Thursday, September 29, 2011

As promised.... the Smoking Jaguar

Smoking Jaguar watercolor center panel from handmade card.
The two glyphs are very obviously personal interpretations of the Mayan glyphs. My flame is far too ornate and my cat does not have the typical roundness of a Mayan hand.

My favorite parts are the stripes, the cats eye and  the three "beans" along the bottom. The washes worked out a lot better than I had hoped they would.

Why does the cat have an earring? Well most of the animal faces wore some kind of human decoration in the Mayan originals. I think that was so that the reader would know the difference between the writer talking about the cat in the jungle and the King with the animals name.

I've done two versions of this painting, trying to perfect the ideas. And each time I do it I realize that I like this version the best because the actual painting part... how it flows, is the most spontaneous of the versions.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Found it! From the archives of...

Now that I have this great awesome new camera, I have been digging through my storage unit to be able to present to you all the archives; art that I made before I started this blog. And honestly I am reaallllly upset that I didn't have a better camera to be able to share in glorious technicolor the work I've done while I have had the blog.

From the archives... in no particular order:
Color study of 3 1/2 mangoes.
This is a watercolor that I did in a few hours. It was supposed to be a quick study that serves three purposes: a. practice what we just learned in Glee Fenby's class about light and dark and how shadows are even less solid than we think. b. to not spend so much time in the thinking about how to paint but in the actual painting. I'm type A so I forget that easily. c. to lose the fear of watercolor. I had a bad experience in Mrs. Kozlowski's class with watercolor which stemmed from a stilted & stingy application of the palette. This resulted in my setting aside hopes of watercolor for 15 years.

Having Michelle teach me how to clean an ink pad, marker tips and then applying that to the wells of color in a tin gave me the confidence to play. I learned that you can make as big a mess in the tin as you want because no one at Bienfang was going to roll in their grave if you got purple in your yellow. And then... the gloves were off. I just didn't really "get it" until I had some formal instruction.

Color studies have always been employed by the "really good quality" artists... da Vinci did somewhat, but he was kinda ADHD before ADHD was cool. The old masters did this as a preliminary step to applying the colors of oils to canvas. It really does help you make certain you have the right composition before committing precious supplies to something that won't work. And this worked.

It worked so well I decided to name it "Mango Sunrise" and sign it. Then I loved it so much I put it in a frame. And that was just a color study. The painting that followed is one that you've all seen before.
3 1/2 Mangoes
What I like about the watercolor is that the light is there. The mangoes rinds have a watery translucence that they don't really have in real life and there is an expansiveness in the composition. What doesn't work for me is that they seem to float. It was just a color study and I was not worried about how they were going to "sit" on the page. Just how I was going to get those bands of colors in the rind and make the pit stand out.

What I liked about the acrylic painting to the right is that there is a festive quality with the purple and turquoise. I was just dividing the negative space to give some sense of placement without really knowing how I was going to finish it. So the effect I got was like boards from a market stall. And I thought Mexican fiesta once I figured out where on the color wheel the background colors had to come from.

What did not work for me was that the lightness got lost. I could have brushed more white across the top of the far left mango but the paint was sliding and not really sticking to the layers that went down before. And while you can go light over dark to fix mistakes like the purple chunk taken out of the top right mango... in theory, the more I tried to work out where my brush slipped the worse I made it and those very cool hash marks that happened by accident were going to disappear. All in all the yellow hashing draws the eye away from the boo boo so I decided to stop and leave it be.

And the pit lost something in translation.

But I love this one. It is one of the things that I do not know I would ever sell because from start to finish, even considering the flaws, this was the most successful process I had within the scope of acrylic painting.

And it's just such a Damn Happy Painting.!

The beauty of living in the future, as Uncle Wil says, is that I can keep the original and with PoD I can make as many of these things as I want on just about anything. As soon as I have the right software I will open a shop at In the meantime I think that will be printing some happy little greeting cards for me.

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