Here's a small example of how I use the ArtRage program for my illustrations. My style is quite straight forward, I'm mostly using the oil brush tool and not much else; the eraser and palette knife, and sometimes, like in this particular case, the air brush. Typical for many digital illustrators (or any other media) I start with a drawing. It's not necessary, though, especially if you are using a tracing image (it can be a "real life" drawing too, of course). At first stages, when I start painting, I'm painting on a layer below the layer with the drawing, keeping it intact. I don't mind color going outside the lines, it can be erased later. And that's about it, I guess, just adding more paint and details, making changes required (like the reflections in this painting, which were a bit disturbing on the axe in reality) and finally cleaning up to finish. I will try to explain more abut my painting techniques, and give some practical hints on how to get started, in upcoming posts.
In birdwatchers' mythology (yes, there is such a thing) the sender (or "sendari" in Finnish' birders' jargon) is the spirit that sends rare birds to birdwatchers to twitch. I would like to think it's a joke, but I'm not always so sure about that. On a small remote island (legendary for its many rarities) in the Alandian archipelago, there actually is a place, an old dead tree stump like the one in my painting, where dedicated "believers" bring gifts to the spirit in order to make it send the most exceptional birds to them, a country first, or other megaticks. It may be a joke, but it's also an echo from the (not necessarily so distant) past. For our ancestors it certainly was crucial that the "sender" was generous, and sent animals to to the hunting tribes to feed them. Experienced hunters new the routes of the reindeers, horses, and other big game animals, new when to expect the fish to swim up the rivers and creeks, and the migrating birds to return. But they could never be quite sure. If something went wrong - weather patterns shifted, and the animals didn't arrive in time - the clans dependent on hunting, could face severe starvation. So, while their skills and knowledge were not always enough to secure their food supplies and future prosperity, they turned to the unknown, and appealed to the mysterious forces that seemed to rule all life and decide the fate of people. A digital painting using ArtRage. Normally, I paint in a very traditional way, without using any "tricks", and even the blurred effects are achieved with basic tools, thin layers and light touch. But lately I have tried the special ArtRage features, like in this painting, to get a feeling of depth, by using the palette knife ("instant blur") or blurring a whole layer. Quite fun really, so much so that I must be careful not to use it too often.
A couple of quick sketches
Normally, it would feel a bit strange to paint winter landscapes in the middle of the summer, but the way the weather has been lately the difference isn't that big. And I mean literally. This is one of the stone age images about primitive fishing I'm working on, like the previous ones.
No doubt fishing was utterly important during the Stone Age, often critical too, especially at times when protein was hard to obtain from other sources. Some of the ancient fishing equipment look just fantastic, like this hook, thousands of years old. Fishing spears used quite recently, or maybe still in use, can have simply ingenious constructions in order to keep hold of a slippery fish. I can imagine that similar designs to this one, could be tens of thousands of years old. This is my own version. Would be fun to make a real one, by using primitive stone tools, of course.
When I'm working on a bigger project, I might start one or several paintings every day, if possible, but don't work very long on any of them. As a result I have now probably a couple of hundred paintings, like this one, waiting to be finished. This way I have always something to do even when I feel tired and lack inspiration, I just pick any painting and make some brushstrokes, put it aside and continue on another one. And then, eventually, completed paintings start to emerge out of that mass. Quite miraculously, it seems.
There is a cliff nearby called Kasaberget, referring to a place where a fire was set during uneasy times as a warning signal. It's an 'old place' where people have been watching over the sea for centuries, or millennia. It hasn't always been on mainland, in the past the sea level has varied greatly, sometimes leaving only the top of the cliff visible, thus making it a part of a wast archipelago. I can imagine how ancient fishermen and seal hunters, or maybe adventurous boys, have taken shelter against the elements in some of the small ravines in the area. This image, as simple as it may be, proves how important it is to take some trouble in order to make realistic illustrations. Sometimes I feel I don't have enough time to get out to seek after suitable settings for a painting, but the truth is that I can't find them in the studio either. Imagination has its limits.
A lot of the stuff on this blog is going to be about the way of life of stone age people, and life in general during the Ice Age (meaning the last glacial period). I've been working on the subject for a long time, and am now going through and repainting old pictures, and producing new material. The idea is to gather my paintings and drawings into a bigger collection of illustrations, which will be available for various purposes.