Sometimes you get part way into a project and decide to finish it later. Then, you find yourself clearing out space a few years down the road and wondering if there is someone to whom you can gift a half finished painting, or if you’d better just drop it off at the thrift store. Luckily, today’s is not such a story. I finally got around to painting the schooner that I drew several months ago.
I started the drawing while working on my dimensional illustration project Five Months On the Ice as a way to satisfy my urge to draw something a little bigger after painting a pretty small ship for the backdrop of one of my images. I used some of the same reference I had collected for that backdrop and synthesized it into a new angle and composition.
After the charcoal sketch was complete, I sealed it with matte medium and toned it a little in oil with burnt sienna and ultramarine. That is how it stayed for nine or ten months.
Finally, I decided it might be fun to paint it, so with some of the same old reference, I got to work.
When I am painting over a drawing, I tend to compartmentalize things rather than working everything up together, as I would when painting from life.
Once finished, I went ahead and framed it in this pretty mahogany.
I mentioned previously that painting the schooner for the iceberg scene was frustrating. In spite of that, it kind of made me want to try it again. The texture of the masonite after toning it is so nice that I gessoed up another as soon as I was done and started drawing a schooner at a larger scale.
The sketch is done and the panel is toned. It probably isn’t responsible of me to paint it right now when I have other more important projects. So here it is as it is. Maybe later I will paint it or maybe it will just stay like this.
This ship presented it’s own problems too. I used some of the beautiful reference I had collected for the iceberg scene, but none was from the angle I wanted for this drawing. At least that way I am not just copying some photo, though. I also spent at least twice as long toning as I usually do and feel like it came out half as nice as the quick careless ones that I paint right over. I guess that is life though.
Since the icebergs are finished, I’ve been painting the backdrop. Unlike my previous image with the dock, this backdrop will play a greater visual role in the scene. It includes the seal hunting schooner from the story. There have been some challenges painting it. The backdrop is 18″ wide, and therefore, decently sized for a portrait or something. However, the ship turns out to be a little small for my painting style. I think it will do, but it got pretty uncomfortable at times.
Below is a quick test shot with the icebergs. I still have to work out the lighting, the snow on the bergs may need some cooling. If I can’t do it with light, I might just have to whip out the paint.
Writing that made me want to try overlaying cooled versions of the bergs over the originals in photoshop. I only spent a couple minutes at it, but it definitely comes closer to my vision. I’ll be keeping that in mind for the final shots.
Now that we are back from our little adventures, I am back to work on the iceberg scene. I have been building the set and was finally able to sketch the schooner onto my backdrop to take a few composition photos with the icebergs. If you haven’t been following, the icebergs were cast from resin in my own custom plaster molds.
I just finished building the backdrop, which is more or less seamless, so that once I add the ice flows around the base of the bergs, I will only need to paint the backdrop and let forced perspective do it’s magic.
The backdrop panels are masonite attached to a pine frame. I shaped the curve in the lower panel by giving it a hot bath for a couple hours and letting it dry in a form. I plan to have the final photos for this shot by the end of the week.
I don’t have the very final image composited yet, but I did take the photos. This image is the foggy version of the final shot. After I took several shots with my regular lighting/environmental setup, I took several with different levels of fog—created by my fog machine. I was sort of afraid the neighbors might get concerned when I turned the fan on to air it out and smoke started to billow out of window. Apparently, they have seen me doing enough strange things that they weren’t concerned.
I will be compositing one of the non-atmospheric shots with this one so that I can control the depth and atmosphere and still be able to work with full contrast where I need it.
This still isn’t the final image. However, I have most of the elements finished and am setting them up. I still have the painted backdrop to add and need to figure out the lighting. Luckily, because everything in the shot is static, I can use a longer exposure and don’t have to worry as much about getting daylight levels with my lights in the little back room studio.
Things are coming together, I just need to finish this one off and then get moving on subsequent images 😉 P.S. If you haven’t been following my blog hitherto, everything pictured here is hand made, custom for this illustration.