I have been reading called George, Nicholas, and Wilhelm by Miranda Carter. It is about these three first cousins that were the rulers of England, Russia, and Germany leading up to the first world war. Reading about the tragic circumstances of Wilhelms birth and upbringing make one cringe with a mixture of disgust and empathy. His left arm was injured during the extensive labor which almost killed his mother. Up until the age of 10 he underwent medieval forms of therapy, from stretching on a rack, electrical shocks and "animal bath's" in which his arm was plunged into a freshly killed hare.
I took some liberties as the animal baths ended by age 2 and I doubt they were all conducted at once, but these truth's are stranger than fiction anyways.
I had a wonderful time at the Westerfield Mansion in San Francisco drawing the Gallery Girls, a group of terrific models who pose for artists, often in interesting costumes and with unique themes. Last night's theme was French Girls, so the music was a mix of French pop and classics dating back to the cabaret days of Paris. The Mansion has an interesting history and is maintained with antique furniture and decor, looking as if it were the late 1800's. There was a lively group of artists, several of them from other game studios all painting, drawing, and photographing our talented models. I highly recommend looking into future events if you are looking to improve your figure drawing skills and socialize with some other creative types.
I tried to take this guy a bit further and render a single focal area. This was a recommendation from Silvio Aebischer. He is an excellent concept artist and worked at Oddworld as a driver of those games artistic vision. He recently came by Crowdstar and did some lectures and demos. It was a really great opportunity.
I had some very vivid dreams last Thursday night and awoke around 6:30 am still seeing the imagery. I saw this huge stone, I looked up and it appeared to be a large cylindrical stone, which appeared volcanic and moss covered. I guessed it had fallen from the sky long ago from some asteroid, and then maybe thousands of years later, someone had scaled its face and carved out statues which looked somewhere between the Easter island guys and the Buddha. It when I looked up it stretched up into the clouds and seemed much larger than the skyscrapers down in the financial district of SF.
At its base I saw the ruins of a modern day sports arena, but covered in some calcified stone, and other building edifices, overgrown also with stone and moss. I removed them from this comp because I have just done far too many Post Apocalypse things so I am making this more pure fantasy.
Then the dream got weird, I was dying, and a Black Widow jumped onto my chest releasing a venom directly into my heart, which had the effect of keeping me alive. I felt the pain and fear, and a strong desire to remove the spider, at one point I couldn't stand it and I ripped it off, and then it sprang back onto the opposite side of my chest making a fresh bite. I saw drops of my blood landing on the paper on the table below me. Like I said, weird. I will take this to color asap.
I had some time the other day and I wanted to add some Fantasy or Medieval work to my portfolio. I also wanted to practice some characters with some expression after watching Wes Burt at the SFWorkshop back in August. He stressed beginning with a loose sketch, in a very hi key with only light and complete shadow to figure out the characters head "gesture". He has a mastery of anatomy, and so he can make short hand marks that denote the surface features of the face and indicate a lighting direction in a single mark. I do not yet, but I can start to see how you sort of "feel" the features out in a rougher big brush and sometimes marks just look natural. The second part was that building on top of this in other layers, you must continuously check back and make sure your character's mood and personality still read and resemble the sketch. Rendering can easily make your faces contort and drift, so that was very helpful.
Had a fantastic evening at Crowdstar with our excellent model. She had a pet snake that was very fun to attempt to draw with all of her serpentine motion. Really a unique experience that I thoroughly enjoyed.
I have been realizing that in my quest to become a more effective painter, I have at times started to overwork things and get away from the impulsive and creative. Its true that I am still trying to improve my finished rendering skills and don't want to stop that, but I also want to get back to creating a striking image that doesn't need too much detail to get across an idea. I just finished reading Structura 2, the art of Sparth and thought I would do an image using those methods. It feels great to work and leave things more unresolved and indicative rather than explanative.
Yesterday was the 25th of May and as I learned is a transformative day in the life of Russian students. This is the last day of school and is when a grand ceremony is held for the graduating high school seniors. Unlike in the US, the students all learn as one group for ten years and have usually a primary school teacher for the first three years, and then another teacher overseeing their education for the remaining seven years. There are other teachers for specific disciplines, but the result is a very tightly bonded group. We went to. Visit her school named Gymnasia which is the best school in her region, particularly for those wanting to specialize in English language. When we got there, many of her teachers and the school director recognized her and asked her to give a speech. Masha came up with a heartfelt and encouraging sentiment and delivered it in English and Russian. We stood beside the Mayor of Tiraspol, who has his own children studying there, an we felt like honored guests. Attached is a picture of Masha with her first grade teacher Nadeshda who was recently recognized as an honorary teacher by the Transniestrian government. The other photo is of Masha near the bust of Zelinski who was the inventor of the gas mask and one of the distinguished students to pass through this school.
We have been experiencing some magnetic storms as they call them here, with lighting and rain. It's still perfectly warm and the rain never lasts too long so far. Here is a sketch of some Moldovan style houses set amongst the soviet apartments. Most houses have thick green grape vines hanging over the rooflines. Tiraspol is such a curious place, a rich history and many very famous Russian figures are are from here. I am also posting some of the photos from around these apartments which house workers from the textile factory here in town.
Traveling with our son Arthur is difficult to say the least. Adjusting to the time zone is the hardest part after the flight because we can only sleep when he does, forcing us to nap during the day because we have only been able to sleep in 3 or 4 hour blocks at night.
On the plus side, his grandma and great grandma are cooking round the clock to feed us Moldovan style. Here is a picture of my second breakfast on our first day waking up in Tiraspol. We awoke at 2 and had our first breakfast , by 9 am in this picture great grandma added a glass of Muscat to the mixture. Today I did some of my first sketches of the local architecture which are basically soviet style apartment complexes. I will update this post with some better images when I can, working out of pocket.
This is a personal piece based on news articles I found about my grandfather "Smitty". He was left behind in the Philippine Islands after the Japanese pushed the U.S. out and there he fought alongside the Philippine Resistance Army. They used guerilla warfare tactics, remaining in the hills unless they had superiority in numbers and then would strike Japanese units. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for these actions.
This weekend in the city was wonderfully sunny and warm. The family went to the San Francisco Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park and got some picnic and nap time in. Last weekend was our dear friends wedding in Puerta Vallarta and I took a little time to get a beachside watercolor in. I think the next step is to get a bit cleaner and more well planned. It is fun though just mixing the colors into each other.
Just working on imbuing character into my characters. I thought it would be a good idea to take some famous literature which I have read but never seen a film adaptation of and try some of the main characters out. Its been a couple of years, but that was a great book, you really feel that the characters exist somewhere.
Here is a Mural I did for my son Arthur's room. It was painted at around 8000 pixels wide at 150 dpi, and the end result was a 4'X12' vinyl wall print. It was a fun project that I hacked away at over a period of months, mostly because of the large size. Soon he will look much older than that toddler I painted him as.
These are a couple of studies I knocked out this afternoon. The first is a portrait photo study from a photo in the Atlantic In Focus section of the Atlantic online publication. The second is a study of the late afternoon lighting in my living room, which changed rapidly as the sun went down. I will have to try another later with the artificial light to get a bit more accurate and detailed.