Thursday, April 28, 2011

Open Road

This is a simple scene that I painted with gouache on an 11 x 14 cold press illustration board. It was used as the cover of a new music CD entitled Open Road. Whenever I complete a landscape like this I am reminded that any ordinary scene can be beautiful and fun to paint. Sometimes we search to paint something spectacular or visually inspirational but maybe that is the easy thing to do. It can be more challenging and eye opening to paint mundane subjects or forgettable scenes. This forces us to really see and invites embellishment and invention. I think we can waste a lot of valuable time waiting for inspiration.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Your Cheatin' Heart

This is another recent in-class oil painting demo. It's a portrait of one of America's greatest songwriters, Hank Williams. He was ahead of his time with original, innovative music and clever, unforgettable lyrics. Hank was before my time, but I've caught up with his entire song catalogue over the past few years and it is great stuff. He also is an interesting character to paint with his rail-thin physique and defined angular facial features along with his big smile and bigger hat. This was completed on a 16x20 home-made canvas board. I like working on a rigid surface but I dislike the low quality, cheap boards that the art supply stores carry. I make my own with Masonite hardboards, sprayment, Liquitex gesso, and high-quality cotton or linen canvas.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Vampire Classic

The popularity of vampires seems to be at an all time high in recent years. Vampire books, graphic novels, TV shows and movies seem to be everywhere. The vampire image here is a recent mixed media piece that I completed as an in-class demonstration for my Illustration 1 class at RIT. This was based on B&W movie stills from the classic Dracula film from 1931 starring Bela Lugosi. He is still the visual foundation for most vampire imagery. Modern versions seem to always take something from Lugosi...manicured looks, sophisticated demeanor, turned up collar.
These classic 1930's monster movies (which I watched on TV in the 60's) were terrifying! Even the music would send a chill up my spine.
I always tell my students that they must change and improve upon the photo references that they use and that is what I tried to do here. I eliminated the Hollywood lighting that was always used on these photo portraits. I subtly exaggerated his expression and of course I used my own sense of color. When I do an in-class demo, due to limited time, I rarely deal with a background, other than to suggest something loose or atmospheric. But I will eventually go back in on this one to add something appropriate. Bats? Blood? Spooky sky? Ominous interior space?