Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Have a Happy Halloween! Here are some creepy paintings about witchcraft to set the mood.

John William Waterhouse, 1886, "Magic Circle"
Francisco de Goya, 1797, "Witches in the Air"
Luis Falero, 1878, "Departure of the Witches"
Salvator Rosa, 1646, "Witches and Sorceries"

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Trapper Part 3

So the piece is pretty well under way, but more importantly I have very exciting news. They have brought "Beavis and Butthead" back to television with brand new episodes. It is truly a great time in which to live. Remember these classic moments from our childhood? I certainly do.

Most of the piece has had at least one pass at it. I have spent a bit of time building paint up on the face, hand, and fur collar, especially in the lightest areas. The face is almost ready for second painting. For things like the collar, I always find it useful to start almost too soft to get the big effect before putting in any details. Edges and value relations are two of the greatest factors in creating atmosphere, so it is better to err on the soft side of things. They can be easily sharpened later if needed. In addition, I also try to not exaggerate values too much within each element of the painting. My wife mentioned value grouping in one of her "Lucie and the Wind" postings. And yes, that is a big shadow across the bottom right of the painting.

Detail of hand.

Friday, October 28, 2011

10 Helpful Studio Secrets to Make Your Paintings Better

1. Keep art books in the bathroom. That way you will seek inspiration for at least 5 minutes a day; twice that if you eat at Taco Bell.

2. Time your breaks. I don't do this, but you should.

3. Don't overeat at lunch. It's so much more challenging to paint on an overly full stomach. However, if there is an all you can eat Golden Panda Buffet around, then you pretty much have to get your moneys worth.

4. Eat lots of red meat in your diet. The power gained from red meat will give you better cognition and increase the measurable testosterone levels in your painting. Leonardo da Vinci ate 2 pounds of veal a day.

5. Don't listen to smooth jazz when you paint, it makes you pretentious and makes it feel like you are painting in an elevator or "on hold."

6. Play an instrument. In the renaissance, Albrect Durer wrote that it was important to play a musical instrument to balance out the humors. Plus girls are way more impressed by guys who can play the guitar over guys who can paint.

7. Just because something says its "natural" on a painting product doesn't mean its not dangerous. Cobra venom is technically natural.

8. Photo document your paintings progress so you can look back at what you did in the future. What, you were expecting another joke? Its a good idea.

9. Be critical of your work. Ask yourself if this is truly a good work of art or is it the beer talking.

10. Don't waste your time on stupid blogs. Yeah, I probably should have put that one first.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hilarious Politics

So I never take any political stance but this is simply hilarious. Apparently, the Obama campaign has called upon artists across the US to participate in a poster design competition. The theme of the competition has to do with the Obama administration's promotion of job growth in the upcoming years. The kicker is that this is an unpaid gig. If you do happen to win, you get a copy of your own poster signed by the president, valued at 195 bucks. If you fail to win, you have still given up your copyrights of the images entered as they become property of "Obama for America." In addition, the rules state (according to the Graphic Artists Guild):

“Entering the contest means that you agree to the contest rules, and indemnifying the committee is part of the rules, so you agree to defend the campaign committee and yourself against an infringement claim at your expense.”

Here is an article on the issue.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Trapper Now

I am starting to move into first painting at this point. At this stage I always like to lay in the lightest and darkest notes in order to scale my values.
I begin to break up things into broad planes. As you can see, the face is still rather grey in chroma. I always find it best to work less chromatic and darker in the earlier layers. That way, lighter and more chromatic areas will be the thickest areas of paint as you build up more layers. The opposite is true of alla prima however. Always start overly chromatic in the beginning of a single session painting as it will gray as the colors mix together. This stage is about an hour and a half into the painting.
The piece as of now after a little less than 2 days of work. The photo is showing it quite a bit grayer than it actually is. I will continue to build paint and correct things, and break down forms as I go. This is the painting's "ugly stage." Paintings to me are a lot like kids. They start out attractive and exciting, then they go their their frustrating ugly pimply teenage years, and finally they look normal again whey they are all grown up.

If you have any questions about my techniques, ask them here.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Trapper Keeper by David

So I thought I would give everyone an update on my trapper painting. I posted the preliminary drawing in an earlier post, and later designed a small color study (seen above). These small painted studies, done from imagination, allow me to set up the dominant color harmonies and masses of light and dark in the painting. Scott Waddell has a great webisode about this on his blog , which has way better special effects than my blog. The last video I made was simply stop motion GI JOEs being blown up with firecrackers so I am a bit behind on video technology and editing. However, my movie did have amazing cinematography. I'll do some videos at some point.

After I felt fairly satisfied with the color studies, I transferred my drawings to canvas using graphite. Some artists will reinforce this with ink, though I did not for my painting. I massed in the areas of shadow to strengthen the lights and darks, while paying some attention to edge quality. I was able to see some of the graphite still through the dry brush, which allowed for me to hold on to my drawing as I had more beers throughout the day.

I began to mass in large areas of color based on my color study (the ebauche). I used a very thin consistently of paint, which allows for the paint to move easily across the surface, while deadening (graying) the colors. The big statement is now complete. I would warn people not to lay in the ebauche too thickly and hard edged, as you will end up with what looks like a Disney character from the 80’s and lose any sense of atmosphere. In addition, every time you go too thick in the beginning, a baby unicorn loses their horn and dies. Happy.

The colors I am using for this piece are fairly limited. Yellow Ochre Pale, Ivory Black, Lead White, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber, and Vermillion. This is the first time I have used Vermillion in a painting, but so far I like it as a substitute for Cadmium Red. The only drawback is that it contains mercury and although I love heavy metal, this particular one causes even more brain damage than Pantera. (did you see that pun I made)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Still life workshop

Kate and I are offering a one and two week Still Life workshop in Seattle this April at the Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio. In this course, you will learn about paint application, creating textural effects, artists materials, stages of a painting, and how to cast your very own medieval battle axe out of bronze. (ok, not the last thing, but everything else.) For more information visit the WIFAS site at

In addition, I will be teaching a classical painting course at the Vancouver Island University in February (more information to follow)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Ok, I know I have been fairly lazy about posting updates. So sue me. However, I have started some studio landscapes. I go outdoors and execute small studies from nature, which I compose in the studio later in the form of a larger more complex work. This pic shows some color studies and one study for the landscape in the distance. I still need to gather more info for the trees in the foreground. I learned this working method from attending the Hudson River Fellowship, which was hands down the best and most useful time in my art education. If you ever want a great experience, I highly recommend it, though be prepared to work 12 hour days.

Also here is a picture of me boxing a bear that I met when I was out landscape painting. We got into a fight because we agreed to order a pizza together. Then when it was his turn to pony up the dough, he was like "but I only had one slice, so I should pay less." That wasn't the agreement; when 2 individuals order a pizza, the cost is split down the middle, no exceptions. I had to teach him a lesson.