Monday, December 16, 2013

Gaudete! (3rd Week of Advent)

So... my grand plan to do a completed piece every day during Advent has quickly fallen apart.  What with holiday parties, Christmas shopping, the usual laundry and errands, plus the rapid temperature drop in the evenings, it's often difficult to set myself down for a solid block of time and create art.  Drawing with stiff, cold hands can get frustrating!  Of course, the Law & Order marathons aren't helping, either... it's so easy to curl up on the couch with a warm blanket and veg in front of the TV.

Still, it's nice to draw, once I actually get into it.  Advent is a season of preparation and introspection, much like Lent but with a bit less guilt. :)  My priest says this can be a season to ask ourselves what we can give to the world, what positive things we accomplish in our lives, rather than focusing on where we have failed.   Drawing is a simple answer to that question, for me.  It's especially appropriate to give thanks for our gifts during the 3rd week of Advent, kicked off by "Gaudete" Sunday.  Gaudete translates as "Rejoice!" in Latin, and we pull out the pink chapel decorations to punctuate the happy week.

This latest work-in-progress is going to take another day or two to finish.  It's influenced by Beatrix Potter's lovely illustrations, which is why I've been playing around with watercolor tools in ArtRage to get ready.  I was even tempted to give the chipmunk a little jacket, but then thought it would be strange since Chickadee hasn't been wearing any clothing this whole time.

At this point I'm undecided as to whether I should "ink" the drawing prior to painting.  I may just leave it, Beatrix's line art rather sketchy anyway.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

ArtRage watercolor experiments

Okay, so... I've had an idea in my head for the next Advent painting, but I spent too much time fooling around with ArtRage and watching tutorial videos on how to use the watercolor tools, so the painting will have to wait once more.  As disappointing as it is (for me personally) not to consistently have a new painting every day, I'm learning a lot about techniques both in software and in "natural media," a.k.a. actual paint.  I'm excited to put the lessons to good use when I finally get around to the next Advent pic!

I spent this evening watching Stephen Berry's Youtube series and reading his posts on the AR forum.  This lesson was particularly inspiring for me:

Not so much the layer masks, since I do that in Photoshop all the time, but the idea of building up layers of neutral tone before adding color is interesting to me.  Really, his entire series is fascinating, as you can tell he comes from a traditional watercolor background and brings that knowledge to the digital medium.

I then spent some time trying out his various techniques on a test canvas.  Here are the intriguing results, quickly modified by adding different watercolor texture overlays:

So the one in the upper left is what I achieved purely with the AR watercolor brush, knife, and sticker spray tools.  The other variations followed Stephen's suggestion of bringing in a traditional watercolor overlay layer to help give some natural looking texture.  He recommends bringing it in right from the start though, as it can affect how you lay down color if you can see the texture as you're painting.  I can definitely see how the addition of the overlay would affect the tone of the painting!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Advent! Dec 9

Continuing the contrasty dark trees/light snow motif this evening.  I saw some cool photos of frozen streams and decided to tackle one myself.  I wasn't too happy with the color choice for yesterday's deer, so I toned down the saturation a bit for today's painting.  I may go back and adjust the other one at some point later.

When I was growing up, we had a big family group that drove up to Tahoe in the winter and stayed at a cabin right across the road from a hilly valley area, with a frozen stream at the bottom of it.  We would sled down the hills and build snow forts and have epic snowball fights there!  Our dads would carve out a "luge" which would harden up overnight for really slick sledding the next morning.  But we had to be careful to bail out before getting to the bottom, or we'd slide right into the stream!  It never got cold enough to freeze solid, so it was kind of a dangerous obstacle.

Chickadee's riding partner has decided not to risk crossing the ice, so she takes to the air once more...

Monday, December 09, 2013

Advent! Dec 8

I didn't get a chance to do a painting for December 7th, since Tommy and I had tickets to see Miyazaki's last film, "The Wind Rises," immediately prior to a friend's holiday party, which lasted until the wee hours!  The Wind Rises was amazing, as usual, but definitely a less light-hearted affair than some of his other films like Ponyo or Totoro.

Anyway, I borrowed quite heavily from Eyvind Earle for this one, having been inspired by the gallery currently on display at the Center Stage Gallery in Burbank.  That man had such a keen eye for design, line, and color!  It was simply breathtaking getting to see some of his original paintings up close.

Perhaps if I keep painting for another 40 years I might learn a thing or two. Like, what to do about shadows falling across the deer... I tried several versions but none of them looked right.  Maybe it's just that the deer doesn't fit into the stylized background at all, so having straight shadows falling across the body wouldn't ever work.

At any rate, little chickadee continues her journey, having hitched a ride with a friend!

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Advent! Dec 6

Working with several tools today - oil brush, watercolor brush, palette knife and eraser. The palette knife in particular can create some interesting effects (such as the background texture).  Not exactly sure how that setting is supposed to imitate a knife on canvas, but then again I've never used a real one.

I'm kind of improvising a little story as I go along each day. Originally I'd thought maybe she could take a sprig from the wreath and start a nest with it, but I then learned that chickadees don't build nests until April. I suppose I could take liberties with that behavior, though I suppose it would seem odd for any bird to try to lay eggs in wintertime.  Now, that's not to say that I'm going to stay completely true to nature...

So, where could chickadee be taking that sprig? Stay tuned! :)

Friday, December 06, 2013

Advent Dec 5

Our church uses blue for the season of Advent instead of purple, to help distinguish it from Lent.  The color blue is often also associated with Mary, which makes it especially appropriate during this time.

Little chickadee is keeping a bit warmer inside the chapel. :)

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Advent! Dec 4

I thought I'd open up ArtRage today and see how rusty my "paint" skills had gotten.  I had been rather happy with how the cover of my mom's storybook turned out using the oil paints in AR.  This quick paint came out so-so... need to work on color palettes, brushes, and lighting.  Still pretty fun though! I think I'll keep using ArtRage this month.