Friday, December 30, 2011

The Eight Elemental Amphibians (of Sally Williams) - Panel #2

Panel #2

Panel #2 is a bit plain compared to the others. This piece may not stand alone as well, but it's a good visual rest when in the midst of the rest of the panels. It's one of my favorites out of all of them and not just because I'm so fond of regular ol' run-of-the-mill toads. I like the flatness of the surface and the simplicity of the composition. Nothing flashy about it.

Panel #2 (detail)

Panel #2 (detail)

Panel #2 (detail)

Panel #2

Halfway through the panels; still four more to share.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Eight Elemental Amphibians (of Sally Williams) - Panel #4

Panel #4

Unlike panel #3, these photos for panel #4 turned out really true to the original I think. This one is a more washy, atmospheric piece as well and so ties nicely to panel #3 despite their very different color schemes.

Panel #4 (detail)

There are a few areas of metallic gold on this panel. Rich cadmium orange and reds are already stunning in the glazed layers, and the gold washes makes the color even more vibrant.

Panel #4 (detail)

The frog is based on the likely extinct Golden Toad, but this is not an accurate representation of it.

Panel #4 (detail)

Panel #4 (detail)

The decorative elements were inspired by various Buddhist art pieces I pored over in my collection of art history textbooks, this being a mediocre online example. Graphic flowing linework is often present in garments, clouds, fire, water, etc in this type of artwork. The same general style is characteristic of many ancient Chinese and Japanese ink drawings and paintings.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Eight Elemental Amphibians (of Sally Williams) - Panel #3

Panel #3

Here's panel #3. I'm disappointed in how the photos turned out for this panel; they don't really do it justice. There's a great amount of depth to this one, and the water just glows from all the glossy layers built up with glazing medium - different colors show up depending on the angle you observe it at and the lighting in the room. This is a more washy, watercolor inspired piece than the previous panel. The camera seems to wash out the detail of the flowers and picks up weird brushy areas from the reflective glossiness that don't show in person. You can get the overall impression of the piece though.

Panel #3 (detail)

Panel #3 (detail)

Panel #3 (detail)

The frog silhouette in this panel blends into the paint around it, just as the coloration of actual frogs often allow them to disappear into their environment.

The Eight Elemental Amphibians (of Sally Williams) - Panel #6

Well, so much for sharing my progress here as I was working on this piece. It's finished now! I'm so good at neglecting my poor blog anyway, and with all the pre-holiday craziness going on I should've known I wouldn't keep up with new posts. But, now I have all eight completed panels to share over the next several days.

First, a bit more information on this project: my aunt commissioned me to create a painting for a large, vertical accent wall for a good friend of hers. She left the subject matter completely open for me to choose, with only the practical consideration of transporting the painting as a limitation. I've had the pleasure of spending a little time with her friend Sally several times over the years. She's a wonderful person for too many reasons to list, but most importantly (for our purposes here) she adores frogs. Her home has a bit of a Buddhist theme with lots of warm colors, especially reds and golds. So, frogs with a hint of Buddhist-inspired decorative flavor was the obvious choice to me, as it's very personal and unique to Sally. My solution to the problem of fitting the painting in a car to get it to Kansas City was to make multiple panels that work together to create a large installation.

Panel #6

Here's panel #6. The gold color is highly iridescent/metallic, and the underpainting layers that show up mainly as purple are also a bit iridescent. The overall piece is glossy, with the red and white being the most matte of the colors. I find it nearly impossible to capture those subtle differences in the finish in photos and I feel it's an important characteristic of the finished piece.

Panel #6 (detail)

Panel #6 (detail)

Panel #6 (detail)

One of my favorite techniques that shows up in my work again and again is 'painting the negative,' for lack of a better way to describe it (as in the lotus, above). I paint in the negative space of the object, leaving lines of the background color showing through to create an outline. It's challenging to get the object to turn out looking right, but I always end up enjoying how it looks even when the shape isn't that accurate. It fools the eye - from a distance, it appears that the lines are painted on top as you'd expect. As you move closer and realize that the lines are actually 'behind' the negative space, it makes your focus shift back and forth between what seems logical and the reality of the layers.

Panel #6 (detail)

I always consider the edges of works on stretched canvas as part of the piece. On some, the edges tell the whole history of the painting. Patches of colors that I use on the very first layers of underpainting I'll allow to show through, even if they don't appear on the front of the finished piece. For viewers who are interested enough to look that close, I like leaving those kinds of little glimpses into the painting process.

Panel #6 (detail)

The green poison arrow frog is in the usual pose it always seems to be in just about every photo I've seen of one. I originally planned to paint it in a sitting position, but this climbing pose does seem to show off its stunning patterning the best. It may be a cliche, but I think it still looks interesting in the context of the rest of the painting.

One panel down, seven more to come.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

WIP: Panel #8 of 8

I've been working on a large commissioned painting for some time now, and as it's nearing completion I thought I could share some progress as I work. The piece consists of 8 panels, each 18" x 18". They will be displayed in their new home all together as an arranged group, but are also meant to work as individual pieces if they ever need to be split up due to wall space issues. More about the subject matter and other details later.

Panel #8 (work in progress)

Panel #8 (detail, work in progress)

Most of the panels are in a bit of a transitional ugly phase right now, and this one is no exception. There are dozens of layers at this point. I'm using acrylic paint with a bit of iridescent medium here and there. I'm also using lots of gloss medium and glazing medium which helps give it depth and makes the surface quite reflective (and difficult to photograph without glare).

More photos to come!