Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Alien Menagerie: Winter • 冬 Maquette

Snowball on a stick is pretty limited as reference goes. To prepare for the painting I'm working on I built a model, or maquette.

I'd pretty much figured out how I wanted the alien to appear in my "winter" painting. With pencil sketches and a digital color study finished, I decided to go a step further than usual. I wanted to explore the building of a maquette. It's not a step in previsualization that I have ever used before. I arrived at this decision inspired by Jim Gurney's book IMAGINATIVE REALISM. His examples of the benefits of maquettes are priceless. My alien has some pretty absurd, if simple 'anatomy'. From my model, I wanted to learn more about how the fur could look, how the light falls on it, and the flow of the coat. It seemed even more logical to build a model, as stop motion animation characters were among my inspirational influences for this painting. There's some Rankin/ Bass abominable snowman in this fellow.

It's been a fun preliminary process. I'm keeping the maquette nearby while working on the painting, and this model doesn't melt under the lights.

*on upload youtube suggested I tag the video as "pets" & "kitten" hmmmm

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

reference photography

It's often a good idea to take reference photos when planning out a painting. Not a great photo, the lighting is poor, but I shot this as inspiration for the painting I'm working on.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Finished with Summer

When is a painting finished?

Sometimes a piece is finished by the necessity of a deadline, which can actually be a very useful. Lacking that, the question becomes more open ended. I've worked on this piece at various times, off and on. I considered it close to finished and sat it aside for months. I worked on other things and eventually came back and gave it more attention. I finally feel comfortable with calling it finished.

For a long time alien menagerie was a stack of pencil sketches and notes. I worked on and accumulated them for years without moving forward with them as paintings. Commercial work always took precedence, but slowly I've been finding ways to make more time for these pieces. I designed this guy a few years ago, while participating in an online design forum. It was a way to push my sketches and ideas for alien menagerie into a more fully realized form by making a digital painting weekly. The moderator of the forum had a thing about plants not being eligible as a source for creature design, so I took that as something to challenge in and of itself! I was quite fond of the result and knew I'd come back to eventually.

When I'm organizing ideas, I tend to think in terms of a thematic series. Lots of lists live among my sketches. This creature fit nicely into a series of four pieces on the theme of seasons. 春夏秋冬。This is summer.

Spring would be the logical place to start, but I didn't.

Winter is in progress.

This won't be a daily blog. Writing for me is a long process of write, erase, and write again, so I'm not a terribly efficient or confident wordsmith. That being said, I hope this becomes a useful avenue where I can express some of the thinking behind the pictures I make, and perhaps give a little insight into just what the heck I'm doing.

Finishing summer seems like a good place to start. September is a good time for starting something new.