January 11, 2016

Balin – Day 9 Challenge Painting

The 30 Days, 30 Paintings challenge is an awesome one. The idea is to foster daily creativity in artists no matter how small. The goal isn’t to create final paintings or masterpieces. But I have never been one to just take the easy route. At all. Ever. So my goal is to finish January with as close to 30 paintings as possible. Paintings that will take my technical skills to a new level and open the doors to new styles.

The last time I did the challenge, I ended up changing everything and for the better. This time, knowing exactly how much is involved, I’m already seeing massive changes both in style and even the types of paintings I’m working on. It’s incredibly satisfying and exhilarating all at once.

This week, the week before Kitchener Tri Con, I am working my way through The Hobbit.

I love these films, or parts of them, so much. The colours and textures. The lives they live with abandon. Hobbiton has to be my favourite place in the whole world. I don’t like the difficult bits. The trolls. Things like that. But I love the innocence of the creatures of middle earth.

I started with Balin because he moves me so much. The moment when Bilbo was going through the contract really showed his character. And after? When Bilbo refused to sign? The hope just left his eyes. Eyes that have seen so much and were waiting for the day the dwarves could reclaim their home.

Balin: It’s just the usual; summary of out-of-pocket expenses, time required, remuneration, funeral arrangements, so forth.
Bilbo Baggins: Funeral arrangements?
[reads contract]
Bilbo Baggins: Oh, up to but not exceeding one fourteenth total profit if any. Seems fair. Present company shall not be liable for injuries including but not limited to laceration, evisceration…incineration?
Bofur: Oh, aye. He’ll melt the flesh off your bones in the blink of an eye.
Balin: You all right, laddie?
Bilbo Baggins: Yeah, I’ll be. Feel a bit faint.
Bofur: Think furnace, with wings.
Bilbo Baggins: Yeah, I-I-I need air.
Bofur: Flash of light, searing pain, then poof, you’re nothing more than a pile of ash.
Bilbo Baggins: [long pause] Nope.
Gandalf: Very helpful, Bofur.

The shots of the dwarves in Bag End really reminded me of classical paintings. Very moody. Very yellow ochre. I wanted to capture that and make Balin look painted. Get the feeling of his despair. The wind knocked completely out of his sails. All that’s left now is to curl up his toes and die.


The drawing went on fast. It helped that he has such a recognizable face. Simple shapes. I jumped to black canvas because I wanted the yellows to be moody. Not muddy.


I was painting hard and fast during this session. Balin really wanted to come to life and he popped off the canvas from the get go. I limited my palette to unbleached titanium white, yellow ochre or napthol yellow, burnt umber, burnt sienna and black. Limiting the palette removes some of the decisions from the process for me. I don’t have to think about colour as much as shape. It’s kind of a relief.


But it became obvious that I needed something more in this one. Balin needed some blood. Now, this isn’t the gory vampire-type thing as much as it’s making sure the subject looks alive. We all have a slightly pink or red tint to us because we are sacks of meat and blood. When painting in colour, it’s important to put that in. Redder around the tip of the nose, the ears, around the eyes and mouth. Even the chin. Places where the skin may be thinner and so blood vessels run closer to the surface.

Check out what happened when I added the red in below. Big difference.


From there, it was a matter of refining shapes and getting colours just so.


At this stage above, I could have stopped. It’s a pretty darn good sketch right there. But I wanted to do more than just sketch. I’ve talked about this endlessly but the details stage, where I go in with smaller brushes and fix edges, add touches of colour, refine things, is so important. It can save a painting from certain death (see the Kaylee painting for that) and it can take a painting to a whole new level.

Whole new level it is. And I love, love, love this palette so damn much!



Acrylic on canvas.

Original and prints are for sale.





Want to see my work in person? I’ll be in Kitchener for Tri Con on January 16th and 17th. Check out my events page for more details!

Plus, follow along as I paint my way through this month. 30 Days 30 Paintings is a fun challenge which can yield some surprising results. I’m currently painting my way through my backlog of pieces that I had planned over the last couple of years. And some new ones.  Follow along here and on Facebook where I paint live nearly every night.