I’ve done #MaySketchaDay a few times now and I’ve always managed to generate a lot of ideas for potential paintings to finish. I also like to set special challenges for how I’m going to do the sketches. Last year I did imaginative figures, to push my figure painting skills. Another year I did them all based on Blender renders.
This year I’m using Midjourney to generate images and then painting over them to make the sketches. It’s a controversial approach but I think it’s good to learn how to use these tools. We’ll see what the future holds for all of us. I’m still hopeful.
I’ve been working in oils a lot lately and have been very lax about actually scanning them. So here we go!
I’m really enjoying working traditionally again. There’s something so uniquely real about this work. It’s both incredibly unforgiving (in that you can’t easily make big changes, move things, etc.), yet also oddly easy (brushwork automatically looks better).
I used a couple different surfaces for that. Most are done on oil paper and a few are done on gessobord. I’m meaning to get back to doing some work on linen, so I think that’ll happen this coming week. I’m a sucker for working on unstretched linen, ever since I watched a demo by Greg Manchess back in the day.
Sometimes I think my art journey is one of painting in oils, loving it, slowly straying away from it into digital work, and then rediscovering oils and how much I love them. I’m in the rediscovery phase, once again, and loving the hell out of oils.
This is most of the art that I made this past year. There are also hundreds of figure drawings not seen here. There was also a little bit of traditional drawing/painting, but not very much. That’s something I’d like to do more of in 2023. Hold me to that if you don’t see me cranking out oil paintings soon.
A study of Rosetta from our new reference pack, Figure Drawing: Rosetta. Felt great to be back to painting figures. It had been too long since I did any of these and I was certainly rusty at first. But I think the time away from them taught me a lot.
I’ve been thinking about mountains (as one does). I’ve realized that I want to improve some of my own paintings of mountains by:
Increasing the sense of form. I, along with most landscape painters, struggle with depicting these forms as more than simple 2d shapes. I think the sheer scale and distance of these things makes it hard for us to get a grasp on just how three dimensional they are.
Increasing the variety of materials and shapes. I can get very tunnel-visioned with one sort of material or shape language. But a lot of mountains have different layers and materials contributing to their shape. It breaks things up nicely and gives it a natural feel.
More color variety. I’m definitely guilty of this one. I paint far too many mountains with overly simple color palettes. It’s a bit like painting a figure as the same muted brown-ish color, in different values. It’s not necessarily wrong and it can be done well, but it’s not really observing all of the wonderful variation that nature is providing for us.
More interesting lighting and cast shadows. I think this goes along with the form, but if we’re thinking about form then we can also consider how mountains might cast shadows on one another. It opens up a lot of opportunities for interesting shapes and compositions.