Tuesday, January 10, 2012

SuperMax to the Rescue!

Forgive me, it has been 2 years or longer since my last post. Feels like the beginning of a "confessional" scene to numerous movies and cable shows that I have seen! (Hello "Boardwalk Empire!" Gotta love that show.) Regardless, I felt that perhaps seeing "behind the curtain"on the process that it took to arrive at my newest painting, The Adventure Begins, aka SuperMax, might be what it takes to get me out of early blog retirement.

I guess it's important to realize the reason behind the painting in the first place. I bought a Superman outfit as a gift to my nephew Max, for his 2nd birthday. Seeing the pictures of him wearing the costume got me thinking of his next birthday gift, but the clincher was that Max saw the painting that I did for his sister Sadie and actually asked where was his painting from me. So, I had no choice at this point. I was helpless against his strong-armed tactics.

However it was important to me that this picture was not simply kitch. I wanted this painting to be a piece of art that he could grow up with to remind him not to forget his childhood dreams, his innocence, and hope for the future. Or his cool Uncle Terry, of course!


I shot a lot of photos of Max the next time we got together for the holidays. Luckily, his dad was very helpful in coercing Max into the Superman positions. However, even with all of photos, I was not happy with just one, so I was forced to use his head from one shot and pasted it onto his body of another. (Thank you photoshop.) Here is that photo:
I also did some research for the initial background idea and found a rather green/grassy picture which I will not post because I did not personally take the shot.

Original Painting
I did the painting in Photoshop for a few reasons.
1) I needed some digital samples for my portfolio.
2) I wanted to "prepaint" the idea to see if I'd be happy with it before committing to a real canvas.
3) I wouldn't be able to finish the real thing on canvas quick enough in time for his birthday.

While I was somewhat pleased with the result, I felt I could do better. The background was simply "too green" for my liking and the composition could be more dynamic. So I was determined to do better.

New Background Compositional Value Studies

So I regrouped, did more background research ideas to get inspired and did some rather quick background studies in photoshop. Since the figure was already done, I could paste it on top of the new studies and get a "feel" for what end result may be.

I showed these images to a few close friends, and all of them picked number three unanimously. Who am I to argue with that? So number three it was...

Color Studies

So wanting this version to be better than the last, I took one extra step. I did some quick color studies, varying from realistic to just somewhat more pushed. As a matter of fact, the one that was chosen from my small peer "feedback" group, was the last one that I did simply on a lark. I didn't expect it to be chosen, but just wanted to fill out the choices some. It wasn't unanimous on this one, just a majority vote. So you just never know, you know?

Realistic Colors:

Color pushed towards cyan:

Colors pushed cooler with more atmosphere:
Final Version

To go from the color study to the final was actually not bad at all. Since I had most of the colors chosen already, I could just use the eyedropper tool in photoshop to make sure I was on color target. Honestly, it simply became a matter of cleaning up shapes, adding details, and dealing with edges. The final image:

I was more pleased with the end result this time. I can only hope that my nephew Max will enjoy it for years to come! Now to figure out what to get him for his 4th birthday. Oy....

Friday, April 9, 2010

California Art Club...

So I was supposed to meet some artists at a park in Pasadena. I had no idea who they were because the invite was through Facebook. I figured, "what the heck? Go someplace new, see a new landscape and meet some new artists." When I got to the park, no one was to be found. I asked some nearby women if I was at the right place. Turns out I was, but still no other artists to be found. When I mentioned to them why I was there, one said that she saw a whole bunch of people down the road with easels. I took a chance and sure enough there were a whole bunch of artist there with a bunch of easels. But they weren't painting. They were exhibiting their work right outside. They weren't the people I was supposed to meet, instead these people comprised some the the members of the California Art club, a club I had intended to join at some point but simply never got around to it. This outdoor exhibit that I had fortuitously ran into only shows once a year. It was beshert, (yiddish for fate) that I was here on this day and this place. Some of the work showing was quite good. I joined the club that very day actually!

Since I had my paints with me already, I decided not to pass up some painting time, so I set up down in a valley with a view of this bridge in Pasadena. Turns out another painter had the same idea, and his name was Richard Gallego. We got to talking and he was a totally nice guy, very outgoing and passionate about en plein air work too. We exchanged info and have already went painting at an amazing location.

While I was painting the bridge, I noticed a hole in the ground by my right foot. Throughout the course of the day, an inquisitive ground hog kept on sticking his head out and inspecting my painting. It was pretty funny. I wonder if he saw my shadow...Overall, a very good day!!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Miami Paintings!

So I spent a month in Miami with my brother David and his girlfriend Astrid. He was kind enough to let me crash in his extra bedroom for a long time! He has a beautiful place, kind of dark for my liking since his keeps most lights off, but beautiful nonetheless. I brought my easel and paints, of course, to keep myself sane and enjoy the outdoors. Since I had no form of transportation, I just walked around his place, painting whatever struck my fancy. This one was painted from my brother's building, overlooking the highway to go to Miami Beach, I believe. It was the first one that I did in Miami and perhaps my favorite...A maintenance man from his building came by to see if I was up to no good. My guess is that some occupant noticed me and must have been scared by my intimidating presence...hehehe...

Here is a view of my brother's building from the street. Pretty cool design for a building I must say. David mentioned that Michael Jordan lives here, but I never actually saw him. I was pleased in how I simplified the scene. I did have to remove a house in front of his building. It kind of marred the view, in the painting and in real life too!

So this is the view of his building from the other side. In order to get this view properly, I had to walk a ways down some highway on the shoulder to get far enough away to see the entire building. It was a bit sketchy there because David mentioned that an encampment of sexual offenders had taken up residence a short distance away. Turns out that those offenders in the system are not allowed to live in the city of Miami within a certain distance to schools. Because there are so many schools, living on the side of the highway was the only option. The police know about this and do not disturb them too much. They do go there to kick out homeless street people because they are not allowed to mingle with the convicted sexual predators. Perhaps that is why I finished this painting in less than an hour and a half!! Miami is a place like no other.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

More from the Senior Art class...

So I have a few more from the Emeritus College. I always enjoy painting there. The older artists always surprise me in a variety of ways. Some really talented people there...

For some reason, I actually forgot to bring a canvas, and my friend June saved the day by giving me one of hers. She made the canvas from a masonite square board. I have perhaps never worked on a square canvas, but beggars can't be choosers! It was only later that June asked me how I liked the canvas. I said it was fine. She replied, "Good. I should give you all of them that I made, because I can't stand working in a square canvas!" Gotta love June...

Kinda like this one, but not completely pleased with the screen right arm. Oh well...

I decided to paint a portrait so to continue to apply Nathan's lectures to good use. I seem to be able to relax better in this atmosphere and can usually get a painting that I am more pleased with. This particular model was in a bad way during the session. She had a splitting migrain and couldn't stay still. I had to ask her to keep her eyes open in order to paint them. One artist there mentioned that this may be my most successful one that she has seen. I don't know about that, but I appreciated the kind words.

Happy Turkey Day!!

So for Thanksgiving I went to Columbia, MD with Jen. I always enjoy her parents' company and the deep fried turkey is amazing! In addition, they have a lake with some beautiful scenery behind their house. As a matter of fact, quite a few of the en plein paintings posted on this blog are from there. I brought my easel and paints (of course!) and had to do a painting. Truth be told, I attempted 3 paintings but only one I deem worth showing. Since I seemed to be in a painting slump of sorts, with a few crappy paintings as of late, I decided to pick a simple subject matter and just do it right. Back to the basics. Focal point, warm/cool, etc. It was cold and made me yearn to paint in the warmth of the California sun!!! :)

Nathan Fowkes Portrait class...

So my most recent class at the Academy has been with Nathan Fowkes. He works full time at Dreamworks as a concept/color artist. The class was called advanced portraiture and damn, there were some amazing students there. I was always amazed by the caliber of work being produced there. Considering this was my first true portrait class, I was happy to just get a painting look like a human being, let alone actually looking like model. I can recommend Nathan to anyone interested in learning an illustrators perspective on the craft. His lectures were extremely eye opening and helpful. He talked about the ability to manipulate what was before you and to put it on the canvas in a visually interesting manner, while remembering the limitations of the medium of paint and that the eye can be fooled very easily. By no means do my paintings even begin to show the extent of what he discussed. After his lectures, we sometimes only had two hours or less on the paintings. Only with more practice do I hope to begin to take his words to heart and completely understand the concepts. Art is always about continuing to learn, to see, and to do. "Practice, practice, practice..."

Nathan discussed how to paint with colored gels quite a bit. The highlight should show the color of the light and as the form turned away from the light, it should show more of the local color of the skin.

This is the 4th time I have painted this model. This time was with a warm/cool lighting scenario. The dark background seems to have added to the drama of this piece.

My birthday Gal!

November 5th was my 40th birthday. A milestone, I know. Jen asked me if I would like to go to Disneyland on my bday, which is free for the bday person and has some added perks, or go to my regular Thursday painting class. Hmmm.....decisions, decisions. I know that Disney is the happiest place on earth for some people, like my father, Jen and her family, but I am probably happiest when I am creating art. Preferable art that I feel is successful, whatever my various criteria may be. Yes, so I picked going to my Senior citizens art class! This is the model for that session. She is not pregnant, but rather obese. I actually don't mind painting overweight folks because there is so much more volume to capture. It can be fun getting lost painting all those curves. I may have missed out on riding Magic Mountain this year, but at least I got to paint some! Sorry, I couldn't resist... ;)