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: (Default)

So last Tuesday I finally sat down and did some drawing with my good friends [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet and [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii. They're both accomplished inkers and line-artists, and because my medium is paint and my previous collaboration experience has been limited to thick squidgy messy improvisations in paint, we didn't really feel that compatible, and I've never done art with them before. These days I'm gradually opening up - I may not have a huge amount of shared creative ground with [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet and [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii, but they're very close friends, which does help. I'm still sufficiently self-conscious that I felt uncomfortable starting work while their housemate, who seems lovely but who I don't know at all, was around.

This is very much not my normal style. In future I'd be interested to split the process, with one person pencilling, one inking and another colouring, comics-style; I'm not sure that line drawing lends itself naturally to two people working on something simultaneously. They were fun, though. With [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet I used Chinese ink and she a series of different pens, which she uses far better than I ever will; [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii inks a lot, so we both used that. We didn't spend particularly long on either of them - much of the evening was delightfully spent in chatting and giggling before we got round to the serious business of making pretty things. I'd really love to spend longer on something with these two, not least because their styles are both about the intricate details, and there's a limit to how intricate you can get in an hour. I'm also getting the urge to work on something big with these guys. Get some paper that covers the floor, cover it with swathes of watercolour and then work into it with layers of ink and pens, get lost in it, trace a path around the paper and spend ages immersed in different bits.

I can see far more of either of them in these two pieces than I can of me, but perhaps my own influence is invisible to me, in the same way that we can never smell the mild, distinctive smell our own house has, but guests will notice it immediately on coming through the door, and lovers will be reminded of you every time they smell it. Are all artists chameleons? When I'm collaborating I seem to adapt to my co-artist's style far more than I bring my own style to the table. But then, my own style isn't very well suited to spontaneous improvisations. Perhaps if I worked in oils with someone else it would look a lot more like one of my paintings (and, in fact, the K~nesis paintings that include oils do look a lot more like the rest of my art).

belatedly cut for b00bage, which I always fail to notice as NWS when it's drawn rather than photographed )

Untitled (figure)
(with Laurie Penny)
12" x 16", Chinese ink and various pens

Note: The pens probably have all sorts of cool professional-sounding names, but I'm not sure what they are because I don't know anything about pens. Ballpoint? Fibretip? There were colours and everything, it was very exciting. Laurie did all of the pen stuff. I used ink and brush.

This is quite silly and comic-book but I like her anyway. I particularly like her piercings, and the ambiguity as to how much of the decoration is tattoos/body art and how much is abstract decoration. I like how the figure is stylised as well, although I think the anatomy leaves something to be desired. I happily accept the blame for this as I think I did most of the initial blocking out and I'm terrible at doing figures from imagination. I tend towards the unrealistically skinny unless I check myself, and that bothers me. Sadly I'm not very good at drawing curves either, unless I've got something to copy. More life-drawing clearly required!




Repose
(with Andrew May)
16" x 12", Chinese ink


To my eye, this looks like an Andy-painting with some silly Helen doodles over the top, but Andy reckons I did more of the figure than I'd thought, so clearly his distinctive brush style is contagious. This is a very quick sketch but I love it. Andy's style is compelling and moody; to me this looks like an illustration of a scene from an unknown myth. Even though we were making it up as we went along and the lighting isn't accurate, I like how it looks like light is falling onto the figure through a rose window. To me, the figure looks like a mystic, spirit-walking on other paths while his body gathers dust. Or perhaps it's a male version of the Sleeping Beauty story. I don't draw male nudes very much. I should do. Men are purty.

April 2016

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