Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Ok, in this one I  had a concept for a painting, liked the idea and did the little concept sketch, doodle, rough.......whatever you  want to call it, and still liked what I was doing..........pretty good so far. I have an idea, a sketch and am ready to start on the painting.
Now I get into the painting............things are going good in my mind and am just rockin along, background done, moved onto the central figure and thinking .....yeah, this is cool
the horse is doing fine, got the the dude working it with the axe ......cool axe Trace.......nice one there...........and then I sit back and LOOK at what I have done, and something just isn't right. Got sort of an S shaped pyramid compositional thing going on......some action happening, but still something is wrong.........Ah  Ha!! the arms aren't working .....too big, anatomy is off.........so I paint them out, but as I start to paint them back in..........IT still isn't right. So I just sort of sit back and really REALLY look at what I have going on here, and quickly come to the conclusion that it is the whole positioning of the rider..........it just doesn't work. Balance is off. Not believeable and he would fall off.

Back to the sketch book and play with it...............
.......now this really works for me, arms opened up for balance, still got an S like pyramid thing going, very fluid movement in harmony with the horse. Go with this I say to myself, so I begin to flesh it out and add a little detail to the figure..........if it doesn't work for this then I still have something I can play with later......... still a cool axe, so for a little bit of fun I scan the sketch and place it ontop of the painting in photoshop:

Now I really like it...............the changes were the right thing. They turned a painting that would never really work from a waste of time into a viable piece of work.  After seeing the potential for this in the little digital mock up, I truly begin to play with the figure and

add the details to it so that I can get a little better idea of what is going to go on. Big round belt buckle to mirror the roundness of the shield as well as the axe head. Two handed sword adding a third diagonal   and continuing the upward motion of the sheild arm as well as the horses movement .............directional lines are cool and an effective means of motion and compositional tools as well. Added a little oval thing to the harness creating a little triangle thing happening with the small circle of the shield and the belt buckle. All these little things that I am mentioning are what I saw AFTER doing them. While I was doing the drawing and adding this here and that there..........this was not going through my head, it was all subcontious activity and not planned.
Just like the legs of the horse and the arch of its back leading you up to the figure from the bottom.

After getting all of this going and transfered back to the painting it looks sort of like this:

and here is a side by side comparrison of the old version and the new version......both in about the same stage of progress:


At the writing of this, the painting is 95% completed and bennefiting from the changes made.  I am happy.

The ability to be your own critic and look objectively at what you do is a vital asset. Be open and honest with yourself .........an AD will as will everyone else looking at it .............and realize that not everything you do is going to come out exactly as planned. What looks good in a black and white pencil doodle won't necessarily be all it was cracked up once you start to add colour.

If you have any doubts about a piece, and you have the time......set it aside for a day or two, don't look at it and when you do go back to it, the answer might just be there for you. If that doesn't happen try showing it to a friend and see what it is that they are seeing in it. Be open to advice and try not to take it personal....especially if you want to improve and grow as an artist.
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