Thursday, October 28, 2010

Paintings and opportunities

Here's a fantasy piece I've been working on for the upcoming Illuxcon. I don't have very many fantasy pieces, oddly enough. That is soon to be rectified. At Illuxcon, I have signed up for a portfolio review with the ever-informational Jon Schindehette, Creative Art Director at Wizards of the Coast.

I love fantasy, and I love science fiction, but I have never really felt comfortable building fantasy paintings in the LOTR era. I feel like it is cliche, and I never want to be seen as a painter of cliches. That said, I am trying to make this piece straddle a fine line. Not shown here is the atmosphere and the 'magic.' Our old wizard foreground is firing lightning at the British coat and tie style magician in the middle-ground, who is deflecting the shot into the street lamp behind him.

The story is as simple as it gets: wizard fight. I thought of a young, proud generation of wizards working to topple the old order, as brash and bold as they are powerful and impatient. Unafraid, even, of picking a fight in the middle of the street in the early morning fog. The buildings and our character in the middle-ground will all be very affected by the short draw distance and smothering effect of the fog.

Speaking of Jon Schindehette, I have very exciting news. Recently he posted on his blog, ArtOrder, that he was looking to mentor someone. He asked all of those interested to submit five pieces of art and a write-up stating why we would be a good mentee and why we want to be one. Well, I had to jump at that.

Even more recently he announced that five of the artists (out of however many) were standouts for his particular help, and that he would be asking each if they wanted him to be their mentor. And I was one of them! This all happened about two weeks ago, and initially I was hesitant to mention this opportunity, as I was unsure whether, of the five, he would continue to narrow it down. I still don't know if he is helping with everyone on the list, but he is helping with me. So, hurray!

Another happy point of news: I may be getting an in-house position at an Ad agency working on photography layout sketches, a sort of blueprint for all of their mailer work for big clients. I had an interview with them on Monday, and they will be sending me a 'test' next week to see how I do. Working on actual illustration would be much more of a fit than working in Joann as a day job, methinks.

That's not all, either! But that's all I'm going to tell you about for now, ha. Illuxcon is coming very soon and, outside of helping my dad build a shop for his work and making money in Joann, I have dropped everything so I can focus on painting and making my portfolio shine. It is a very important weekend for me, and I've been setting up for months now.

Big things are in store! Being patient is even harder now that I am waiting on actual things, but it is easier, too, because at least I know there is a light at the end of this tunnel.

I shot the sheriff. Once a week 6

I don't want to be seen as a western painter. So maybe I should stop painting westerns. They are a great test, though. It's like taking an aptitude test every year, seeing what I've learned and, even, what I did better in the last one. This is a little study that, once all my other work is done, and there is thankfully a lot of it right now, will probably go to finish and stand beside the other cowboys.

I will also give a shout-out to Jake Murray, his mention of the Zorn palette influenced much of what I did to this piece. Another blog of note, if anyone who follows me does not already follow them, is Muddy Colors. Donato's post today made me laugh, as it is specifically why I think this piece works well: a limited greenish palette for the skin that looks warm when set next to the ultramarine I put liberally in the background.

8x10, oil, approx. 2 hours

Monday, October 25, 2010

Interview time

I'll be back later, pray for me!

Friday, October 22, 2010

I have a habit of...

Posting right before a post saying that I'm about to post. I guess it's just my way of letting the world know I haven't forgotten about artwork. There are alot of exciting, exciting things underway for me in the next few weeks (regardless of my little rant earlier) so it has been a busy time for me, working in little fits and starts on multiple pieces not worthy of showing. But by early November I hope to have five new paintings. Two of them you have seen progress on, but three others will be wonderful little surprises to fill in some gaps in my portfolio. So yeah, I'll post soon. See you then.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The life-cycle of a painting

A painting has a life-cycle like any thing else. I know, I just blew your mind. But let's move beyond the painfully obvious and discuss the one step that all artists know is coming, and dread it. The teenage stage.

At some point after all the sketches and the color studies and the initial lay-in, your painting is old enough to develop a personality its own. Like any young one, your painting will make mistakes on the road to success. This is not all its fault, really, because growing pains are just that. Painful.

Like a teenager, it becomes unsightly, base coat colors in place of pimples, structure loss and color issues in place of awkward proportions. Like any parent who loved the younger, more cooperative painting, you may feel like giving up on it. But like any parent worth their salt, that is exactly the time that you must have patience. Some paintings may rebel a little too much, being angry and ignorant, and those paintings may need a stronger guiding hand.

The real strategy to dealing with a teenage painting is breathing. I recommend breathing at all times, but when especially frustrated with a muddy face or an offensive background, you must breath. Set the paintbrush down, think about happy trees and afros. Don't make your Rockwell into a Pollock with rash, angry brushstrokes.

My entire goal when painting, outside of making a flippin' sweet painting, is to get past the teenage stage as quickly as possible. At some point you will hate your painting and want to give up on it, almost every time. There are three things you can do to alleviate this pressure and bring your teenager into a respectable adult without your painting screaming "I hate you" and slamming doors.

The first thing I do is realize that my painting is in the teenage stage. At some point during painting, I can feel frustration building. It may not even be noticeable initially. You may feel antsy, like you want to stand up and walk around, like an itch in your mind. This is the teenage stage. Don't get up now, because if you do, you'll look at your painting after pacing and realize that it isn't the same young project you used to know and love.

Realize the beginning of this stage and stick it through. This brings me to the second step: continue according to plan. I really wanted to add some red into this hand once I got done with the sky, but now the sky is all crappy and I just want to start over (insert clenching fists here). Wrong move. You're done with the sky now. What was it you were going to do next? Put red into the hand. Be the mature one, and go about your painting as if nothing is going wrong. Inanimate objects always win an argument.

Finally, like I said before, breath. This isn't just a big long sigh with some temple rubbing, this is a very pro-active break. What do you mean by that? you ask. First off, don't interrupt. Secondly, I mean that when you look at your painting (set the brush down, Wild Bill) it may take considerable effort to remember how it looked in your mind's eye. Look at your painting, really assess it. Is that color right? No, but it's an OK undercoat.

Maybe certain parts of your painting do need scrubbed out. I realized just recently that the underdrawing for one of my paintings was inaccurate. I had to paint over several parts that I really liked. But if I let fear of never getting just that right brushstroke again keep me from correcting foundational errors, then I would have one beautifully flawed piece of work. My painting would never grow out of its teenage stage, and spend the rest of its days on the couch drinking 2-liters and playing video games in my basement.

So look at your painting in an honest critical and positive light. Again with the seeming oxymoron. You point out what is wrong, you look for what is broken, but after that, you look for how to fix it. And make sure to realize what is working well. Build a plan of attack that builds on what is already on the canvas, and be methodical about it. When you know what you're going to do, go back to step two. Carrying out this plan will have you antsy and unsure, and it's all about sticking to the plan.

There are no-hope paintings. If it's for a commission, disown it after you're done. If it's for you, I don't blame you for whatever happens. I have a few nice cowboy paintings that used to be orcs... And sometimes a painting will all fit together. The teenage stage takes half an hour before it's through, and somehow you never had to deal with that sinking feeling. Great! But for all those other times, keep this in mind. Hopefully your next rebellious painting won't have a life-cycle that ends on the pyre.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I have been complacent for far too long. For over a year now, I have worked at Joann, making little over minimum wage. And when I started working there, I thought, why, this is only temporary, I should have a new job by the winter. When winter rolled around, I was still working in Joann. When spring rolled around, I thought, why, I'll have a new job by summer, certainly. And I did nothing to change it. I waited around on my butt hoping that someone would contact me, that someone would just chance by my website or my blog and hand me money and a fast track to the top.

Lack of funds was my excuse, I can't pay to market myself. But I am very quickly (or, perhaps, slowly) realizing that I can't afford not to market myself. Unless I would like to continue to work at Joann. Don't get me wrong, working in a frame shop is aloooot better than 70% of the jobs I could be working. But it isn't what I spent four years and untold monies on learning.

At Joann, near the frame shop, they sell posters. These posters have inspirational phrases like 'live, pray, love,' and 'don't give up on your dreams,' or, just simply, 'dream.' Each of these are accompanied by images of clouds and islands and rolling waves. Each of these are printed on thin paper and mounted to cardboard, so that they can be put into the cheap plastic frames in the next aisle over. Each of these frames are then taken from the store and put into offices without windows, cubicles plastered with sticky-notes, and bathrooms with sinks surrounded by seashells and assorted face soaps.

These posters are a reminder to never give up. On what? Your watery island cloud dreams? On each of these posters is the definition of a dream 'getaway.' Why are you trying to get away!? I dream of dreaming for a living. Dreaming up images to inspire more dreams. Visiting new worlds on my canvas each day, finding challenges to attack with more enjoyment than sitting on a sun drenched beach picking sand out of my toes and holding my hand over my face while I look at the horizon.

Those posters are a symbol of loss. A reminder that, as you walk from the water cooler to your desk, you've already given up on being a movie star or a business mogul or a pop sensation. They say 'dream' but they don't say 'work your ass off and get those dreams!' That's the kind of poster I want to put up. With big black font. On blank, white canvas. My dream is a job. One that I would never want to 'getaway' from.

I just wanted to get this out. Had to tell somebody, and I think my girlfriend is getting tired of the rant. I've been so frustrated lately because it feels like all I ever do is wait for phone calls. Job opportunities, portrait commissions, people who want to purchase my work. I'm tired of calling up my family, excited about this opportunity or that, and having it all fizzle away. The phone stays silent. The e-mail is never sent. I'm not sure if I'm too patient or not aggressive enough. But I know I'm frustrated.

I want to come back to this and laugh five years from now, and tell my-younger-self, Christmas Carol style, that this was all just a stepping stone to a better life. But it doesn't feel like that right now, no sir. Thanks for listening, internet.