Yes, I’m working on it again. But I’m starting pretty much completely over. So many ideas, I hope I have more to tell you later
I’m not saying I have a lot of free time at work all day, but I certainly find occasion to do some sketches, generally on those nifty little Post-It notes. It’s a sad state of affairs that my creative energies are usually all burnt up by the time I make it home. I’m often surprised at how good this little sketches turn out, so I thought I’d share a few from the past week.
So there’s not much been going on lately in the way of artwork, maybe I should see about changing that sometime soon. But, in the mean time, I will be starting up a secondary blog!
I’ve decided that each weekend I need to be trying my hand at cooking some new recipe, and have set up a new blog to chronicle these attempts! Content will be forthcoming, I swears it!
Very often when I sit down to my computer/sketchpad I have more or less nothing in mind to draw, I just start and see where I go. Most often nothing particularly much comes of this, and it’s not terribly hard to see why. I’ve come to find that drawing and painting, much like any other skill, benefits from having some time to warm up, and to plan ahead. It’s pretty rare that I actually take the time to do either of these things, but I’m fairly consistently pleased with the results when I do.
A few weeks ago I spent a delightful Sunday morning alone at my favorite greasy spoon, Big Ed’s. I sipped my coffee, and I slowly nibbled at my bacon muffin sandwich and I read several canto’s of Dante’s Purgatorio. I am decidedly in love with Dante’s Divine Comedy as a literary work, and from it springs probably my favorite pieces by my favorite artist Gustav Doré. It is because of Doré that the idea of illustrating works is incredibly appealing to me. So it was that I read the following lines:
I saw, nearby, an ancient man, alone.
His bearing filled me with such reverence,
no father could ask more from his best son.
His beard was long and touched with strands of white,
as was his hair, of which two tresses fell
over his breast. Rays of holy light
that fell from the four stars made his face glow
with such a radiance that he looked to me
as if he faced the sun. And standing so,
he moved his venerable plumes and said:
“Who are you two who climb by the dark stream
to escape the eternal prison of the dead?
And right away it struck me that I really wanted to illustrate this scene. Later that day I sat down and, with a vague idea of what I wanted, started into it. My first attempt at it was fairly ill conceived, and I gave up on it not too far into it.
I initially stopped working on the piece simply because it was late, but upon returning to it the next day I decided it was not worth continuing on with it. It became clear to me that I needed to put some proper thought and planning into the image if I wanted to achieve the results I hoped for.
So I spent some time thinking about how I wanted I wanted from the image. The biggest problem I had with my first attempt was that the limited scope of the image really diminished the sort of majesty that the text imparted to the character of Cato of Utica. Sure, Dante and Virgil are genuflecting to Cato, but Cato himself is just sort of standing there behind a big clump of odd looking rock. No sir, it just won’t do. With this in mind the next day, during a particularly boring period of work, I did a few quick sketches on post-it pads and quickly came up with a much better layout for the image.
Square is a pretty boring shape for an image though. Wide images are especially effective at conveying a sense of wide open landscapes, and a tall image can very much do the same in respect to the verticality. Being that the location of this image is the mount of Purgatory a tall image seemed best. Plus emphasizing the vertical element of the image helps to portray Cato’s place of majesty above Virgil and Dante.
Happy with the thumbnail sketch of the image, I did a few more of particular details of the image. Here you see a detail of Cato, just a quick rough sketch to give me an idea of the pose I wanted Cato to be in, as well as details of how his cloak wraps around him. The particulars of this image are somewhat of a combination of the text of Dante as well as a statue of Cato the Younger that is in the Louvre.
So with all the prep work done, I began the image itself. I decided to continue using the same tools as I had with the first attempt. As usual used PainterX in conjunction with my Wacom tablet, utilizing a digital watercolor brush. I chose to use solely pure white and pure black colors for the brushwork, all shading being done with a combination of the two colors. The watercolor brush lends itself quite excellently to this process, imparting a rather huge degree of control to me. I feel that with this particular technique I’m quite capable of producing, with enough time, anything I can think of. The limiting factor here is most definitely my own skills and not the tool set I am working with.
I’m not exactly sure how many hours I spent on the final image, I would venture to say at least 5 and upwards of 10, hard to say. I certainly have criticisms of the end result, and maybe another post will be dedicated to tearing myself down, but for now here is the final image, as well as a series of images I took throughout the process of painting. I wish I had taken a video of the whole thing, but frankly I didn’t think about it until after and it likely would have been much to long to do that anyways, as I completed this image in several sessions.
I’ve been reading the John Ciardi translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy lately. I’ve just recently finished up The Inferno, and have just gotten a few canto’s in to The Purgatorio. So, feeling inspired by that I produced the image here. It uses Sumi-E brushes for the inking and a coarse dry watercolor brush for the coloring. I think I’m happy with it, but frankly I’m feeling too hungover right now to be terribly analytical about it.
I must have produced two dozen pieces by now with the same basic structure as this one, a character in the foreground, generally to one side or the other looking forward at some large structure in the distance. It has just occurred to me just exactly where this particular visual archetype comes from…
I honestly don’t have the patience for this type of thing. But every now and then I find myself settling into a piece and discovering that, low and behold, when I work at it I have a modicum of talent. I admit, a modicum is not a lot, but it’s something anyways.
And speaking of work, I am absolutely atrocious when it comes to work ethic. I’ve completed a single page, and it’s been strikingly difficult. It’s not so much the drawing part, it’s the layout. I am finding it extraordinarily difficult to compose an interesting page and panel layout, as well as composing the individual images in a way to tell a story. Oh well, practice makes perfect, or so they say.
This short little post has taken me far too long to type, so you have some sort of idea of how poorly I’ve been able to focus lately. Meh, here’s hope the bright rejuvenation of spring will give me a bit more energy. Maybe not.
Well the taxman has been a bit nicer than usual this year, so I decided it was time to get some tools I’ve been needing for awhile, namely a scanner. My current printer has also been out of ink for awhile, and seeing as it’s like $40 for a set of black and color cartridges, I just said to hell with it and bought a whole new MFP (Multifunction Printer), scanner included. For the price I paid it’s bound to be crap, but it will suit my needs at least.
Addendum: And viola! Installed