Meteor Spray

The mission to Mars is complete! This larger piece was a lot of fun on many fronts and allowed for some variations in technique and colors. This is largely an abstract project, although I worked to replicate the essence of the Martian surface, albeit with some wild colors. 

After the block-in, which was described in the Meteors and Squirrels post last month, I focused on the colors. It was at times infuriating trying to create other worldly space dust hues, but I kept at it until I found something that resonated with me. Along the way, I will admit, there was a lot of wasted paint. The solution was glazing, whereby I was able to push and pull the hue and intensity as needed through thin layers atop an initial color scheme. There were 3 glaze layers in total, but the first one was the most impactful, essentially making the whole piece pop and really come alive! It was an exciting moment and something I absolutely love as an artist, namely when you make a creative decision to change the approach and it actually works! Hell yeah! 

After 2 glazing layers, I made another compositional decision to invest more time and effort in multiple craters. The piece needed to convey the powerful impact of the main focal crater, but the addition of other craters enhances the overall painting and incorporates some needed texture. The craters also unwittingly added a strong sense of value contrast and lighting direction that I didn’t realize was lacking until I started dropping them into the Martian surface. 

The final glaze layer was more opaque than previous layers and it was selectively done across the composition to soften and blur many of the larger craters so one gets the sense of a dusty surface – otherwise they simply looked too crisp and clean, an effect I wanted on the focal point but not the other craters. 

Overall, this piece was fun to do, but I’m not excited about the outcome. I absolutely love the impact crater – still now sure how that came together so nicely – and the projection of colored Mars dust (meteor spray) worked well, but I realized the composition isn’t something that appeals to me visually. The final colors aren’t what I’d envisioned and I simply couldn’t get away from the red orange… and I don’t really like that hue, so in the end it was a stupid decision on my part. That said, I’ll be interested to see who likes this piece, either because of the pronounced coloring, or perhaps the Martian space theme, which isn’t a typical painting subject.

Technical details for my fellow art dorks:

  • Oil on canvas board, 30″x24″
  • Glazing done in final layers, but not atop the focal crater
  • Brush sizes were primarily 2 or 6, mostly Flats and Rounds,

Meteors and Squirrels

It’s been a couple months since I worked multiple pieces simultaneously. I like having the ability to bounce between works in progress for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that alternating allows me to shift gears and keep my focus fresh on the piece in front of me, rather than getting burnt out banging away on the same composition for multiple days. Thus far in 2020 I’ve been working on small pieces that don’t take a long time to finish, so I’ve not had the opportunity to work in parallel. Well, that changes this week​, means blog updates will have more progress updates along the way and not necessarily include the finished product in a singular post.  
Last week I started 2 new pieces. I’m still waiting for inspirational names, but for now we’ll call them Meteor Spray and Squirrel Dancing Meteor Spray is an actual Mars meteor impact crater, which will be a mix of realism and abstraction. Compositionally I’m already excited, in large part because the splatter inspired block-in stage turned out to be damn near good enough to stand on it’s own as a monochromatic painting. The colors in the reference photo are wild, but might be tricky to replicate. The plan will also incorporate knife work and impasto to build up the texture of the Mars surface. This is a larger piece, oil on canvass board, 24″x30″. 

Back on planet Earth, Squirrel Dancing is a study more than a formal composition, at least for now. I want to improve my skills in painting dogs in motion, so the study will focus heavily on the body language of the dog in an effort to capture an element of motion that gives the piece intrigue. In the case of Squirrel Dancing, the focus is the dog ready to spring into action when the squirrel makes a move. I’ve included a couple of sketches that helped me get a handle on the composition structure. Based on these sketches, I opted for the zoomed out approach that captures the height and separation between the taunter and the taunted. The painting study is 6″x8″ oil on paper. Before painting Wolfy into the study I did a small practice version before committing it to the composition – see the picture with these side by side. 

I’ll keep working on these 2 pieces over the coming week. Stay tuned!