Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Xmas Card

This will likely be the last piece I post for the year, as I go on hiatus (Stop complaining, you! I was thinking of stopping last Friday!) until the New Year. I wish you all the best and a very happy holidays, and let's just hope that 2013 is a little bit brighter than 2012. And if the sun explodes in two days during the Mayan Apocalypse..then at least 2012 got a whole lot brighter right there at the end.

So I leave you with my Christmas card for the lovely alligator on a bicycle...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Audrey Horne

I recently rewatched the pilot for Twin Peaks, an lamented the fact that it was far too ahead of it's time. Had it been made in today's current TV climate, it probably would've gone on for six season and a movie. However, one can't be too sure that today's shows would've existed without it, as Twin Peaks revived the dying one hour drama format. 

In any event, it naturally reminded me of my teenage crush on the lovely Sherilyn Fenn who played the playfully diabolical Audrey Horne in the series. She was the perfect segue between 50's pin-up beauty and wicked charm. The character was a stand out in the series who managed to showcase determined independence with just the right moments of tender vulnerability...see...there I go again, crushing on nostalgia. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Dame of Danger

Playing around in the gouache, I came up with a throwback to the days of pulp paperbacks and eye-popping poster art in this treatment of my friend, the lovely and talented Ver Mar.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

To The Future...

My latest painting in gouache, which is currently on display at the Hive gallery in downtown Los Angeles for the month of December.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Good Morning...And Goodbye!

Our final Russ Meyer girl was the former Miss Muscle Beach, Alaina Capri. Capri starred in two Russ vehicles, Common Law Cabin and Good Morning...and Goodbye!, whose plots are best described as the kind of lurid partner swapping amidst the hardboiled dialogue with an occasional killing. Capri excels at playing the bosomy vamp, using her sharp tongue like a flick knife. Sadly, these would be her only two outings, but then again, she came up a little too late to have been trading these kind of barbs in a Howard Hawks movie.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Fastest Pussycat

Yesterday, I posted my review of Russ Meyer's Common Law Cabin, which kicked this week's series off.

Today's quickie sketch is of one of Russ's most iconic creations, Varla, played by the fantastic Tura Satana in the uproariously titled Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965). The movie spins the far out yarn about a trio of homicidal go-go dancers who end up chasing a disabled old man's fortune in the southwest desert. In many ways it was a retelling with a gender swap of Russ's Motorpsycho, but Tura scene-stealing turn as the conniving Varla far outshone the previous film.  Though Tura had a number of roles in movies and several TV shows, she's probably most identified with this film...and well, her high-ranking status as one of the best burlesque acts of all time.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Dolly Beyond the Valley

For my other blog, I've written a review of a Russ Meyer film I hadn't seen in years...and thanks to the wholesomeness of the season, I thought I'd post a few quickies of some of Russ's buxotics.

We kick off with a sketch of Dolly Read, English pin-up model and actress, who starred as head of the Kelly Affair in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. It was one of Russ's two bids at studio backing, as Hollywood was looking to try and lure in the counter-culture audience. Dolls was not a sequel the Jacqueline Susann work, but it's own special bizarre creation. And why not? After all, it was co-written with Roger Ebert.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Among the Flora...

Another garden image...with a little bit of structure.

Monday, November 19, 2012

In the Garden...

Plant life and architecture are still stumbling blocks for me when it comes to drawing. And the answer, as with most things, is practice and more practice. I came across a series of old photographs of old gardens, and decided to reproduce a few as best I could.

Friday, November 16, 2012

"Everything I've ever told you, including this, is a lie"

My final entry into British Comedians of the past is perhaps the most fascinating to me, Peter Cook.

Cook represents the sort of comedian's comedian in England, and so very many of the best in British comedy have at one point cited him as an influence. John Cleese once said something to the effect that it would take he and Graham Chapman several hours to churn out three minutes of material, whereas it took Peter only three minutes to come up with three minutes of material.  But sadly, to most people, if he's remembered at all, it's for his hilarious portrayal of the wedding officiator in The Princess Bride. I would certainly recommend tracking down his early ensemble state show, Beyond the Fringe, what remains of his television show with longtime co-conspirator Dudley More, Not Only...But Also, and the fabulous original version of the movie Bedazzled.

Perhaps it's unnecessary to include this, but I just came across this quote before posting this from Clive James on Peter Cook: "He wasn't just a genius, he had the genius's impatience with the whole idea of doing something again. He reinvented an art form, exhausted its possibilities, and just left it. There is always something frightening about that degree of inventiveness... He didn't lose his powers. He just lost interest in proving that he possessed them."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"There Used To Be a Real Me, But I Had It Surgically Removed."

The next entry is a childhood favorite, Peter Sellers. I grew up watching The Pink Panther movies as a kid...and again, Peter was responsible for one of the other strangest episodes of The Muppet Show that I still remember.  As I got older, I would return to Peter Sellers in the genius that was Dr. Strangelove and Being There among so many others, as well as The Goon Show, which I mentioned in the last episode.  A comedic chameleon and prolific performer, Sellers' overall career definitely had peaks and valleys, but it would be difficult to diminish his legacy as a legend.

Monday, November 12, 2012

"I can speak Esperanto like a native..."

It's British comedy week for a sketch series. But were dialing it back in time to the people you should know but perhaps don't.

We're kicking things off with the Irish comedian, poet and playwright, Spike Milligan. He's perhaps best known as a creator and cast member of the long-running radio comedy The Goon Show, along with Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe. Spike wrote several hilarious books including his interpretation of The Bible, and many plays, one of which, The Bed Sitting Room, was made into a fantastically bizarre film.  I first encountered him as a kid on a particularly bizarre episode of The Muppet Show. Famously, when Spike died, he wanted his headstone to read "I told you I was ill...", but the cemetery wouldn't allow it. They compromised, and the epitaph was Irish Gaelic.

Friday, November 09, 2012

...and the last.

...and that was that.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

...and another...

Another quick study in line work.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Line Work...

I'm back this week with just some old-fashioned simple line work.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


The second of the speedy self-portraits.

I think the graphic quality of old posters is better in the last one...but the painting is better on this one.  We'll see.

Friday, October 12, 2012


The speed painting series (some of which I can't show on here, as they have other purposes) were all sort of leading toward this handsome fellow above. I took a little more time with this one, all the while keeping in mind the quick, decisive and vigorous brush strokes I'd been practicing on the speed paintings. He still had to get worked over a little more than I intended, but overall, I was pretty happy with how he turned out.  Now all I need is the time machine to take me back to a time when such skills were relevant.

(Also, of all my work, I need someone to explain why my self-portraits are the most popular pieces.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


No shame, I suppose, in admitting that I have little formal training in painting.  If anything, it's unfortunate, as I have a tendency toward wanting to create work like the old masters...and the great pulp illustrators and poster painters.  The old illustrators tended to have a high technical ability and were able to produce dazzling energetic work with rapid speed and exactness. So, these last few weeks, after just having worked in water-based mediums, I was inspired to achieve something similar and set to work with my gouache to see what I could do.  When it comes to reproducing a specific style, one has to do some studies, trying to dissect the technique...or at least what you think it might be. This was the fist in a series of paint tests, using an expanded palette of colors and laying it down as quickly as possible. Not a bad first try.

Friday, October 05, 2012

"Repeat After Me: I Am Not a Pleasure Unit..."

Our final super-spy for the week is the unmatchable James Coburn as Derek Flint. It was a review of Our Man Flint that I recently wrote for my other blog that inspired this series in the first place (you can read it HERE). Derek Fint was to be the American answer to Bond: hence the explanatory "Our Man" in the title. An early scene has Flint eschewing the Walther PPK and the myriad of other weapons associated with the movie spygame as barbaric. Flint is every bit as sophisticated and intelligent as Bond if not more so, and the publicity for the film has him tackling armies of girls at a time. To some, Coburn's performance might initially seem smug or arrogant, but it'd be hard fo the man who really could do it all to be all that humble, and Coburn's charisma eventually wins the day.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

"M. Appeal"

Turning to television for a moment, one of the most popular shows among the super-spy set was certainly the BBC series The Avengers, which still enjoys a healthy cult following.  One of the reasons for its success could certainly be attributed to the feminine wiles and allure of Emma Peel, played wonderfully by Diana Rigg.  Not only would Emma be considered an early feminist heroine who was allowed to rescue her partner, John Steed, as often as he rescued her, she also became a sort of mod fashion icon. Oddly enough, two casting tie-ins The Avengers shared with Bond: Emma Peel was a replacement for Cathy Gale, played by Honor Blackman, who would leave the series to play Pussy Galore in Goldfinger, while Diana Rigg would leave the series to join the cast of the ill-fated George Lazenby Bond vehicle, On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The Silencers

Having written a review of Our Man Flint on my review blog (click here to read!), I decided to revisit the 60's world of super-spy adventure! James Bond has been a hot property since first appearing on the printed page in 1953, and the movies have been a pop culture staple since Dr. No (1962).  And as has been the case since the dawn of Hollywood, success breeds imitation.  And while many of the Bond knock-offs have long been forgotten (no one I know who loved Austin Powers knew where half the references were coming from), the craze was pretty widespread.

One series seeking to cash in were the Matt Helm movies, starring Dean Martin, and produced by Irving Allen, former partner of Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, producer of the Bond films.  Based on the long-running series of novels by Donald Hamilton, the movies took on a swinging sixties tone compared to the dark and violent atmosphere of the books.  Martin is good fun, the gadgets wacky and vehicles bizarre (Helm's first vehicle is a trick-filled station wagon!), the movies are completely watchable and hilariously awful.  Think of them, if you will, as James Bond as created by the makers of the 60's Batman Tv series.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Samurai Reincarnation

We wrap up my ink-slinging samurais this week with a quick ode to Sonny Chiba from Kinji Fukasaku's Makai Tensho (1981).  Based on the novel Futaro Yamada, Makai Tensho retells a fantastical version of the story of Shiro Amakusa, wherein the Christian leader renounces God after the massacre following the Shimabara Rebellion and brings back to life a number famous swordsmen to exact his revenge. Romantic folk hero Jubei Yagyu enters the fray to defeat the resurrected samurai and stop the powerful wizard Amakusa.  Considering, how most samurai movies of the 60's and 70's are grounded in an all too gritty, blood-spraying reality, this one's a bit of a shock.  Fukasaku, however, is able to deliver a colorful and atmospheric fantasy tale with some great visuals aided by an iconic performance by Chiba as Jubei.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blood Spray upon the Snow

The second Japanese print inspired piece comes from a promotional photo of 70's Japanese action staple Meiko Kaji as the vengeful Lady Snowblood (1973).  From a manga series created by Kazuo Koike (who also created Lone Wolf and Cub), Lady Snowblood is the tale of Yuki, a tortured soul born in a woman's prison, who seeks revenge on the underworld figures who raped her mother, and killed her mother's husband and son. Definitely one of the highlights of blood-soaked Japanese cinema of the 70's and an exciting tale of revenge.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Sword of Doom

As I mentioned, those watercolors on ink a few weeks past were in part inspired by Japanese prints.  So for this week of drawings, I figured I'd break out my ink brushes (some for sumi-e and some not) and do a little wrist action-inking.

The first subject is the glassy-eyed amoral swordsman Ryunosuke Tsukue, played masterfully by Tatsuya Nakadai, making his last stand (...or is it?) in Kihachi Okamoto's 1966 film, The Sword of Doom. Doom has long been one of my favorite samurai films, and trying to capture Nakadai's long distance stare is half the fun.  The movie also features one of the most enigmatic cliffhangers of all time.  Originally meant to be a trilogy adapting one of the Japan's longest novels, only the first film was completed and the film ends mid-swordfight.

While I'm happy with the figures, I got a little too fast and loose with the background and architecture.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Nightmare

This week's final childhood favorite is perhaps the clearest in my memory: Henry Fuseli's The Nightmare (1781).  I first saw it on a field trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts in elementary school.  I recall that we started off with a guided tour of the huge auto industry murals in the foyer by Diego Rivera, before being released into the rest of the museum in a long chain reminiscent of the art museum scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986).  I wasn't able to linger in front of it as long as I would have liked that day, but when I returned to the Motor City in high school, I spent quite a fair bit of time staring it down in my frequent trips to the Institute. A large work, it retains much of its power to intimidate and still writhes with a seductive sexual energy.

Henry Fuseli (née Johann Heinrich Füssli, 1741-1825) was a Swiss born artist who did the majority of his professional work in England.  Fuseli's father was a painter who chose his older brother to follow the trade, while Henry was expected to join the clergy (He was ordained in 1761). Largely self-taught, Fuseli fled Switzerland after a political dispute for England where he met the British artist Sir Joshua Reynolds who encouraged him to develop his craft. The greater part of Fuseli's works were often dark visions inspired by literary passages, particularly from Shakespeare.  The Nightmare, one of his few works without literary precedent, startled and frightened viewers on it's initial debut, but has become a popularly reproduced composition for artistic and satirical works, was often used as an illustration in early psychoanalytical discourse, and was considered one of the precursors to the Symbolist movement.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hylas and the Nymphs

Admittedly, I have a hard time placing when I first saw the painting by renowned painter John William Waterhouse (1849-1917). It's one of those art history ironies that Waterhouse is probably one of the most reproduced of the Pre-Raphealites in calendars and book covers, though his work came several decades after the Pre-Rahealite movement had gone out of style.  In any event, if I was to guess, it was in a childhood book on myths and legends that I first came across this lovely work...and to be honest it was a toss up between sketching this one and Waterhouse's Lady of Shallott.

The painting depicts the seduction of Hylas by the nymphs of the spring of Pegae.  Hylas had been chosen by Heracles to join Jason aboard the Argos in pursuit of the Golden Fleece.  When Hylas vanished without a trace, Heracles and the cyclops Polyphemus searched the island for him in vain for days leaving the remaining Argonauts to set sail without them. The abduction of Hylas has been a popular motif in art since classical times.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pollice Verso

I was bit by the nostalgia bug this week and thought I'd revisit some of my earliest inspirations for wanting to draw an paint.

I can't recall whether it was a 4th or 5th grade social studies textbook where I first came across Jean-Léon Gérôme's depiction of gladiatorial combat, Pollice Verso, and I've never forgotten it. Gérôme (1824-1904) was a popular painter of many years whose illustrative style remained similar over his lifetime while his subjects went from the historical to the orientalist.  Pollice Verso, which means "with a turned thumb," is among his best known work and was a consistent influence on the cinema from the silents through the "sword and sandal" epics of the 1960's.  The only problem is that, historically,  no one is for certain which direction the thumb was going to signify death for the fallen: thumb up, down, horizontal, or hidden within the hand.

It's only been a couple of decades later that I finally got to see the painting in person at the first Gérôme retrospective in 40 years which showed at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.  While I appreciate many art historians' dismissal of Gérôme, when standing in front of this work, it's hard not to get swept up in the imagery to the point fo practically feeling the heat, and hearing the roar of the crowd.  There are layers of intricate detail worked into the reflections in the gladiator's helmet and gauntlet that I'd never seen in any reproduction.  So while he may not sit comfortably with everyone among the great Masters, it would be difficult to deny his ability to stir the imagination.

Friday, September 14, 2012

"Take It Easy, Fast Life Woman, Cause You Ain't Gon Live Always..."

Sam Lightnin' Hopkins was one of the great Texas bluesmen and often ranked as one of the top guitarists of all time. As Charley Patton was to Howlin' Wolf, Lightnin' met blues legend Blind Lemon Jefferson at a Church picnic and soon was accompanying and playing with Jefferson around the region.    Hopkins performed from the 1920's all the way to the 1980's, and was around long enough for his era of blues fade away only to be rediscovered.  In the liner notes for one of his albums, I recall one producer commenting that despite the wide diversity of recordings by Lightnin', it was tough to get him into a studio; however, once a suitable lure was found, Hopkins would lay down tracks for hours.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"I Couldn't Do No Yodelin'...So I Turned to Howlin'."

"A Robert Johnson may have possessed more lyircal insight, a Muddy Waters more dignity, and a B.B. King certainly more technical expertise, but no one could match him for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of their wits." -Cub Koda,

Ranked amongst the best of the Chicago bluesmen, Chester Arthur Burnett, better known as Howlin' Wolf, possessed a loud, booming voice that could both rev you up and give you the shivers. The Wolf began his long trek down the music corridors after meeting blues legend Charley Patton who was playing a local juke joint near the Wolf's childhood home.  Patton taught him his first few songs and by the time he was in his 20's he was playing solo shows across the south. After being simultaneously signed to two record labels, he chose Chess and moved up to Chicago where he would lead a successful career that kept him howlin' into the 70's.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Man that Shouted Rock 'N Roll

"The Boss of the Blues", Big Joe Turner, 6' 2" and 300 lbs ,began working Kansas City clubs at the ripe old age of fourteen.  The big blues shouter had a successful run leaping from KC to the NYC scene in a dazzling musical shift from big bands to jump blues and eventually rhythm & blues.  In 1951, he was signed to Atlantic by the Ertegün brothers (it was Ahmet that Curtis Armstrong played in Ray (2004)) and he had a long run of hits on the R&B charts, and though his 1954 single, "Shake, Rattle & Roll," would take a backseat to Bill Haley's cleaned up cover, music lovers seeking out Turner's original turning the big man into a rockstar at 43.  Big Joe was a non-stop performer from the the 1920's until he passed away in the mid-80's.

(There's other videos of Big Joe doing the clean version of the song...but I like Shakin' & Rattlin' a little bit dirtier...Enjoy!)

Friday, September 07, 2012

Off to the Races

The final piece in this series of watercolors on ink creations is in some ways my favorite of all of them.  It's not necessarily the most accomplished. In fact, I would say, in terms of rendering, it's a step down from the last one.  Despite that, I'm quite fond of it.  A few other share my enthusiasm...but it's mostly for the side-boob.  In any event, that brings this particular series of pieces to a close, though it hasn't killed off my desire to pursue the style.  I might, in fact, be working on another one.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

On the Track and Off the Rails

The second attempt at a final piece for this series is perhaps best described by the image illustrated above.  I suppose you could say that the speed and ease with which the first one came together caused a bit of overconfidence in approaching the next one.  I have a photo of the drawing that I did before I began to paint, but have since scrapped the abortive attempt.

This image, the train wreck, was the third and perhaps finest of the entire series. You may not agree, granted, but I feel that this was where the imagery and the style best came together.  For the first time, I've actually wanted to repeat something like this composition as the masters of old often did multiple copies and versions of some of their best work, but haven't quite gotten down how I would do a reinterpretation of the image.  In any event, like the water nymph before, this one also sold.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Water Mediums and Goddesses

At long last, this week, I'll be sharing the final pieces from my watercolor experiment from a recent commission.

I began with this one, and I'm sort of amazed it turned out as well as it did.  It also took far less time than I expected.  Now you have to work quickly (but patiently, ironically enough) with watercolor. However, since I was doing this in glazes and washes with no real direct painting until the very end, it came together far quicker than I expected, especially for not having a hair dryer between layers.  As I may have mentioned, I was looking for something landed somewhere between the Victorian illustrators Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac and late era Japanese prints. This one of this series probably hit closest, though it appears that some Mucha snuck in there for good measure.

I've included the original drawing below for comparison.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Policeman in Water No. 2

I have to figure out the issues with absorbency of pigment, but I may have found my paper. Still need to test out Windsor & Newton's lifting prep, which may address the issue.  But for giving something that Japanese print look, this hits pretty close to the mark.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Myriad of Combinations

With my commission behind me, I'm continuing to develop this new watercolor on ink work as the response to it has been fantastic.  And while I enjoyed how those pieces turned out (stay tuned, I'll be posting the results of those soon enough), I'm not sure that I want to commit every whimsical idea I have to hot press watercolor illustration board.  That might constitue excess. So we're mixing up the papers and seeing what they'll do.

Also, thanks to the advice of my buddy, the fantastic artist/illustrator, Dave Crosland, I've come to love diving into the various mediums that can be added to paints.  So I believe I've completed the Windsor & Newton line of extras, and now I'm eyeballing all the strange chemicals that Holbein makes to add to watercolor.  Gotta start saving up my nickels and dimes, as those run a little pricey.  (Feel free to wire me the funds, I'm not above begging in the name of artistic experiments!)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Awash in the Flow of Watercolor

At long last I've returned with one of the finished pieces from my new water-based paint experiments. I'm very happy with them, though they're still not exactly what I wanted.  I was aiming for something somewhere between Japanese prints and Arthur Rackham.  In that respect, I've been somewhat successful, but there's still something lacking.  Now part of it is that my water color skills, while improving, are a damn sight below Turner...and maybe the drawing, while also getting better, still has room for improvement.  I'm working on it. Always working on it.  But here's a taste of the results.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Final Test

By the time I rolled around to this test, I was already feeling more comfortable with using watercolor glazes again.  This was more of a paper test.  While I knew about hot press, I had never used it.  Heck, I'd never even used super heavy paper before (and I'm depressed to admit that even watercolor board I've been using has still been buckling and/or curling more than I expected, necessitating the use of tape).  Hot press, though it too has grades, usually has a smoother or satin texture to it, as opposed to the grainier texture of cold press.  So as I prepped the final drawings, I did some glazes on this little lady.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

More Testing...

Much like acrylic mediums a year or two before, I had never really played with all the chemicals you can get to go with watercolor.  So, this test got a little damaged as I tried them out.  Specifically with the masking fluid.  Masking fluid, for those who don't know, is sort of like rubber cement and can be used to cover areas you want to keep free of paint.  It peels up with your thumb or eraser when you're done; however, you can't leave it on indefinitely, and with the wrong paper (which this was), it'll tear up the artwork when you try to take it off.  Like any medium on any project, this is what the testing is for. Like most of my gender, I tend to tear right into things without reading all the directions first.  Fortunately, I've at least learned to invest time in doing these tests so I can do this rash play, and figure out what I'm doing wrong without ruining the final project.

In the end, the paper was heavy enough that I was able to re-ink what got torn and with a few more layers of wash, I mostly managed to fudge it out.  Had I not liked the drawing, I likely wouldn't have bothered.  Even with a few rough spots, it turned out to be a decent piece.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Testing...Testing...1-2 1-2...

I'm afraid there hasn't been much time for sketching lately, as I've been in full finished piece mode for some time now.  But as I had to continue doing paint tests in preparations for the final pieces, I figured I'd share some more of the tests.

Now, I realize that doing watercolors and gouache (which I learned was once called bodycolor) over ink doesn't seem like it would call for much testing, but then you don't understand how long it's been since I've worked with watercolor.  The water-based disciplines sometimes get the short shrift because of their associations with crayons and kids, but to do them well takes patience and skill.

So, I started with a quick sketch of classic Hollywood star, Myrna Loy.  It's not totally accurate, and I realize the level of the eyes are a bit wonky....but didn't I say test above?

I chose to go for a teal/turquoise color of glazing.  The first couple I mixed, but as I felt it needed more greens or blues, I only added additional glazes of one or the other.  Myrna's hair was red and I figured that would be a great offset to the backdrop...and hey, I think I was right.  So there you are.

In case you were wondering what the finished piece from last week's post looked like.  I figured I'd include it with this post.  Using sepia as a base glaze helped get that muted tone that I'm going to be looking for in the final pieces.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Process Shots

Normally, I don't photograph works in progress.  Often it's because I'm not happy with what I've done by the time I'm done for the day up until the day I'm putting on the last strokes.  Other times it's to keep subjects from getting self-conscious, or clients from getting worried...not because I'm bad, but because not everyone gets the process.  Or, I might nail some spot that I love, but because the rest is underdeveloped, it doesn't feel right to document it.

But this time, I've got a commission, and it's requiring me to try something new...well, not entirely new since most people have played with watercolors as kids.  But over the years, working in acrylic and gouache, I've gotten used to direct painting, and watercolor is a whole other thing.  So I've been hitting up the web blogs and tutorials to get a grasp on how to achieve what I want, but let's face it, as with most creative endeavors, trial and error is the best way to learn.

Now what I'm shooting for is a sort of classic style in the school of Arthur Rackham or Edmund Dulac, two of the Victorian era's greatest illustrators.  Their works were typified by pen and ink drawings colored with washes of watercolor.  Dulac tended to be richer in color where Arthur had more of a washed out sepia look. I sort of plan to split the difference.  So, I made my drawing from an old photograph, and started by staining the paper (I chose 185 lb paper...which actually turned out to be too thin for all the washing I was doing, that was Lesson 1).  Then, I had to let it dry.  Now, I could get a hair dryer, but some feel it changes the tone of the paint and fortunately I had another small project to work on between glazes.

I wanted it dark, with a lot of contrast between the figure and the background.  I didn't bother with masking fluid and later just lifted the spillage with a brush and water. Also, a little color seeping helps to keep the the figure and background looking unified.  But I have to admit, I get bored and frustrated working this way.  I usually end up causing a lot of the bleeding myself because I keep wanting to jump into working other areas, but you can't add more of a water media next to a wet area and not expect to see the tendrils of color worming their way over.

And the thing about watercolor and washes is that you have to do tests or swatches because what it looks like fresh and wet isn't always what it looks like once it dries.  Some colors stay bright or seem brighter, others wash out really easily.  The one that seems most obvious, but is somehow easily forgotten, is that it's not likely to have much of that gloss (without mediums) that you may or may not like.  And so on.

Once I had the background down, I went back in to work the figure, but I still didn't directly paint any of the tones.  I'd wet an area, drop in the tone then give it some mild working with either a brush or small make-up sponge, or both.  The buckling of the paper caused some pooling that made for some matte effects in the thicker paint that I wasn't crazy about, but over all, she turned out ok.  However, my final pieces are going to be a helluva lot more might be another couple of tests until I can jump in.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Painting Water in Watercolor

No real series for this week.  In fact, this one should've been the wrap-up for last week.  This week's material are tests for a new project and commission I'm working on.  It's taken some getting used to to get back into watercolor after being so used to direct painting, either in acrylic or with the gouache.  Anyhow, that's what I'm doing...and the above is how it's going so far: not terrible...but not great either..

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Tides of Fashion

The second in a series of originals finds another strange bather in the surf.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Tides of War...

It's a series of originals this week.  The sun, the surf and the strange have infiltrated my sketchbook this week. Enjoy!