When I go to paint anything, I start work long before I ever hit the studio. There are two paths I take before painting, and the one I pick depends on whether I am painting a commission or something for a show.
When it’s a commission, I talk or text with the buyer to get a sense of what moves them about their fandom or characters. Usually I know the characters because, HELLO? MASSIVE FAN HERE! but sometimes the things the buyer likes are different from my things. This, for me, is a lot of fun. Seeing movies and shows from a different point of view adds an incredible sense of newness to the whole shebang.
Recently, I watched all three Hobbit movies just to watch the dwarves in the background. Dwarves I never paid attention to. And you know what? The movies became richer for me. And their stories became more moving. It was like getting three whole new Hobbit movies.
And when I’m painting for shows, like the upcoming Toronto ComicCon, I paint from fandoms I love. Moments that move me.
Once I’ve isolated the moments, whether they are commissions or self-chosen, I take a ton of screen shots. I like to have control over which moments to pick, so I end up watching shows and movies, or parts of them, over and over until I find The One. Every painting has at least ten screen shots behind it. Sometimes more.
I look for moments that make me feel powerful things. Moments that are iconic. Moments that are actually moments. Where there’s a breath between words, or someone is turning. I don’t want people being still unless that’s the moment.
Once I have the images, I review them all in Photoshop and pull out the best ones. Best is arbitrary. Most in focus. Most compositionally interesting. A lot of what I do when I pick source material is done without conscious thought. I’ve spent years in training and decades painting, so it’s not like I have to think about the rule of thirds or whatever. I just know when something works.
In Photoshop, I adjust the levels, saturation, and tweak the material until I’m happy with it and then I head out to the art studio with my iPad in hand.
Usually I paint in layers, like this one. Each colour clearly defined and in its place. This appeals to the programmer side of me. Let’s face it, I was a programmer for 22 years and then prior to that for fun. It’s hard to break left-brain habits!
When I’m painting, I tend to play music from the show or movie I’m working on. It helps to keep me mindful of the universe or fandom I am honouring.
Want to follow my music? You can! I’m on SoundCloud and all my playlists and likes are public. The music grows and changes depending on what I’m painting.
There’s a lot of Star Trek there right now. Plus my spawn has been adding new artists to my list. There’s a group with an unreasonable number of pilots and some dude is freaking at the disco. All awesome.
(I’m horrible with band names so being told what to listen to is easier for me).
And finally, anywhere from 45 minutes to 4 hours later, I have a finished painting!
24″ x 12″
Acrylic on canvas
Original and prints are available.