July 2012

New Painting, Step Three: Major Colors

I did get a couple hours to work on the painting yesterday. Not a lot, but enough to get started on the dress and the lounge upholstery. The definite highlight was getting to work again with baby Dorothy in tow. She went in the moby wrap and we bounced around to a record as I worked at the easel. It was a charmed life moment. A later afternoon session saw her a lot more grabby, so it didn’t last long. No cadmium red for baby.

Saturday painting progress

Right now I’m just blocking in the main areas of color. Some of this will have to be balanced as I progress. I’m feeling like things are getting a little too saturated vs. the skin tone (which almost always happens for me), so I’ll probably go over the lounge with a transparent layer of ochre. I’ll save that step for later on though, once more colors are blocked in.

More later on!


New Painting, Step Two: Start It Up

Day the second. Time to bring the PAINTING.

So, Sarah made it clear that she’s after full color. Sorry, Leonardo. I like the unfinished look of that one thing (and your fabulous blue mask and katanas), but we’ll keep your influence a little further away. She also reminded me that she wanted a feeling of ‘abundance’, with fruit, flowers, etc., as utilized to good effect by Mucha. Fair enough. She pays me in love, she gets what she likes (I like it too)!

Here’s one of the images she responded to, particularly its color. She digs the turquoise, so I’ll be incorporating that later on.

First off, some sketches. I usually vary from painting layouts pretty significantly as I work, but I did find a pose that I liked, and ran with it. Exhibit A.

New Painting Sketch

I also scribbled this face. Vampy McVamperson, Exhibit B.

Vampy McVamperson

These images are taken with my cell phone for simplicity’s sake, so … forgive. Next up, I started drawing on that freshly gessoed masonite with my trusty red Derwent pencils. These are nice because they avoid the problems of dead-cold graphite showing through thin layers of paint. Everything gets covered over eventually, but it’s nice to have a warmer feel to the lines while I’m balancing colors later on. I pretty much always get better results when painting from these. Maybe it’s just psychological, but I’ll take it. Exhibit C.

pencils new painting

After I got the drawing where I wanted it (a lot of trips to the mirror to check it with the other side of my brain), I laid down a sealing layer of ochre acrylic, matte medium, and flow release (mixed together), let that dry well, and started in on blocking out flesh tones. Ghostly Exhibit D.

starting to paint new painting

Then it’s off to the races, laying down more colors and color variations to really carve out her features and frame them with SUPER-NOUVEAU-HAIR. Which brings us to the last image, Exhibit E. The flesh tones aren’t completely done, but they’re getting there.

Painting New Painting

Once again, my cell camera’s bringing me down, but maybe that will help with the big reveal at the end (using a better camera). I hope to make some more progress on this tomorrow, and if so, I’ll surely post an update.

Thanks for reading!

New Painting, Step One: Research

I’m in the rare position of having a couple days to dedicate to a painting for my wife, Sarah. She often uses the “cobbler’s children have no shoes” line in reference to how little art she has from me. It’s been a couple years now, and I’m overdue to put on the good-husband-artist hat and whip something up.

I purchased my masonite board this morning, and have a second coat of gesso drying as we speak. I’d show you, but it’s just white.

Instead, let’s take a look at possible subject matter/reference/points of inspiration.

mucha drawing detailSarah wants something in the vein of a Mucha woman with long, flowing hair. That’s (I think) all the direction I have so far. I like Mucha. Who doesn’t? You may see him everywhere, but he’s got a lot of appeal. I have to say, I do gravitate towards his drawings more than his highly decorative finished illustrations. I’d like to keep some part of my painting gestural and loose, so I’ll be looking further afield for some of my cues, but Mucha’s a starting point.

I thought of asking Sarah to model for the piece, but what’s weirder? Having your wife’s exact likeness, multiple feet across, hanging around your living room and all done up in a sensuous, Art Nouveau sump’n-sump’n, OR, pasting some other lady’s face over all that? I’ll have to do some research on that point. See what the patron wants to do.

I do know that I want to do something in a landscape format, in an asymmetrical composition. Something along the lines of this Ava Gardner shot. In fact, Ava Gardner wouldn’t be a bad choice for this piece (or anything, really).

ava gardner


John William Waterhouse is another example of an artist I could reference in the same spiritual vein, but I’d like to bring in some element of pop art, or just something to loosen it up a little bit. Just a dash so it doesn’t get precious.

The other thought I have is to not make it a finished painting at all, but to leave a lot of it in the sketchy construction phase, with deep sepia tones, reds, and chocolatey browns making up the major palette. Like this unfinished piece from you know who. Maybe a little more color, a little more finish in select areas.

Tomorrow I’ll have some of the questions nailed down, but this is a start. I’ll keep you posted as I head into the mockup and actual drawing.


I Love Gipi

Happy Fourth of July, America. To celebrate our independence from those tyrants across the pond, I’m showing off my favorite non-English European cartoonist.

His name is Gipi, and First Second puts out a good bit of his stuff stateside. Fantagraphics, too. I really appreciate a cartoonist that can fluidly construct a figure with a sense of dimension— of really living inside a scene’s geometry, while using very few lines. The more you draw, the easier this becomes, but most of us won’t ever approach this guy’s level of ease in drawing something so loosely, but so well anchored in the rules of perspective. His cartooning skills are closely tied to his work in animation and film. You really get the sense that he knows exactly how everything he draws should look from any conceivable angle. And that’s just the start!

His watercolors are gorgeous. He picks colors that serve his cartooning, but also capture light and form with painterly depth. None of the colors dominate and call-out, “Hey, I’m a focal point!” Everything’s in service to a brittle line that never belabors its subject, but gives just enough. He suggests, and invites our imagination to contribute the rest.

It’s always scary to meet the people you admire, but one day I’d like to shake the hand that channels this amazing, unforced way of seeing and thinking. It’s sort of miraculous to me.

It’s Refreshing to Look Better


The website overhaul. It’s like cleaning your room after two years of gradual, serenity-scrambling disorder.

I owe a little thank you to Dylan Meconis, whose swanky website inspired jealousy, and hence, this refresh. It looked SO good, I couldn’t help but take some cues (and her WordPress theme). While we’re at it, go get on Dylan’s Kickstarter campaign if you haven’t. You can get a high-quality print copy of Outfoxed, my favorite Eisner-nominated web comic of last year, and lots more. I’m serious. I’m not just guilty for stealing her theme. She makes beautiful stuff.

In other news… I’m just about to get started on my last issue of John Arcudi’s The Creep. It’s been a fun ride, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he finishes everything up (Dark Horse tells me the script is on its way this week). One very fun part of it is that after getting covers from a ton of great artists (Mike Mignola!), I get to finish up the run with my own cover. So be on the lookout for that in a few months!

And now, a man in a hat.

man in a hat