Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Illustration Construction: Part Three

Don't yet have a title for this in-process watercolor of the artist in his studio.
It's a section of one of three slightly different interiors based on the sketches of the previous two posts.  http://tomsarmo.blogspot.com/2013/06/illustration-construction-part-one.html

Took it into my head to work the same painting using three different media: Watercolor, oil, and gouache (or maybe acrylic?).  I reasoned that it would be good for me to focus for once, and believed I must finally choose a single medium in which to work. (Occasionally, self-delusion and irrationality visit my studio. They tend to hang around awhile, too.)

Some details of each prep-drawing follow.
Ended up tweaking every drawing, so they are slightly different. Sort of like that "Doublecheck" activity in Highlights magazine--sorry 'bout that.

This is a detail of the artist done on gessoed hardboard prepped for oil. It's brush and india ink.

 This one is a detail of the artist done on Crescent watercolor board, in sepia ink. Already begun to work the color  into it (see first pic above).

 This one is a detail of the artist in preparation for either gouache or acrylic (can't decide), again using india ink. (Btw, the ink has to be sealed prior to acrylic being applied.)

This is the artist's assistant (he holds the lantern-stick) in the oil painting. Good thing oils allow mistake-fixes.

This is the assistant in the watercolor version.

The assistant turned into three birds for the gouache/acrylic version. There's boredom in action for you.

It does seem a bit absurd to do a similar pic three times, but it's what I've set my mind to do.
 With many other irons in the fire, it may be awhile before these are completed. Oh well, wish me luck.

And thanks for checking in!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Illustration Construction: Part Two (and a Rough back-step)

Roughs. A few anyway.  
Sorry, I forgot about the roughs. I did about 8 for this project. These were done after the first composition sketch--the one with the words on it 
(see previous post http://tomsarmo.blogspot.com/2013/06/illustration-construction-part-one.html ) and I should have stuck them in there.
These are a combination of value and composition thinking. The initial idea is just about subject. Roughs (or thumbnails) like those above help me develop the subject into an actual scene. Roughs are crucial in finding the best solution for the scene.
I decided that the interior, not just the characters, was important to me. So I chose the second from the left for my composition, and the last one will be a reminder for the light or atmosphere.

 Somewhere along this process I began sketching face ideas for the artist. Much of the time this sort of "thinking" is done while sitting around talking with my family, not necessarily while I'm in the studio. You could say it's like letting the unconscious take over.

There were quite a few more interim sketches of this guy, too many to reasonably show. This is one I traced up to see if I liked the character.

[You can skip this paragraph if you want--it's a bit of an apology. The most satisfying "making" for me comes while thinking and sketching and dreaming--and that lazy wandering feeling is very close to sublimity. I like to draw everywhere--both on paper and in my head, and most of those drawings get lost. There's something sort of nice about the impermanence.
Finally though, a fellow has to quit the lazy part and get to work. But the methodical exertion on the drawing table is not my favorite thing, and I too often rush that part. The tough issue for me is keeping the qualities of my wander-sketching--and the joy-- in a final illustration. I hope I can do that for this particular picture.]

Anyway, here is the second stage of the drawing. The artist and helper are still wavery and uncongealed, both here and in my head. But I'm getting there.
Next up: Part Three and some color.

Thanks for staying with me on this particular journey.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Illustration Construction: Part One

Good old summer--ugh! It's my most trying, most un-stimulating season for some reason. This year, instead of fighting the annual "creative block", I went back into an old sketchbook for inspiration. Since the artist-in-studio has always fascinated me, there were plenty of sketches to look at.

These were done a great many years ago, but luckily touched off an idea; a complete studio interior with an artist fortunate enough to have an assistant. A sort of Artist Dr. Frankenstein and his Igor?

This is the first new rough, with a few notes. I like to begin a new illustration by sketching stuff out without resources. That seems to help me keep the idea open to development. Looking for resources too early tends to cement it in--not what I'm after at this stage.

This is the first composition sketch--very rough, but with the perspective worked out. Most often, I do these using a 2h pencil on junk paper. This one's been enhanced--thus the smeary look.

I started sketching ideas for the lantern and hand positions--in this case while sitting around in the living room after the studio work session.

Next post:  Part Two: The Construction Continues
Thanks for the visit!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Fleeting Thoughts

A bit melancholy, now that spring is past and the hot summer is due to begin.
Brief--I should say fleeting--thoughts of small, rich bits (like Durer's Great Piece of Turf, below) are moving around in my brain lately.

It might be because large, beautiful landscapes are escaping my notice, most likely due to the destruction of my neighborhood, and that of other places I once loved.

 A little watercolor sketch I painted on location (at a place called Onion Hill) once a long time ago.
It was much cooler and way more atmospheric than this sad little sketch shows.

Now Onion Hill looks like this. In winter. (It's not much better in the summer.)

It always amazes me that people actually choose to live in houses like these. It's an expensive development, not a slum where one might be forced to live due to economic hardship. Miles of giant black roofs that block the view of the surrounding mesas, and brown, tan, and taupe instead of a colorful old farm. Some kind of modern Gulag.

The late, great illustrator Trina Schart Hyman once wrote: 
"One spring the farm was sold, and men and machines came and tore it down. They ripped up the grand old elms and boxwoods...they smashed the old stone and stucco walls and splintered the hand-painted blue and white tiles that lined the fireplaces. They shattered the wavery-gold and violet-tinted glass of the windows. They battered it...until it finally collapsed and died: then they plowed it under with their bulldozers.  
I learned something, that day. I learned that everything changes, and nothing is safe."
The farm from the book Self-Portrait, by Trina Shart Hyman

Everything changes I guess, including (maybe) my own ideas and opinions about beauty. And nothing is ever really safe. But it wouldn't hurt my feelings to once in awhile see a new, brown suburb bulldozed to make way for an old neighborhood filled with some charm.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Talking to Myself

A page from one of my sketchbooks.

Sketches--mine (yes I look 'em over often) and those of others--fascinate me. My favorite shows at art museums are the ones that exhibit sketches. Unfortunately, not many of those happen in Denver, so while I don't get to see sketches in person, the internet provides plenty of peeks and inspiration. The variety is amazing, and the use of sketchbooks has changed quite a bit recently, as they seem to be morphing into something more finished in look--art pieces in their own right.

Not mine though. My sketchbooks are still random and thoughtless--meaning I don't think about them as finished artworks to be viewed. I use my books and my sketching as exploration of technique, as problem solving, as practice, or as a repository for the imagery that needs releasing from my head.
And I use them for preliminaries.

Yes that internet is great--much of the time. It provides inspiration, but also tremendous opportunities for self-doubt/comparisons. 
I admit it, I look at some of the sketchbook pages of artists and I become troubled by the roughness and absence (of what--finish, class, artistry, pure magnetism?) in my own. Ugh.
So part of my life as an artist entails talking to myself. Being reasonable about what I do instead of engaging in the pointless--yet somehow seductive--act of comparison.
The most effective words to myself?  "Get to work!"
So I will. 
Thanks for reading!

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