Friday, September 28, 2012

Tarot & Ticket


Focused in on details of the O2 concert ticket, and The Lovers Tarot card. The concert ticket has a slice of planet earth with faint latitude/longitude grid lines and narrow spires (EDIT: in fact it's a view of the O2 arena itself, a tensile structure. "Most tensile structures are supported by some form of compression or bending elements, such as masts (as in The O2, formerly the Millennium Dome), compression rings or beams." Thanks Wikipedia. ) with a round hologram moon and pinpoints of stars. There's some refining details to come here, along with the printed text and the O2 logo. Making those stratas of blues was a pleasure, and pondering what I'm going to do for the hologram is perplexing. Still thinking about it.

The Tarot card is simple; vibrant hues, mostly primary colors. I concentrated on not dragging or smearing colors into each other, yet smoothing and blending the edges between them. Not a task for the faint hearted. Once it's thoroughly dry, I'll work on outlining every object and figure in black.

After the loose volume and form of the marble bookends, doing the card's graphic design felt like painting a miniature. Even putting in the base color required my #0 and #1 brushes, but I like switching around from loose to precise. Artist's yoga.


Tech side bar: When you obsess on detail, you tend to mow through a lot of small brushes. They have a limited working life anyway - delicate to start, with fewer brush hairs, and those need to be exactly aligned. Rough use or poor handling turn them into something that looks like a squirrel's tail in no time.
After much trial and error I found Silver Ruby Satins. They hold up to the weight of oil, they load paint well and - if carefully cleaned - far outlast all others. I have 38 of them at last count, in the three smallest sizes. Mostly Filberts and Brights. I love them and treat them with respect. That's one of the reasons I have so many - they'll last longer if you switch around. The other reason is my kids figured out that they are a guaranteed hit for all those pesky gift giving occasions, like Mother's Day.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


This morning I roughed in the two hawk marble bookends. It took three hours, but at least half an hour was spent cleaning up my palette and mixing paint.
At the end of the day, I painted in the hilt of the sword by cleaning off my brushes. You can get the best neutrals from a dirty brush.

Here's a detail of the hawks - the one on the left has a broken beak. I'm going to look at the unbroken one in a mirror to figure out how to paint it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Fire is mostly done:

Spent this morning adding smoke, adding contrast and color to the burnt pages, and crisping edges all over.

Wrote the Dante's Inferno excerpt from Canto V in Italian on the page on the left. The trickiest part was placing the sentences correctly on the page. I ended up writing the first and longest one backwards across the top of the page, then positioning the following lines beneath the center word and painting in both direction until I ran out of page.
Have mercy.

Per più fiate li occhi ci sospinse
quella lettura, e scolorocci il viso;
ma solo un punto fu quel che ci vinse.

Quando leggemmo il disiato riso
esser basciato da cotanto amante,
questi, che mai da me non fia diviso,

la bocca mi basciò tutto tremante.
Galeotto fu 'l libro e chi lo scrisse:
quel giorno più non vi leggemmo avante.

Now that the lettering is done, I'll be making those edges a touch more burnt siena shading into the carbon in a day or two.

I can plan on varnishing it in two weeks, along with Air, BlueScreen and BoomLift. Then I'll be hopping from LightGrid, which needs a lot of work, and the TSRTS, right up until a week before the November show. Then it'll be all TSRTS, all the time.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Holy Grail

This morning I listened to a half hour press conference with the three living member of Led Zeppelin, promoting their concert video Celebration Day. It was surprisingly entertaining to hear. Plenty of dry wit and smooth, expert handling of the (worshipful) press.
Meanwhile, I painted the chalice. Patiently did lots of fine detail, because that's all it is. Blended very carefully. The reward is that it will only require a few more layers to be complete.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Bronze D'or

Roughed in the candelabra, on the right.
It's one of a pair of French bronze d'or candelabras. The way the light struck this is why I ultimately chose this particular image to work from.  I like the way the formality and heft of it balances with the ease of the organic, curving shapes. The final image will have an even starker contrast of light and dark.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

En garde!

Today I began the sword. The metal blade is a series of reflections - like stitching together little abstracts. It's still far from what I'm aiming toward. It's like creating a sketchy map of shapes to help me build the layers I need to get the values I want. The hilt is wrapped leather. I also plugged in the first of many layers of white; on the candles, reflections in the chalice, the edges of the tarot cards and the concert ticket.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Buttercups. Doubloons. Saffron. Mustard.

Worked on the drapery, wallowing in the luscious color. I threw in the tangerine, since it's the same palette.

That's the last of the big sweeping brush strokes, laying in swathes of color. Now everything will slow way down as I tackle the intricate candelabra, the detailed tarot cards, princess portrait and ticket. Might get to skate a bit on the book spines, but even the sword blade is a series of reflections - candles flame, saffron drapery, and silver chalice. Yum.

Friday, September 14, 2012

old dog, new trick

Day #2


Looks like more than it is. I mean, I can confidently block in a base coat, but the smartest thing I did was go to Binders and buy a brush the size of a mop (okay, slight exaggeration) with stiff bristles that can handle oil.

Here's what I usually paint with, next to the new brush.

Right tool for the job.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fired Up, Again

Today I dove into mixing and placing the various blues in the background of The Commission.  Started scrubbing that first thin layer of paint into the canvas. Four hours later, I had to make myself stop for lunch. Loving it! It's like the starter's gun fired off in my head. Instead of my usual country mix, I painted to Led Zep on shuffle. Really liking the BBC sessions. One of the things I like about this stage is seeing elements become visible from the negative space of unpainted canvas.
Worked on Fire yesterday. Added a title of my unpublished novel ms and my name to the open paperback flyleaf, the red lettering on the journalism book, and all kinds of ash details to the iron grill. Started refining the page edge of the open book and, bam, I realize I'm nearly done. What a pleasure this series has been!

Monday, September 10, 2012

End of Boomlift, start of the Commission

Added the lettering and signed it on the door of the Boomlift.  Because I could,  I changed the three initials on the crane to Robert's initials. Kept finding little places to improve or clean up. Added texture to the trees, deepening the blues on the crane, cleaning up the tire treads, going over the grip's clothes again, crisping or blurring edges as called for. I doubt that it's even visible on a photograph. Felt like a dog with fleas.
It's on the wall of the drying room until further notice.



I'll work on the tree of LightGrid tomorrow and the pages of the books in Fire.
The initial drawing of the Commission is complete. Here's a shot of the whole canvas, with a Tarot card for scale. The drawing is really hard to see in this photograph, but trust me, it's there.

I pushed the contrast on this closeup photograph  so it will be visible. Here's a detail - the princess in a little antique gold frame overlapping The Knight of swords tarot card.

The drawing went much faster than I anticipated. I'm waiting a few days before I start painting so I can critically review the drawing for any draftsman problems.
What's that saying of Confucius? "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
Stepping out today.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Lunch!...One half hour.

Tidying up the location series. Here's Boomlift, 90% done, with all the naked figures deleted and one clothed figure added:
Here's a detail with the figure. My Key Grip spouse says I should title it "Lunch!...One half hour."

I spent the rest of the day griding the source photographs and the 30x40" canvas. It's a beast. I can hardly wait to start.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pre-Painting Prep

Before the paint comes the prep. -
First there is the task of toning the canvas. I do this outside in the carport, because acrylic can spatter when I'm pushing it fast onto a 30x40" canvas with a six inch brush. I use a mix of Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna, applied quickly, then wiped down to a thin, even coat that leaves the canvas texture intact.

My mini-photography studio is set up in the dining room (note chandelier in upper left). I wanted to try a combination of natural and artificial light. Being married to Robert, I can borrow all the scrims and filters and flags to bounce and balance it all that I want. It's good to be married to the grip

Breaking the set down today, but packing all the pieces and parts in a box so I can pull individual props out to paint from as needed.