January 28, 2016

You Have Your Moments – A Commission for Jenney

Jenney commissioned two paintings from me and I am so thrilled about that. You see, Jenney picked moments that I forgot about and would never have thought to paint. Moments from epic movies and shows like Empire Strikes Back. I haven’t painted ANYTHING from Empire yet, which meant I had to rewatch the movie (it’s a hard life, I know!) and feel all the feels again.

And Jenney? She knows her SQUEEEEEE and chose some fucking awesome moments for me to paint. This is why I LOVE commissions so damn much. 


The drawing stage on this piece was complicated and I needed to get it right. Especially because Leia was in an unusual angle. Making sure I captured her likeness with minimum colour info was important to the composition so I knew I couldn’t fuck up the drawing.

The secret to good portraits, at least for me, is the drawing stage. Fuck that up and the painting suffers. Though I have been able to pull a painting or two from the abyss, it’s much easier to fix it in the drawing stage.


Purple Jen loves purple and so do I. It was an easy addition. I really wanted the purple to be bright and clean so I started with that once I’d cleaned up the whites. Working with chalk on canvas is messy but it’s more forgiving than pencil and far less horrible than conte or charcoal which I loathe. Anyone who’s been through art school knows how horrible charcoal is. It’s a nightmare on skin, squeaks on paper like fingernails on a chalkboard and serves no useful purpose other than student torture.


I know going in that this scene was complicated, in terms of shapes and colours so I both started and finished with black. A lot of my decisions are made based on how fast I want to see a likeness, and how heavy a colour is on the composition. If you look at how much black takes up space, you can see why I used it so early on into the painting. And already the fucking thing has pulled together.

Now try standing in front of this epic view. It’s like being in the same room as Han and Leia and my SQUEE was hit early on in the work.

And yes, I LOVE what I paint. I have to love the fandom, the scene, the moment. Something. Or the feels simply don’t happen. I am not a Batman fan, but I loved the pain of the Joker when I painted him. I had a connection that is so fucking important to make or the piece doesn’t work.


You know, I never,  ever wear red. Not fucking ever. It’s a power colour. It draws attention. It’s not always flattering. And it stands out.

The same deal in paintings. I used to almost never use red. And Napthol red? Fuck that shit. Too strong. It can dominate a painting and needs balance to work. But my palette has changed dramatically and red NEEDS to be present. And it works.

But this isn’t the colour that pulls the painting together. Not this time.


YELLOW. Fucking yellow. Bright, cadmium medium really jumps in and takes the painting to the next level. Look! Yellow is such a funny colour because it can be subtle. It can be overwhelming. It ALWAYS makes a painting, even if the viewer isn’t aware of its presence.

At this point I’d say the painting has pulled together. Now it just needs subtle touches. Blends. Translucent black. Some browns.


I could have stopped here and it would have been fine. But why the fuck would I settle for FINE? Jenney wanted epic and I fucking wanted her to have EPIC.

Epic means details. Epic means blends. Epic means spending an extra hour smoothing, refining, blending and dancing because the last hour of a painting is always a thrill and terrifying. The chance of  fucking up something that’s working is high. And the tension ratchets up just enough. But it’s worth it. So damn worth it.

sm_20160127_224034-1You Have Your Moments”


Acrylic on stretched canvas

The original is sold, but there will be prints available.




Tonight’s painting will be completely different. I’m working outside of my comfort zone on a project I started in December and it’s time to finish it up. Nine paintings covering 60 years of a special character. Paintings for Andrea! Follow along on my facebook page here, and watch them come to life. I should be online around 730 EST.

Want to see where I’ll be next? Check out my events page for more details. Right now, next up is Toronto ComicCon in March! Woot!