Sunday, November 22, 2015

"Smokey" Commission

"Smokey," acrylic on canvas, 16x16"

This is a commissioned painting I did of a friend's bulldog named Smokey. She wanted it in black and white, based on a photograph she provided, but didn't want it to be photo-realistic. It was a nice change of pace from what I usually do, and I'm thrilled with how it turned out. I managed to take a few progress photos along the way, which you can see below.

The pre-stretched canvas I bought ended up being crooked, so I had to take the canvas off to straighten up the frame, then stretched fresh canvas over it and applied gesso to get a good painting surface. It's been years since I stretched my own canvas, but this managed to come out perfectly.

I put in the background next, then drew in Smokey using a projector to make sure it was accurate.

This is my first layer of paint put down on Smokey. It was done all in one go, and I was just trying to get the basic layout of tones I would want for him. The tricky part with this stage is having it match what I originally drew and not lose track of the features as I'm painting over everything.

I started at the bottom with the body and neck for the next stage, which was thickening and defining the features more. It was easier to stay a little loose with my painting since there weren't as many specific traits to match, and with him having shorter fur, I didn't have to worry about any curls or strands of hair to include.

The right ear was done next, followed by the left. I was kicking myself for not taking into account where the ears would go in conjunction with the darker areas of the background. I was still able to bring them out enough that they didn't get lost in the darker areas.

The top of the forehead went pretty well. I was surprised to find out that his wrinkles never change, so wanted to make sure I had them depicted correctly.

I also tackled the right eye, which was another tricky spot. Since there was so much dark on dark, it took a couple passes to get it so the eye had a clear enough shape to it. This was an area that needed more detail which would cause me to get lost in being more precise and not as loose with the painting as I had planned. Still, I wanted him to be recognizable as her dog, so went ahead of tightening up where it was necessary.

Last was the left eye and the nose and mouth. Like I said, not as many progress photos as I would have liked! The left eye was even tougher than the right eye because of its shape and placement. I had to start over several times before I was happy with it. This painting also made me appreciate the slower drying times of oil paints, because the acrylic paint was too dry to work with every time I came back to start another part. I had to do a little extra work to make the features blend together on parts that had already dried from the day before, while trying not to lose what I had finished.

After all the time I took on the left eye, the nose and mouth were a breeze by comparison. There was some wonderful texture I could work with to really bring it forward, along with some nice deep, dark shadows in his jowls.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

"Cubs at Bat" commission

"Cubs at Bat" 16x20, acrylic on canvas
A commissioned painting I recently finished. The idea was to do it all using colors from the Chicago Cubs.

You can see the rest of my work over on my flickr page. If you're interested in commissioning a painting, please feel free to contact me via email at swirlingpaint@gmail.com.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Joker Commission

"Joker" 8x12, acrylic on canvas board
(Click on the image for a larger version)
This is the finished painting I did of the Joker from the movie "The Dark Knight" that was a Christmas gift for a co-worker's son. I managed to snap some progress photos as I worked on it to show a simplified step-by-step process of how it came together.

Step 1: Laying down the background color.

Step 2: Drawing in the Joker.

Step 3: Putting down the first layer of colors. This is mostly to just establish where everything is and what color it will be. Paints are thin, nothing too concrete.

 Step 4: Putting more down on the hair, face, and coat. Trying to solidify things a little more. The face came out alright at this step, but there was a lot more I still wanted to do.

Step 5: Final paint on everything from the neck down. Since these are acrylics, the paint dries fairly quickly which allows me work from the bottom layer up. As I finish the shirt, I paint the tie, followed by the collar, followed by the coat. This makes it easier to have everything naturally overlap. These were taken with my phone, so while the face and hair look a little different, it was really just me not getting even lighting every time I took a photo.

Step 6: Time for the hair! Adding more individual brushstrokes to make it pop. Anne had the smart idea of suggesting I have some hair coming down in front of his face, and I think it really improved things.

Step 7: And finally the face! Lots of work done on the mouth, sharpening up the eyes, giving the black around the eyes more definition, and shading in the face. Luckily the nose came out alright from the start, so I didn't have to mess around with that too much.


Friday, April 12, 2013

CH-CH-CH-CH-CHANGES

"Swimming Self Portrait"
Acrylic on Canvas, 18x14

"West"
Acrylic on Canvas, 30x48

Well, hi there. You've probably been wondering what happened to ol' swirlingpaint.com. One day it was there, and the next you end up here, with the most recent blog post being several years old. Hmmm, that's no good! After creating and selling paintings fulltime for the last few years, I decided it was time to take a step back and focus on a new direction in my life. Does this mean I've completely given up on paintings/artwork? Heck no! While it's been on the back-burner for a while, I'll never truly stop creating. While I'm not sure what the next step will be for me with my art, it will always be there, and anything new that I do create will go up on this blog. Can't say when that will be at this very moment, but hopefully sooner rather than later.

In the meantime! There are quite a few pieces that I never posted here on the blog, but did post elsewhere. Rather than deal with re-posting everything here, I'll just point you to my flickr account over yonder: http://www.flickr.com/photos/swirlingpaint/. There are quite a few paintings over there, many of which I consider to be my best work, so please pop over and check it out. If you're interested in purchasing an original painting or a print, just send me an email at swirlingpaint@gmail.com

Friday, July 9, 2010

At Bat & Hockey Play

"At Bat" 12x12, acrylic on canvas

This was my first attempt at painting using only whites, blacks, and grays.  I feel like every attempt I've made with that pallet has always lead to unexpected results, most especially with my more recent work.  To be honest, I also chose those colors based off the colors of the Chicago White Sox.  I've had the idea of trying to do more sports figures with team colors, but haven't followed through with that idea yet.

So obviously, with the painting being based around a local sports team, you would think I sold it to someone from around the area.  No!  As a matter of fact, it ended up being purchased by someone in Utah.  Go figure...  Just goes to show that you never know where these will end up.  The nice thing is, the sale of this painting resulted in the commission of a second painting to this client of a hockey player.

"Hockey Play" 12x12, acrylic on canvas

This ended up being my second attempt at using a more restricted color pallet, mostly black, white, and gray again, but with some red and blue thrown into the mix as well.  The client wanted it to compliment "At Bat," and go with their collection of hockey memorabilia at the same time, hence the red and blue.

The tricky thing with painting sports figures in this style is having the figure make sense with all the weird bulges and shapes of any pads, helmets, or equipment he could be wearing.  Whereas when I'm working with a simple figure pose that I can decide whether or not to depict clothing, I'm forced to acknowledge and work with whatever uniform and equipment a football or hockey player might have.  It's an interesting challenge, having to make sense of the contours of a hockey player, especially with how bulky they are.  The hockey stick and skates were tricky too.  I can only imagine how my first painting of a football player will go...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Free Shipping on Prints

Deviantart.com, the website that produces my prints, is offering free shipping on all prints until October 27th. All of the prints I've had them make come out looking quite nice, and there are all kinds of different options for how you can have your print made. Check it out before it's too late: http://tinyurl.com/yhtfd76

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Art in the Barn

Somehow I've managed to luck out and get into Art in the Barn after being put on the waiting list. This is one show we're especially excited about as it's the biggest one I'll be in this year, and it's one I've visited several times before I started participating in art fairs.

The fair will be this weekend, September 26th & 27th, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. It's located right next to Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, IL. (Click here for a map.) Admission is $5.00 per person, no pets allowed.

You can find me at Tent 83, in the yellow highlighted area on the map below (click on the map for a larger image):


Proceeds from Art in the Barn benefit the Cardiac Care Center and the Emergency Department Expansion at Good Shepherd Hospital in addition to providing scholarships for college students pursuing degrees in the field of health care.

This looks to be the last fair I'll be in this year. Hope to see you there!