Friday, March 19, 2010


A friend of mine asked me to do a couple of paintings for her, the first of which being based on, inspired if you will, Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo. For those of you that have seen that movie (and really, how many people that are left haven't?), this isn't supposed to be a movie poster for the film. I was trying to create an image that was more towards the sense of vertigo, I suppose. So that would be why the figure doesn't look a thing like Mr. Stewart. I just wanted to get that out of the way before someone poked at me and gave me a hard time about it.

I threw just about everything I had at this painting. It took me a considerable amount of time to come up with a sketch that I liked enough to move forward with. Then I spent a few days snapping reference until I got enough that I felt would be acceptable. Next up I sat down and chiseled out a value study to work out some of the preliminary hitches. As of late I've been scanning my sketches or other preliminary drawings and using Photoshop to scrape together a value study. I'm really beginning to enjoy this stage of the process. If my picture doesn't work in black and white, it won't work in color, so I have to make sure at this stage of the game that I have everything I need for balance, composition, and what have you. If anything with scale needs to be worked out from my original drawing it's a simple matter of stretching or squashing and then working on top of it in a different layer if I need to.

It was about this time that I became obsessed with finding solid color schemes, so I sat down and painted up a little 5 x 7 color study. I could have done this part on the computer as well, quite easily as a matter of fact, but I wanted to limit the tubes of paint that I had out for use . So I found the main three tubes I wanted to use and hashed out my little color comp. Once I thought I had everything I needed, I enlarged my value study and transferred it to the canvas. All that remained to do was paint it.

Admittedly I got through most of the painting with no real problems. But eventually I ran into a snag. I realized I wanted a somewhat dramatically lit face for my figure, but the drawing I had originally done with my value study just wasn't cutting it. As near as I could tell I had two options;

1. Try to light my own mug again and set up the lights to get the results I wanted.
2. Find some willing model so I could do the same.

Unfortunately neither option was particularly attractive at 3 in the morning. All of a sudden I realized I needed (and/or desperately wanted) a planes of the head model . In lieu of shelling out $98 though, I realized I have Poser 6 installed and could get the next best thing. So I fired it up and got the reference I needed. Then I redrew the face and viola! Things came into place. I did the same for the hand. Using Poser as a tool to work through difficult and tricky lighting only, and not as a model for form.

I think it all came together for something pretty neat. I'll be delivering the painting to my friend this weekend, I hope she likes it.

Oil on canvas. 24 x 30.

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