February 10, 2016

The Impossible Astronaut – A Triptych In Progress

I had planned on ending my 30 Days 30 Paintings challenge with a bang. A probably-impossible-triple-set done in one night. And I had just the scene – from the story arc in Doctor Who where the Doctor dies by River Song’s hand.

It spans several episodes and the story is convoluted and typical of Stephen Moffat. It tries to be too much. But when stories don’t grip me, often scenes do. The horror of watching the Doctor die. The confusion in seeing River in two places, two moments in time. And the scenery. Fuck. The colours were incredible.

I wasn’t able to finish the paintings in one night. it was too much, and I had a choice between quality and quantity. I already know that I paint fast, turning out a painting a day or more when I do paint. So I chose quality.

Getting the feels in a portrait is so important. Capturing tragedy, horror, joy and more is what my goal is. Not to mention an accurate likeness.

I worked on all three paintings at once, drawing first, then each layer so I will post in that manner. The landscape piece in this triptych had the least amount of detail in it because, let’s face it, landscapes like this have simple lines. And if I get one wrong, it doesn’t fuck up the painting like it would in a portrait.

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I’ve never really used teal  until recently. I picked up a tube at Curry’s a few weeks ago and suddenly it’s finding its way into so many paintings. How did I live without teal before? HOW???!

I have an accidental background in landscape painting. How many people can say that? I became a landscape painter by ACCIDENT. Really! It was never my interest or even, I thought, in my skill set. But one day I painted one to use up excess paint and it didn’t suck. And then I painted another. And another. And I spent a year painting landscapes. And most of them went beyond not sucking, into the realm of actually good. I sold quite a few as well. Yay!

Landscapes are relatively easy beasts, at least in my books. I use palette knives, not brushes, and paint light. I never think about painting trees or water or whatever. Just light in various colours. And a landscape would emerge from all the light.

It was easy. It was joyful. And it got boring.

Things that come easy often do get boring. Where do you go from there? Hard to say. Maybe that’s why I focus on portraits. Each one has a unique set of challenges and bringing a person I love or loathe to life is all kinds of awesome.

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While I didn’t use knives for these paintings, I did use thick layers of paint, almost impasto, on the canvas to paint the mountains and trees. Very much like I did with landscapes. Sand was brushed on almost dry to give it texture. Water was done with large, flat brushes and painted loosely.

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But I hit a snag with the portrait part of things.

The lighting in my reference photos is very light. Ethereal. And bright.  Shadows aren’t defined. Edges are subtle. I dropped in harsher colours figuring I’d knock things back with the next few layers. Work the paintings into shape.


Even when I forced the paintings into balance, I couldn’t make it work. River doesn’t look like herself. The colours are too harsh.

And yes, this is an underpainting but it still isn’t anywhere where I want it to be. So I set it aside. Same with the Doctor. Only the landscape painting has been finished.

So what does this mean? I’ll revisit these paintings and soon. I’m just not in the right head space for them and I have to make decisions about how to move forward. In cases like this, it’s far better to set the painting(s) aside and revisit them later. Forcing just doesn’t work.

But no worries, while these aren’t done, I don’t consider them fails by any means. Just unfinished.

So what’s next? I’ve got Toronto ComicCon to prep for. I’ve got a couple of painting commissions to get done. And between all that? I’m PAINTING! 

Got a request? Want prints? You’ve come to the right place. Hop on over to my store to see what’s available or fill in this handy dandy form and the resident dalek will probably not exterminate your data before I read it.

Hate SPAM? Me too!

Actually I love it. How many times can my unknown uncle die? ALL THE TIMES! Plus, I’ve been recruited by the Illuminati (Shhhhh! It’s a secret). Spam is the most entertaining thing around. And I’m going to get rich as soon as the Spanish lottery sends me my money.

But I get it if you don’t want the spam. No one else should get rich, be thin, have better male parts than me. NO ONE. So I promise not to share your email address with anyone but me. And don’t worry, I won’t remember it anyway.