Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Trying to Mimic Leyendecker

A short while back I completed an illustration assignment done from my imagination with the use of some reference for some of the background figures. One of the figures was a swipe from a Leyendecker painting and I guess because of that particular figure I tried to make the rest of the painting look something like Leyendeckers style. You can see this painting on the upper left. It didn't come out too bad but it would never be mistaken for a Leyendecker. No surprise there. Still it was fun to do.

 A little while later I decided to paint a portrait of my Mom in which I tried to mimic J.C. Leyendeckers style. What captures my attention most about Leyendeckers paintings  ( on the right is one of Leyndeckers sketch canvas' ) is that every brush stroke has a purpose, There is not a single stroke wasted. Everyone well thought out and describing some important detail on the canvas. A very hard thing to do.

But whether or not I'm successful at mimicking his style or not a lot can be learned by just trying. I also had a great deal of fun painting it.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Drawing and Painting In Mischief

One of the main things that I look for in drawing and painting software is its ease of use. It has to be as close to actually just picking up a pencil or a brush and just be able to start working. I don't need a whole lot of technical tricks, I'm not interested in photo manipulation. Of course a good tablet helps a whole lot as well, but it's important that the software be easy to use.

That's the reason I like Sketchbook Pro. It's really simple to use, easy to keep track and find my favorite brushes and tools. I have Photoshop and it is excellent but it's been a while since I've used it to paint. I like ArtRage, how it mimic's the different mediums listed in its arsenal of brushes, but there's a bit of tweaking that needs to be done in order  to get the results which do look so much like the real thing.

There is one other program besides Sketchbook Pro that is very easy to use. Mischief is another terrific software. It is not packed with as many brushes as Sketchbook Pro. There is not a lot beside changing the opacity that you can do to the layers. But there are a good amount of adequate brushes and you can use an unlimited amount of layers (how many really depends on your computer memory).

Mischief also has what is called an infinite canvas. You can continue to draw on the canvas as if you were drawing on an endless roll of paper. You can move your drawing over left, right, up or down and continue drawing.

Mischief allows you to save your image as an Mischief file but you can export either the visible canvas or portions of it as an jpeg or png file. You can adjust the size and resolution as you are exporting your file.

The images I am posting here were done in Mischief. In these drawings I was simply exploring the application to see what can be done with it. It is wonderfully easy to use and that is the best thing I can say about any application.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Some Pages from My Sketchbook

 Draw everywhere and all the time. An artist is a sketchbook with a person attached. (Irwin Greenberg)


Between all the business of life, when you cant get to all the things you want do or dream of doing, the best thing to do is to draw in your sketchbook every spare chance that you get. Most of these sketches are done on my lunch hour at work. I sit quietly at my desk nibble at my food and draw.

Some of these are prelims for an illustration assignment. Two drawings were sketches from life, one of my mother and the other of a man sitting in a jury room.

Friday, March 13, 2015

A Couple Of Lessons From A difficult Painting Session

I almost gave up on this one. I walked away with a couple of lessons from the experience.

First is of course don't quit so easily. The thing that made this painting especially difficult was that I used the wrong paper. I used a Strathmore smooth 4 ply bristol board. A very good rag content paper but the smooth surface was not suited to the gouache medium. Paint kept lifting off the surface as I applied it to the board so that I had to paint using thick globs. The paint didn't always lift off, it wasn't plate bristol (that would have been impossible to paint on with gouache), just enough to be very annoying. Half way through I had to decide whether I wanted to continue. There was enough down that looked promising so I gave it another go. There are always things to change in a painting as you go along, using the wrong surface made it that much harder to make corrections.

Next time I need a surface with some tooth and not this smooth surface that I used here.

The second thing was equally obvious, pick the right paper for the medium I'm using. Who knows, even though I managed to finish it with the right surface It could look better than it does now.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Free Digital Painting Software

With the exception of Sketchbook Pro, Art Rage, and Mischief digital painting software has a pretty hefty price tag. However, there are a number of free software available online, Gimp has been around as an alternative to Photoshop although I've never been very impressed with it. There are other software though and some of those can compete very nicely with the paid software.

There are three programs that I was very happy to find. Although you can find a few more I chose these because of their ease of use and the amount of quality features. What I was looking for is the quality of the brushes, layer properties, support and ability to produce high resolution images. The three I chose are Krita, My Paint and Smooth Draw.

My favorite out of the Three is Krita. I was very surprised that this would be given free. It is as good a software as any you can purchase. The above painting was done in Krita  and the image bellow it was done to test out the brushes.

I haven't had time yet to explore more fully My
Paint and Smooth Draw. Only a couple of sketches to test it out initially.  I share these images here but I will post more on these programs in the future, From what I can see My Paint is a very good program it may prove just as good as Krita. Smooth Draw is very easy to use but it doesn't seem at first glance to have as many features as the other two.

I have included a YouTube video bellow of the
 painting done in Krita......

Monday, February 9, 2015

Making Master Copies

After Norman Rockwell

Sargent after Velazquez
After J. C. Leyendecker
The practice of making master copies is a very old tradition. Michelangelo made copies after Masaccio, Rubens made copies of the works of Leonardo and Michelangelo, Sargent made copies after Velazquez, etc. The reasons for making these copies was so the artists could learn from those who came before them.

Taking the time to make copies after artist you admire is a great exercise allowing you to learn a little something more about a painting then you would by looking at it. They are also a lot of fun to do.
Michelangelo after Masaccio

After John Singer Sargent
On the left are some copies I've made after some artist and illustrators. On the right are copies made by Masters of the work of other Masters. The copies I made are all done in Gouache although all the paintings I've copied were done in oils.

Rubens after Caravagio

After Frank Frazetta

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Golden Age Pen and Ink Illustrators

The artist Robert Henri is quoted in the book "The Art Spirit" telling his students"..all the past is yours." I think about this when I look at the work of past masters. Fine artist and illustrators, there is so much work there. So much that gets forgotten and rediscovered and then buried again

The work of past pen and ink artist come to mind. At one time names like Franklin Booth, Joseph Clement Coll, Charles Dana Gibson were widely known, not just by artist and art students but by the public who read the periodicals that published their drawings. Artist still use pen and ink and there are a number of really great illustrators using the medium but the golden age of the pen and ink illustrator is gone. Thats not to say that the medium will never see a revival. Who knows, it just may be that artist can turn another page and and show that there is still more to be said. I enjoy using the medium and will continue to do so, but for this post I will include the works of some of the best masters of the medium from it's golden age.

Joseph Clement Coll

Edwin Austin Abbey

Franklin Booth

Charles Dana Gibson