Digital Exercise

After the digital failure I mentioned in my last post, I felt like there was a blatant gap in my skill set. It seems like everybody who is anybody can paint digitally these days. Back in school when I had my first digital painting class, I thought my work was on par with my fellow students. However, I ended up focusing more on traditional media and my peers who kept up with digital painting are now killing it, while my skills are sadly wanting.

So, I decided to practice (they say that is how you get better at things). I dug up an old piece of reference and just started making an image. To start with, it felt as digital painting always does for me—like I’m fighting the pixels. They just don’t do what paint does and I spend time trying to wrangle my tools rather than focusing on making a good image.

Then with time, I started to work out a process by which I could reasonably control what was happening on the screen. By the time I finished this piece I felt I was doing alright at this digital painting business. Of course, that is when I saw the latest digital piece Miranda Meeks, one of my old classmates from BYU, had made…. and I decided to go buy a big panel to do some oil painting 🙂

Here is my digital exercise:

Digital study of woman by Jameson Gardner

Below is an animation of some of the stages of progress. I decided before finishing it off (above) that she was leaning too far forward, so I tilted her back and then did the background.

Animation of progress on Digital Practice

Painting a Princess

Graphite sketch of princess with decorative french hood. By Jameson GardnerI’ve been drawing and painting again (bet you wouldn’t have guessed). I wanted to do a queen or princess with a kindof renaissance feel. I’ll admit right up front this isn’t supposed to be a historically accurate period piece. I guess it would be more of a historically inspired fantasy piece. Using a combination of some headdress references i found on Pinterest, a vintage photograph (for her face) and my own imagination I figured out the gist and went ahead and started drawing. It wasn’t for a client, so I didn’t plan it all out in detail—I just wanted it to have a certain feeling. I did the drawing on a some paper that I inherited from my grandmother. I’m not sure how old it is, but it had definitely yellowed and even has a little bit of foxing starting to show up. That is right—the image above is not just a bad scan with smudges, that is the actual color of the paper.

Originally I was thinking to achieve the feeling I wanted I would use watercolor. I got attached to the drawing though. I wanted to keep it, and decided to print a copy to mount and paint. Unfortunately, I get impatient and wasn’t willing to wait 4 days and pay extra to have it printed really nice. I ended up with decent copy from a copy shop (I made them print it on my paper, which helped a lot). I mounted it on a masonite panel being careful to preserve the top surface so that it would absorb my paint. Just in case, though, I tested some water with a brush on my backup copy and determined that no matter how much fixative I used, the ink was not going to hold fast if it got good and wet.

Plan B: I coated my carefully preserved top surface with matte medium and broke out the oil paint.

Progress on oil painting of princess by Jameson Gardner

I started with a wash of Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine and lifted some highlights out of that before I went to town on the opaque parts. It is 11 x 14″ so she has a 3 inch face. I know some people are great at painting small but this is right on the verge of being too small for me so keep that in mind while you judge 🙂

I used a very limited palette Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Ultramarine, and White. You can get lot out of just a few colors and it is way easier to feel unified. I tend to do some transparent washes at the end to unify things even more as well. You’ll notice the blue of her blouse, pretty bright above, is tempered by some Burnt Sienna in the final below.

Oil painting portrait of princess by Jameson Gardner

I tried to be transparent where I could and let it just fade away rather than paint up to the edges. I also decided not to paint a background and just let my original wash show. This was all to try to keep it in line with my original vision. I’m pretty happy with the result but I feel like I lost the quality of the graphite drawing in her face in a way that I wouldn’t have with watercolor.

To get a high resolution image I took multiple photos in segments and merged them in photoshop. I let photoshop do it and—as usual—the old girl didn’t catch the vision of how to bring things out proportionally. So I did it manually. When finished I wanted to double check to make sure I hadn’t skewed or stretched it. I overlayed the digital file of my original drawing, which lined up pretty much perfectly. That is when I had the thought that maybe I could get closer to my vision by bringing back some of the pencil over the top. All it took was that drawing on a couple of transparency layers and there it was 🙂

The original painting still looks pretty good (even better in real life) but I think the pencil overlay version really matches what I wanted to share. So, here it is:

Fantasy/Renaissance Princess by Jameson Gardner Art

Is that cheating? Well if you belong to some kind of purist traditional school, yes definitely. But, let’s face it, these days the fact that I drew it on paper with an actual pencil and then painted with actual paint probably puts me closer to those purists than to a lot of what is being produced in the digital world.

I hope you enjoy! I’m considering making prints of this—if you’d like that, leave a comment, head over to my Website and shoot me an email, or contact me through my Etsy shop to let me know so I can see what kind of interest there is. Thanks 🙂

One Week of Inktober

I decided to participate in Inktober this year. The whole thing was started by awesome artist Jake Parker a few years back, and the gist is to create an ink drawing each day during the month of October. Of course, it helps motivate you not to slack if you are sharing those daily on social media. I’ve shared each of my drawings on Instagram, but I thought it would be fun to include the first week’s worth together in a post.

Inktober drawing of girl with hair blowing. painted with acrylic washes. By Jameson Gardner Art.

My first Inktober drawing was this portrait of a girl with her hair blowing a little. I try not to judge my success (it’s hard) by how many people are following me, or how many likes an image gets. There is always that 18 year old who’s drawings look like mine did when I was 10 (literally, I don’t mean a fine artist who is intentionally simplifying or exaggerating forms—I am just talking plain old amateur), yet who has thousands of followers. That can get me down if I’m not careful. Anyway, despite that, I do pay attention to the response. This first one had, by far, the biggest response on Instagram. Maybe it was because it was the first day and people were pumped to look at the first round of Inktober drawings, or maybe people just liked it. A few days later I went ahead and painted some acrylic washes onto it to see how some color would look.

Inktober Girl 1 Drawing

Inktober 2

For my second drawing, I imagined up a scene of a soldier in battle who is surprised by a goblin leaping through the air. I didn’t love the composition on my sketchbook page, so I broke it down and tried to create a sort of fractured comic frame. I don’t really do comics or graphic novels—but it was worth a shot. The response on this one was significantly lower. It has still reached what I’d call the medium range. I think I posted this one later in the evening which may matter too.

Inktober drawing with fairy. By Jameson Gardner Art. Inktober drawing with damaged spaceship. By Jameson Gardner Art.

My third drawing was a fairy. Response to her was low. I spent quite a bit of time on her and I thought she turned out pretty nice. I wonder if displayed small on instagram, she didn’t have the bold blacks to attract attention. Some of the nice details of the drawing may just have been missed at that scale. Don’t hesitate to click and view her larger to see if you agree with me.

The damaged space ship was next. I admit it was a quickie. It got only slightly better response than the fairy.

Inktober drawing with frigate heeling in the wind. By Jameson Gardner Art.

This frigate was next. I worried a little while drawing it that people wouldn’t understand the angle of the masts and spars. the wind is supposed to be coming from the right. So the spars are angled to allow the square sails to still catch some power. That is also why it is heeling to port—all the pressure pushing the masts that direction. Anyway, I guess my fears were unfounded. This one did second best for likes. I don’t know if it was the drawing or if people just love ships.

Inktober drawing portrait of girl. By Jameson Gardner Art.

Inktober drawing with dragon skull. By Jameson Gardner Art.

So, this other girl portrait wasn’t my favorite. It is just as simple as the first one, but not as elegant. I guess it is just a little dull. The response wasn’t great either. It’s tied with the damaged spaceship for likes. I’m not surprised.

Last drawing of the week was the dragon skull. I tried to combine features from dog skulls with antelope skulls. You are probably wondering why I didn’t just look at lizard or dinosaur skulls…. well, because I didn’t. 🙂 The Dragon Skull scored in the mid-range. It was a later evening post too, so that might have affected it.

Hope you enjoy these. Inktober isn’t over. There is more to come. Check out my progress on Instagram @jamesonart

Vintage Photo

Vintage style portrait of mother with two girls. © Jameson Gardner Art

I have a this shot of my sister with her two girls that I took at a birthday party a while back. I thought it would be fun to try to make it look like a vintage print. Turns out there is more to that than you’d think. There is the photoshop work, of course, but I also created the distressing patterns by hand. I didn’t follow any instructions or tutorial, so there may be an easier way. I thought it turned out kind of nice. It makes me want to try out different techniques, which also makes me wonder if there is a market for portraits like this. Let me know if you’d hire me for portraits of you or your family in a vintage style.

Also, my wife and I will be in the UK for the next two weeks, so blogging may be sparse. But rest assured I’ll be back with plenty of material soon.

Sketch with Pastel, Ink and Such

A sketch created using oil pastel washes, ink, and nupastel

Here is a little sketch I did (about 3″ x 5″) using a new technique.  I did the drawing in ink with a Pentel® brushpen then I colored it using washes of dissolved oil pastel. I had previously melted various colors of the oil pastels into a little palette. After letting them harden into cakes, I used mineral spirits to rewet them. It’s like oil based water color. I then went over it with NuPastel. I like it, hope you do too.

Nervous About Etsy

I’ve wanted to start an Etsy shop for awhile—a few years in fact. Every time I seriously consider it, though, something has stopped me. Sometimes, it is because I am just to busy. Sometimes, it has been because I don’t feel like i have a group of images that would appeal to buyers on Etsy. Now, I find myself just worrying about whether it will hurt my self esteem or something. I browse Etsy from time to time to see what the competition is like and I keep finding people who’s art is either mediocre or not very good at all (that of course is my opinion, but it’s an opinion that I tend to value), yet, they are making sales.

A more optimistic person might say “well if they can sell, I will have no problems”. I find myself, rather, saying, If I don’t sell, logically, my work must be less valuable than mediocre or bad.  That is my dilemma—it is dumb, I know it, but it’s how I feel.

This is a portrait/study of a girl with a green hat.  It is a little older and doesn’t really relate to this post at all… but I hate to put up a post without a picture and I couldn’t see myself writing a post for just this image. So this is the orphan illustration.

Oil painting study or portrait of girl with pink shirt and green hat

Hidden Face

Oil on panel, woman in veiled headdress from fantasy culture.

This is a painting I did fairly recently. It is Oil on panel.  It isn’t supposed to reflect any real-world culture or religion. Once again, I’ve painted something that is actually directed at the fantasy crowd. I started with a sketch, transferred that to toned paper and worked in some highlights. I scanned the toned version and printed it and then mounted the print on my panel using acrylic matte medium. I painted in three stages.

Stage 1 involved painting until I was really tired of painting on it.

Stage 2 was taking a break and not working on it.

Stage 3 was looking at some of the artists I admire and thinking about how i could improve what I had done based on what I learned from them.

Stage 4 was doing the things I learned in Stage 3.

Yep, I told you there were three stages, but it was really four.

Sketch for painting oil portrait on panel

Toned drawing for oil portrait on panel