Autumn Tiger

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Acrylic painting of a white tiger standing among birch trees in autumn.

Autumn Tiger, an acrylic painting I painted for a good friend for Christmas.

Happy New Year!

I have more or less returned from my Christmas and New Years celebrations, and am looking forward to another year. The time shortly before Christmas is often a very busy time for me, as I enjoy painting or otherwise creating some of my gifts for family and friends. This year I painted my largest canvas painting yet–with a style I’ve never tried before.

A close-up of the tiger in the painting.

A close-up of the tiger.

This is my first painting done in an impressionistic style. It’s fashioned after another painting my good friend (and recipient of this painting) admires, with enough similarity to be complimentary but with enough individuality to make it a unique piece of its own.

I found I really enjoyed this style of painting. It was fun to smack on paint with individual brushstrokes, and allowed me to let go of some of the perfectionism of detailed, realistic painting. I’ll definitely be playing with it some more in the future.

Things I learned from this painting:

  • Painting in the process, an unfinished painting.

    An early stage of the painting process.

    The more expensive paint is way better. I typically use tole painting acrylics, such as Folk Art and Delta. They work well for painting rocks and hold up well to that medium. These are the bottles seen in the pictures here. However, for this painting, I wanted a paint with more body to form the ridges characteristic of oil paintings. For this, I used some of my more expensive acrylic paints I used in college, and re-discovered their superior quality compared to my usual paints. Their color is richer, their consistency smoother, and overall easier to work with. I’m a convert!

    A photo of the tiger painting

    A photo of the painting. The sides of the canvas are also painted.

  • I can scan my canvas paintings for the best digital copies. I scanned this painting in parts, and piece together the scans in Adobe Photoshop Elements. This worked way better than a camera, getting clarity at a very high resolution. It did take all evening to piece the scans together, however, but definitely worth the time.
  • Imperfection can be beautiful. As I’ve said, I’ve never done an impressionistic piece before. I’ve tried for details and realism, but somehow the imperfections–the impressionism–of this piece capture more emotion and atmosphere than any of my other realistic paintings. In time, I’ll become more distant from the painting and more objective about its strengths and faults, but for now, I am happy with the outcome.

So that’s what I’ve been up to recently. How about you? Have any fun New Years resolutions?

God Bless,

Teegan

Heading into a Sculpture

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Little Red Furry Dragon Sculpture Front

A little furry dragon sculpture I did a while back. About 4″ tall. He usually sits on my bookshelf. Someday I will paint him. Maybe.

I decided I needed a little break from painting, but I’m still feeling the artistic drive. I haven’t made any sculptures for a while, and I hear it calling my name. It’s been at least a year, in fact; the last sculpture I did was a replica of a crested gecko. I posted about it last year (see here). I also did the little furry dragon in the picture here, a little before that.

I was inspired last week while perusing Etsy. I found this dragon sculpture by Kate Sjoberg (Red Wyvern Studio), and I thought, That’s so cool! Nothing like seeing something awesome to get your creative juices flowing. My thoughts branching out from there, I found this dragon here, and this other one here. And for a long time I have thought that the sculptures by Ellen Jewett (Creatures from El) were gorgeous and very inspiring.

Little Red Furry Dragon Sculpture from the side

Here is the little dragon from the side.

I knew I wanted to make a figuring of one of my three-headed chimeras. I also wanted to make something larger than I have before, something that would give me space to render the details I wanted him to have.

So I started doing research. I wanted to use polymer clay–a clay you cure by baking in the oven–but which brand? I have used Sculpey III, and was not impressed at the quality at all. The poor little dragon I sculpted breaks far too easily. My other sculptures are made from Fimo. So I researched clay brands. I researched techniques, how to handle larger sculptures, watched a few videos on Youtube. I researched how to make glassy eyes, and how to support the creature’s wings… I researched for hours.

I also like to come up with a plan, to know what I’m getting into. Especially something this big. This is what I came up with (Note, this is just what I chose to do. Everyone is a little different, since it’s a pretty flexible process):

  1. Sketch the sculpture. I didn’t do this for my other sculptures, but I can see it would help immensely in the process. Especially for measuring lengths and proportions during stages where the form is ambiguous.
  2. Build the armature. Make the internal structure with wire, mesh, and tape–such as masking and floral tape, which will be fine at the low temperature the clay bakes at (~265 F). The wire gives strength to the sculpture to keep it from sagging while baking or breaking once done.
  3. Bulk up the armature. With crinkled aluminum foil (and more tape), build up the internal parts of the sculpture. This keeps the clay thin enough to bake completely, and also saves on clay. After the aluminum foil, bulk up further with SuperSculpey. Bake. (During this stage I will also bake the eyes and horns to be added later, so they don’t mush while I’ll putting them on.)
  4. Form up the outside. Using Fimo clay, add on another layer of clay to the creature, bulking out the form and proportions. No details yet, just the basic form to work with later. I’ll add the baked eyes and horns here.
  5. Musculature. With more Fimo, add on the muscles, and sculpt the layers of clay to give definitive shape and form.
  6. Detail. Here I’ll add the scales, hide texture, lines, etc. The stuff that turns a cartoon creature into a realistic-looking creature. I suspect this may be one of the longer steps. Once done, bake.
  7. Paint. Then I’ll paint it with acrylic paints, adding more color and detail. Once I’m done, I’ll give it a short bake to set the paint. Yay! All done.

Theoretically. So far, so good, though I chose to do the heads and the body separately. More on that and making the armature next week!

God Bless,

Teegan

Painted Giraffe Rocks

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Finished Giraffe rocks before varnish

I finally had a little time this weekend to finish the giraffe paintings.

I finished painting the two giraffe rocks yesterday! It was a long road; both of these are fairly large rocks and my schedule recently has been a little art-prohibitive. Detailed work requires a lot of patience, which is hard to muster when I’m tired. But things have settled down a little, and this weekend I had some time to paint.

So today I have photos of the giraffes to share. Finally!

It was pretty hard to get good photos of the larger giraffe. The front is quite flat, and reflects the camera flash (and ambient light) really well. So I’d end up with photos like the on on the left.

From now on I think I’ll take all of the angle shots before I apply the varnish. The varnish is supposed to be matte–and it is, compared to the gloss varnish–but it still reflects a good amount of light. I ended up taking most of the photos of the larger rock outside, which worked a little better.

So here we go. If you have any questions about them, or their process, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments!

Updates: Ink sketches, Paintings, and Links

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It’s been a slow month for art. So we have a few updates today:

I’ve been sketching a few curious beasts in pen, and posting them as the header pictures for my writing blog since I changed its appearance. Nothing special, but a little artistic outlet for me when I don’t have time for deeper art:

Page of pen chimera sketches

Done with a pen in a sketchbook. You can see the cleaned up versions on the header pictures of my writing blog.

Ink sketch of a chimera

Also done in my sketchbook, with an ink liner pen.

While painting with my sister, I wanted to work on something flat, so I started this painting:

A started painting of a chimera cat

In oil painting classes, they teach you to paint a monotone background to block out the shading. I don’t do this with rocks, but thought I’d give it a try for a canvas painting. This is acrylic paint on an 8″ by 10″ canvas board.

My sister now has her own art blog, which you can see over here. She’s got some pretty cool stuff (though I’m biased) going on, and some poetry to go with some of her paintings. She’s in high school and got some awards for her paintings at the recent school art show.

Birch forest in fall, by Tamara Purrington

This is one of the pieces my sister painted. You can see more of her work here.

Some other cool things I’ve found recently or have been meaning to share:

Hopefully in July when I return to working the day shift, I’ll have more time to paint). Or at least, be less befuzzled about what time of day it is and what I should be doing at any particular moment. Until then I’ll have to make due with what time I do find to create. My projects seems a little random, but since art is mostly just an outlet for me, I tend to work on whatever speaks to me at the time. The second giraffe is on it’s way, however; and I do have another bookmark in the making, which is waiting for varnish and a tassel. That one will be going into my Etsy shop…

As a side note, I’ll soon be making some changes to the blog appearance. I realize the white text on a dark background is a pain to read, and I’m looking into finding a theme with larger text. Hopefully that will make things a little easier for everyone to read.

God Bless,

Teegan

From Blob to Beast – Painting a Giraffe Rock

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Photo of a rock painted as a giraffe

Finished Giraffe Rock Painting

How do you turn a lanky blob into a giraffe? With paint, patience, and several hours to your name.

I finally got a good chunk of time to paint this weekend. I camped out on the dining room table with my sister and her painting project, and we painted the day away. I managed to finish one of the giraffe rocks I’ve been working on. Since there are a lot of photos, most of them are¬† in the gallery at the bottom.

The Spots

I started the day with the giraffe’s base coat and some shadowing already done. The general form of the giraffe was there, but it was spotless. I used several photos of giraffes to get a good feel for their coats: how the spots interlinked, their shapes, where they’re larger or smaller on the giraffe’s body. I used a orange-brown for the spots, created by mixing a little blue into orange. I outlined the spots with this paint, then filled them in as I went. (Photos 1, 2, and 3.)

I realized pretty quickly that the spots were going to need a second coat to smooth the color out. It would add more time, but it also allowed me to worry less about the first coat and focus more on their shape and placement. Then I added more blue to the brown to darken it, and painted the spots in the shadows. (Photo 4.) Using the same color as the spots’ base coat, I repainted the rest of the spots. It looked much better after the second coat.

6. Photo of giraffe painting process: fur texture, side view

6. Fur texture on the shoulder.

The Fur

Giraffe fur is a little different than what I’m accustomed to painting, lacking the distinction of the wild cats‘ or the wolf’s fluffy fur. A giraffe’s hide is essentially like a cow’s: very short. Most photos you see of a giraffe don’t even show their fur’s texture, but I still wanted to give the appearance of fur in my painting. I found some close-up photos of giraffe fur, and tried to capture the effect. To do this, I used a light orange-brown (orange, blue, and white) to paint fur texture into the up-fur edges of the spots. Then, using the same dark brown as the spots, I painted texture flowing onto the light background on the down-fur side of the spots. (Photos 5 and 6.) Just painting around the edges of the spots gave an impression of fur texture without becoming overwhelming.

Creating Dimensionality

The next parts were a little tricky and ambiguous. Using a watered down black, I added dark shadows around the edges of the head and neck, legs, and tail. I added shadow around the giraffe’s forehead and darkened the eyes and ears. With watered down white I added highlights along the edges to add contrast between the shadow and the forms that needed to stand out. (Photo 7.) I tend to work a little instinctively at times, adding paint where I see it might help. In general, lighter objects stand out, and darker ones pull back into the shadows.

11. Photo of giraffe painting process: Feet and shadows

11. I painted the hooves and used a black wash to define the edges of the giraffe from the raw rock beneath.

Other Details

Then I painted the mane and tail, from dark to light. (Photos 8 and 10). From there I used more washes to darken areas that needed to recede into space and lighter paint to those that needed to come forward in perceived space. I darkened a lot around the neck with black washes. (Photo 10.)

Once that was finished I painted the hooves and painted a shadow around the giraffe on the bare rock with a watered down black wash. It need only be light, just enough to define the giraffe from the rock and imply a little shadow. (Photo 11).

The final photo shows the giraffe in it’s finished state. I still need to sign the bottom and paint on three coats of protective varnish, but the giraffe itself is done. Hurray! It always feels good to finish a painting. It’s not perfect and I still have much to learn, but it’s a fun process.

Photos

Here are the photos! Some have a little glare from the flash of my camera. I worked into the night, so my lighting wasn’t great, which meant I needed to use flash. Click on the pictures to see them larger. To see them even larger, click¬† “Permalink” on the bottom right corner of the slide-show (which appears when you click on one of the thumbnails below).

More photos of the full rock coming soon!

God Bless,

Teegan