Monday, January 16, 2017

Monster and lady

This here is an illustration I did for a charity project at Emerald City Comeic convention.
The theme was very simple. A monster and a Lady.
My first idea was to draw a giant, eating a lady like she was a snack, but I had trouble showing the giants face, since the lady covered up all the good parts I wanted to paint in the facial areas. 
I sketched a Falconeer-like barbarian girl with 2 dragons on her shoulders and even started painting it before it started to bore me. Mostly because it was more or less just a girl with dragons: No story no setting or anything.
Then came an idea  to create a scene of a woman being attacked by a forest wurm. But; I wanted the scene to be an everyday in the forest scene. She, ofcause is almost naked, only barely wearing a fur bikini. Not because I am an old fart who only likes to paint naked woman, but because the large amount of skin seems tender to the huge teeth of the wurm and enhances the drama...
...and I like to paint half naked women.
I gave her a knife so that we would have a certain uncertainty to the outcome of the scene.
The two things I had most fun doing, was the reflected colors of her skintone and the twist and turns of the wurms body. 
The wurm I chose to have cirkular mindless eyes to create a figure of rage and also cos I wanted the woman to be able to outsmart it. If it was too cunning the outcome was just her about to get eaten. I gave it some body parts resempling leaves and chose the colors of the skin to be liek the forest around it, to make certain that we knew it was the wurms turf. She is th eintruder here, and what ever happens is because she came to close. 
pencil sketch

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Live Event!

We are really excited to announce that Gregory Manchess will be doing a portrait painting demo for this month's Live Event.

Greg will execute a portrait of Barak Obama, from start to finish, while answering questions from our viewers. Don't miss it!

Painting A President
Gregory Manchess
Saturday, January 21st, 3-5pm EST

If you're a Patreon supporter of ours, we hope to see you there!
If you're not a supporter yet, but want to check out the demo, a donation of $5 or more will get you access to the event. Just click here:

New admissions will be cut off at 2pm EST the day of the event.
All Patrons will receive a link shortly before the event.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Portraits and Skin Tones Part 2

Hello and Happy New Year to you all.

I am going to keep the writing here somewhat brief.  I will let the images do most of the speaking for me.  

I moved further up in Longitude with regards to the skin tones this month.  Here are the reference photos I used.

For the first painting of this series done several weeks ago I focused too much on completing the image and while I feel like I learned something interesting from it, it was too focused on quality of finish and not focusing on the target color system used from the palette.  This time I did two very quick sketches, about 35 minutes each while the color mixing of each took about an hour per painting and I think it was much more successful in this exercise.

From last months painting, the majority of the hues used were at the very bottom of the color wheel, many were from the purple family, some greens and some blues for reflected lights,  and a few deep reds.  This time the majority of hues I mixed came from the Green and Blue Green families.  The girl indirectly lit had many more blue greens mixed into the reds to cool them down while the girl lit by the sun had many more warm greens mixed into the reds and oranges to subdue them chromatically or drop their chromatic intensity while still keeping them colorful.  Here are the colors that were mixed.

Here is a close up of the palette

Both color strings show a series of warm flesh tones but both are cooled off using the range of cools at the bottom of the color wheel image.  With just the right percentage mixed into the oranges, orange reds, reds, and red purples, the greens and blue greens do not do anything more than drop the intensity of the hue, but leaves it completely recognizable with its intended hue.

Here is the palette after painting both portraits.  Most all of the mixing is done on the canvas, the only additional mixing on the palette was tinting certain hues and or warming or cooling them off further than the original mixture.

Here are both of the sketches.  The lighting is awkward in my studio and I shot these as well as I could but they do not look as accurate as they are live, especially the second painting which feels much bluer and darker than it should but any attempt at brightening it up made it really noisy and hard to read as an image.

The intended goal of these sketches was to show the difference in the skin tones between the indirect lighting and the direct lighting and how the light source is the primary agent causing the skin tones to "feel" the way they do.  The cool light (blue and blue green hues) was added to all the local hues within the lit spaces and gives the skin tones a very different feeling or appearance than the girl that is lit by the sun.  All of the directly lit hues on the sun lit girl have warm greens or warm hues mixed in with them that resembles the sun light (Oranges, Orange Reds, Reds and Deep Reds or Red Violets mixed with their respective value counterparts).

When I have enough of these faces painted I will give an overall palette assessment and the differences in the hues that are being used for each tonal range and color of skin.  There is an interesting development that I am finding with this color theory color palette and mixing skin tones.  I do not think it will make much sense now with only a few examples painted.  I really need to paint a series of skin tones all the way to the palest of skin for this theory to really make sense.  

I am really excited to share this theory along with another amazing property that I discovered with Colorism after painting the first portrait.   This is something I have never read and no one ever told me about it before and I think many of you will really find fascinating.  I hope you find it fascinating enough to want to try it to see the effect as well.

Back to the easel to get as many of the other different flesh tones finished as I can.  Hopefully they will be close to finished by the next post, as long as I can remember to keep them sketches.

If any of you have any questions about this subject please feel free to leave them below.  I know this post was semi cryptic but again I think it will make better sense once several more different studies have been completed.  Take care and happy arting into this new year.

Friday, January 13, 2017

"The Circle of Flame" Time Lapse

By David Palumbo

It was about a year ago that I last posted a time-lapse video, that one being a 12x16 inch figure study, but I don't know that I've ever shared a process video for a full scale narrative piece  Documenting something large that spans multiple sessions comes with a lot of additional challenges, so I wanted to include a few notes that I expect people might be curious about while watching:

The size of the painting is 18x36 inches and I'm working in oils on gessoed Masonite panel.  My brushes are all square tipped Loew Cornell watercolor brushes and my paints are assorted brands with the following palette: Titanium White, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Orange, Scheveningen Yellow Deep, Nickle Titanium Yellow, Winsor Green, Cobalt Turquoise Light, Ultramarine Blue, Kings Blue Light, Lamp Black.  My medium is a mix of turp and linseed oil, which I use sparingly.

The board is prepped and underpainting already in place in this video but you can see the Window Light video (linked above) for more info on that step.  Everything else is shown at 55x actual speed and was recorded in two sessions (with several days between to allow the first layer to dry).  The break between days happens at about the 4:22 mark and you can see me oiling out the board there before getting back into it.  This brings the value and color back and gives the surface just a little bit of glide.  As you can see, the main thing that I'm doing overall is laying in thin fields of paint and building thicker on top of that as my mark making gets more specific and my color/value choices more certain.

Additional thoughts:
The most glaring thing that occurred to me while getting this video together is that, for me, execution is much easier to show and describe than the conceptual stages.  In many ways, I also feel it is easier to do and that the real work is largely done before I'm ready to pick up a brush.  At the very beginning of everything, there are infinite possibilities and every choice narrows that field until the final brushstroke, when it is done and has become a definite specific thing.  In the future, I'll try to find a way to document those earlier steps.  Going backwards, there tend to be massive gaps between a rough thumbnail, some reference photos, and a fully composed painting.  If watching the final execution gives the sense that it has a smooth effortless flow to it, that it builds to completion in a linear and predictable way, that's only because I can never accurately record the improvisation heavy chaos of building my roadmap.

All recording, editing, and music by me.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

"I suck."

-By Scott M. Fischer

First off it is an honor to be a regular contributor to Muddy Colors for 2017. Thank you for having me.  If you had told the artist that I was back in 1990, (freshman year of Art School), that a place like Muddy Colors would exist- A place where you could get this level of knowledge and inspiration from some of the greatest artists working- on a DAILY basis, I would have thought, "Yeah maybe in the afterlife. But Van Gogh and I will tip a glass of wine to all you suckers still on the earthly plane trying to sling a brush."

Beyond that, if you had told 1990 Scott that he would be here, not just as a visitor, but actually contributing to a place like Muddy Colors, he would have thought you were the Devil, with a little piece of paper for him to sign in blood (and I would have signed it). Because 1990 Scott sucked. (And was Metal!)

Shall we take a look at his 4 years (1990-1994) at Savannah College of Art and Design?

Especially pay attention to year one and two. (top) I wasn't the only one who thought I was sub-par. If you asked my freshman art school pals down in Savannah GA, if they thought I'd be here today, writing this, they probably would have said, "Scott? Um, no. I mean he has a lot of grit, but doesn't have the chops to go all the way." And they were right, I didn't have the 'chops', and many of them did.

But few of them are still around today, over 25 years later.

Because the most important thing in the 'made-up' reply above, isn't the word 'chops'. It is the word 'grit'. I simply would not f'n give up.

And the power of grit shows in retrospect. Though none of them are great, there is an improvement from year one to year four. And by senior year, I got a little plaque from SCAD saying I was the 'Best Painter of the Year' (Which I think had more to do with my ideas than my 'chops'.) How? Simple. No social life. No parties. Total focus. I studied Bridgeman. I studied Hogarth. I studied Rembrant. I cussed at my paintings. I threw brushes at them. I fought for every new revelation. The bottom line is I worked my ass off. Literally, I have no ass. Just a flat plane back there from back to thigh. (Bridgman would have hated drawing me.)

To sum it up, you have to put the work in. You all know this. It takes YEARS. But as Kevin Smith says, I'd rather be a 'will-over-skill' player than the reverse. Don't f'n stop. Butt in chair. Draw.

So, to 1990 Scott, I'd say, " Dude we still have a ways to go. We never stop. But it feels pretty amazing to be among this group of artists. I hope we do Muddy proud. (And we are still f'n Metal!)" Then I'd throw up the devil horn salute. 

(Note: The first image is a collaborative portrait between photographer Allan Amato and myself for Temple of Art.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Painter in Oil

-By Donato

"The Painter in Oil" has become one of the most sought after books on technique and the science of painting.

Originally published back in 1898, this is a wonderful treatise on oil painting by Daniel Burleigh Parkhurst who was able to observe many of the artists of the late 19th century first hand. A student of William Bouguereau, Parkhurst was in the unique position to capture the methods of this great  master.

I do not agree with everything, and certain dislike the 'right and wrong' attitude which pervades the atelier approach exhibited here, but this treatise has wonderful gems of insight!  A great meditation on painting and the process around creating art.

We are fortunate to have this book available in a digital format. You can view the book in it's entirety, by clicking HERE or simply view it below. You can even download the PDF if you like!

Enjoy the read!

Remembering James C. Christensen

As an addition to yesterday's post about the passing of the great James C. Christensen, several videos that will give everyone the briefest insight into his process and creativity.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

James Christensen (1942 - 2017)

Artist and fellow Illustrator, James Christensen passed away Sunday at the age of 74 after a decade long struggle with bladder cancer. He leaves behind a Wife and five children, many of whom carry on his artistic legacy in their own right.

James was not only an inspiration to many illustrators, but a mentor as well. Having taught for decades at BYU in Utah, many of today's Illustrators were set on their current paths thanks his tutelage and support.

He will be greatly missed.

"I feel very strongly that you do art because you can’t be happy doing anything else; you can’t not do art. It’s the desire, the fire in the belly, the way your brain is wired." 
- James Christensen

Monday, January 9, 2017

Favorite Books of 2016

by Arnie Fenner

Every year I help compile a list of genre-focused art books for Locus magazine's annual "recommended reading" feature for their February issue. Naturally, not all of my suggestions make the final published list; there's only so much room, after all, and the opinions of other contributors, as well as those of the Locus editors, ultimately are part of the decision process. With that in mind, I thought, as a book junky, I'd share my personal list of notable titles that appeared in 2016. There's no order of preference, no groupings based on criteria beyond the simple fact that I liked it. As mentioned in the publisher credits, some were self-produced (often as Kickstarter projects) and might not be widely available so I've included links for shoppers.

Spaceships: A History of the Real and the Imagined by Ron Miller (Smithsonian Books)

Lost Gods: A Novel written & illustrated by Brom (Harper Voyager)

Beauty and the Beast by Mahlon Craft/illustrated by Kinuko Y. Craft (Harper Collins)

Amano Illustrations by Yoshitaka Amano (Viz Media)

Spectrum 23: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art edited by John Fleskes (Flesk Publications)

Drawing from History: The Forgotten Art of Fortunino Matania by Lucinda Gosling (Book Palace)

Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie by Brandon Alinger, Wade Lageose, and David Mandel (Harry N. Abrams)

The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by John Kushins/LucasFilm Ltd. (Harry N. Abrams)

Beauties/Beasts by Olivia de Beradinis & Jordu Schell (Baby Tattoo Books)

Charlie the Choo-Choo by Beryl Evans/illustrated by Ned Dameron (Simon & Schuster)

Carbon 2 by Mark Schultz (Flesk Publications)

Forget-Me-Not by Claire Wendling (Stuart Ng)

The Art of Jock by Will Dennis (Insight Editions)

Jim Henson's Labyrinth Tales by Cory Godbey (Archaia)

The Art of Loish: A Look Behind the Scenes by Lois van Baarle (3DTotal Publishing)

Notes from the Shadowed City by Jeffrey Alan Love (Flesk Publications)

Things from the Flood by Simon Stålenhag (Design Studio Press)

Magika: The Art of Melanie Delon (SQP)

The Art of DC Comics Bombshells edited by Ant Lucia (DC Comics)

Brian Kesinger's Sketchbook (self published)

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin/illustrated by Gary Gianni (Bantam)

The Sci-Fi & Fantasy Art of Patrick J. Jones (Korero Press)

The Art of Magic: The Gathering — Zendikar edited by James Wyatt (Perfect Square). There were two additional MtG art books published in '16 as well with another scheduled for early 2017 release.

Naturally, this isn't some sort of completist's survey; there were plenty of other genre art books, illustrated novels and collections, art-of movie concept art compilations, how-to, and sketchbooks published last year, both good and...not so good (which I've delicately not mentioned)...but these are the ones that stood out for me. Just as there were any number of noteworthy non-genre books, like William Merritt Chase: A Modern Master (Yale University Press), Valentin de Boulogne: Beyond Caravaggio (Metropolitan Museum of Art), or John Singer Sargent and the Art of Allusion (Yale University Press) that, if included, would easily make this post much longer than it already is. I've also studiously avoided mentioning the (now-fading) 2015/2016 fad of "adult coloring books," not because I'm not extremely happy for every artist who was able to profit from it (I am), but simply because I thought the whole thing was kinda...silly. But that's just me.

I will conclude by saying that the audience for art books of any type tends to be rarified and retailers are extremely picky in what they stock and what they don't. If you want to see more genre art books, purchase them (if you can afford them) or check them out from your library and encourage your friends to do likewise. Share them. Talk about them. Help grow the appreciation for our field. Interest often translates into sales and sales (or lack of same) dictate availability and selection.

If I've overlooked your favorite from 2016, please feel free to chime in.