© 2015 Moeller Illustration
web site by PiCon

Blood Magic: Lessons Learned

Posted on January 2, 2012 by in Making Art | Comments Off on Blood Magic: Lessons Learned

Over the holidays I painted a commercial assignment in what I call my New Style (improvisational, emotional, painterly, unresolved).  The piece was large (~30″x40″), painted in acrylics on illustration board.  I’m not at liberty to share the complete image yet, but here are some notes I took at the end of the process:

1. REFERENCE:  I took reference photos for the main figure, but printed them out in black & white at low resolution.  That was insufficient.  When I printed them out large and in color, at high resolution, they solved lots of difficulties I was having.

2. TENSION:  When I deviate from my reference, I struggle to make convincing decisions.  On the other hand, when I conform to my reference, I struggle to keep the dynamism of the sketch.  There’s a tension between reference and sketch that I must anticipate and constantly observe in future paintings.  Part of the excitement and freedom of painting in this new way means accounting for such challenges in real-time.  I don’t know that they can all be solved through preparation.  The success of this way of painting is a direct result of this struggle.

3. LIGHTING:  Where preparation does make a huge difference is in lighting.  That’s the primary issue I wrestle with when improvising.  I find dramatic, convincing lighting is almost impossible to invent fully.  In future, I must get good, consistent lighting reference on all the main elements of the piece, and limit invention to under 50%.  Referenced lighting must sell the lighting for things which are invented.

4. SKETCH:  A solid sketch is helpful, not just in preparation, but as a reminder, when I’m neck-deep in painting, of how the piece is intended to feel.  When the painting gets stale, pull out the sketch and compare.  I did some additional sketches mid-way through this piece to loosen up my eye and hand.  It helped re-ground me… helped me be decisive when pushing the painting away from the reference.

Comments are closed.