And when I say traditional, I mean using canvas. Or canvas board, on occasion. And there’s some of my canvas paintings. When people see my rocks, they often ask if I paint on canvas–it’s a very common question I get. I could place it in my FAQ section, if I had one.
I tend to prefer other surfaces, namely rocks, because with a rock I can get away with painting just the animal without worrying about a background, which I generally have less interest in. However, on occasion, in a particularly inspired fit of creativity, I will purchase a huge, pre-assembled canvas (canvas fabric already stretched onto a wooden support frame) with some fantastic plan in mind.
One of these said canvas-with-a-plans is currently sitting leaning up against the wall in my bedroom. It’s the largest I have ever attempted, and am afraid I may not get to it for another 9 months or so while I finish my last college classes. I’ll get to it eventually, so long as it doesn’t jump me in my sleep and try to eat me. (It’s rather large, compared to what I’ve done in the past.)
These large canvases usually get given away as Christmas or birthday gifts. Except for the self-portrait I was forced to do in my painting class. (They make you do a self portrait in every art class, I’ve found, which goes to say I’ve learned more about my face than I ever wanted to know.) The only part that made this portrait bearable was the fact that we were free to add whatever else to the painting that we wanted, so of course I added one of my favorite subjects, a chimera that I designed (which can also be seen in the banner at the top of this blog) on my shoulder. I would post a picture of that (just the chimera part, not my face part), as well, but I don’t actually have a picture of it currently, and cannot take one as it is at my parents’ house. They seem to find more enjoyment in looking at an oil-paint replica of my face and shoulders than I do. Perhaps I’ll post a sample picture of the chimera part later.
Sorry for that tangent. Back to the paintings I am going to show you today.
The first one was actually on canvas board, which is what I call it at least, and consists of what I believe to be canvas glued onto some sort of board instead of stretched on a frame. It is 16″ by 18″, if I remember right, and I painted it for my mother for Christmas. I went through hundreds of photographs of her corgi dog before finding a pose that I thought would make a good portrait. Using acrylic paint, I painted the background first, then the dog in much the same process as described in the previous post. To paint this, I propped it up on the table rather than painting on it horizontally.
Around the same time, I also painted one for my Dad for Christmas. This was a larger canvas, an 18″ by 24″ (I think. I will double-check), stretched on a wooden frame. For this one I collected many photographs of tigers, both white and colored, along with pictures of water. I pieced together elements of each in my mind, and drew a sketch.
It was done on regular printer paper with a pencil. Once I had the design how I wanted it, I scanned the sketch into my computer, blew it up many sizes to fit the canvas size, and printed it as a poster via Microsoft Publisher. Then I taped the many printed pieces together, rubbed the back of the papers with a pencil, and traced the picture onto the canvas. The pencil rubbed onto the back would then stick to the canvas. Almost like cheating, except I drew the original picture freehand, so really it’s just using my resources. Once the faint pencil lines were in place on the canvas, I could paint.
As with the corgi, I painted the background first. I find it easier to do it this way, so that I don’t have to worry about smudging background color onto the subject, and often the subject has protruding pieces such as fur and whiskers that are much easier done over the top of existing background than painted around once it is there. I painted the background with a wet-on-wet approach, painting the next color before the first one was dry so I could smear them together.
Then I painted the tiger, but differently than other paintings I’ve done. Starting at the tail, I painted the black, then the white just in front, then the black, and the white, alternating so that I could overlap the fur onto the previous color. I actually repainted his rear and tail, as when I finished it I was not happy with the way it turned out. Then I painted smaller details, the eyes, the whiskers.
The picture you see here shows the edges of the canvas, and some of the room around the edges where the photo was taken, which I think gives it more of a feel of something real, rather than a conglomeration of tiny pixels creating the mirage of a picture floating on the digital screen.
With the canvas lying dormant in my bedroom, I plan to paint the main characters from the book that I am writing. One of them is a woman, and the other is a changeling–or rather, the odd sort of chimera beast I seem fond of painting and otherwise creating. As the canvas is something like 2′ by 3′, it will be quite an undertaking. The paintings above took several days to complete; another painting I did of my best friend’s main characters from her novels took me 10 days to paint. This larger one, I suspect, will take much, much longer. Thus its dormancy.
I’ll keep you updated.