Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Opportunist

Like many of my paintings this painting does have symbolic meaning, but it also has a highly personal meaning as well.

The story behind why this painting was done has to do with my wife Heather. She had a job a few years back that she absolutely hated. However this was during the extreme recession kicked off by the housing implosion, so she felt she had to put up with it, due to the scarcity of good paying jobs at the time. The only part of her job that she really liked was the pond she went to on her lunch break every day. This wasn't a particularly large pond, however it was home to a few dozen turtles and the occasional waterfowl. The birds came and went with the seasons, however the turtles were there with her every day. She fed them and hung out with them, and this gave her a small amount of peace during an otherwise generally miserable workday.

During this time Heather began taking pictures of her amusing lunch break friends with her cell phone. I was often amazed at the quality of the photos, and how good she made such a simple pond look in those pictures. After a while she got her first professional camera as a gift from her Aunt and the photos became even better. By the end of her time at that job she had several hundred photos of turtles, many of which are quite excellent.

While all of this was going on I was going through struggles of my own – both creative and financial. So I was very thankful to those pond friends for giving my wife some joy in her bleak workday. I was also intrigued by the photos my wife was taking, both in terms of encouraging her creative outlet, and also in terms of potential subject matter for me. So these turtles represent nothing but good things, at a time when there were not really a lot of good things happening in our lives.

After some time passed, I gathered all of the photos from the pond and began sifting through them to find a few key shots that captured the characters that I wanted to paint. After narrowing all of those photos down to a few candidates, I began the process of digitally tweaking until I had what I wanted to paint. To me this painting is a portrait, not just of that specific turtle, but all of the turtles that kept my wife company each day.

The title is “The Opportunist”, which refers to these daily events from the turtles perspective. I am sure they saw the lunchtime routine as just a chance to get a free meal, and they were often quite aggressive and competitive for the food. Many of them took the food right from her hands, and were absolutely fearless. The emotion I wanted to convey was that of excited expectation. This guy knows that good things are about to come, and he is not afraid to take a hold of that opportunity boldly. So on a more general scale, this to me is a painting that allegorically represents forward looking hope, but it also emphasizes the fact that fortune favors the bold. The purpose is to encourage the viewer to boldly and go after the opportunities for good things that may appear in life. On a more personal scale it is very much a tribute to all of the little guys that helped us both have a bit more joy when times were rough.

The technique I choose for this painting is Drybrush Watercolor, which is a fairly labor-intensive method of painting, very much like the way I work my Egg Temperas. The paint is applied thinly in many fairly dry hatch marks with a small brush. The overall effect being the result of dozens of interweaving layers of transparent color. From a compositional point of view I tried to emphasize the larger than life quality of the subject to emphasize his importance to us, and convey his personality. I also wanted a balance of a particular sense of a real place and time, blending with a sense of timelessness.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Watercolor Brushes With Color Variation.

Painter is a program that is blessed with a wide variety of really excellent, and extremely helpful instructors who specialize in a wide variety of skills. As such, if there is something that you want to do, you can almost always find somebody who can help you learn those skills listed here.

I spend alot of time working with many of these people to help make Painter the best program it can be. Because of that, I can attest that each of them is a master in their own respective skillset. My Painter training courses tend to be fairly generic, and more focused on the technical side of how the program is designed to work. This is done by design, so that you can gain a solid foundation, and then move on to whatever specific workflow/style/skills you want to learn... which many of these people are far better suited to help you with than I would be.

In the course of our discussions we often learn from each other, and help each other with issues we might be having. Recently, there was a question raised by Skip Allen regarding some brushes one of the visitors to his blog wanted to reproduce. I gave some assistance in the matter, and Skip has shared the information here. You can get both his and my brushes from that blog post (free), and see how he is using them to replicate the desired look in his video.

The only thing I might add to what Skip said is: Also try using the pause button (on properties bar) to pause the Real Watercolor diffusion, and complete the entire painting before allowing it to diffuse. This can yield a very nice soft effect, as you can see in my test image below.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Painter X3 Real Watercolors and Selections

I made this quick'n'dirty video demonstrating how to get more realistic selection/watercolor interactions in Corel Painter X3 -- meant to more closely mimic the results of using liquid frisket in traditional watercolors:

Most of the Real Watercolor brushes in the default Painter library are not well suited to this look -- probably the only two I would recommend is "Grainy Wet" and "Wet Flowmap Fringe".

If you are not skilled at creating your own brushes, but still want to try this technique for yourself, here is a free brush I made:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Nearly Daily Nude Drawings

It had been a few years since I had last dedicated myself to working on nude studies, so I decided the time was right to spend a while working on these... I try to do one per day in my sketchbook.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Color For Painters

For a few years I have wanted to create a video tutorial series about color as it pertains to digital painters, and particularly the problem of composition. I finally decided to do it a few weeks ago and the result is 10 videos (a bit over an hour) of what I would consider to be some of the most fundamental things painters need to understand to wield color effectively.

I tried to keep it as simple as possible and minimize side trips into technical details that, while interesting, are ultimately information overkill for most artists. I don't use Painter for most of it, but all the information is completely applicable to Painter (even older versions) as well as many other graphics applications.

What this series mostly focuses on is contrast, and how it is present in all three color attributes (Hue, Saturation and Value). Once I establish the basic concepts of what the three attributes actually are and how we define (and control) contrast for each, I use some well known example artwork to show the principles in action.

I consider this stuff to be very basic to creating good paintings, and would expect a lot of other artists to think so too – but it seems to be information that is not common to find. Hopefully you find these videos helpful... if you do, please pass the link along.