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aprillee, bjd, sard

Viressë's Journal

bjd stuff and other babbling

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Art: IMC--My Painting
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april_art
For the IMC (Illustration Master Class), there are always cool choices for the assignment. This year there was the High Fantasy: "Tristan and Isolde", the SF: "Old Man's War by Scalzi, movie tie-ins: "Tarzan" and "The Hunger Games", and a YA short story about a boy and a ghost.

I've always chosen the fantasy assignment. At this stage of my life, I'm more interested in doing things for myself and I prefer to concentrate on fantasy images. Although Tarzan was tempting. But I liked the costumes and romance of "Tristan and Isolde."

I worked up several sketches--all sadly pretty similar, of a couple, full-figures. I'm afraid I had a pretty set idea of what I wanted, the poses just varied slightly. I didn't do thumbnails (bad me), and I didn't draw boxes around the sketches (I use the page size as the box (again, bad me).

Here's the sketch my instructors (for the crit: Rebecca Guay, Dan dos Santos, Greg Manchess and Iain McCaig) chose:
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And yes, it's very romance-y. I was looking at romance book covers... Oh, well...

Rebecca said: You have almost a straight line dividing the couple. NEVER do that.

Then somebody suggested that I could bring Tristan's cape in front of them to break the line. Or visa-versa, Isolde's cape flowing in front. And another suggested that I could have Isolde's (or Tristan's) cape flying out more.

They took tracing paper and sketched it. And then flipped it to show that it worked with the wind going either direction.

After the crit, Scott Fischer came by and suggested I lean Isolde into Tristan more. (I drew darker lines on the sketch to see where she should lean in her body more). And I caught Julie Bell to ask her if the sort of "A" shape of the couple was OK, and she said to go for it.

I rather crudely re-worked the sketch like this--
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Got lots of comments saying that I REALLY needed to get great reference for the drapery in the capes... and you can see from the sketch that this will be important-- because it looks pretty crappy in the sketch.

I'd always been meaning to have birds flying around them. Someone had suggested the birds flying away, and I liked that... (I thought, as if their love was fleeting, flying off, doomed, right?)

I then went off to work up the piece in photoshop, taking bits from images (this means I took bits from tons of images and frankensteined them together to fit my sketch). I also took ref. photos, but not too seriously (bad, bad me). That took a day! But I was also working out color and values that way. And getting reference.

I took my file in b&w to the copy shop to get it enlarged to 18"x24" to fit my masonite (clayboard) the next morning... ok, so next afternoon! After the 10:00am lecture and lunch...

And I spent the afternoon wet-mounting it (the Donato transfer method!) to the masonite. I used semi-gloss medium instead of matte, and since I wasn't sanding between layers because I was in a hurry and didn't have sand paper anyway, it was a super-slick surface! bleh...
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The toner was crap and lots of it washed away with the water and medium. bleh.

But I can work under idea conditions! I did a quick value/base-color underpainting in acrylic (ultramarine blue... I just favor that, or burnt umber if I'm doing a warmer colored painting). The acrylic stuck well to the slick medium and helped that a bit.
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hmmm... not much change here... Anyway... acrylic underpainting-- good because it dries quickly, also good because I had barely let the medium and board dry out. I quit painting for the night and let it dry out so I could start with the oils in the morning.
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So... only two days to paint! Aggh. Laid out my palette-- using plastic wrap from my masonite board taped around my sketch book because I forgot my palette paper... And quickly started slapping paint on (very thinly with tiny brushes, though, to keep it from getting goopy and hard to work with and bearing in mind that I had to pack the painting up in a few days to get it home and didn't want sopping thick oil paints to mooosh everywhere!).

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Greg Manchess dropped by to say he'd make the birds behind Tristan only go to shoulder level, which sounded good to me. I'll have to try and recall that when I actually get around to the birds. Will need to dig up better refs... the ones I dug up for my photoshopped image were pretty awful.
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I got rid of the darks in T's cape... not sure if I like it more neutral or not. Might go back and darken it later, for more drama. Might look better to be dark towards the bottom, anyway...

Also discovered that I was using the crappy kind of Turpenoid. Dan dos Santos said the "Natural" Turpenoid wasn't like regular Turpenoid... it took forever to dry and remained a pile of goop instead of evaporating away. I borrowed some... Gamsol? I think, from Nicole, and it was nice! I'll have to get some of that.

"Natural" Turpenoid is a bit easier to carry in luggage... but I'll have to try and work around that the next time, I guess!

Anyway, I now had more fears of a smooshed painting... so my painting pretty much slowed down after that.

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Oh, and Boris came by and said I had to move Tristan's arm up... and he was right--it was way too low!

I'd already tried to move it up, but he said it need to be moved up more...

Julie Bell came by and I asked her if I should stick with my original plans to make Tristan's tunic brown and she said to go for it...

Check out my cool maul stick (below). It's a collapsible magnetic towel bar from Target--and it sticks to the metal easels here! (I find this pretty funny... some day I will get a real maul stick.) --for those of you who don't use oils--they remain wet so you need something like this to rest your hand on for detail work.
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Eh, I got pretty far... I can see where I'm going with it, anyway, which is the important part.

Although I think I might need to move his belt up a bit, too... hmmm...

And I was reminded to make sure the highlights and lowlights in her hair weren't all so even...

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Trip home... the portfolio case doesn't show up on the carousel, so I go to talk to the Baggage folk for American. They manage to dig it up, to my relief. It had come in on an earlier plane. And my painting was mostly un-smooshed. A bit up in the sky got mashed a bit, but that's an easy fix! Yay.


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Your painting is lovely! I think your choice of brown for the tunic is good, it makes him stand out more from the background. It's interesting to read the steps you went through. I hope you will show it again once it is completed.

How many years have you attended the IMC? It sounds like no matter how often one goes there is always something new to learn. Thank you for sharing!

This was my fourth time. It's been going for 5 years and there were a number of people who had gone to all of them.

Sometimes I think I'm not getting as much as I should out of them... Mostly it's because I've been in the business and around for a while, so I'm not like those right out of school who are all ambitious to get working and network and all that.

But I'm definitely improving... so that's all good!

That is really coming out nice! I hope you'll post a photo when it's finished -- lovely!

Thanks. I have to admit that I haven't finished ANY of my paintings--- because I haven't yet set up a space in my house for oil painting. But I'm close to finishing on all of them... I'll try to get around to to some day. I really could use the images for prints to sell...

I hear that! You should set a room aside for a studio. And don't let it get as cluttered as mine!

I'm sure Rebecca was pleased you got them kissing!
I love the way the hands are almost coming together - just like they are almost kissing. It really fits the theme.
Great water and rocky beach - More birds? Or was that just the sketch stage? Great tones.
The part about the wet semi-gloss was scary - especially at the start of the work. I'm glad you managed to push through it. Also, how inventive about your palette instead of just running off to buy something else.
You got a great amount of feed-back from the gang.
sweet.

Rebecca was busy, as usual, so after the first crit, I really didn't see her in the studio... She was around, but... busy...

But at least I got some input from her during the crit. Her sign-up sessions were all full, so I didn't get the crit until, like 9 or so in the evening!!! bleh. Oh, well...

I'll still put the birds in... there's the one gull at the bottom right, kinda sketched in, space for two at the left, and there will be more distant birds in the background flying up to the light spot in the sky at the upper right. I think it'll help with putting more movement into the painting. Their cloaks help with that, but they are still arranged in that "A" shape, which is very static...

Eh... I'm always mucking up the mounting in some way. It's always last-minute and I don't have time to sand between layers, etc., so there's always something going wrong with it. I think I had air-bubbles this time, too... and dust caught in the medium... But oils go over all that pretty well, so I don't worry too much!

I didn't get as much feedback as last year. I was kind of lax this year. But I did try to get SOME feedback...

I'm never sure if they are leaving me alone to work on stuff because they aren't that interested, or if I'm actually doing OK, but that's just me being paranoid, I think...

lovely! I found all the changes interesting - and the comments and how it changed as you went.

Showing in-progress painting is kinda cool. I was trying to remember all the comments from the instructors because I still need to keep them in mind for finishing. And really--they are the best in the business, so unless they said something that I really couldn't see doing, I'll follow their advice!

I love watching the progress, very cool.

Thanks. It's fun to shoot the different stages. I wish I'd been a bit more diligent at it, but I'd forget to take a photo for a while, so sometimes there were huge gaps or too little gaps...

This is awesome! Thank you for taking the time and effort to snap photos of the process and to write all the notes. I really enjoyed seeing the painting evolve.

I've been bad at posting and taking photos over the past few years... thought I should try and make a little effort! Thanks!

Looks really nice. I don't know why you always chide yourself. If its so bad, then don't do it. If it works for you, then do it. I don't think there is a right or wrong way of doing things in art... everyone does things that works for them. If you like how you do things and you tried the other way, then whatever. It's like that in ceramics. My professor used to tell me, "don't trim wet or you'll lose pieces that way." I trim wet. Whatever. If I lose a piece, so what... it's my own fault. I like doing it that way. It works for me.

Whenever I look at your painting sessions and hear about this, I start missing painting.

Thanks!

Most artists are quite critical of themselves. It's a good thing if it doesn't stop you from doing things and if it makes you want to improve. It's bad if it shuts you down. Although I'm super-critical of myself, it's never really shut me down. ^^

But your advice is good. People shouldn't knock themselves down too much--at least in a negative-only way. AND it's fine to ignore comments from instructors.

I actually do ignore comments all the time, if they don't work for me. I ignored Charles Vess's advice during the first IMC I attended, and I adore that guy! ... When I'm unsure of what to do--that's when I ask for help. And I still know that I am free to ignore the comments if they don't sound right to me.

I was mostly getting --"you're doing OK" comments, which were very nice, don't mistake me, but I also was there to learn and I really wanted some "try this" or "change this" comments!

Also--these instructors are really THE BEST at giving comments. They never shoot you down and are really sweet. It's not like some art instructors who are happy to try and make students cry during crits! (there was always someone like that at Art Center--but we knew about them, so it was a good lesson in trying not to take stuff personally!)

It also helps that I'm older and already have worked in the business, so things really don't get to me. But the IMC is really nice, even though they sometimes work someone over... it's a GOOD thing, really. We can't be too precious about our art, otherwise we won't be open to learning and improving... (or with dealing with Real Life which is just full of rejection that artists really need to try not to take personally).

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