There are times such as this when I wish I never had to sleep.
I find myself getting so wrapped up in my project that the days seem to pass at the blink of an eye. Yesterday was just like that.
I sat at the table in the late morning and began once again working on my painting. Besides writing my blog here, there were some every day chores that I had to finish before I could settle in. (Showering, getting dressed, answering emails, etc.) and I found myself wondering why doing all this seems to take so long. All I want to do is paint.
I was happy that the day before I had made a nice pot of chicken soup. There is nothing like having good food to quickly heat up without muss or fuss when I am focused like this. I ate my ‘brunch’ while looking at the progress that I had made up to that point on the painting. I needed to plan my next move and decide where I would adjust.
The more I looked at it, the less I liked the face of the little snow leopard cub, Everest. While his eyes looked good, he had a cartoon-like look to him. I didn’t see it the night before, but after being away from it for a while, it was very apparent to me why. The fur pattern on his face was all wrong. The strokes were too uniform – not varied in either length or direction enough and the fur didn’t look natural. I especially didn’t like the left side, as the ‘cheek’ fur seemed to swoop up in a uniform curve. My eyes were drawn to it, and even the intensity of his eyes didn’t pull me away from it.
The fur inside of his ears was much too long as well. Snow leopards have little fur inside their ears. What they do have for fur there is short and stubby except the long tufts coming from the head. That would need to be fixed as well.
You all may think that I am being too critical of myself on all of this. But I don’t really think I am. One of the most important things about drawing and painting is to be able to look at a piece objectively and actually see the areas that need adjustment. The ability to do this helps to make the end much better. When I point out these areas, it isn’t done so with the objective of beating myself down or looking for someone to compliment me and tell me otherwise. It is part of the process of painting and creating the best painting that I am capable of painting.
Did you ever look at a painting and like it over all, but felt uncomfortable because something was just a little “off”? I notice that at times in looking at various works. I like the overall look of the painting, but there is something – just something – that keeps me from being at ease with it. Be it the shape of an eye or a ear placement or the pattern or length of the fur. Something is just not what it should be.
Usually it is not immediately apparent, but upon looking closely and analyzing things further, it eventually is found. I see these types of things on many of my previous paintings. While sometimes they are more difficult to figure out than others, I think that as we grow as artists, we are more aware of things like this. I believe that this is a good thing that I am able to spot these discrepancies and shows that I am continuing to learn and advance. I also think that it helps me do better with my own paintings in the long run.
So while I may sound overly critical regarding what I am doing, I want you to understand that I am not saying it is “bad.” There is always need for improvement and I think as I advance in my painting skills, the bar gets raised just a bit higher with each painting. By doing that, I will hopefully become a better artist. I want to be able to do the best that I can each time I paint. Settling is not an option, or why bother at all?
With that all said, let’s get to yesterday’s progress. I continued to fill int he fur on the neck and work my way up to the left ear.
It was at this point – when I really looked at the fur pattern of the ear – that I really realized just how wrong the ears on the cub were done. I felt that mom’s ear came out nice, and looked very realistic. At this point it isn’t really ‘done’ however, but it was a good start.
I began working around the head and coming up the right side. It was at this point that I realized that painting the chin and underneath the head may be a bit tricky, as in my photograph that area was very white and a bit blown out, as the chest was. It was at this point I know I will have to rely on instinct and recall the proper shaping of the chin, to make it look like it is supposed to.
For now I put a wide shade of charcoal under the chin as a shade, and I felt that I would be able to go back and give the chin a better shape later on. I also noticed that the dark fur pattern in front of her left ear was much too straight, and looked like a slash. That would need to be adjusted as well, but for a start, it wasn’t bad.
I also began laying down the shades for the right side of the face, under the eye. Since her head was at a slight angle and the light source was coming from the right, I needed to be cautious about this area and make sure that the shades and highlights were properly placed as well as the markings. But so far, it was looking OK.
The next step took several hours in the making. I probably should have taken another photo in between, but I was so involved with working that I simply forgot. I completely filled in the fur on the entire head, and adjusted the fur markings and major shadows as well. The upper nose is tricky because it has a black-ish look to parts of it, as if her skin on her face is black itself and the short, stubby fur of the bridge of the nose has been worn off with time. It may appear a bit blotchy now, but in the end, everything will get glazed and toned (which is accomplished by using washes of transparent color) and it will not look as stark. I think it will be OK.
I can honestly say that I am happy with how she looks at this point. Even after I woke up this morning and looked at her, I was still pleased. Understand that she is by no means “finished” but she is indeed coming along very nicely and I think this will be a painting that I will be pleased with when I am done.
I didn’t put my brush down until nearly eleven. So overall I think I put in a pretty full day. I wanted to go on, but my eyes were tired and I reached a point where I felt I should walk away for a bit. It was a good and productive day.
I received news later in the day that the news article that the reporter came to interview me for had been published. Keith’s mom heard it from a friend of hers. I suppose in our little area here, we are receiving our 15 minutes of fame. ;) The link to the article is here: http://www.thevanguard.ca/News/2013-12-16/article-3545201/Long-road-to-success-for-artist-entrepreneur/1
I can’t say I am thrilled with the picture he chose of me. (Who really likes their own picture anyway?) Of all the poses he took, he chose to have one looking up at me from below while I was looking down at the saw. As a result, I have several ‘chins’ and no neck. But that is my own vanity speaking and I am what I am and I (hopefully) don’t look like that in person. I also thought it was odd (funny) that he mentioned my age. I don’t really care, as everyone who reads my posts regularly knows that I am ‘fifty-ish’ anyway. But I just don’t know what it had to do with the article. I don’t even remember him asking me how old I was. Perhaps I am going senile after all. ;)
So for me it was a pretty good day. I am very pleased that so many of you enjoy my sharing this process with you. I have received many, many notes and emails from you all who are watching and I do like sharing what I am learning with you. It helps to make me look at things more closely as well.
Thank you for all of your encouragement. It is nice to feel that I am not alone in this journey. I hope to continue on today and make some more progress and see where we wind up.
Have a wonderful Friday.
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"