1605, 2017

Personal art – practice

By |May 16th, 2017|artwork, Personal|0 Comments

Another fun personal art project. The goal this time was to work on some new Photoshop brushes and have fun in the process. No deep subliminal meaning to the picture. Just had this idea and went with it.

Adobe Photoshop

Do I own a red Vespa?
No, but I did own a scooter. Had to get rid of it a few years ago and miss it.

Did Sue like to ride on the scooter?
No. Only rode on the back when we dropped the car at the garage and she needed a lift back home.

Am I concerned about safety?
Absolutely! Helmets at all times and NO exposed skin – no exceptions!! (just ask our girls). …OK…except when drawing a silly picture that needed to include our faces – then the helmets and gloves had to go.

If you’re not going to wear the helmet, then why the old-time goggles?
The old leather luggage and goggles give an old classic feel. I almost went all Steampunk.

You distorted everything but Sue. Why?
I prefer to play it safe and not distort my wife’s face. It avoids conversations that start with, “So, are you trying to say I really look like that…?”


PhotoShop brushes:

For the brush I wanted to create the effect of color pencils where colors could be layered up with darker colors sitting in the “valleys” of the paper texture and the lighter colors only skimmed and sat on the “peaks” of the paper texture. This can give a nice translucent look similar to layering pastels where the eye mixes the colors.

I created a PS brush and added a “toothy” paper texture (b/w high contrast scan of rough paper) to the brush. I then duplicated the brush and INVERTED the paper texture scan before adding it to the second brush. Jumping between these two brushes allows me to either hit the high or low areas of the paper texture with a certain color.

505, 2017

Personal project using ArtRage 5

By |May 5th, 2017|artwork, Personal|0 Comments

Found time to paint a small personal project with the purpose of trying something different from my regular CEF projects and have total freedom to take risks, learn, discover and have fun. Sue was my willing model.

Digital illustration using ArtRage 5. [16x20"]

Digital illustration using ArtRage 5. [16×20″]

I decided to step out of Photoshop, the program I use every day for my work, and do a digital painting using a simple program called ArtRage 5 and use only one digital brush for the painting (square-canvas-2).  For digital illustrations in Photoshop I rarely use more than 2-3 different brushes.  I’m still working on loosening up and simplifying my brushstrokes for these personal projects.  I don’t have that freedom with the style needed for the CEF flashcard illustrations so it takes some retraining of my brain to shift gears and relax!

For this project, I specifically wanted to try something almost entirely made up of grey tones but got carried away with the skin colors, as the original idea was to use a very limited palette and keep the skin as muted grays (more toward the greens, cool reds, blues, etc.). Overall happy with the results but always see something to fix, like simplifying the flying hair strands to simple broad brush strokes or “object welding/shape merging” the subject more with the FG tree.  As part of the learning process I re-re-painted the background grays, playing around with green-grey then blue-grey.  I also discovered that Artrage doesn’t blend colors quite the same as Photoshop.  I believe the ArtRage programmers attempted to more closely replicate real world blending of traditional paints.

ArtRage5 is a great little program where you forget you’re in an app and just enjoy painting/drawing.  It’s a great (and more affordable) alternative to the natural media look of Corel Painter without Corel’s cumbersome, over-complicated layout.  Artrage 5 got one step closer to the control of Photoshop as tool for illustrators.

Close-up image showing the different colors in the flesh tones (green, violet, etc.). Artrage5 did a convincing job with the canvas texture.

Close-up image showing the different colors in the flesh tones (green, violet, etc.). Artrage5 did a convincing job with the canvas texture.

1409, 2010

Inspiring Art

By |September 14th, 2010|artwork, Personal|2 Comments

Brandywine River Museum

While in the States this summer we had the opportunity to visit two art museums.  For the past 15-20 yrs. I’ve been wanting to get to the Brandywine River Museum (Chadds Ford, PA).  Howard Pyle (often referred to as the father of American Illustration) had an art school in the area and the handful of gifted students coming from this school had a big impact on the course of illustration in America at the turn of the century.  Among those students was N. C. Wyeth (father of Andrew Wyeth).  N.C. Wyeth would be in my top 5 list of artists whose work had an impact on my development as an illustrator.  It was exciting to see the large original oil paintings he did for Treasure Island.  I studied the paintings for a few hours.  Touring his studio was another real treat – seeing all his authentic props for the Treasure Island illustrations, a birch bark indian canoe suspended from the ceiling, viewing his resource/research library on the shelves (no touching!), palette with paint on it left untouched from his last painting, etc..  I can highly recommend a tour of the museum and studio.

An added surprise was the opportunity to meet a local who posed for one of Andrew Wyeth’s paintings (motorcyclist at stop light). We also met Victoria Wyeth who shared many insights about Andrew Wyeth, debunking much of what the “expert” art critics were saying about his work.  Art critics often look for all these deep subtle meanings for every detail in a painting, analyzing it to death, when the artist may have simply loved the effects of light falling on an object or the bull in the field got too close and he had to stop painting!  Sometimes the artist will include extra meaning to an image – for example, NC Wyeth’s  book illustration for King Arthur shows a knight blowing a trumpet for a royal proclamation [illustration top right].  NC Wyeth completed this painting on the day his son Andrew was born, announcing his birth. 🙂

Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery
The other art museum we visited was on the campus of Bob Jones University.  We toured the museum while taking Heather (3rd yr.) and Sarah (1st yr.) to start school at BJU the end of August.
BJU has the second largest collection of religious art in the world, second only to the Vatican.  Most of the artwork was purchased immediately after WWII when many churches in Europe (especially Italy) were destroyed and they needed the money to repair the churches or had nowhere to put the priceless artwork, etc..  I’m sure they wouldn’t mind having them back now!

Of the hundreds of masterpieces, there was one painting that stood out for me.  This is the only painting I’ve seen from this period in church history that focused on Joseph and brought out the love of a father for his son.  

[St. Joseph and the Christ Child by Carlos Francesco Nuvolone, 1609-1662.]

If you get to BJU at the right time of year try to attend the Living Gallery, when the students create exact duplicates of certain paintings or sculptures in the gallery using actors and having 2D artwork transform and come to life on stage.

You can also read about my visit to the Bern Museum earlier this year marking the 100th anniversary of Albert Anker, another artist near the top of my favorite artists list.

501, 2010

Sources of learning (online & print)

By |January 5th, 2010|artwork, Personal, Photography, Training|0 Comments

During Christmas break, I’ve had some time to catch up with the looong list of blogs I am subscribed to.  Most of the blogs relate to illustration (art) or photography.

Here are some of my favorite blogs that have been most useful to me in the work.

Art/illustration related:

Gurney Journey – James Gurney is a well-known illustrator whose blog is rich in fundamental (time-tested) techniques illustrators should be aware of – colour theory, composition, story-telling through illustration, etc..  Even though my workflow has shifted over the years to being entirely digital, it still needs to first be grounded on these foundational skills.  There are no computer shortcuts, quick fixes, or instant “art filter plugins” to get around it!  The computer is just another tool for the artist (like a brush).  Unfortunately many young artists today allow their computer and the software developers to control them and their creative decision making process.

There is so much info here that the blog’s content has been conveniently edited into a book, “Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn’t Exist”.  For my work, “what doesn’t exist” can also refer to recreating through illustrations past historical (Bible) events.

Bible Illustration Blog – Excellent resource for accurately illustrating historical Biblical events and communicating the truths of God’s Word visually. Graham Kennedy is one of the few Bible illustrators who invests many hours of detailed research to make sure every part of his illustrations are historically accurate to the Biblical accounts and clearly communicate the Truths of Scriptures.  I highly recommend this blog to anyone involved in creating or even just using Bible illustrations in their ministry.

One nice surprise I discovered on an art blog last week was the complete “Famous Artist Course” 24 part series (1960 edition) available for free download online [update: download link has been removed from website].  This course was created around 50 years ago by a group of top illustrators from America’s Golden Age of illustration (Norman Rockwell, etc.) and is considered a classic by artists today.  It’s been out of print for many years but you can find old copies on eBay for around $250, so you can imagine the joy of seeing it available for free online.

Photography plays a role in ministry and is a vital part of my illustration workflow.  Here are several Photography blogs that I follow.

Strobist – One of the most popular photography blogs on the Internet, focusing on off-camera flash (strobe) photography.  Photography is more about the use of “light” than the type of camera you use.  For first time visitors I recommend beginning with the Lighting 101 section of the blog.

Pixelated Image – David duChemin is a humanitarian photographer and a best selling-author.  His blog can be summed up in the phrase, “Gear is good, Vision is better”.
He has several eBooks I can recommend and has written several excellent print books.
The book, Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision is the best photography book I’ve ever read.  I didn’t need to bookmark my pages – I just picked up reading where the highlighter marks and underlining stopped!  This is a must-read for anyone interacting photographically with other cultures or using photography in your ministry.  Doesn’t matter if you are using a point-n-shoot or cell-phone camera.  This is practical “how-to” and touches on the real issues that make a powerful photograph and communicates your initial vision – one of the few things that todays high tech cameras can’t do for you. 😉

There are many other blogs such as smashingmagazine.com (graphic & web design), Scott Kelby (the Photoshop guy), etc.  These are just a sampling of the 50+ blogs from my list.

1211, 2009

Chiaroscuro, low-key painting (study)

By |November 12th, 2009|artwork, Personal|0 Comments

Chiaroscuro – (Italian) light – dark.
An art term used to describe the contrast between light and dark.

I was looking through artwork from several great classic masters like Caravaggio, Velazquez, Vermeer, Rembrandt, etc.  I love how they use simple lighting setups to create volume, contrast, composition.  For CEF lesson illustrations, I sometimes use black outlines to create separation for children to clearly see the Bible characters from a distance … but I prefer to use adjacent light/dark shapes (and colour) to create the separation.  [interesting how often my characters just happened to be framed by a window or doorway. 🙂 ]

I was taking more reference photos this past week for a CEF promotional (Kids Packet).  A single diffused light source was used for the photos.  I was drawn to this particular photo with how the face was framed by the dark hair and winter coat.
This evening I made a digital oil painting study (practice), creating a low-key painting and incorporating strong contrast in areas, placing light/dark values against each other to create separation, shape/form, all to lead the eye.  It was a good learning exercise for me.

Hope you enjoy the painting.