30 December 2012

Tim's Home Run

26" x 20", watercolour on Yupo, 2012, private collection

This was my only watercolour painting for 2012 and it was a bit of a challenge since the reference material was a black and white newspaper photo from when Tim Nikita (my brother-in-law), the foreground subject, was in high school. There was very little detail to work with and figuring out the colour scheme of the uniforms was difficult as the high school no longer has a baseball team and archival photos don't seem to exist online (I couldn't ask Tim because his fiancée, Meagan, commissioned this as a surprise Christmas gift).

Meagan discreetly asked around and got me some colour notes for Tim's outfit, but I coloured the opponent to best contrast Tim while keeping somewhat in line with the photo ref.

I couldn't really see the details in Tim's face so I made this about the action of him running to home base rather than it being a traditional portrait of him. Incidentally, I snuck Tim into my portrait of Meagan for my Burning the Midnight Oil ink painting marathon, but you can barely see his face there, too, so maybe I should just do a full-on portrait of the guy some day...

Pencils clearly visible, the first blocking-in of colour begins.

Shadows and skin (including baseball glove) are blocked-in; foliage is delineated between bushes and grass.

Temporary chaos as more areas are blocked-in and the splattering of paint really gets going.


Addition and subtraction: some details are carefully painted while taking some paint away better defines the shapes.


Erasing paint with a brush lightly loaded with clear water creates nice highlights, separating the figures, and further clarifying the forms.


Nearly there: only one final pass of finicky details, adding and subtracting, is needed to complete the painting.




28 December 2012

Flight (1, 2, 3, 4)

Flight 1

Flight 2
each: 14" x 18", oil on canvas, 2002, private collections

Hands can be tricky.
They're kind of hard to draw, and, since everybody knows what hands are supposed to look like (we see our own all the time!), it's easy to spot it when a drawing of a hand is off (this doesn't matter, though, if it's deliberately stylized to not be realistic).

I like these two paintings of my cousin Amanda's hands for their looseness and liveliness. I did two more in this vein, but they're not as satisfying as these two.

 Flight 3
14" x 18", oil on canvas, 2002

This one was done shortly after the first two, maybe only months later, but my tendency to "tighten up" came through. Still, there's some nice looseness, just not as nice as the first two paintings.

Flight 4
14" x 18", oil on canvas, 2005, private collection

I think this was done in 2005 (it might have been 2006) and I was using Krista's hands here. I don't think there's enough contrast in the hands themselves (I should have just rotated her until the sun lit her hands better), but the forms are okay and I like the knuckles on the right hand.

My next group of paintings will feature the human figure again (after taking a bit of a break last year by painting the Barnscapes) and hands will play a big part; practicing how to draw them is crucial. Practicing how to draw –period– is crucial.

All this also applies to feet.


26 December 2012

100 Portraits in 100 Hours

The Stack

Earlier this month I undertook a big project to help 2012 go out with a bang. It was a test of endurance and a demonstration of my ink painting techniques and, although it was very difficult at times, it was very fun and ultimately very rewarding. I called this 100-hour painting marathon "Burning the Midnight Oil," but a better title would have been "The Longest Day" since that's how my brain made sense of being awake continuously for over four days. Follow the link above to read my FAQ, then explore the rest of the Burning100 blog to see all the portraits, view portions of the recorded live stream, and even read my log from 1989 when I first stayed awake for 100 hours. Enjoy!





21 December 2012

Sreken Bozik 2

Ink & Digital, 2004

This was the first Christmas card I illustrated because I wanted to send out something I made myself to friends and family. Being a Christmas card I figured it should feature the Big J (Baby J?), but I thought it would be more interesting to be a little circumspect, so I came up with the idea of having a woman (modelled by Krista, by the way) doing a needlepoint of the magic baby and his mom.

The landscape in the background is a scene an Orthodox monastery in the lakeside city of Ohrid in Macedonia.

The following year I made this other card which focused even more on traditional Macedonian and winter imagery and less on the religious aspect (although it did still say "Merry Christmas" in Cyrillic).


01 December 2012

Toronto Streetcars, Part 2


above: private collection

above: private collection

above: private collection

above: private collection


above: private collection

above: private collection


each: 14" x 17", ink on paper, 2006

Check out the first and last paintings in this series for my thoughts on these lovely TTC gems.