May. 28th, 2008

helenic: (elephant reaching to the moon)

Man, I've been rubbish at posting art here the last couple of weeks. On the other hand, I've been brilliant at actually doing little bits of art here and there despite working nonstop on hectic design projects during the day. I do still feel bad for not pressing on with Bast, but I will get back to her as soon as I've met these deadlines, and in the meantime it's good that I'm painting for fun, just little bits at evenings and weekends. Nothing so intensive or ambitious as to feel like work, and certainly not slaving away over photo references and composition studies on my own. Painting for fun is not something I have historically been good at. The key is, it appears, other people. :)

So! I've been spending quite a lot of time at Chris's new house since he moved his bed there, which has been great because I've got to hang out with [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet and [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii a lot, and they're great. We spent an evening a couple of weeks ago playing with paint and ink. [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet had been reading fairy porn (apparently: she has promised to do read us some aloud but we haven't got her drunk enough yet) and so was in the mood to paint a fairy. This is what we came up with:



detail )

Fairy (with Laurie Penny)
16" x 12, watercolours and ink pen on cartridge paper


Laurie was working in pen, I was working in paint. She started sketching and I followed her lead, adding shading and contours. I picked up on the stylised face-shape from her, but she seemed surprised by it, so I think it might have been one of those happy accidents of symbiosis. :) I normally paint realistic faces and I found doing a stylised one surprisingly pleasurable. But then, I very very rarely paint figures from imagination, and I'm not sure I could have done it without Laurie's practised sketching for guidance. The figure outline was immediately and confidently hers, and I just concentrated on adding colour and three-dimensonality.

I really, really like the combined effect of paint and pen, the decorative elements creeping into the painting, adding depth and detail and shadow. It's very much a feature of Laurie's style and I really like it. While we were working on this, though, I found it irrationally difficult to deal with. I'd paint a bit of skin until I was happy with the shading and colours and then Laurie would start inking over the top of it. Even though once she'd finished I'd invariably be impressed by what she'd done, I found myself getting annoyingly possessive about my painting. I'm not sure why this is a problem when my co-artist is working in ink, but it's not when both of us are painting. I guess I'm perfectionistic about anything I have sole control over, and it's a bit of an effort not to be horribly control-freaky when I'm collaborating, although I am getting better at not being. Having sole control of the colouring gave me the illusion of being in control, and then every time Laurie made a contribution I'd get all tense, which was tedious and unfair because everything she was doing was marvellous. Sorry, [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet. Next time I will try to chill out more.

Next I painted [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii, who wasn't very well and didn't feel up to doing art himself, but kindly volunteered to sit for me while I painted him, with the intention of inking the painting once I'd finished. (If I finish my "bit" and surrender my painting to an inker, I reckon I'll be able to deal with it much better than when I'm trying to paint and surrender it simultaneously.)¹



Twitch
16" x 12, watercolours on cartridge paper


He was sitting up on their lovely, silly chaise longue² while I painted this. He was also very tired. I haven't done life painting since AS Level, and even then we were never allowed colour. I therefore had great fun using colours for shading and forbidding myself white or black (although I did eventually succumb to black for the hair).

I am rubbish at hands. Twitch has since improved this immeasurably with his inking skills, particularly the hands, which is rather impressive given he's working without a model to look at. But I'm quite pleased with this, nonetheless. Mostly because it looks like a human being - in fact it doesn't look unlike Twitch - and it only took me half an hour, which is normally as much time as it takes me to get my paints out, make tea and check my email in a desperate attempt to not start painting yet, so it's definitely an improvement on my normal working methods.

1. I'm still not sure which part of a comic book production line I'd be best at. I don't have the skill to be a penciller - not fast enough, not good enough at figures from imagination. I'd need models to sit for each frame and I'm not sure I could illustrate a character to order, particularly not consistently. Ink, maybe, but it's not my medium; colouring sounds like it would be easy but it's mostly digital these days, I'd guess, which again is not my area of expertise. I'd probably end up doing the covers or something.

I do like the idea of doing art in stages, though: passing on a pencil or paint sketch to be edited, defined, pinned down by someone who can take your vague shapes and make them more confident. It's fascinating seeing what someone else picks up on, and I think other people have an immediate advantage in inking, in not having an attachment to the first stage of the drawing, being able to come to it fresh and make judgements about what works and what doesn't. I think I'd like to do more collaborative work in stages like this.

2. LONGUE CHAISE R LONG.³

3. It's not really very long. It's actually quite short. We have, in fact, taken to calling it the chaise short.

helenic: (citylights; car window)

The delightful [livejournal.com profile] seph_hazard came round for dinner on Friday night. I've wanted to paint her for a while (ever since I saw this photo of her, in fact), and the original plan was to invite her and [livejournal.com profile] wildeabandon for dinner! wine! gossip! painting! (I figured that sitting for me would be less dull with someone to talk to.) Except [livejournal.com profile] seph_hazard had a headache, and then I didn't finish cooking until about 10pm¹, and then [livejournal.com profile] wildeabandon left and I was drunk and tired and we decided to do the painting the next day.

This was a brilliant plan. It worked out perfectly. I very rarely spend the day at home, cooking and drinking tea and fussing the cat and pottering. It was really really lovely. I had long chats with [livejournal.com profile] seph_hazard, we had a delicious breakfast of muesli with banana and strawberries, and then an even more delicious lunch of all the leftover roast vegetables from the night before chopped up with pasta and pesto and grated cheese. And I discovered that the local cornershop sells real beer! How did it take me this long to discover this? Anyway, they have Fullers ESB Champion and Honeydew in the fridge for £1.90 a bottle, and I had some with lunch, because it was a sunny Saturday at home and I could.

The sunlight was perfect: [livejournal.com profile] seph_hazard obligingly posed on my bed, bathed in light, and we chatted a bit while I painted. I kept meaning to take regular breaks but we'd suddenly realise half an hour had passed without me noticing. [livejournal.com profile] seph_hazard was brilliant at sitting and didn't complain even though her wrist and back were killing her. I painted her in about four half-hour sittings, possibly slightly longer.



Persephone
28" x 18", watercolour on Chinese watercolour paper


Again my inclination was to shade with colour rather than black/white, although until it dried I had no idea the blue was that intense. I'm pleased with this. The anatomy is somewhat lacking - I've made her spine about six inches shorter than it needs to be - but I was having difficulty fitting her on the paper anyway, and if you didn't know she was taller it wouldn't necessarily be noticable. Given that I sketched in the hands and arms at the last minute while [livejournal.com profile] seph_hazard desperately waited for me to finish so she could rest her screaming wrists, I'm quite pleased with how they turned out. I've never done proper skintones in watercolour before and it was fun.

In fact, the whole thing was fun. I had someone to talk to: I had a beautiful naked woman to admire. Having a sitting model forced me to work fast and efficiently; I didn't procrastinate (although we took leisurely tea breaks), didn't fuss, didn't dawdle and didn't get bogged down in perfectionistic detail. I could never, never have painted this in four hours from photos. At least, I don't think so; watercolour is faster than oils so maybe it's the medium that makes the difference. But this was fun. I want to do it again. I want to try to do a life-painting session like this regularly if I can, making space for it properly, with a model all to myself and enough time to do them justice. I've already agreed with [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii that we should aim to do art together every week, so that when one or the other of us inevitably cancels we'll end up doing it about once a fortnight, which is about right. I don't think I'm up to organising a group life painting session (and I don't have the space) but trying to do something like this twice a month or so would definitely be good.

wittering about materials/technical difficulties )



1. It was good though. Garlic bruschetta with pesto and cream cheese; heaps and heaps of roast mediterranean veg drizzled in herbs and olive oil and balsamic vinegar (OMG courgettes: I always forget how nice they are. Also sweet peppers, mushrooms, red onion); cannelloni stuffed with feta and spring greens chopped and cooked in garlic and pesto; lots of garlicy tomato sauce; salad with cherry tomatoes and fresh spinach leaves.

Making the cannelloni was less easy than it looked: first I wasted a whole bunch of lasagne sheets by cooking them stuck together and not being able to separate them without tearing them to bits; then [livejournal.com profile] wildeabandon patiently softened each one for me in boiling water and olive oil and I still had trouble making the rolls without everything falling apart. I had some of the leftover cannelloni and sauce with olives and LOTS of salad tonight though, and mmmmmm good food with fresh ingredients. I should do that more often. Next time I make the cannelloni though I will use goats cheese, and probably mushrooms or spinach instead of greens. Greens are cheap and good for you but not as tasty, and even cooked they were a bit tough and stringy to be a good pasta filling. Possibly I should have steamed them rather than stir-frying them.

helenic: (Default)

I've just cast my vote - if you haven't yet, please do so today. The voting ends at 9:00 p.m. PDT Thursday, May 29, 2008, although I'm not entirely certain when that is BST. 5am on Friday morning, I think.



[livejournal.com profile] deathboy got my first vote, because I know him and he's a good bloke with a sense of humour and liberal politics. Basically I think my LJ usage is pretty well represented by him and I trust him to not fuck it up. His campaign manifesto is here.

[livejournal.com profile] sollitaire got my second vote, even though I don't know her at all, because I liked her answers to the election questions and she seems to represent my interests. Plus she's the only candidate I've come across who self-defines as feminist, although I admit I haven't looked through all of them - my process here as been to read the manifestos that are recommended to me or which I otherwise happen across, on the basis that if I haven't heard of someone, they probably aren't interesting enough or close enough to my corner of LJ to merit my attention. With LJ stuff, you tend to hear about the stuff that's worth hearing about. I don't have time to research all the candidates from scratch, so instead I'm trusting in the power of meme theory.

[livejournal.com profile] legomymalfoy got my third vote, because she has the personal recommendation of a few people I trust. I don't think being involved in fandom is a crippling bias, and in any case it looks like she's more practical than partisan. Her campaign manifesto is here.

I don't actually know how much power the user representative will have, but since [livejournal.com profile] jameth started winning by virtue of being a troll and [livejournal.com profile] cambler started winning by spamming LJ with objectifying pictures of women, I've started caring about someone decent getting in for the right reasons. (Yes, he's a professional photographer and the models signed releases. I still find him slapping photos of half-clad women everywhere on LJ to garner votes for himself exploitative. "All electrions are popularity contests! At least I'm upfront about this being a beauty pageant!" he squeaks. Er, mate, sorry to break this to you, but it's not your beauty you're capitalising on. Or perhaps I'm just biased because his photography is such tedious lads-mag shite.)

I'm not sure I could say for certain which of the three candidates above would actually be best at the job, without knowing more than one of them well. But they all seem to have their heads in the right place, by contrast with certain of the other candidates. LJ has lots of decent people in it. It would be a bit rubbish if we elected a troll or a misogynist out of apathy.

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