Art

Three Dyads

 

I’ve been practicing taking pose ref and building a fictional scene around it, and decided to focus in on people having quiet moments together; I’ve also been trying to use more soft gradients in watercolour, which is DEFINITELY one of the trickier parts of the medium, so it’s been a great challenge! It’s also taught me the value of good watercolour paper, but I suspect that’s a lesson I’ll keep re-learning. So far the Fluid 100 line, which is 100% cotton, has been holding up better than I expected for something so affordable! Not quite as cheap as the paul rubens 100% cotton paper, but available in much bigger sizes.

It’s maybe not evenly distributed yet throughout these drawings, but I am trying – for real, really really trying – to find a fun and charming and simple way to cartoon faces that feels repeatable for me.

What do you think?

   

G.L.O.S.S. Band Portrait Painting Commission

This winter I was approached to work on a commission based on the heavy metal portraits I did as studies last year, which, friends, that’s the dream, hey? Do a personal project, hear from someone who connected with it so much they want a private commission that seamlessly extends that body of work? Incredible!

 

Lowell reached out with a request for a commission of the trans-feminist hardcore punk band G.L.O.S.S., and sent along a few reference photos and a link to this youtube video of a live set, which certainly set the stage for what an earnest, and intense, and also loud! band they were!

So, without further ado, here’s the final painting:

I don’t think this scan quite covers it though, because this piece is also luminescent, and iridescent, and also quite sparkly:

 

It’s also quite large – 12 x 16″, it’s gonna be a great statement piece and I wanted the colours to not worry about realism but to focus on pulling viewers in – while also being as queer as the core politics of this band.

Finally, here are close-ups on the faces, and some other favourite moments of mine:

 

Also, would you like to see a couple in-progress shots from the drawing table? I really treasure these little reminders of how my paintings came into being:

 

Getting to know a new palette!

I treated myself to a new watercolour set, higher quality than the sets I’ve used in the past, about on par with the one-tube-at-a-time purchases I’ve made in terms of lightfastness and pigmentation and such. It’s a Mijello Mission Gold pure pigment palette!

The premise of a pure pigment palette is that each paint is made up of a single pigment. Often, paint sets include convenience colours like payne’s grey that are composed of several pigments mixed together into one paint; and cheaper palettes might use a blend of cheaper pigments to make colours close to but not exactly matching more expensive pigments. This isn’t inherently bad! I have a wonderful collection of convenience colours and colours that granulate into separate pigments thanks to my Daniel Smith collection, and I love them! They have many good uses. But one potential challenge with multipigment paints is that you are likely to get a muddier result from mixing them than you would with a single pigment equivalent. So I thought, if I’m going in on a whole set, why not get one that fills this gap in my collection?

It’s been a while since I got a new full set – it’s been a REALLY long while, actually. The only other watercolour SET I own is the Windsor & Newton Cotman line hard pan set I got as a gift from my dad in grade 13 in highschool – yeah, back in MY day we had 13 grades – we do not anymore – and that was 18 years ago. To say that I know those paints like the back of my hand wouldn’t be an exaggeration – they’ve carried me through two rounds of art school, a ton of freelance, and an entire webcomic. But they’re student-grade paints, and I’ve used up my favourite colours, so I’ve been slowly adding single tubes of nicer paints in an effort to test the waters of my commitment to watercolour. Learning how a single new tube of paint works is a slightly smaller challenge than mapping a whole new set in my head, though – and I figured, with 25 new colours (ignoring the white in that set) to learn, it might be worthwhile doing some swatching and some charts.

So here, take a look at some swatches, gradients, and charts I’ve made since getting this!

First chart I did was ambitious – a full mixing chart:

it was slow work! I would do a couple rows before bed for over a week, usually with some quality youtube art content on to keep me company.

It’s so satisfying now though! I can see the possibility space of this palette!

So then I did a glazing chart, to compare palette-mixed colour to equivalent glazed colour:

This one required thin tape, and the only thin tape I have is … very decorative, so it was a bit hard on the eyes while I was filling it in. That said, the result is thrilling AND beautiful:

I’m glad I did these, but now it’s time to properly test drive this palette. Here’s six little landscape thumbnails ft different colour palettes as a starter project:

It’s been great and very meditative testing this palette out! And now it feels like time to really dig into it and see what it can do for me within personal work!

Here, have one more studio table glamour shot for fun:

Procreate Timelapse Videos:

I’ve been continuing doing studies in Procreate, and have been saving process videos more and more – it’s really neat to see how paintings change over the course of me working on them.

 

Gouache Studies

I try and break out the gouache regularly for photo studies; it keeps my hand painterly and reminds me to think about values and simplifying the planes and shapes and also it is always a real challenge! I got some new gouache paints this past year, a Himi/Miya jelly gouache set suitable for painting a big pile of studies with, and it’s been a great excuse to paint more. Here’s some photo documentation of my recent work:

Watercolour Maps

I’m a huge fan of the strangeness of satellite imagery of earth, and how it intersects with how we draw maps for navigational or other uses. I also love watching pigment flow around on a surface, and I’ve been thinking about how liquid dynamics of watercolour can mimic liquid dynamics of water tables, geologically. Which is to say, I’ve been painting watercolour maps. Click in to see them in closer detail:

Digital Studies

I’ve been using Procreate and a selection of MaxPacks chalk and gouache brushes to do some looser, more painterly digital studies from photo ref. Here’s a selection of recent ones:

 

Ten Years in the Forest

I am immensely, hugely, unbelievably grateful for getting to spend so much of the past decade making art! And between comics, games, personal artwork and client illustrations, it’s a big pile of work, and honestly, I don’t want to try and put it in any kind of hierarchy, because what the heck do I know?

However, I thought it might be fun to do a retrospective of one of my favourite themes from the past decade – people exploring forests.

So here, friends, is a huge (2k+ px wide) collage of all the images I could easily dig up that hit that particular note – starting in ~2010 and including work done this year. Click it to go to the full-res version if you want to see these images in more detail!

A Decade of Forest Wanderers

I’ve included drawings and paintings, comics and character sketches, digital and traditional, and also I’ve included a few plein air studies of forests and forest paths, since that’s been a part of my practice as well!

You’ll notice some themes, some trends in colour, a fondness for bears, and a few recurring themes. You’ll also notice that I redrew a few particular images over and over again! I had forgotten how many times I’d drawn that little adventurer between the wall and the tree, but there’s even more colour comps I didn’t include here. Guess it just spoke to me!

If I were to blame one thing for my love of forests, it’s fairy tales. Reading Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen collections from a young age definitely created a kind of mythic forest in my mind – a possibility space where anything could happen, where magic is guaranteed. And being lucky enough to live in Southern Ontario, where we have some magnificent forests and a bazillion provincial parks designed to help connect us to them, I have a lot of inspiration around me as well.

The work on this collage trends from oldest in the top left to newest in the bottom right, but it’s not a rigid organization – partially because I don’t really remember when some pieces were drawn, and partially because pieces like the comics, the repaints, the iterations, might have been worked on and improved significantly in sessions multiple years apart. Dating artwork is hard, it turns out! You might also notice that the quality level is not, say, a linear progression. My ability to polish an image, to render something well, to bring something to finish, is as much a factor of where my focus is at in the moment as it is my general skill level. So while I am 100% certain that I’ve improved at figure drawing, composition, storytelling, staging, shape design, I also think I’m much less likely to TRY and polish the heck out of an image these days! So that definitely changes the read.

I don’t intend to stop drawing forests and forest explorers any time soon – it’s clearly a rewarding theme, and also, I just heckin’ love trees, folks! Gonna enjoy me some trees!

My question for you is, what are the themes in your work that keep showing up? Do you have a few years – or even a decade – of a theme that you can collect and reflect on? Share some artwork in the comments!