Monday 14 September 2009

Art Monday: settling in

Although I haven't had very much time to draw and paint lately, I can feel the beginnings of new routine establishing itself.

The trip to York U is a long one, and I have my trusty iPod Touch with the Brushes app to sketch with while bumped and jostled on the subway and bus.

For the moment, my class on Drawing & Narrative is on Tuesday mornings and I'm taking the whole day off work so I can get in some studio time in the afternoon.

I've started and stopped so many projects lately that I'm actually creating a checklist to keep them straight. Here's where I left off the Anomalocarid Dress that I began for Art Evolved's last group gallery:

I'm using Artrage, and this image on the right is such a massive hodge-podge of techniques. I am still sorting out my workflow, and this image is on many layers while I do that. Painting over top of the existing pencil sketch seems to be less rewarding than if I had completed the sketch in ArtRage itself.

There's a long way to go, and this is deep in the Ugly Phase: that phase of painting where I almost can't look at it. It's essentially an underpainting of colours to support more detailed layers over top. Although ArtRage functions realistically like oil in many ways, I have to kind of lay down a process for myself.

Normally when painting on canvas, I pre-prime the canvas with either a raw umber or straight ivory black. I enjoy the process of painting and watching the figures edge their way out of the darkness. It's like the image reveals itself on black instead of appearing on white.

With this image, I began by painting over the sketch, meaning over an off-white. So I added heavy blacks, and they feel big and globby.And the skin isn't right. I wanted a lopsided smile, but turned it into a deformed mouth. I'll likely need to start over, delete the scanned sketch page, leaving only the drawing, or reverse the values of the scanned image.

Let's see what I can do to correct this image in days to come.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Flying Trilobite Gallery *** Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ***


Mike Haubrich, FCD said...

I like the way you describe the process of the image revealing itself, as though it's there but it just needs your assistance in revealing it. That's how Dylan once described his songwriting. "The songs are already out there, they just need me to pull them out of the air. I just reach out and grab them."

Glendon Mellow said...

That's a good description.

I remember something similar in the novel The Agony & the Ecstasy (I think) about Michaelangelo simply revealing figures that were trapped in the marble.

Painting on dark very much feels that way. It's actually to the point of being a major crutch for me: I can't usually stand the ones started on pale surfaces.

Sean Craven said...

I think of all the creative stuff I do the same way -- but of course I have a paleontological metaphor. I think of the process of creating a song, picture, or story as a matter of digging up fossils and then assembling them.

I've been known to stick the wrong head on the wrong neck from time to time...

I've always wanted to try working light on dark, but since I'm so process-oriented/fiddly, I find that I muck things up fairly quickly.

Glendon Mellow said...

Ha! Wrong head on the wrong neck - that's a great description, Sean.

A lot of my art starts from notes - I tend to write down masses of notes before I start to sketch anything. I find it lets me pick between which concepts in my head if brainstorming doesn't get bogged down in visuals. Because if there are visuals, I will want to fix them up, even if they are "on the wrong neck".

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