I just turned in this illustration last week for Illustrating Literature class. It continues some ideas I have about Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea with Animals. I learned a lot more about painting water, textures, and lighting on this one and this week I’m working on more sequential illustrations from the story.
It’s been so busy, I haven’t had a chance to post to the blog, but I had an incredible time at #CTNexpo2017. I’ll have to follow up in other posts, but one of the sessions I went to was on publishing. Many of the artists at this expo were involved at least some point in huge animations studios like Disney, Dreamworks, Pixar, Blue Sky. Greg Manchess and Armand Baltzar talked about how they had a dream of getting their artwork and stories into book form, although they didn’t clearly fit into either picture books or graphic novels. The result is Greg’s Above the Timberline and Armand’s Timeless.
Here’s an example from Greg’s book. The inset is a personalized inscription he gave me.
Every week, the class assignment is to have each person suggest an illustration or group of illustrations based on the reading. For the chapter on tone, I chose this 1912 illustration by Sidney Sime (1867 – 1941) for Lord Dunsany’s The Book of Wonder. I chose it partly because it has some similarities, in terms of subject matter, value range, and atmosphere, to my own project for this week. I also chose it because it effectively uses various value and compositional elements, including a chiaroscuro technique, to guide the viewer’s eye throughout the piece. The first major area of light starts at the upper left corner, then trails around, almost like a curving road, to the first major subject, the city in the rocks. In turn, the curved shape of the light/shadow pattern and the diagonal lines of the rock lead into the menacing blackness filled with eyes under the bridge. The smoky shape at right helps to transition the viewer down to the next major subject, the man on the winged beast.
Imagine what the piece would look like without the large shadowy area at left. It would lose some of its atmosphere, with the impression of discovering something grand and menacing in a dark, obscure region. In addition, the black space filled with eyes under the bridge would be less clear as a main subject of the piece, since the chiaroscuro patterns of light and dark have the area immediately above as the brightest spot in the composition.
I’m looking forward to sculpting this tomorrow – we’re supposed to take a myth and create a container based on it. This was my favorite idea for the Tibetan story of the Frog King. The Frog King outwits both a fox and a tiger. My mythic object will be strands from the tails of a tiger and a fox when they got them tied together in a knot.
It’s been a busy quarter with two studio classes. In color, we started out with assignments to paint in different color harmonies – which forced us to experiment with non-usual colors. We ended the class this week with the topic of synesthesia – where senses are mixed in a physical experience, and then we were asked to create a work that was inspired by a response to music.
I had fun with this – and created this work with the woodpecker in a waterfall cascade of sound. It’s painting in gouache with a watercolor pencil for detail.
The color class was definitely the most challenging and new for me.
If you’re interested in the song the inspired the painting, I embedded it below from Soundcloud.
The Life Drawing class was pretty straightforward, but I found by just having to do so much drawing, it became easier to get a physical sense for what I was seeing, and then to appreciate the changes that take place with movement.
In one week’s exercise, we had to draw 24 hand positions.
James Gurney has a great blog, Gurney Journeywith great resources for how he learns to paint imaginary characters with life-like weighting, color, and balance. He uses references photos extensively to help him figure out feel the emotions of the characters in his pictures.
From Riding a Pterosaur:
“The idea is to get into the spirit of the action, feel the wind in your face and hear the screech of the pterosaur.
I think that’s more important than getting a photographically real piece of reference to copy. If you can identify with the weight and balance of things, and especially the emotion, you’ve got 90% of the problem solved.”
I had an incredible opportunity to study with Allen Williams at the TLC Workshops in October. Williams is a master of highly realistic fantasy drawings and I experimented for the first time with graphite powder.
This Marabou stork was the first thing that I drew with powder. I used William’s technique of looking for random patterns in powder then letting these patterns evolve into drawing.