The latest in the Statement series, with a fun variant on the white fabric: leather! A friend of mine has this neat leather motorcycle jacket, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to paint a different type of material.
Due to the color of the materials, I did something I don’t usually do on these painting: I used black paint. Carbon Black, specifically. I can usually get a good rich dark color out of mixing Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue, but I felt the colors in those would take away from it, and mute some of the matte vs shiny goodness here. I kept the rest of the colors pretty muted to balance it out…hence the grayish speedlines of the background.
There were a few interesting and tricky parts to this one. The jacket has a series of fine perforations on the bottom half of the chest and the inside of the sleeves. The helmet has mix of matte and glossy areas. Surprisingly, the jeans ended up being the most difficult part of this to get right in terms of the color and texture. I may need to find more photos with jeans in them for practice.
Also fun here: painting logos. The logos and color scheme reminded me of painting a 3-4′ wide piece of wood with a Nascar auto on it for a kid’s room decoration years ago. At some point I may try my hand at making a font.
This week in Inktober is Maddie, age 31. My pen may be running out, so hopefully it will last another two weeks. I realized that I sometimes start making these expressions too while I’m drawing them…which is probably a little odd in public.
Here’s the rest of my Inktober sketches in case you missed previous weeks.
!Ay Dios Mio! in San Pedro Square Market hosted a sugar skull-making day today, in prep for Dia de Los Muertos. I missed it last year so I was glad to catch it this time. This one is complete with earrings, glasses (kind of), and braces…to correct the overbite, I’m guessing.
For this week of Inktober I’ve been sketching Michael, 23 years old. Last week I decided to go directly to ink, and continued that this week. Like last week, the first one felt a bit awkward and got better with successive expressions. The mustache was a bit too heavy on the first, and I realized I needed to use a lighter mark to make it look right. It was also challenging to draw someone much younger (few creases!) so every mark counted. I finally noticed the small bit of a wave in his hair on the final drawing too.
Lots of stippling with his hairstyle! I enjoy stippling, but it takes a lot of patience. There are so many ways to unintentionally create strange patterns or marks, especially if you rush it. I usually end up blurring my vision a little bit and getting into an almost trancelike state to stipple consistently.
This is the latest little sketchbook I’m carrying around for the occasional moment to draw. The theme of the last one was Object Oriented, and it was a little brown book with sketches of objects drawn in brown ink. For this little black book I wanted a different theme, ideally playing off of another computer science term. Hence: Undefined Variables.
I’m trying out a more elaborate ruleset on this one. I didn’t really know whether it was working until I’d gotten four or five of these done. The ruleset is this:
1. Draw a scene of the objects in front of me and pick one object to cut out, leaving only the outline of the space where it would be.
2. Instead of drawing the true background, fill it with a nearby pattern.
Here’s the first quarter or so of the book.
Here are the rules I’m following: pick one person from the excellent Facial Expressions reference book, and each week, focus only on that person and draw a different expression every day. The book is a wonderful reference of people of a mix of ethnicity, body type, and gender, from 20’s to 80’s.
This week I chose Roshan, a 47-year old woman. I started off by penciling first and then inking. I’d barely started on the eye when I quickly realized that the Uniball Vision I was using put out too much ink for the notebook I’m using (a blank thin-paged paper-cover Moleskine). I switched to a Micron 02 (0.3mm) since the paper is so delicate. It’s much easier to draw creases and wrinkles when drawing with thinner lines overall. It feels slightly like cheating to me because I’ve been drawing with thicker (more unforgiving) lines. I figure if I do this for a while I can get more confident about working back to the thicker lines. I felt like it lost a bit of the expressiveness by drawing it in two stages (pencils & ink) so for the rest I used ink only. Week 1 is done!
Another figure & fabric Statement exploration, this time where the drape of fabric comes from the surroundings. This pose presented some fresh challenges that can be hidden in drapey clothing: how to capture its natural balance and ease, and getting the right colors and tones in the shadows.
The sheets had a nice subtle damask stripe which was very handy for defining the shapes. When I first started into the shadows, I used a consistent gray until I noticed little patches of other colors. I realized there were two light sources: a prominent yellowish light (probably a ceiling light), and a much lighter bluish source (probably from a window). Separating these helped create more realistic lighting on the sheets and pillows. The wood was awfully close to the base burnt sienna color (with streaks of burnt umber), so the background was quite easy to clean up along the way.
My “despair” moment on this piece was making the error of using washes to lighten up the figure. It sucked out all of the color, and I ended up repainting over almost all of it. However, in the process of that, I came up with a stippling dry brush style that created a nice texture. I also found it better to gradually move towards progressively darker (or lighter) colors and mixing them as I went.
I think my first instinct when painting is to gravitate towards watercolor-style effects, but they just don’t work as well in acrylic on this fast-drying claybord. The drawing-style effects like stippling or hatching turn out better. The dry-brushing is pretty hard on the brushes, but if it looks good, it’s worth chewing up a brush or two along the way. I’ll just be sure to get the cheap ones.
Alan took a photo of our cat I/O a few years ago with this amazing yawn. I’ve wanted to paint this for a while, but couldn’t decide on the right ratio. Square? Rectangular? It looked odd to crop it any more closely. I got an extra 20″ x 16″ canvas from my friend Jenny and opted to use it here.
It had great details: the colors, the ridges of the roof of the mouth, the curl of the tongue, and especially the little barbs. It also had an interesting blueish color cast from the lighting. Though I usually use ultramarine blue for the cooler tones, I switched to cerulean blue deep since that was closer to those colors. I like how the colors look together, so I might stick with this in the future.
I/O is unfortunately missing one of her top fangs now, after it got knocked out after a fight. Otherwise, she is just as (unintentionally) fierce, and is observing this as I write it.
I’m starting a series of paintings to explore two things I’ve wanted to work at more: figures and fabric. I’m always drawn towards art that has people in it, especially people with a distinct mood. I also wanted to build up more technical skill in drawing/painting fabric with realistic weight and drape. I’ve been paying more attention to white walls/fabric in particular to get more attuned to subtle influences of light color and soft reflections.
After some thought I’m going with the name “Statement” for these. I’m looking for poses that communicate a point of view, and I’m challenging myself to not rely on facial expressions if at all possible. It’s also a nod to the role of fabric: not just a thing for comfort, but a thing that reacts to our shapes and reflects our stance.
This one is the result of a collaboration with a talented photographer friend, Jillian of Epoxy Studios. She recently took headshots for Alan, and they were good sports to try some artsy poses that I could paint. I really liked the balance of this image.
I’m also trying out a new surface: a smooth masonite-like board called “claybord“. I don’t particularly like the texture of canvas, so this is a nice change. It’s smoother than I’m used to, which is both good and bad. The paints seem to dry much faster on it too, which can be challenging. Overall, I like the size and how solid they are.
The fabric was particularly challenging. Two things in particular helped:
I’m looking forward to more paintings in this style, hopefully with a range of people.