January 15, 2016

Hell – Day 13 Challenge Painting

I’m running a couple of days behind but still on the board with the 30 Days 30 Paintings challenge.  It’s been a busy week of painting and prepping for this weekend’s show in Kitchener. If you’re in the area, Tri Con is one of the only winter fan conventions in the area. Come by and see the sights. I’ll be there, along with my booth babe and a ton of art. Stop by and say hi!

After the whole devastating week of loss, I wanted and needed to paint something with a little hope and a lot of SQUEE. Supernatural left us hanging with the winter hell-atus. Poor Sammy is back in the cage and Dean is nowhere to be seen. While I don’t normally paint from other people’s photos or screen caps, this one just needed to be painted. The denotation between the brothers, often irrational and completely codependent, is the driving force behind the longevity of the series.

Plus, come on! The look on Sam’s eyes completely says, “You’re fucked because my big brother is here now.”


The style of painting I chose for this, flat layers of colour (What the hell do I call it? Minimalist? Or something else? I don’t know. Someone tell me! ha) is usually done on white canvas. And it’s easy at this point for me to pull off those paintings. But hell is different. Dark. Moody. Full of menace. I needed to flip things around so I chose to work on black canvas, not knowing if I could pull off the same effects.

But a safe life full of safe choices is a boring one. Right? Of course, right!


Since I wanted and needed to define the characters, I started with white. It was almost like painting in negative, same steps but reverse colours.


It’s hard to see here, above, but I put down black and ultramarine blue next. Just to reinforce the darks and help me place the remaining colours.


Magenta has to be my favourite unexpected colour. Mixed here with some white so it would show up better on the canvas. But MAGENTA. Who the fuck would put that in a portrait and make it the dominant colour? *cough cough* But it works. It really does. It’s like my new secret weapon.

Also Day-Glo orange. But that’s not in this painting, for once.


Every single painting is about balance. Level one side, fix the other. Back and forth. Warm and cool. Dark and light. And so on. So it was easy to choose the next layer.

Unlike most paintings, I actually used blues from two different families here. Ultramarine is very red based. Almost a purple in a way. And cobalt is more green. Putting them together in a painting is not something I usually do because then the ultramarine looks weird and the cobalt looks flat. But here? It works. It FUCKING WORKS. This is pure joy for me; breaking colour rules and making it work.

I just geeked out on colour rules. But hey, if I can’t do that in my own damn blog, then where can I?


After that, it was just a matter of refining colours. Adding in a violet on the magenta. Lightening the blues in areas. Shadows and highlights are rarely completely flat. Now in this style, I do work with deliberately flat whites and flat blacks but the other colours get layered in such a way that there’s still depth and life in the subjects.


The details took for fucking ever. I was working on them for about an hour. Sure, the painting above looks good but it’s missing that JE NE SAIS QUOI, which is my new favourite thing to say about art. Because I can.

But seriously, taking the time to define shapes, adjust curves and add more layers is so worth it. Even when I think I’m done. My spawn, who’s into painting and art (let’s pause here and be surprised. Ha. Not.) gave me a final, welcome critique that pushed the painting farther than I would have normally.

Can I pause here just to say that this is why artists should work together? Or come together to raise each other up? Sometimes I finish a painting because I’m too tired to go on. Or I don’t see the little SOMETHING that would make the painting turn into gold. But someone with fresh eyes and the ability to communicate can spot the missing bits and encourage that push. I am so lucky to have that right where I live but it got me thinking that everyone should have that. Not sure where I’m going with it, but knowing how isolated most artists are, it makes sense to pull together. Somehow.

Anyway… details. So damn worth it.



Acrylic on canvas

Original and prints will be at Tri Con this weekend!





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.