I redid her face and hair (for the eleventy billionth time) and FINALLY I AM HAPPY WITH IT.
Today I put in about 4 hours all told, making good progress all around.
Dragon heads and dragon scales are challenging to get beyond the blocked-in stage. Too much detail and it looks weird, too little and, well… that’s where it’s at right now. 🙂
Just an idea that occurred to me as I was heading off to bed. I think I kinda like it, but I’ll see how I feel about it tomorrow 🙂
I spent the evening on her face, and it was totally worth it – I’m so much happier with it now. I love this part of a painting’s progress, where all the basic forms are in and now I get to refine everything, add details, and slowly reveal the finished piece.
I had at least three different photograph references open to help with the face anatomy and lighting. For me, looking at photos is like the secret sauce. My imagination alone isn’t quite enough to power a painting into my personal “A+” territory.
If inspiration holds up, I just may finish it this weekend. Yay!
I spent about 40 more minutes on it tonight working entirely on the dragon’s head. Dragon heads are hard. The only way I seem to get through them is by looking at lots of artwork of dragons and redrawing the head over and over until it looks decent.
Also, for the first time since starting this painting, I think the “interaction” between Astrid and her dragon finally looks how I want it to look.
More to come!
I quit trying to push it for a week or so and came back to it tonight. It’s not quite where I want it to be, but it’s a helluva lot closer than it was. Try everything – that’s my process at this point. Try bigger/smaller/flipped/brighter/darker/different color palette. Eventually, something stuck.
On Saturday I decided to reboot Astrid ’13 (again). This year has just been a struggle to find the right idea for this painting. Below is a series of screwups I’ll probably not return to…
Sketch looked okay:
Unusual color palette started to look okay:
This looks decent in thumbnail but man it’s hard to work with purples and yellows and browns.
I had wanted the dragon to look more foreshortened and like it was flying towards the camera. That may have been too much to ask of my current skill set…
…because the dragon only gets flatter and flatter with each iteration.
Then I changed the colors and started fresh with the dragon, but I decided this one isn’t much better than what came before. I still can’t figure out how the wings should look from this view. I need to model this in 3d first or something if I’m going to get it anywhere near right.
This is where I left it. Ugh, the whole thing is a mess. Sometimes this happens, but it happens a lot with this particular series.
I don’t know why the annual Astrid painting is so much harder than everything else. It’s like nothing’s good enough. I keep rebooting, and I scrap at least one painting along the way that I’d happily take to completion if it were anything else but the annual Astrid. It must be the self-imposed goal that it be better than the ones before it. That’s a tall order.
Anyway, here’s Attempt #2. I don’t know how I feel about it yet. Perspective is hard, yo.
I’ll pick it up again this weekend and see if I still like it a day or two from now.
I guess I lied earlier when I said I wasn’t going to come back to this one. I saw it sitting in my recent files list in Photoshop, reopened it, and put another 20 minutes into punching it up. It came a long way in those 20 minutes, if you recall where we last left off:
Sometimes I make art that I like to call “ahead of its time” – art that stays “good” in my eyes for years. Some stuff in my portfolio has been there for 5 years, because I still feel it’s among my best. That art was “ahead of its time”
The painting this new one is based on was “behind its time”. Stiff and awkward even when I made it, even though I put twice as much time into it. I feel like doing these remakes is a great way to gauge my own growth as an artist. Even though artwork is just a hobby, it’s a SRS HOBBY(!!!111) and knowing I’m improving keep me motivated.
I finished her up between a 1-hour painting session this morning and another 45 mins or so this evening.
When I started working about 7 years ago I really struggled with the loss of 5+ hour long painting sessions. I didn’t want to paint unless I was gonna have at least MANY MANY consecutive hours in which to paint. So I didn’t, and as a result I have huge gaps in my painting and artistic development for 2006-2008. That made me sad, so in 2008 I got it together and I learned to paint in brief bursts of 30-90 minutes. I cranked out an incredible amount of paintings and artistic growth in just a 6 month span.
I was on a huge roll when a job opportunity on the other side of the country came up, which derailed me for another 8 or so months as I got settled in a brand new environment. And finally when I got into the swing of things again about 2 years later, we bought a house and that took another year’s worth of free time to fix up. I find it very hard to devote energy into paintings when the rest of my home (life in general) isn’t in perfect order, which is probably the wrong order to be approaching things in but that’s the way I work. :p
So now here we are in 2013 and all the pieces are in order: no more moving, no more major house projects, and we’re both happily employed. Now I can paint.
I feel like this painting of Storm is the first thing I’ve done in a long time that represents actual forward progress in my artistic development. I love the brush-stroke look so many artists use and I tried to emulate it here. I’m feeling pretty limbered-up and ready for some challenges, so I think I will start taking on some tougher subject matter in the coming months, like inorganic forms and environments.