Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Big Trouble in Little China

Posted by: Kate

The ACOPAL Grand Prize Winners and Finalists have been announced and as usual we found out the results from better informed third-parties over facebook. Dave's "Trapper" piece was given one of the three Grand Prize awards and will be making an appearance in China. He was away visiting family on Thanksgiving, and on the phone the other day before we got the results he was all like, "Psshh, yah, I wasn't going to enter, but then I thought what the heck, and entered in like the last twenty minutes before the competition closed, and my painting's not even dry yet, and after entering I emailed Paul McCormack and asked him to reject my entry, but meh, whatever, it's not like I'll get anything."

Because Dave's painting is just too fresh to ship and needs to cure for several months in a meat locker to reach full potency, it will not be appearing at the Butler Institute in Ohio; it will be included for exhibit in the World Art Museum in China in 2012.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Posted by: Kate

Dave and I were asked to each provide a Vanitas painting for a larger, multi-artist project.  While Dave already had one, I had to come up with something specifically for this project.  The problem is that I'm not really down with the whole "endeavor is futile, life is fleeting, moan moan moan," message behind the vanitas genre.  The vanitas painters were the 17th century's emo kids.  I understand the historical context, but come on, we live to like seventy these days, no one dies of leprosy anymore (not in my neighborhood at least), and all the luxuries and pleasures we enjoy these days preclude the woe-is-me-I'll-be-in-my-room-with-a-single-lit-taper-contemplating-my-skull attitude.

I wanted to do a new take on the Vanitas theme.  The thought of doing a dark and grim painting was not inspiring; I wanted to do something bright and colorful, even feminine.  I didn't want to present death as scary and hideous.  In addition to bright colors and flooding light, I included some seashells (representing birth) and white hydrangea blossoms (I don't know what they represent but they're awfully pretty and they make me think of spring).

Here is my vanitas painting in progress last week when I had an awesome camera on loan from a friend.  Mine will be back in action soon, thank god, but it will be like getting back together with a fat, lazy and emotionally distant ex after having a fling with a toned cabana boy on vacation.


Here's a close up of the chompers:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

One manly little girl

Posted by: Kate

Here is a progress outline of how I painted a study/sketch/whatever you want to call it of my cousin's kid Emily.  My camera broke down part way through, but I've put this step-by-step together so smoothly that you probably won't even notice where a dozen steps are missing.

Step 1: Start drybrushing to place the features.

Step 2:  Succumb to boredom and dive into colour.

Step 3:  Keep going in spite of your instincts.

Step 4:  That's better.

Step 5:  Once dry, go over it again.


Step 6:  Out of curiosity I did something I tried on a project last year.  I imported a photo of the painting into my computer and compared it to the original photo by overlaying them in Photoshop.  I was doing this to see just how accurate my drawing was, considering I slacked on that part.  I was surprised to find that the only real error was that her left eye was a little far out.  See below for the correction.

Here's the face at the end of the orbital reconstruction:

Step 7:  Now finish it.

Looking at the picture here, her colour is a little saccharine, although pretty colourful for a palette with only black, white, yellow, and red on it, plus a cameo from Transparent Red Oxide.  I think I went wrong when I lost the half-tones in the cheeks, and also the whites of her eyes are a bit bright, but any darker and she didn't seem to be meeting your gaze anymore.  The white was necessary, but it kind of destroys the naturalism.  Actually I'm starting to feel revved up to do some more work on this painting.

I have a bit of a problem with how cherubic Emily looks here.  For one thing, in real life she's fascinated with all creatures slimy and scaly.  For another, in addition to being artistically inclined, she draws pretty manly subject matter.  Her granddad likes to hunt and she was recently caught drawing a picture of a hanging moose quarter.  Drawings don't get much manlier.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lucie and the Wind--DONE

Posted by: Kate

Kate here after a long hiatus.  Dave did pretty great job running the blog there for a bit, although I might have to go back to my website and remove the link to this blog so that people considering buying my paintings don't stumble across Dave's Taco Bowel comments and get turned off by us.

Time to wrap up the Lucie painting.  I finished it ages ago but right when I was ready to photograph it my camera croaked.  Luckily I was able to borrow one from a very generous friend and so we'll finish this thing.

Here is the finished painting all greased up with essential oil of petroleum (a sneak preview of what it will look like with varnish):

I ended up repainting the face again.  The problem with titanium white is it changes colour, and I am not imagining this.  I used to think I was crazy but then a few years ago I talked to another stricken soul who had uncovered the truth (and actually had the most impressive swatch tests to prove it) and I realized I was not alone.  You are not alone either.  If you are having trouble matching your flesh tones from a previous day, or when the paint dries and for some reason there is an obvious seam between different days' work, the solution is to bin the titanium already and switch to lead for the final pass.  And wear gloves, please

Right when I was finishing the painting I had this revelation that if I want people to know my name I should probably put it, instead of a monogram, on my paintings.  Yeah, I thought of that all on my own.

Anyhoo, I should explain the title.  The reason why this painting is called "Lucie and the Wind" and not "Lucie in the Wind" (which some people have called it), is because I had Robert Munsch's children's book "Millicent and the Wind" playing over in my head while I was developing the painting.  If you're not familiar with the story, it's about a girl who lives in the mountains far away from other children her age.  With no one to play with, she entertains herself with the wind.


(I'm suddenly French)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Trapper Finished

Posted by: Dave

Here is a good image of the Trapper finally. I would like to give extra special thanks to our friend Angela for lending us her Canon 5D. This camera is good enough to shoot through time to capture images that haven't even happened yet. That's how good it is.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Posted by: Dave

Jason De Graaf got the answers right in about 30 seconds, and has proved his manliness among the art world. Congratulations. Our close second, who wins my infinite respect (valued at over 195 dollars), was Matthew Innis.

Answers to questions below.

Answer 1. Click here.

Answer 2. Belly of the pig.

Answer 3. Click here.

Trapper Finished (more or less)

Posted by: Dave 

Well, here it is in all its manly glory. Again, not the best photo but I wanted to show it anyway. I guess I should talk about some techniques but then I have to put some thought into this entry, and as my readers know, that's not my style. Instead, I bring you our first ever on-line blog competition (take that Underpaintings) to win the color study for "The Trapper". That's right, this is your chance to own a rather worthless non impressive original by yours truly.

Take a long hard look at the painting below before attempting to answer any of the questions.

Question 1

In "Commando", what did Arnold Schwarzenegger throw through Bennett to defeat him?

Question 2

What part of the pig does bacon come from?

Question 3

Which "Pantera" album cover features a man being punched in the face ?

email answers through here. First correct answers win. Please include mailing address with answers. NOTE: this competition is open only to individuals living in North America.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Painting Doppleganger

Posted by: Dave

Portrait painting by William Paxton looks like Mr. Pewterschmidt

Monday, November 7, 2011

Trapper 4

Posted by: Dave

First off, I am sorry about the quality of the photo. I have seen 8 year olds with shoebox cameras take better photos than I do. For photography questions, ask my wife. She's the brains of the operation, I'm just the trophy husband. I am sure she will do a posting on photographing artwork and cameras at some point in the future.

I am now starting to break down the face into smaller planes and more subtleties. I am working with some medium at this point. Some areas I will leave looser and more textured, while others will be tightened up. When it really comes down to it, the most important thing is how the piece reads visually from about 6 feet away. This is the optimal distance that most people will view works. If you ever see someone looking at a work from an inch away, they are probably an artist.

I have said this before; you cannot paint everything the same way and expect it to read as the proper texture. In my opinion, it is possible to over render something, at which point it can look graphic. You can see how much impasto there is on the collar versus the face. I built up the collar with thick brushstrokes of lead white paint which I let dry. I rubbed raw umber into the cervices then wiped the excess away, giving it a gritty quality and having the brushstrokes read as fur. I call this painting for "effect." This essentially means that I am not copying what I see verbatim, but actually using the various qualities of paint to emulate something. I did a similar thing to the hair. There are really only 2 ways to paint hair. You can render 100,000 of them, or group them together in masses. I hear a lot of people say to think of hair as fabric, but I prefer to think of it as slabs of bacon covering a giant ham.

I will try to upload some decent photos when I get them.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Video Review for Iain Mccaig's Visual Storytelling

Posted by: Dave

I had the good fortune to be able to watch the first edition of this series. Even though the DVD's seem to be targeted towards concept artists, I would have to say this series would be extremely useful for any fine artist who intends on painting narrative works. He gives you a lot to think about in terms of composition, design, expression, planning, and story. This is not a purely technical DVD, as it will take you through the processes needed to put the images in your mind into something visual.

One of my favorite points he makes about expression is how it has to be read in context. He discusses the idea that if you were to take an actor with a rather neutral expression, then put him in various contexts, the viewer will read his emotion differently each time (even if the whole time he has the same expression). Basically, you don't need someone screaming with rage and pulling their hair out to show anger. In addition, he manages to get me extremely emotionally invested in the characters he is talking about.

This is literally the only art instructional video I could watch the entire way through without taking a break. It moved very well, and before I knew it, 2 hours had passed. In addition, it has great re-watch appeal.

Iain Mccaig was the creative force behind the new Star Wars movie. He designed Darth Maul and many of the stunning costumes of the film. He is a veteran concept artist and storyteller.

Click here for more information on ordering.