I don't often take on illustration projects anymore, but I'm working on one right now. There isn't really a nondisclosure agreement on it, but I've decided mostly to only share the process on my Patreon page. So if you'd like to see what that's all about go here: https://www.patreon.com/Gilead and contribute a dollar. Then, if you want to, you could withdraw your pledge after a month once you've seen all you want to see. I won't resent you if you do that, and while you are there you even qualify to get 50% off on some of my artwork that is available for sale. So for a $1.00 contribution you could buy a $500.00 painting for $250.00 and then bail out. I promise I won't resent that either.
The project is a role playing game about pirates on an island ruled by semi intelligent apes.
The little space goblins are enthralled by the young lady's attributes as am I.
Eventually all the the excess space at the top and left of the painting started to bother me so I took the painting outside to my work table and cut it down with a power saw. I had an old picture frame that was right for the new size so after touching up the few scratches this caused the painting was finished and sold.
There is as much wrong with this painting as there is right so let's review the goods and bads. Good: 1. The idea, I love the little goblins and the play on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
2. Her skin tones came out very nicely. This is still the hardest thing for me to do and I'm proud of any painting where it comes out nice. 3. You've gotta admit that's one nifty space pistol. I know you want one of those.
1. I hate the orange color on the back wall, wish I'd painted it out entirely. 2. That negative space between her back and her left hand and fruit bowl. It makes this ugly straight line. My eye goes directly there whenever I look at this picture and I suspect yours does too. There are much nicer things to look at in this picture, but that dark straight line grabs your attention. I should have moved the bowl so that it overlaps her figure and breaks up the straight line. Or just cheat and give her a little more curve in the hip. Actually most of the straightness was caused by her hip curve being hidden by the blanket in the photo, but it doesn't look that way in the painting. Terrible mistake, completely ruins it for me. 3. And I'm sure I don't have to tell you her head's too small.
Most of the time I'm a -learn your lessons and move on- kind of guy, but I'd like to revisit this one someday. It could be so much better. Who knows, I might even put clothes on her next time. ...just kidding.
Sometimes I crop a slice out of a photo of my work and print bookmarks from them. Some compositions lend themselves to this better than others.This one loses the cool space gun, but still has boobies so it's all good.
I tend to save the skin on the central figure for almost the last and the head and hands of the figure for absolute last. There are two reasons for this.
Firstly, as the most important elements of the painting I save them to get the greatest amount of attention. This is the dishonest answer.
Secondly, the actual reason, is that I'm a coward and this is the part of the painting that intimidates me the most. I'm completely comfortable drawing the figure in charcoal, but when it comes to painting I always feel like a raw beginner again. The head hands and feet are the most challenging so I put them off. Many artists paint the central figure first to establish the colors, and the strongest contrasts of light and dark. this makes it easy to do a background that doesn't overpower the figure. If you've already done an overpowering background it's hard to make the figure stand out as the focal point, the star of the show.
None of which seems to bother anyone in the illustration business these days. If anything they seem impressed by it. They glorify it. Look at a copy of Spectrum Annual to see what I mean. You'll see page after page of cluttered confusing graphics where every inch of the surface is as attention grabbing as the main character. It's less of a narrative and more like a rectangular block of texture. Like static on a TV screen. It's not that the artists featured aren't amazingly talented, they are. Zoom in on any portion of a painting and you will see startling realism, and astonishing detail. But they don't know when to stop. Or else the client doesn't allow them to stop. Perhaps once one artists has packed a rectangle with eye stabbing microscopic filigree from corner to corner everyone else feels cheated if they don't get the same volume per square inch on their own project.
On the other hand perhaps I'm just old and bitter. I'm certainly old. And, it must be said, I'd tried many times in the past to get into the illustration business or to get my art into Spectrum to no success. That can make you bitter if you let it.
But these days I don't care that much. I rarely take on illustration assignments and when I do it's more as a favor for a friend than a career building ambition. So any bitterness I once nurtured has hopefully been thrown aside.
I wrestle with that question whenever I find myself feeling disdainful of modern illustration. Is it an honest dislike or is it sour grapes?
I'm going to say much more on this topic, but not today.
At this stage the girl in the painting no longer bears any resemblance to my model. This usually happens which is why I'm not a portrait painter. Painting portraits is an entirely different skill from painting people, perhaps in the same way that writing songs is different from writing stories. Both admirable skills, but not the same skill.