30 Days 30 Paintings is leaping to a close. I can’t believe how fast January went by. And how many things happened. I painted like a mad person. I went to an amazing and fun Con. I’ve beaten my weight lifting personal records every single time I was at the gym.
I love these challenges because so much can happen when my painting productivity goes up. So many new styles. So many unexpected things appear on canvas. And today’s painting is no exception. The source material came from an edit by my spawn. I loved the colours she used and knew I needed to paint this one. Desperately. The colours were completely outside of my typical palette and a shake up is always a good thing.
I started with the usual chalk drawing. Chalk on canvas is a thing that I both love, because it’s forgiving, and loathe because it smudges and dries out the hands. But pencil on canvas? Sucks. Not forgiving and the feeling of drawing with it makes me cringe.
Starting out with black and it looks like same old same old, right? But it’s not. I just needed to place the heavy parts before letting loose.
Because a large part of this piece is incredibly colourful. Lots of peaches and greens and yellows. I got to pull out my neon paints which I love using.
And working bold from the get go. This was never going to be a layered piece like the colour separation style I often paint in. But look at the right eye. It felt off right away. Too low. Too basic. I had moments of panic at this point seeing that. I really felt like this painting would be a spectacular fail.
But that didn’t stop me from posting progress pics on facebook. Failure is just as important as success, but it’s something most artists hide. It’s hard. So god-damned hard, to show the struggling bits. The fails. The pain. It opens up a vulnerability that EVERY SINGLE ARTIST struggles with. But I think it’s a huge disservice both to my audience in general, and other artists specifically, to hide that. I have murdered so many canvases, killed so many paintings along the way to get to where I am and it’s disrespectful of the progress to say that only perfection comes from my brushes.
So fucking not.
But success now happens more than fails. And it feels really awesome to be at this place.
So let’s pause while I remind you of some fails. Right here. And here. The real trick is to push through. Push and push because once a painting starts going bad, there’s nothing to lose. Might as well keep going.
And in this case, I re-measured the eyes and shapes and they were accurate so I was hoping that tweaking the colours would pull this portrait together.
And you can see the pulling starting to happen above. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it always: painting is about balance. Colour balance. Tonal balance. Compositional balance. Get it right and everything sings. Break the rules when you know them by heart and everything sings. Fuck them up by accident? And you have garbage.
I spent time making sure I didn’t have garbage here. Working with colours on the face that I’ve NEVER worked with. This is, after all, a different style from the others I’ve done. And I didn’t create the source material so the colour decisions weren’t mine. Which is awesome. Painting outside of my comfort zone.
Of course, at this point the SQUEE was loud in my head. SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE and I worked on the balance of the background with the foreground.
Working on a painting as a whole is incredibly important. See above for my words on balance. Making sure that everything works together. That no place on the painting is so much more done than any other. That the whole canvas comes to life together. It makes for a far stronger piece.
But the background was killing me. The very background I needed to paint and paint well. Were this any other painting, I would have changed things up dramatically. But this was a collaboration work with my very talented spawn and I needed this to come together. And sometimes, it’s a matter of keeping going. ALWAYS it’s a matter of keeping going. Details matter. Layers matter. Complex shapes matter. Subtlety matters.
And then the background pulled together. Fuck. Did it ever.
So then it was time to do the next hardest thing: paint lens flares on Dean’s face. They had to be there but it was surprisingly hard to do knowing that this act could make or break the painting. It was good enough already. But I never settle for good enough. Good enough isn’t where I want to be. And risks can yield surprising results.
Acrylic on canvas
Prints will be available shortly. The original is staying in my private collection.
I’ll be painting over the weekend where possible. Follow along on my facebook page here, and watch them come to life. You can sign up for notifications from Facebook or sign up on my site and get an email when I update. All the fun, half the wait.
And this week? I have a dwarf commission to paint! Don’t miss out on Wednesday night, 7:30pm est when I paint Fili!