Oct 2008

Concept Painting Demo

They thought I was a surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.
Frida Kahlo

I’ve recently begun working with a close friend who is in the process of writing a book. I’m spring-boarding off the story line and doing some conceptual pieces,fleshing out parts of the story and its characters in a visual way, while the book’s narrative continues to evolve. It’s a really interesting project and a different approach than most of the publishing work that I typically do. My eventual hope is that I can post at minimum the book’s first chapter, (most likely around Christmas), and show some accompanying illustration work ranging from sketches to finished pieces.

The painting above is one result of the collaboration so far. The boy being grabbed by the legendary and infamous Kraken and losing a key piece of hardware to boot. The scene depicted is one that will not appear in the book, but the image it inspired in my mind got me sketching, which in turn led to my creating a color version of the sketch. Painter IX was used almost exclusively because I wanted to show a “painterly” quality in the work,leave some things to the viewer’s imagination and not render every last detail.

You can see a quickie demo movie of the steps involved by clicking the image below.

The Investment Banker's New Job

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.
Woody Allen

Ah the scarecrow, old suit of clothes stuffed with hay and tacked up on a post, Standing all alone in some farm field keeping the crows at bay and waiting for, I don’t know, some girl dressed like a rural Paris Hilton in a gingham dress and ruby slippers like she’s off to the hunt on a Saturday night. But what if the scarecrow’s clothes weren’t stuffed with hay? What if the scarecrow’s clothes were filled with their original owner? Someone who had met with foul play, and been hung up in the middle of a large farm field, hard by the interstate. The crime victim, exposed to the glare of a hundred passing windshields, undiscovered. Hiding in plain sight. And what if that lonely scarecrow was in fact- an investment banker?

Then crop yields would probably drop 40%.

This painting came from an oil wash exercise in which I applied loose washes to a board coated with gesso. No preconceived ideas here, just throw some paint around and see what you come up with. Kind of like a sideways, speed painted, Rorschach test except the artist creates both the inkblot and the interpretation. The board was gessoed with enough texture that some shapes immediately began to suggest themselves when I began removing/adding and playing around. Once I had determined that the scarecrow figure was where I was going to take this I continued shaping things until I had a monochrome version of the painting above. When the oil paint dried, these are thin washes so the paint dried quickly, I went over the top with acrylic glazes and built up color getting more opaque with the lights and glazing in the darks. I finished up by scanning the painting into Photoshop and adding extra texture around the ground area and a glow to the moon and stars.

Hotter Than Hades

It tastes like burning!
Ralph from an episode of “The Simpsons”

In this second in a series of exercises creating labels for craft beers, jalepeño pepper was the variety suggested by my brew master friend, (who by the way has never actually Frankensteined one of these to life, it’s on his to-do list). Although it sounds like the hideous offspring of two perfectly good ingredients maybe they would work together in the same sense “fire” and “extinguisher” do. Anyway, whileI can only guess what the experience might be like, I imagine that this would be a creep up from behind and drop the anvil type of event. Suds that lure the taste buds in with a smile- and then drop the torch. Sneaky-Hot.

Continuing the mythological characters theme, Hades, God of the underworld was suggested as the perfect spokesmodel so I did some sketching and came up with the drawing on the left. I’m keeping the compositional concept of having a defined space that the character breaks out of but changing things up a bit by tightening the focus to a portrait instead of a full figure. This allows me to zero in on the facial features that define the duality I’m creating with a theme of sneaky then hot and still keep the pepper front and center.

Here I’ve tightened up the sketch and further developed the sneaky expression on the left side of the face. He needs to be smiling that, “Come’re, I have something for you,” kind of grin. The right side on the other hand needs to be fiery. Like he is literally ablaze but I still want to keep a humanoid look. I don’t want that side to be too ghost like, more solid that ephemeral. I’ve amplified the expression, twisting the smile and pulling the ear into a devil’s point.

And here is the end result. The left side is rendered in cool colors, blues and greens. His hair is all curls and waves in a kind of foreshadowing of flame. The right side, all warm reds, has a yellow orange light reflected from below, a reference to The Underworld. The hair has become flame and has even singed the flat graphic behind it, which certainly is not ancient Greek in design, but whose swirling movement reinforces the flame motif and works as a nice counterpoint to the three-dimensionality of the figure.