The topic: Trees. Theme: Autumn. At least, it was autumn for my part. And yes, this was a new challenge in the painting class, where we after an introduction to how different painters painted trees, and how their expressions changed during their lives, could either copy one of them, in our own styles or be inspired by them.
And there were many styles to choose from, too—anything from serene, naturalistic scenes to completely abstract, from many colours to few colours. Personally, I fell for a forest scene, with only trees. And painted in black and white (well, greys) except for one tree, with its leaves in full autumn colours. And a couple more.
That’s what I was inspired by. Except, I didn’t want a forest scene, I wanted something more urban. A little glimpse of the urban, but not any too straight lines. And, the result?
A few lines and squares in the background give the impression of buildings and windows. A car and a few streetlights make the impression stronger, and then the trees are in the foreground. Grey, except for the largest one in the middle, which is where all the golden autumn colours are concentrated. Spots of colours represent the leaves, both on the tree itself and fallen down on the ground.
All of this was done with loose brush strokes, much looser than the painting that inspired me, but – I’m happy with the result. It’s the first time I’ve tried something like that, so it was a win for me, all done in a short evening.
I am taking classes in acrylic painting this autumn, too. Technically the same class as before, according to the description, but we’ve always just continued from where we were on our path to professional artists. Or on the path to just enjoying painting in itself. This time, with a new teacher, things changed – but more about that in a later post.
Enough about that, except that we do get challenges every time. This summery painting of a sunflower field is the result of such a challenge.
A quick painting, but showing enough variety and detail to … make the impression there are details present. It’s really not, not much.
Around Halloween, it was time again for a new five-day portrait challenge from Paintable. Last time, this spring, was my first time trying it, and also my first time painting a portrait. At least in a serious way. Would I get a better result this time? Only one way to find out: I had to do it!
The task was like last time, except for one twist. Since Halloween was approaching fast, the final portrait should be of a monster; zombie, vampire, witch, whatever. Either make the monster from the start or take the finished painting and make it into a monster. I decided to make a vampire. A female one.
So I got my model, placed some lights where I wanted them to create the mood, and then I was ready to take the steps as usual.
Light, medium and dark skin tones. That’s how it’s usually done at this step. And I started that way, but … this time the lighting was more complicated. I had used both red and blue lights, and the shadows, were bluer. I had to fix that, so in my next step, the blue shadows were added in addition to the smoothing the colours.
With the colours I wanted in place, and smoothed out for a natural result, things are looking good. I still have to do something about that hair, and there are details that need to be taken care of.
Hair straightened out and made look more like hair. Earrings were added, in the shape of bats, of course. She’s a vampire, after all. Should the eyes stay blue, or should they be more mysterious? Red or yellow were too common for monsters – I made them purple. The teeth were still too white, so I changed those, too, slightly.
I also added the lighting to the background, and some other details, slightly out of focus. It’s already a lot better than the one I did in spring, but I want a final touch-up.
I wanted the hair to look even more like hair, so I spent some time brushing it. Digitally, at least. She got some slightly lighter irises, and some cute freckles were added. And a slight trickle of blood from the side of her mouth, after the free lovebites she’s been giving.
Exercise: Find a picture. Make a sketch of it, or rather three sketches, in 20, 15 and 10 minutes. Well, I did. The question is: How well did I do?
I do see that while I concentrated on different parts each time, I also got more secure in my lines. Even if I didn’t get all the measures correct each time … but if I did this exercise several more times, I’m sure the difference between the sketches would be larger.
When I took the challenge of painting my first portrait ever in five days, problems arose. Did I overcome them, or not?
My digital painting of an apple started a new era, I said. Or wrote. To follow up on that claim, I need to show it, right? Show that I’m doing some digital painting now. I guess it’s time to rejoice just a little bit now then because the week after the “apple boot camp” the “one week portrait”-challenge started.
The same steps used in the previous boot camp were used now. Day one: Make a rough sketch/line art of the portrait. Get the proportions correct, but the details weren’t that important just now. So I did that.
Day two: Add the main colours; skin colour, including light and shadow versions. Same for lips, eyes, hair, clothes and whatever else is needed. Just add them in the main areas, leaving hard edges between the colours. I did that. It looked kinda weird, but I trusted the process.
Day three: I left for Easter, bringing my laptop and drawing tablet with me. The task was to blend the colours together to make it look nice. A little bit more focus on details. When I was ready to do it – my laptop failed me. Or rather, Photoshop failed me. When I opened the file I was working on, all that was showing was a white canvas. All the layers were there, but they didn’t show.
I could turn the different layers “visible” and “invisible” and save the ones I wanted as a flattened image, just one layer. A one-layer file would show, and I could edit it. Doing everything in just one layer.
That complicated things.
I would have to do things differently from how I normally would do stuff. More like painting with acrylics on canvas: I couldn’t just undo mistakes easily, and had to be a lot more careful. I did the best I could.
Day four: Take care of the details and textures. Again, I did what I could. My drawing tabled acted up, too, giving me a hard time.
Day five: Make the finishing touch to make it pop, and make it my style. I fought Photoshop, which I had made partly working, and my tablet. Was I victorious? At least I managed to post a result on the last day.
Am I happy with the result? Actually, yes, I am. It’s not that I don’t see weaknesses and things that can be better, because I certainly do. But not only did I struggle with the software and hardware this time, but it’s also my first portrait ever. I don’t think I should be ashamed of this painting.
I like it.
Will I try to redo it later? Maybe. Or maybe I’ll just try painting a completely different portrait. Or something completely different. I do know I will continue with digital painting, but also with acrylics.
OK, so it’s been a while since the last update. I must’ve made good use of all those tubes of acrylic paint by now then, right? Well, not right. Unfortunately. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, quite the opposite, but for various reasons, it didn’t happen.
One reason is my limited space, having to sit by the kitchen table to paint. Slightly inconvenient.
I do have a balcony though, that should be a nice place when the temperature permits it, so when the temperature did rise and made it pleasant to sit there, I was quick to set up a nice place to paint there. My painting studio.
Alas, when I had done that – the temperature went down again. Making it too cold for me to sit down and paint.
So, when I saw there was a challenge to digitally paint the best portrait I’ve ever done, I couldn’t resist. I wanted to join that. While I’ve done various things with graphics, digitally, I haven’t really done any digital painting. So, I prepared myself with a crash course on painting an apple.
For my first real try at digital painting, I’m quite happy with it. Actually, I think I’d be quite happy with it with lots of experience, too.
So, what about the portrait challenge? I’ll write about it later – the challenge starts tomorrow. But the claim made, that it’ll be my best portrait ever so far, is given. It’ll be going to be my first portrait ever.
But I titled this “A new era” – will I stop painting with acrylics, going fully digital instead? Certainly not! It’s just going to be one more addition to things I’m interested in doing. And, maybe easier to sit down with for a little time than anything else?
A friend of mine took a picture and posted on Facebook â€“ and I instantly fell in love with it and wanted to paint it. Luckily she didn’t mind that, and even more luckily I found a canvas that suited the format perfectly: A tall picture, cell phone format ðŸ˜‰
At 35×70 cm, it’s the largest canvas I had painted on. Funnily enough, it’s also the painting that took shape the quickest for me. Almost like I’m starting to get some experience. Hmmm, could that be so?
Anyway, it’s a nice autumn picture, with the lovely autumn colours.
How could I not want to paint this? Sure, it’s a bit more simplistic than the photo I used as a reference, and there are always things I can get better at, but I’m learning! Most importantly though, I’m very happy with this. This is showing my abilities at present, and my current style of painting.
Seeing how I develop, both in knowledge, abilities and style is part of the fun, to be enjoyed in the time that comes. ðŸ˜‰
Last year (which is not that long ago) I made this little painting of the northern light – and tried it with a much looser brush than I’ve done in my paintings so far; they’ve been more detailed. But this was a well-received present, and I’ve been told it has got many nice comments.
It’s also a bit nice to hear about the little “wow” added when the light is turned off, and the glow in the dark effect is visible â€¦
It’s fun to experiment like this. Other ideas are forming in my head, too ðŸ˜‰
I have finished another painting, with a motive from near Odda. Yep, another nature motive – and in my humble opinion, I’m getting better at it. OK, it’s certainly not photo realism, but the colours are certainly getting more natural painting by painting. Which is what I’m aiming for in this kind of paintings.
Plus, of course, that the result is pleasing.
I painted this one only in the classes in evenings, and for this one, I made a very short video of the progress I did after every class.
This view is towards the Folgefonna glacier, of which we can get a glimpse of.
Once upon a time, I was walking up towards a local mountain top. Honest. Despite the beginning, it’s not a fairy tale! Didn’t walk alone, I had good company. But the point is: On the way, we were walking past a tree that I thought looked quite photogenic. So I snapped a photo.
Time came for me to find a new motive for me to paint. Well – why not use one of my photos? Like, the one of a particular tree? So I did.
Yeah. No plein air for me. I need much more experience and paint quicker for that to be a viable alternative for me. Maybe some day, but for now I’m happy when I can paint inside.
So, with the photo next to me, I started to block in the colours.
The colours weren’t exactly accurate, comepared to the photo, but at least I had got the main shapes in place. And this process went fairly quick. For me. But this was only the beginning. I needed to do more!
The colours couldn’t be that bright. While the original photo is quite saturated, I’ve learned that more realistic paintings need to be more moderate to be believable. So to perform the necessary adjustments, colours were changed, and some details added.
I must admit, it looked a lot more “boring” after this, but it’s not always the right thing to go wild and saturated!
So I continued.
Some more colour adjusting helped immensely, and the tree shouldn’t be bare. It was autumn. It should be full of green leaves. So I added them.
Ah! This was starting to look like something. While not as saturated scene as I might have wished for, I was happy with what I saw at this point.
The last details were added. The painting was finished. The artist was happy. That is, me.
Is it identical to the photo?
But I think it’s a nice representation of what I saw, if simplified. And I’m ready to try a new motive, with new challenges.
What about the original?
OK, some may be interested in seeing how close to the photo the painting is. And I can help you there. I’ll show you:
This is how the original scene is. As you can see, I’ve taken some liberties, and there are definitely some differences. Not only in colours. But it was a very nice inspiration for me, and I’m happy with the result. Which is more important than have it identical. At least this time.
The eagle eyed among you have noticed the square pattern over the picture. This is so that it will be easier to keep the proportions correct when transferring the image to canvas. You may also notice that I don’t have the correct proportions in my painting, compared to the photo.
Yeah. Well. I originally drew it nicely – but painted over the lines when I blocked in the colours – and didn’t bother to draw it in exactly as it was afterwards. I did it quick and dirty after memory.
Still, the lines are there, and if anyone wants to try to paint it themselves, feel free. It would be fun to see the results!