Sunday, January 1, 2017

Fafhrd Through the Ages

Here's a progression years in the making - beginning in 2014:

There are qualities about this version that I really like - in particular the gesture and the vigorous powerful brushwork, plus the strength of the color, though that orange is overpowering, isn't it? I think it's a very successful sketch, but always wanted to upgrade it.

Then, just a few days ago, I dusted it off and put in some more work, wanting to see what I could do to it with my upgraded 2016 skills.

This is how it currently stands. It isn't really finished - I wanted to get as much done as I could before the end of the year and get it posted - I may or may not work it some more. Not sure because no matter what, there are fatal flaws with this one that I can't fix, like the stupid J. C. Penny's catalog model pose. Weird thing about it - in many ways I like the previous version better. Because it's so smooth now he looks tender and delicate - and I've completely lost the gesture - the spine has become stiff and straight. But the important thing - I'm really advancing my ability to paint airbrush-smooth, bringing it all up to Ultra-HD resolution. Crisp and clean, with no caffeine! That's really allowing me to work the form and the surface, and I'm also getting increasing control over every aspect of color. Plus thanks to the aforementioned Cheerio Buckle saga, I'm now using my improved dexterity for some much more precise and detailed detail. 

Really I don't like this one much. I see it as a transitional piece. I'm halfway to being able to combine the airbrush smoothness with the chunkier, more powerful approach, and hopefully to do it all faster and better. But until then, I guess I'll be making a few weird paintings like this one to develop my control. 

Oops - I took too long making this post - it's 2017 already!! 

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A thought -- the smooth painting, at least as I'm doing it here, represents the materialist aspect of things - form, surface and light rendered as theoretically perfect - making the body into a mannequin or action figure (or a CGI model). The more painterly or what I'm calling chunky or loose painting is attempting to depict the metaphorical - the spiritual or ethereal, the atmospheric or the inner nature. You must develop skill with both and learn how to combine them in a way that works. It's similar to the differences between prose (prosaic or practical/utilitarian writing) and poetry; the metaphorical/essential/ethereal art of writing. They're two different modes of thought, two different filters for interpreting the world and its meanings, and today it's most common to use either one or the other and to see it as bitterly opposed to the other. That's one of the things I fondly recall about the 60's and 70's - the artists commonly understood how to combine both modes. The world we live in today unfortunately seems to be characterized by divisiveness. 

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  1. I really like the way you think about art, and how you compare prose/poetry with painterly/smooth painting. As an oil painter and a miniature painter (for examples of this art form google Putty and Paint) I experienced my own evolution from ultra smooth blending being the preferred outcome, to a painterly approach being the desired end state as I refine my oil painting technique. In the mini painting world, smooth blending with acrylics is the sign of a good artist. Only now are mini painters beginning to challenge these conventions, with artists like Alfonso Giraldes taking the experimental leap towards painterly approaches to painting the sculpted figure. I suppose mini painters have been slow to accept this style because miniature painting is still regarded too much as a hobby or a craft, and not artistic expression.

    I am also a writer, and I recently started freelance work on political websites and news sources. I had trouble transitioning from an essayist to a journalist--even though these genres are much closer than a poet and a technical writer would be. I suddenly had to communicate sometimes grand, complicated ideas in a space much smaller than I was used to writing. As such, the skills that I had exercised my whole writing life were no longer needed, and I felt....unexceptional.

    You can feel the same when transitioning through painting styles. If you have spent your entire life blending smoothly and suddenly this ain't desired by your audience, suddenly you are not the accomplished artist you thought you were. But, just like with writing, as you being flexing these new creative muscles, you will quickly surprise yourself about your newfound abilities. It certainly isn't like learning to paint all over again, as the basic skills you learned still cross over and are interdisciplinary in many ways.

    My thoughts, anyway. I am glad I found this website (calling it a "blog" is disservice, IMO).

  2. Wow, thanks for a really in-depth and well reasoned comment! Sounds like you did it the right way - the way you're supposed to. People on the ConceptArt website kept telling me I should paint smooth but I arrogantly assumed I was beyond needing to do that and that I could just get right to the painterly stuff. Nope!!

    I haven't painted miniature figures myself but I have done some stopmotion animation, requiring me to make and paint lots of small props, and I also had to paint the puppets. That was very similar (but not as small).