I was so excited to post pictures of the progress of my most recent painting last night, only to open my Safari internet browser to the message: "Network Connection Error. You are not connected to the internet." Needless to say, panic ensued. Try going a day without internet access. I thought it would be easy - not so. No blog, no Google searches, no Netflix, no facebook, no email. It was horrible!
What's the saying? Good things come to those that wait? Patience is a virtue? A bird in hand is better than two in the bush? Whatever the lesson, here are the pictures at last. This painting is a part of my "The Beatniks, The Bastards, and The Saints" series. The subject is Mr. Matt Zumberge, my friend, tattoo artist, and now muse. It's always awkward starting a series and trying to find models. For some reason, "Hey, can I paint you?" comes off creeper-ish. You might as well just tell people that you've got puppies and candy in the back of your '89 Astro van that's parked out back. Matt is a Laguna College of Art and Design graduate however, so he understands the woes of an artist first hand in this department and was really cool about helping me out. Plus, he has just the look I wanted to capture on canvas: a tattooed ruffian with a devil-may-care aura. I think it'll be a lot easier asking people to model for me now that I've got someone I can refer to that is also participating. It's the herd mentality.
I work from photos. I get really particular about details - REALLY particular - so instead of asking someone to sit and pose for me for 10 hours until I get the painting exactly perfect or cut off one of my ears, I figure it's better to snap a photo and work from that. I have a pretty snazzy camera (a Rebel XT) that takes some really nice pictures too. Here are some of the ones I took of Matt at the tattoo shop. You can click them to enlarge.
After I weeded through all the pictures and dwindled it down to my favorite (the last photo with Matt puffing away like a little chimney), I sketched out my outline on the canvas. I had to do this three times before I got it right. The first time I drew a different pose and realized I liked the other one better after an hour of sketching. The second time I drew the outline and it looked like Matt with a bad nose job. So I stepped away for an hour, came back, erased my canvas, and remembered some advice from an art teacher I had in high school: drawing the subject upside down. It sounds crazy, but it's so ingenious. When you draw right side up, you're brain sees the picture and thinks it knows what it sees, and you end up drawing more from memory than you should. When you turn it upside down, you're basically tricking your brain to draw the shapes it sees, not to draw from memory. After I drew the outline this way and flipped the canvas over, I was amazed at how well it worked, besides a few minor tweaks. Thanks Mr. Palmer; That highschool art class served me well.
[After the flip. Magic, right?]
Then from there I start with the skintones and work from there. I like to work in pieces so I feel like there's something getting accomplished at the end of the day. So yesterday I just focused on getting the left arm done. I'll add the tattoos in last.
[The status so far. I think his hat is a little too small now. I'll probably re-draw that when I start on his face. I love working on faces! Best part. There's nothing more satisfying that capturing an expression.]
I was really frustrated last night after about an hour of painting and a fair amount of expletives, because I thought it just wasn't looking right. But when I woke up this morning and looked at it with fresh eyes, I said to myself, "You still got it, Amy Hood." Then I gave myself the finger guns and a wink in the mirror and headed off to work.
Listening to: Whiskeytown's "Here's to The Rest of The World"