Well, here's my special painting for today. Actually for yesterday too, the garlic clove to the right being yesterdays production. To be honest, in general, I find still life painting a bit pointless. Not that I couldn't admire other people's skill in such work, it's probably just that I'm so used to do stuff with some sort of informational purpose. However, for me too, it's easy to get carried away studying the light and shadows, noticing the details and trying to capture them in a painting. And garlic especially, give's a chance to paint nice and smooth passages, my favorite thing. I started this one by painting it in acrylics from (still :)) life, then switched to digital to finish it. I'm not sure if it gives the best quality technically - I have always problems with the reproduction of my traditional paintings - but it's quite fun mixing the two medias. Color blending isn't the easiest thing to do in acrylics, it's like against its nature even when using retarder, and digital painting is pretty much the same, in my mind. Of course, I could use the airbrush tool, but I prefer the oil brush - I think it has more personality just like in traditional techniques. So, if I want a gentle passage from light to dark, changing color at the same time, I have to use very thin layers so that the eye can't separate the individual brushstrokes more than what is my intention.
I'm painting almost every day. In fact whenever it's possible. But most of my work require quite some time, normally several days, to accomplish, so by the end of a day I often get the feeling I haven't done much, couldn't finish anything anyway. Thus, I have been cherishing the idea of making a daily painting, a small piece of art for each day, that wouldn't take too much of my time. Many daily painters put their (daily) art on sale, and that certainly could be a good idea, but I was thinking more of an opportunity to make something without the pressure that comes with commercial work. Just painting for fun, or to try something different, new media, technique or style. My problem is that most of the time I can't afford to waste even a minute (or at least I feel like it) on anything else than my routine work. But now, the great thing with digital painting is that I can reuse my paintings; a small painting can later be incorporated in a bigger composition. If I have a plan for a more complicated painting (and there's no rush to get it ready) I can paint parts of it "alla prima" and save them as individual small paintings, and put them together later when I have more time. I made the little snow-covered pine tree with this in mind. It's a fairly modest painting, documenting a day this winter, a moment we actually had some snow. Now I have it stored on my computer, and if I happened to need an image like this as background in an other painting, I can make a copy, and continue painting on it (after expanding the canvas if I need more space). This is a nice, practical solution, but not exactly painting "just for fun" and there's still not much room for experimenting. Simply playing with paint is always fun, even my kids like it a lot, and it can be quite refreshing. However, to add a little seriousness to it I might include small amounts of Goethe's color theory in my doodles every now and then. Or I can do whatever falls into my mind as long as it's not the usual.
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.
Thought that I could explain a bit how I work when I paint digitally. To begin with, I confess that I am completely autodidact in digital painting, and I do not know so much about computers and programs on the whole. But I paint anyway, and slowly, little by little, I'm making some progress. I think. In order to understand the following, one must be at least somewhat familiar with the art of digital painting. For those who don't, I will try to present the discipline in a more comprehensive way at some point in the future. The software I'm using is ArtRage 4 (I'm waiting for the next, 4.5, coming soon) from Ambient Design. It's the only program I have tried so far, so I can't make any comparisons. The process itself doesn't differ so much from the way I paint traditionally (I don't always work the same way in any technique, but in general, this is how it goes), and so, I usually start with a pencil drawing. For a naturalistic painting like this, a model is always required, life or a photo (in most cases, photos are more practical). Even when I don't paint from life, I prefer using my own material. If it's possible. After I have made a quick drawing, I start filling in color. The drawing doesn't have to be very precise, there are a lot of corrections to be made during the process anyway. Now, I can start painting on the drawing (or on a layer underneath it, which I often do at first) just in a normal way, like in the image above. Or I can use the advantages digital painting offers (I think that the point in using any new media is that it should make work easier and faster, there is no reason to make it more difficult than it already is), so I can speed things up by only painting one half of the image, then duplicating the layer, and flipping one of them. Actually there is a symmetry tool for ArtRage 4, which duplicates the brushstrokes automatically. I haven't tested it yet though. The effect I want to achieve, requires many thin layers of color overlapping each other, which is mostly sheer time consuming, mechanical work. Through using this option, I can save many valuable working hours for the more demanding work on the details. Not to forget that by saving thousands of brush strokes, I can also reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury on my hand. [...]