Archive for April, 2011

Portfolio and traditional palettes

April 3, 2011

I always have so much going on in my life, both professionally and otherwise. There’s the gardening, the paintmaking, the painting, the writing, my family, exercise, research, drawing and painting classes, etc. etc. – and this is all aside from my day job. But it is time for one to take precedence over all the others (except my family and my job). It is time for me to get my portfolio together.

For about three or four years running, I’ve promised myself: “This is the year.” This time it really is. This time I’m forcing myself into the professional world: I’ve taken an illustration gig, a book cover job. Very low-paying, but with a not-insignificant promotional aspect. And there’s a deadline. If I don’t have a website up and running by the time the book comes out, it will all be for nothing. So… in a few months I need to have not only the illustration completed, but a professional body of work completed and online as well.

Cowboy Santa illustration

Cowboy Santa illustration

The illustration isn’t really down my alley – it’s a Western Christmas story book – but it’s fun, and it’s a good opportunity to try out some traditional paint colors. I’m doing a Western Santa Claus on horseback, and my working title is – of course – Cowboy Santa. I’ve just gotten to the point of covering the canvas – the second of the four milestones in completing a painting (one, finishing the sketches and comps; two, getting the canvas covered; three, getting everything to work; and four, the endgame). I’m doing this with something of a nineteenth-century palette: natural earths, bone black, red lead (that’s the bright orange color that will be glazed with madder to get a Christmas red), chromium oxide green, ultramarine, Prussian blue, rose madder, Naples yellow and lead white. It has occurred to me to keep an illustration avenue open in addition to the fine art and portraiture, since in illustration I’ll be able to make use of some lovely colors that would be problematic in professional fine art, such as carmine, weld and indigo. But none of those are called for in this image, so it will actually be pretty archival.

At Ivey Ranch

At Ivey Ranch - unfinished

My fine art portfolio will initially consist of Southwestern portraits, for a number of reasons I’ll go into later, when I’ve gotten everything prepared. Here’s an image of a partially-completed painting (in the middle of stage three), one of the four or five I’m working on now (not counting the Cowboy Santa). The palette on this one is very traditional: natural earths, bone black, lead white, lead-tin yellow and orange, rose madder, and um… yeah, that’s it. Oh: and a new one, pink pipestone, made from the same soft red rock as the Native American Calumet pipes. This color is magical, and very useful. See the pinks in the shirt and skin tones? Yeah. More on that one later, for sure.

The end of an era

Today I had to give up my old community garden plot that I’ve been working for three years. We moved to a different town last year; that plus watering restrictions means it no longer made sense to keep it. We hadn’t been there for months. Made me sad to close it down today; lots of good memories of gardening with my wife (then my fiancée) there. But I have another garden plot, one closer to home, and we have some containers in the back yard for tomatoes and eggplant. So it’s for the best. In honor of the garden plot we had to give up, the painting above will be titled At Ivey Ranch.

The next few months will be a little sketchy as I indicated; but I will check in when I can. I will also be putting a lot more effort into the attached blog, Wish me luck!