Friday, April 30, 2010

Steampunk Mailman

If anyone has been paying attention, I missed this week's "Ugly Mug Monday", but I feel I have a good excuse - I finished my Steampunk Mailman painting. (Yay!) Which, is a self-portrait of sorts, so I feel it breaks even.

I had a lot of fun working on this piece and I pulled out literally every trick I've got to get it done. It was a new challenge and I'm really pleased with the outcome. I'm thinking of doing a blog post detailing the process - so that may be in the works.

Oil on canvas. 20 3/4" x 34"

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ugly Mug Mondays! #4

It isn't much of a likeness this time around. I just didn't have it in me, I guess. I've discovered that I'm enjoying the casein but I don't know. My head was elsewhere. I'll make it up to you next week.

Casein on watercolor paper.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rope Ladder

Well, I said I'd be back with evidence of my rope ladder, and I like to think I'm a man of my word. Originally I was thinking I'd hang the ladder from the lower branch that's visible in the picture, but... well, I got a little over zealous when I was making the rope ladder. I wound up making it considerably longer than initially anticipated. Oh well, these things happen. I scampered up the tree and affixed my ladder to a branch about twelve feet off the ground and prepared to dangle from it like a goober. And dangle I did.

Honestly I'm impressed with the construction of the ladder. When I was making my maquettes I had issues keeping the rope an even length as I worked my way down - as a result the length of the rope isn't equal between the rungs so things are a little unsteady. But I didn't have that problem when I turned to work on the full scale, I managed to keep everything straight and. I think what surprised me most is how quick the work went. For a ladder that's a little over eleven feet long it only amounted to about an hour's worth of work.

There you have it. The ladder that I was sure was going to kill me was a success. I hope to have it's corresponding painting done soon. I'm sure I'll let you know when that wraps up.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ugly Mug Mondays! #3

It's that time of week again! I found some casein while cleaning up some stuff in my studio so I thought I'd play with it a little. I tried to keep it loose and quick, so I used a single #4 flat brush, just so that I wouldn't get caught up in any of the detail. There are some pretty tasty passages that I really enjoy and some things I wish I spent more time on - but that's how the cookie crumbles.

Casein on canvas paper. 30 minutes.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ugly Mug Mondays! #2

Originally when I set out to do this thing, this... Ugly Mug Mondays, I had intended them to all be paintings. Well, I had a couple of false starts tonight and the clock kept tick-tocking away and before I knew it, it was pretty darn late. So, I trashed what I had done so far and sat down to just do a pretty little pencil drawing. All was not lost! I learned a couple of things.

I apparently can't sit down and produce a "realistic" self-portrait. I always have to exaggerate something. But you know, I feel it always looks like me. Maybe it's because I'm so used to seeing myself that I have to play with my appearance to get through the drawing. Kind of like a kid sticking his baby carrots into his mashed potatoes to make a blob monster that's reminiscent of something from Calvin and Hobbes.

I also tend to make the same squinty one-eyebrow-cocked kind of face when I plan on doing a self portrait. (I wonder what the hell that's about.) So I made my eyebrows really big - especially the one I was cocking. What's more is I tend to make dumb faces in general. Oh well. It is what it is.

Pencil on bristol. 30 minutes.

My ears don't really stick out that far. Just felt the need to let you know that.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Found My Lost Shaker of Salt

I did this little painting last Tuesday as a means to experiment. The sad reality is that I only took one painting class when I was in school and I never did too much painting from life, or in this case, salt. Early on I realized I needed photo reference and I got in the habit of just printing off pictures that I needed before painting. So I set up a little still life of salt and drapery and got busy painting.

A year ago or so I picked up a trick from an "old pro" and had just kind of filed it away with the other nonsensical information in my brain. What this old salt (pun intended) shared was that after he does his drawing on his board he'll touch it up with gouache before spray fixing it. So, I tried it. I did a little underpainting in gouache (mostly to identify the shadow shapes and patterns) then I spray fixed it and let it dry. Then I came back on top of that with oils.

I think the most impressive thing I learned was how thin I've been painting these days. Effectively I ended up just glazing over the gouache for some rich and luminous effects. I'll have to keep it up, I really enjoyed painting from life and having a loose and free underpainting to work with.

5x7. Oil on masonite. 1 hour.

Friday, April 2, 2010


The current painting I'm setting up calls for the central figure to be climbing down a rope ladder. Actually, it's more like he's hanging off of a rope ladder than climbing down it. I got all excited and dove into the sketch phase and after a short time I came to an idea that I rather enjoyed. Then the excitement wore off and I found myself staring a problem in the eye. How was I going to get the reference I needed? My first brilliant idea was to pose little toys on rope ladders made from twine and toothpicks. And truth be told it worked a little - they gave me a better idea of what the weight distribution should be like. But I would still need to get a figure in costume in the proper pose for actual weight distribution, and drapery, and lighting, and those great little accidental moments you get, and and and... I was going to need to get a rope ladder.

I could have bought one, sure, but as is often the case none of the ones on the market were quite what I was looking for or even in my budget. I was going to have to get crafty. Facing facts I took a trip to the local giant hardware store with my DIY research in tow and did some shopping. I think what I got is what I'm going to need. Everything purchased was with safety in mind (after all I don't want to end up injured or the recipient of a Darwin Award) and far exceeds the qualifications to support my weight. Sure, I wouldn't take any of it mountain climbing, but it should be more than enough to support me for a photo shoot.

I sat down this evening and fashioned what I need, and tomorrow I think I'll try to set up the camera and take pictures - weather permitting. I'll be back to let you know how it all turned out. If you don't hear from me in a couple of days, well, it means my deathtrap lived up it it's title.

Happy painting!