Friday, July 22, 2016

Yellow Brick Road Trip Part 3

In my two previous blog posts I discussed the preliminary, drawing and composition stages of my latest painting, Yellow Brick Road Trip. In this final installment for this piece I want to explain a little about my painting process. 

I like to begin with an underpainting. Different artists have different approaches to this. Some artists skip the underpainting entirely. Many use sepia colors in their underpainting to lay down a warm tone. Some go a step further and add white to begin sculpting the highlights. I like a technique I learned from one of my favorite teachers from my Art Institute of Pittsburgh days, David Bowers. This technique begins with warm sepia tones and goes a step further by adding colors that are complimentary to the colors of the  final layer of the painting. For example, a blue sky will have an orange underpainting (orange being the compliment of blue) the underpainting for warm, pink, skin tones will be green and green grass will have a red underpainting. The complimentary colors of the underpainting help to make the top, final layer colors more vibrant.  

In this detail of the distant mountains, you can see some of the warm, 
orange underpainting showing through the cooler, bluish overpainting. 
The texture of the cold press illustration board helps me to achieve this look.
(Click any image for a larger view)

Usually, I cover the whole painting with the underpainting before beginning the final painting. This time I worked in sections.

Working in sections as I did on this painting, you can see that 
I have not yet applied the underpainting to the grass or the road.

Here are some details of the final painting along side the final sketches:

I made the Tin Man more sad in the final painting, 
with a more pronounced broken heart.

I always saw Dorothy with blonde hair for this painting.

And here is the finished painting.

For this painting I used water soluble oil paints which I really enjoyed. They are not as workable as traditional oil paints but they are more workable than acrylics. Traditional oil paints require solvents for thinning and clean-up. These solvents are toxic. Water soluble oils actually clean up nicely with water and brush soap. I found the brush soap was necessary to clean the brushes completely. The paints are workable for a couple of hours before their consistency begins to change and they are less workable. But they take several days to dry completely. Also, though they are water soluble they can not be used with acrylics. I contacted Windsor Newton on this question and a representative of the company wrote back to me to explain, “Acrylic dries by evaporation and oil colour by oxidation so mixing the two creates a situation that could cause either layer separation or cracking or blistering over time.” If you are looking for an alternative to traditional oils because you don’t like working with the solvents then I recommend water soluble oils.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Yellow Brick Road Trip Part 2

In my last post I explained a little about the earliest stages of my most recent painting Yellow Brick Road Trip.  In this post I’m focusing on some refinement I’ve done to the final drawing while transferring it to the illustration board. 

This is the drawing, ready to be transferred, as shown in my last post.

And here is the drawing transferred to the illustration board.
(You can click any image for a larger view)

I’m using Canson cold press illustration board. Cold press illustration board has a rough texture while hot press illustration board is smooth. I like the texture when I’m working with paint. When working with ink I often choose the smoother hot press board. 

At this stage I’ve added some more shading. But I’ve also made changes to one of the main characters. I had originally decided to give the Tin Man a more traditional look. By “traditional” I mean the movie version which I imagine is the version which comes to mind for most people. But as I transferred the drawing I decided to make him look more like a robot. I also decided to make him look sad and lost. 

In the movie version the Tin Man wanted a heart. In this illustration, I pushed slightly more toward the original story. This Tin Man needs a new heart because his original heart is broken.

There must be a story behind that broken heart.

The changing Tin Man.

The other characters transferred over without any significant changes.

The Scarecrow


The Cowardly Lion


In my next post I plan to cover the actual painting process.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Yellow Brick Road Trip

I’ve just completed a painting and I plan to share some of the stages of the paintings progress through my next few blog posts. The subject of this painting is the trip to Oz. I call this one Yellow Brick Road Trip

Strangely, Oz has found it’s way into several of my commercial projects as well, including two magazine ads where I used the theme of the Yellow Brick Road to promote a tile store, swapping out the character of Dorothy for one named Valerie. But that is the subject of a previous article which you can read by clicking here.

Getting back to this project… I’ve had a picture in my mind of a point in the story where Dorothy and her companions, having just come out of the woods, catch their first glimpse of the Emerald City. Here are a couple of very loose sketches I worked up for this one.

Click any image for an enlarged view.

While I already had a basic composition worked out in my mind, I still had two problems I needed to resolve. Should we see the characters from the side as they gaze out over the landscape or should I opt for a front view as they gaze out over us at some unseen destination? Should I choose a somewhat realistic approach or a more whimsical approach? The two sketches above helped me to resolve both issues.

There are also a couple of other issues I would find myself thinking through. Notice the differences between the two sketches of the Tin Man. 

I was torn between making him look like the traditional depictions of the character vs. taking him in a more modern, robotic direction.

As you can see by this more refined sketch, I opted for a compositional compromise where we see the characters from the front but they are still looking off at something to our right. I chose this because I eventually want to show more of the landscape and especially Yellow Brick Road. I also chose a less whimsical style. At this point I’m also choosing a more traditional look for the Tin Man. But as you will see in my next post, I changed my mind yet again.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Color Value Illusion!

I do not claim credit for this post. I first saw this at what I consider to be the best illustration blog ever and I just have to share it and the original blog The Gurney Journey, a blog by master illustrator James Gurney of Dinotopia fame. Anyone who is interested in learning technique will absolutely love James Gurney’s blog. If you want to see Mr. Gurney’s original blog article where he explains the below phenomenon click here. While you are at his site, bookmark it and explore to your heart’s content.

The illusion:

Believe it or not, squares 1 and 2 below are exactly the same color and value.

Don’t believe it? 

Here is the proof:

Is art fun or what?

Again, if you are an artist you must visit The Gurney Journey! It is an absolute treasure trove of studio tips and insights on the visual arts. Enjoy!