After being sick for the last few months- (kidney stone) I’m finally well again. I still have to be very careful with what I eat, no wheat, very few grains, and now low sodium, but as my large intestine has improved, my hands have improved considerably. They still burn every once in a while, but it’s incredibly minor. My labs are great.
But the forced inactivity made me think about what I’d like to do in the immediate future. I’d definitely like to illustrate a book, but in order to do that I’ll have to retool how I work in order to become faster. At the same time I’ve been growing restless with the limitations of gouache. You have to be very, very careful when you overpaint, because it becomes active when it comes in contact with water. I hate oil, so that’s out (not oil paintings, but using oils myself), but I have always LOVED egg tempera. A lot. And my painting style is essentially drawing with a brush which makes it a good fit. So, that’s on my immediate future list.
In the meantime I went back to one of my earliest inspirations, medieval manuscripts. They inspired “Air,” up above. I made a simple outline drawing. Filled her in with a gouache base. Drew on top of the paint. And then painted the details. It was incredibly satisfying. So satisfying that I ordered “Alchemy & Mysticism”. Sure I have books on symbolism, mythology, and magic symbols, but this book is gorgeous. It also keeps my on track, style wise. I don’t want to fall down the rabbit hole of spending 2 months on a small painting anymore. I think this will help me divide my work between projects that are smaller, on paper, in gouache and pencil- and projects that are medium sized, in egg tempera, on gessoed board.
This one is Gucci. I think she looks like she could have walked out of a modern Decameron.
gouache, acrylic, and pencil on 185 lb paper
I love Russian fairytales, folktales, and Slavic mythology. The Russian Sirin is thought to be a descendant of the Greek Sirin. Said to reside near the Garden of Eden, they sang beautiful songs of joy. Some stories tell that only truly happy people could hear the Sirin.
The Sirin often has two similar companions; the Alkonost, who sang sorrowful songs that inspired forgetfulness and oblivion in the listener, and the Gamayun, who sang songs of knowledge. All three birds were considered prophetic.
In line with my New Year’s resolution, I had planned on putting her up for sale, so that she could sing joyful songs to whoever wanted her. I even asked around to figure out a good formula for pricing my work. The “by the hour” doesn’t work for me. My work is too detailed. I ended up going with the “linear inch” model, which multiplied by our minimum wage gave me a fair price, at least fair in my mind. So, 9 + 12 = 21 x $12.00 = $252. But my husband ended up asking me to please not sell her. He’s grown quite attached to her, which is unusual for him. So, she’s staying here.
A photo of the finished painting. Unfortunately neither the scan above nor the photo capture the creaminess of working with gouache, but I still thinks she’s lovely. If you’re not familiar with gouache, it dries to a matte, suede like finish. Not fuzzy, but incredibly soft looking. It’s quite unlike anything in its strange, subdued beauty. Two of my initial sketches (there were two more that may become different paintings later). I wasn’t sure if I wanted to show her feet as well, but I decided to focus on her face, so I went with the sketch on the right. I took a photo for reference and started drawing.
I finished the drawing and transfered it to paper. I use a heavy duty 185 lb Canson paper that’s actually made for acrylics.
I love drawing hands. And here is the finished drawing on acrylic paper, ready for paint. I left out a lot of the details because I knew they would be filled in later by paint. I scanned her in and created a color key. The color key helps me to make sure my colors have some contrast and that I don’t end up with some random color in there which would stick out like a sore thumb. I also created a color map (not shown), which is where I took these colors and rough colored the drawing in photoshop to get an idea of where they would go. In that way I balanced the deep red of her crown with the deep red of her sleeves. After laying in the background color in gouache, I used burnt sienna acrylic to paint the outlines with a tiny brush. Next I did the coloring book colors. This part is always very hard for me because it looks like such a disaster. I felt much better once I had a chance to work on the background. The long process of creating the wings starts. I was inspired by iridescent raven feathers to use green to contrast with the red-orange.Sirins typically have bird bodies, but I wanted it to blur the line between whether she’s wearing a dress or whether those are her feathers growing out of her body.
Hanging out with Van Eyck’s Mary for inspiration. My photo reference is up so I can get the pink on her hands right.
I added gold paint to a few places. And some gold on her sunflower.Fin~
Before Pinterest I used to have stacks of paper all over. I’ve written before about how Pinterest’s feed change made it useless, but it’s still very useful if you actually need a place to store images.
The idea, drawing, and color palette for Elstir came first. But afterwards I went through some of my favorite boards, like Magick and Princess Witch Palette so I would have a concise (for me) set of images to keep me on track through painting. Even though I painted her in September and October, I feel like Elstir is more of a Winter painting than and Autumn painting. Now that we are back from a ridiculously terrible family Thanksgiving trip, I can finally look through my sketches to see what to do next. Ideally I’d like to finish a couple of drawings before I start another paintings, but we’ll see ;D
Despite what the calendar says, September is the beginning of Autumn! The days are hot, but the afternoons already show the long shadows typical of my favorite season. Fall also means I’m feeling invigorated. My table is full of projects that I feel great about. The work of the past year is finally coming together. It’s so nice to create something and be satisfied with it.
A few things I’m working on-
Clothed in her retro 70s Biba style dress, Kora is busy adjusting her black gloves in a grove of abstracted, shimmering Art deco trees…
Here’s a work in progress shot that I posted on Instagram a few weeks ago-
Generally, my work flow is something along the lines of first getting visual inspiration. I watch my favorite movies or shows (like Twin Peaks), browse books and magazines (my favorite drawing books, Rackham, or Pinterest), &/or listen to music (Of Monsters and Men has been on perma play). Then I make a quick sketch in a small notebook (upper left). I take photo reference & print it out (upper right). And then I make a sketch in my large sketchbook. Sometimes that gets scanned into Photoshop, tweaked, and printed. But even then it may not still be right, so I’ll cut up the print and move things around, taping them until they finally look right. After that I transfer the drawing to thick Acrylic paper or canvas.
The color process involves going back to my sketch in Photoshop & slapping some color on there for a general idea before I actually put paint on the paper or canvas.
Some more wips (works in progress) in this same series-
As well as the dolls that are part of the same series-
Sigh, I have been dreaming of Pumpkin Spice Lattes! I’ve already had 4 so far. My husband thinks I’m crazy, but I explained to him that they’re seasonal and so they’re gone after Thanksgiving. He was tempted, but decided to stick with his ice coffee.
I have two modes dictated by the seasons: Magic (or Magick if that’s your thing) and Space.
Every Autumn and Winter I gravitate towards everything supernatural and every Spring I switch over to technology. Everything from the clothes I want to wear, the shows I want to watch, and the music I listen to. I even have two playlists on my ipod with these themes that I put on while working.
Ah Autumn! All I want to do is eat baked goods and watch shows about murder. All. Day. Long.
Here are some of my current Autumn inspirations~