June 13, 2013

Penguin Serenity

I ran a contest on my Facebook page recently. The goal was to get more likes on the page. In one night I went from 13 to 28 likes which is really cool. And I ended up with two contest winners. One chose a previously made encaustic painting and the other requested an entirely new painting. This is the story of that painting.

The subject matter was penguins. Penguins. What to do. What angle. A portrait? A herd, school or group? What the heck does one call a group of penguins anyway? (pause to google) Ah! It’s called a “waddle”! Cool. Weird. Anyway…. I went back and asked for more info because penguins alone aren’t that inspiring to me. (sorry, penguin lovers but they’re not my cup of…fish!). The response was Firefly. Like the show. Or movie: Serenity. And so I had an angle. But what to do? What. To. Do.


I played around with ideas of having penguins with Mal or Jayne. Penguins flying the ship. Wash playing with penguin figures instead of dinosaur toys. A lot of ideas. But this was good because part of painting or creating visual art is also coming up with the angle and being challenged by a mash-up that would have never occurred to me otherwise is cool! So I spent a few days searching. Looking at Firefly imagery and penguin imagery. There are a lot of penguin online. Like a secret version of internet cat videos but wetter. Anway, I found an image I thought I could work with. Slightly iconic to fans. I’ve always liked this poster. I think it describes Serenity pretty accurately. Notice the lack of Wash.

And now.. the angle. Yes, not just any penguins would do.

First step was to recreate the feel of the poster. The placement of characters but also to add my spin. At this point I’m working fast and loose. I was thinking about whether to show the penguins’ characters or the Firefly ones in the poses. I went with penguins’. You probably can’t tell but I have a sense of humour and this sucker amused me while I was painting it.


I put in the rough background because it does anchor the overall layout.


And then I stopped and thought, well this is boring. Penguins on a poster. Yay. But they need a Firefly twist. And so… we have clothing!


This is with more detail added. I ran into troubles here, not with the painting but with the humidity. My paint wasn’t drying fast enough so a two night painting took three. But I think it was worth it. When in doubt, slow down.

Here I have everything but the very fine details in place. I debated about outlining the penguins because I wasn’t really going to replicate the cartoon look and yet they needed something.


Outlined and done. I went with a more painterly outline because a hard line wouldn’t fit in with the look I was going for.


And here’s the final, off the easel and done. I call it “Penguinity” and it’s 20″x16″ acrylic on canvas. Not for sale.