Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Window

On Monday I cranked up the Christmas music and started painting the windows. It's so great to be an illustrator. I'm still adding my oils in washes (thinned down paint) - however, the washes are becoming more controlled. I've also begun to add thicker paint to the woodwork on the window where the light is hitting. It's not impasto by any means - but you can't see through it. The paint remains thin enough for color pencil work.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

More Detail

I've gone back over my pencil work on the trees with oil to help pop out the highlights. I've also started to work on the interior (window pane and mouse) with pencils. Believe it or not, the sky is a very pretty pale blue - it must be "non-photo blue" because the camera just won't pick it up.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Leaves and Trees

I've started to layout some detail outside of the window with oils. It's still very loose, but this gives me a broad base to work with later. I love birch trees, and I know they are plentiful up north, so I am preparing the ground work for their beautiful yellow leaves.

When the oils were dry, I went back in with Prismacolor pencils and started to "chisel out" the detail in the leaves. You can see where I "cut out" the areas where the sky is shining through. I also started to give some distinction between the changing colors (green to yellow) as well as the cool shadows and warm highlights. 

I have really come to love working with pencils in between layers of oil. They are so much fun and act very similar to oils as far as blending goes - yet they retain their own textural quality.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Having fun, then.....NOOOOOOO!

My next step is something new that I've been playing around with over the past couple of years. I'm a fairly realistic painter, but I've found that my best pieces happen when I make mistakes. I think it's easier for me to let the illustration do the talking when I give up some control (or lose some of my control.) So I've tried to find fun ways to do that without ruining the painting. One of those ways is to take a palette knife and create some texture on the surface of the board with gesso. It's been so much fun for me and I'm almost always happy with the final look. It helps me loose control just enough to start having fun with the paint and stop worrying about achieving perfection. I haven't used this method on any paid jobs... but that's why I practice, and one of these days I will. 

THEN... I realized I have made a terrible mistake! I usually pride myself on checking all of the historical facts when I paint. My painting "Escape from Alcatraz" is a great example of how picky I can be with timelines and dates. Even though I'm working with fictional characters, I love to elevate the suspension of reality with accurate details and facts. After I laid down the gesso, something in my brain started nagging me to check the timeline I was creating, and that's when I realized I screwed up. Le Chateau Frontenac didn't open until 1893, and the large central tower was built even later than that. Since my story is based on a colonial mouse, and since tricorn hats were out of fashion by 1800... I had a problem. I decided to get rid of the hotel (with a layer of gesso) and am now trying to figure out what to put in it's place... if nothing else, maybe that's where the copy will go.  

C'est dommage.

Here is the piece with a burnt sienna oil wash over the gesso... with only a faint glimpse of the hotel. (Gotta like that texture though.)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Final Drawing

Here is the final drawing with all of the elements added together. 

And here is the drawing with a Payne's Gray acrylic wash to help pop the shadows.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Photo Reference

I had the fortunate experience to travel to Quebec City, QC with my French class when I was a Sophomore in high school. It was an incredible place to visit. So full of culture and history - a little bit of Europe in North America.

I took so many great photographs while I was there and always knew I would use them as part of a painting someday - especially this image of the Chateau Frontenac (where we actually got to stay for a night!)

Next, I had to decide what kind of world to place my mouse in. Would he be a regular size mouse in a regular human world? A human size mouse in a human world? Would he interact/talk with humans? Would he live like a real mouse? Would he live like a mouse but dress like a human? Etc, etc, etc... Then I had to find the appropriate setting for him so that the Chateau Frontenac would be visible and help to set the scene. I found a great, weathered window at one of my favorite Jackson, TN spots - The Old Country StoreThe shadows were amazing that day. (Look at the blue tones in the shadow on the windowsill!)

And then photograph some period items to include in the scene. Overall, some great photo reference. Now to put them all together.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A New Project

I've actually been working on a few projects lately, but I am not allowed to show any work until the projects are published. Fortunately, I found some time to develop this mouse idea and I thought I would show the process from beginning to end - which I haven't done in a while.
I created this little mouse about ten years ago. Mostly just for fun, but I also knew that one day I'd do something with him. I recently showed my agent, and she was convinced I needed to develop him further. I always knew he would be a little mouse from Quebec - but I wasn't sure how to place him into that setting. After some brainstorming, I came up with an image I was pleased with, and everything started falling into place. Here's the final character development.