Month of Love - Fetish
Posted on 23 Feb 2014
Here's the latest piece for Month of Love. This week's theme was Fetish; I floundered a bit in trying to come up with a concept that wasn't entirely clichéd, incomprehensible, or pornographic; eventually, with the deadline lumbering past me, I chose to illustrate Stygiophilia ("arousal to the thought of hellfire and damnation.")
Not much to say about this one... I think it's peculiar enough to speak for itself.
New Work: Tam Lin
Posted on 18 Feb 2014
Here's another piece created for the Month of Love blog - the theme for week two was "favorite love story." I don't usually go in for love stories - they tend to have a sameness to them (generally ending in bland wedded bliss - or tragic, if predictable, death - for all parties) that bores me. The legend of Tam Lin (a Scottish ballad, I like this version by Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer) is one of the exceptions that I really like since, unlike your run-of-the-mill love story, it features an uncommonly cocky heroine and a lover transformed into a lion and wolf and bear (oh my).
Sadly, as is the case with so much of my personal work, there is no pretty set of thumbnails to share (although I can't pretend I wasn't tempted to fake a few after the fact). If you're curious what my thumbnail sketches actually look like at the early stages - the "I have no idea what I'm doing and my art license should be revoked" stage - this is it.
They are terrible to behold.
It probably goes without saying that none of these monstrosities particularly captured my sweeping vision for the piece. It was one of those concepts that was either going to look good as a final image, or it wasn't; I eventually gave up in annoyance and started drawing the way you're always told not to - by drawing a face in the middle of the page and building everything out from there. I got lucky and ended up with a piece I actually really liked.
The original pencil drawing. Compare it to the final, and you'll notice that I upcycled background elements from
my Whispers and Full Blooded pencil art out of sheer cussed laziness. Personal work FTW!
More good luck: over the course of this illustration, I stumbled across an awesome reference app for iPad, Skulls by Simon Winchester
- which has something I've always wanted - 360° rotatable views of just about every animal skull you can think of and a few more that you can't. It has a few flaws as an art reference - the skulls snap back to their default rotation after a few seconds, for one, and the view rotates only in the horizontal axis - but everything is lit beautifully, and being able to visualize how all the pieces of the skull fit together in three dimensions makes this far and away superior to photo reference.
While I don't plan on packing my portfolio to the gills with animal skulls, I'm looking forward to having this app around for everyday use - I generally start animal drawings by trying to get a hang of the skull's structure, which often makes the difference between a vaguely accurate representation and something that looks like a toilet paper tube taped to the end of a milk carton.
I didn't have the sense of planning to stumble across this app before
I drew all the skulls for this piece (naturally), but I know the next time I have to draw a two-headed calf, say, or an armadillo lizard, I'll be SET.
OMG, there are things out there that look like this on the inside.
Full view in the gallery
; more favorite love stories over at the Month of Love
New Work: Easley's Gryphon
Posted on 09 Feb 2014
Here's a quick painting I did for the ArtOrder's Jeff Easley challenge (which you can read about here.)
This piece almost didn't happen - I bookmarked the Jeff Easley challenge when it first came out, and then promptly forgot about it until three days before the deadline, at which point all seemed to be lost - I'm not a particularly fast worker when it comes to personal projects, and I didn't even have a plan in mind. Nonetheless, I absentmindedly clicked over to Jeff's portfolio to take one last shot at getting inspired before admitting defeat. One of his paintings - a girl with a spiderweb tiara in her rockin 80's hair, riding a golden gryphon - caught my eye instantly:
Without much time to spare, I skipped my usual tedious thumbnail stage and just started sketching on a sheet of gessoed paper. I knew that I wanted to show the character sitting with the wings of the gryphon enfolding her, and the narrative (an artist cutting a gryphon-quill pen!) developed on the fly. Once I had something I liked, I sealed the sketch with Workable Fixatif and applied a second layer of gesso (which knocks back the contrast, but leaves a faintly visible drawing to guide the painting). I first came across this trick on Kim Kincaid's blog, and I absolutely love it - it helps the energy of the sketch carry over to the finished piece and, if you want to preserve the original sketch, it works equally well over a digital print.
Since oil paint dries quickly for no man, I stuck to a monochromatic underpainting, which I then photographed and colored digitally. I'm surprisingly happy with how this piece turned out given the limited time I allowed myself - and it was refreshing to work on a project that was begun and finished in the same two-day span. Using an oil underpainting as the base for digital color turned out to be SO MUCH FASTER than my usual pencil methods. The effort saved by painting directly on top of the sloppy initial sketch (rather than painstakingly tracing and re-rendering it into a tight pencil drawing) makes me want to seriously reconsider my working process.
In other oil painting news, I just finished the larger piece I posted a snapshot of in my 2013 wrap-up; I'll be posting that one as soon as I can get a decent photo of it.
For now, check out a full view of this one in the gallery.
Month of Love - #nofilter valentine
Posted on 07 Feb 2014
Here's my first illustration for the Month of Love blog. This week's theme is "#nofilter valentine" - and what could be less filtered than shared life in the domestic sphere?
This was also an experiment with acrylic inks - which I'd picked up a set of recently, but hadn't yet had a chance to try out. I worked on top of the pencil/white charcoal sketch above, and added some final details over the ink with white charcoal and colored pencil.
Check out the full view over at the gallery. Head over to Month of Love to check out other illustrator's takes on the same theme - there are some really cool pieces getting posted.
New Work: ImagineFX
Posted on 04 Feb 2014
How psyched am I to have my art on the cover of this month's ImagineFX magazine? Unfortunately I'm still too tired from painting all those fish spirits to write anything witty and/or insightful about this piece - suffice to say that the IFX team was a joy to work with and provided me with one of the most fun illustration briefs ever.
We explored a number of different options, both ocean- and forest-themed, and eventually settled on an ocean setting, with a summoner of ghostly fishes for our protagonist. This was one of those projects where I was a little sad I didn't get to illustrate ALL the thumbnails - I think I'll definitely be revisiting some of these ideas for future paintings.
In addition to creating the cover image, IFX also commissioned me to document the process for an illustration workshop in the same issue. Check it out (Issue #106, March 2013) for a rough play-by-play of my process, along with a video of the digital painting unfolding.
A full view of this piece can, as always, be viewed over in my gallery.