawing left behind! So if you try suede board or velour take care and take your time.

Stage 2: The best way to work is from darkest to lightest. I generally do a rough in with the deepest value I have in the color scheme I'm working with. For instance I chose black since the horse is grey. I briefly sketch in the darkest points, the shapes, musculature and direction of the the body among other areas of reference.

Stage 3: I started working on the face to give me an anchor to work from. This is not always my typical process. It used to be I would start anywhere and not necessarily in any order. I have seen that it helps to get something started, develop it, and use it as a foundation to work on the rest of the subject. Here the Stu is a magical fairy stallion with blue and purples! Its always fun to do this, something they are all sorts of colors to start with! The blue and purple represent the light and darks on his face. As you'll see in step 3 this horse of many colors pays off as the overall tone comes together. I will repeatedly use the blues and purples throughout this piece as they give a translucent quality to the coat and add more dimension.

Stage 4: Here is where we see our basic block in of color come together. I do regret not getting steps of the background but here is where all the blues and greens I laid in have been softened by blending them down.

Stage 5: Here is where I left it before it go dark on Sunday evening. As you can see I am going back over and pulling out my areas of darks and lights. The background is also being prepared as well. The grass in the sunlight has a big punch in color to accentuate where the light is. Here I am able to add more shape to the horse. This is nothing more than a gradual process of adding depth. In the above step although he is still flat he has more dimension to him. In this stage we are going the next step further. I have worked on defining the right haunch where his dappling meets an interesting transition between light and dark, and is also influence by the back lighting as well as it rolls over his hip. So I am working on developing this. I am also attaching a photo of the head as a comparison from the one two stages ago. Big difference from the purple!

And of course for stage 6 and 7 see two blog posts before! Hope this helps show the process. Hope you enjoy until I get more done in the meantime!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Espiritu Continued...

This is only with about an hour's worth of work lastnight. I had a call with a prospective client that I am very excited about. It is always such a pleasure talking to such nice people who have some beautiful horses. That is one of the great things about doing this. Now if I can just do it full time one day ;)

I slimmed down and refined Espiritu's jawline a bit. I also dabbled a bit with the coat to adjust the greys a bit before I start adding on all the dapples. I focused primarily on the background by adjusting my values. Still much to be done, but it now has a bit more contrast to it. I decided to go with more flowers in the field. I like the colors and they compliments the grey of the stallion. I want this to have a magical, spring like feel to it and I think the colors do so accordingly. In the original photograph there is a highway, fence, and light poles in the background so I want to go as far away from that as I can. Backgrounds are something I do not enjoy as much, but with this one it has come together to work with this piece. I like to think of the background as the environment of the subject, not just an add on for effect. There is ecology in art. When you incorporate a background, or environment with a subject they need to be paired accordingly. Sometimes, and I am guilty of this, we tend to neglect the background, or forsake it all together because we don't always think to put as much time and care into that as we do our main subject. This is a lesson I still struggle with on some pieces. When you make the decision to create a piece of art then it needs to be set up, and the environment needs to appropriately reflect what you are trying to get across. The background can both make or break the piece. I am hoping, and doing everything in my power to keep it subtle but also let it add to Espiritu.

I attended a morning business meeting and it allowed me to travel a rural road and see the various fields I passed. I often find myself nearly running off the road because my artistic brain is focusing on something not nearly as important as the road; today was no exception. The fields are in full bloom with wildflowers. We have also had a very wet spring and good rainy summer as well. So the underlying grasses are green, and blue, veiled with morning glories, Queen Anne's lace, goldenrod, black eyes Susan's, and so forth. I really enjoyed my drive and wanted to bring that look and feel (although I am aiming more for Spring than mid Summer in this piece) through to my background. There is nothing better than being inspired by nature!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Back in The Zone... Andalusian Stallion WIP

Ah... back in the zone. See this is why I love it so much.

Yesterday was starting out to be a typical lazy Sunday. Slept in late, did a few small things around the house, nothing really productive but nothing too strenuous either. At about 2:30 yesterday afternoon I suddenly caught the whim to crank out some artwork. I am currently working on a house sign, but was waiting for it to set up before I could continue working on it. Since last weekend slipped past without getting any work done I decided the stallion upstairs who has been on my easel since April needed to come to life.
This update is with about 5 hours worth of work. That includes shading him in, adding the first layer of colors and defining mass, and gradually building from there. Just layering the background colors took considerable time as covering the suede board takes considerable time and effort as the texture of the board can "bleed" through. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it often given dimension, but it can disrupt the patterns you are trying to build. This is a WIP (Work In Progress) and I will be updating as he comes together.
Right now I need to continue to build up the background, especially the left side of the painting. Depend my values where there is shadow, and add a few more highlights indicating light. The horse still has considerable amount of work left to do. He is a beautiful dapple grey Andalusian. As most do, he is in transition becoming lighter and lighter with age. The mottled pattern of the dapples are infused between deep darks, and lights that ebb and flow over his coat. He is striking, and accurately painting the dapples will be a fun challenge.
My favorite part about this piece is the play of light. I love light and from the moment I took the photograph of him I was excited about trying to paint the light. It has been fun, but there is still more to do. Working on toning the light and making it play on him is a fun prospect. Overall he is a fun horse to do and I look forward to posting with more updates soon!
Note: The above photo does not accurately represent the colors. I took a photo of this at about 10:30 last night under indoor lighting. Indoor lighting never makes anything look true, but especially at night. So hopefully I will get a better photo of it this evening.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Can You Hear Me Now?

Check, check. Testing 1,2,3, is this thing on?

Okay so finally as a proud member of the Y generation I can finally say that I have started a blog! Yippee! This blog will chronicle my artistic endeavors in both art and photography, and I am certain many yet to be discovered mediums of potential interest as well. I look forward to sharing bits and pieces of my mad scientist world with you as I conjure, create, and yes, complain, through the process that is known as creating artwork. Its an interesting life and I hope you enjoy the ride.

Let me state now that I am on a bit of a hiatus. Life, as it has a way of doing so often, has prevented me from getting any new work done. Wait, let me take that back. I, (me, myself, I) have a way of preventing myself from getting any new work done. I can "blame" a myriad of events that take place from day to day on not allowing me to get anything accomplished, but in the end it is my own fault for not carrying my sorry self up the stairs to get a couple of hours of work in. Though to my won defense, I have been crazy busy! ;)

In light of my hiatus, hmmm sabbatical sounds better, let's go with that. In light of my sabbatical I am starting to feel those creative juices flowing again. Now it is up to me to find the time and motivation to get back at it. To some this may sound silly I know. To others you may lend me your sympathetic ear; but honestly the effort it takes to create a piece of work can really strain your Psyche and require a 'recharge' of your creative batteries.

When I am either commissioned to do a piece, or am doing one for myself, there is a process that takes place. You have to have the creative insight to visualize what you are striving for. Painting and architectural engineering are not very different as they both require forethought, design, draft work, and extensive knowledge and planning of the given subject at hand to properly render it, and let it stand on its own foundation. A strong painting has all of the elements of a building. One week link and no matter how solid the support is, the roof can still collapse. One mis-stroke can cause this collapse. Just ask to look at my trash bin!

Art is work, albeit enjoyable, but it is still work I assure you. Any given piece can take me from 4hrs to 140hrs, or more. When I begin the "process" I don't stop for much. I pop my ear buds in, set my MP3 player to roll through the tracks and get the whip cracking. My husband will tell you that when the studio door is closed unless it is a life or death situation it is best to just let me be. A funny thing happens during the process, and just about any artist will tell you this; you become in the "zone." The "zone" is a very intense place. You transcend away from reality, loose all sense of time, and tap into some deep roots of your Psyche. No obstacle is too great, no simple task too easy, things both just exist and you accomplish feats you didn't think were possible. It is a very cathartic place this "zone", but as I said, you stay in it for 8-12hrs for several sessions at a time and you sadly need to dock back into the port of reality to catch up on all that missed time. Not that I don't like to spend time in reality, but there is a one sided argument between being in the "zone" and paying the electric bill that is due in about 10 minutes...

Sadly I have been out of the "zone" since late February. I have a lovely Andalusian stallion prepared on a board that has been sitting on my easel since April. I was supposed to be working on him for a live demonstration but I became to enamored with my other love (photography) and forfeited the stallion for looking at cowboys & Quarter Horses through my viewfinder... My bad!

So maybe this blog thing will work. Maybe this post will be the proverbial string around my finger, my motivation, my own way of holding my feet to the fire, and my kick in the tail to walk into the studio, pull out the pastels, and get some work done! So, with that said, my task is to revisit the "zone" by this weekend and have something to show all the world on the new blog spot! Wish me luck!