Queen Bee Rough Color Sketch

I transferred an earlier pencil sketch to paint a rough concept of the Queen Bee protagonist from my series "Tangle." She also appeared in this previous sketch, but I've added the hip pieces for more interest, the final design of them is still something I'm tweaking. There's nothing outwardly bee-ish about here, although I've debated about adding small porcelain wings to the back of her porcelain bust. I wanted her to have a crown, but nothing too literal, so I tried out some stretched diamond-shaped rays...they're supposed to be hovering at an angle, though hard to read in this image, so I may make adjustments so that aspect reads better.

Tangle - Color Study 01

I decided to dive into a small acrylic color study for "Tangle-The We that Wage," which will be a narrative still life series with a vanitas leaning. The paintings will mix objects I have on hand, and some I'll reference, into a constructed natural-world, where the story will take place. The nude figure is the lower half of the story's protagonist, which I posted an earlier sketch of here.

I used a 12"x9" Saunders' watercolor block and began with a minimal drawing, and then applied very watered down fluid acrylics. Adding too much water to acrylics can hurt its adhesivness if your working on an established paint surface, but at this early stage, the pigments can absorb into the paper, so it's not a problem. The entire painting was done using fluid acrylics, with the addition of Golden's glazing medium and airbrush extender. It's worth making a note that as the paint builds up, the glossiness of the transparent extender starts becoming evident, which made photographing the final image tricky...a thin layer of matt medium will fix the problem though.

I usually start refining certain areas right away, rather than a slow picture-wide build, so I can get a sense of color ... and probably because it makes me feel like I'm progressing faster.

Color study, 12"x9", Saunder's watercolor block.

After two days of painting, I had this final version. When I start the full paintings, I'll probably lower the saturation of objects further from the focal point. I haven't decided what scale I'll use yet. I may keeps the scale like it is in this study, but on a larger surface. Keeping the scale smallish, makes the subject matter seem more jewel like, while a larger scale will have the viewer feel more a part of the scenes' environments...decisions, decisions.

Final-ish Self-Portrait Painting

self-portrait 2014, acrylic on paper mounted panel. 18"x24"

Detail of painting.

This is the final painting for a life-size self-portrait I started in late 2013. These photographs of the painting are ones I took, but I'll eventually have it professionally photographed. There are a couple of places I'll touch up, but I think it's 99.9% finished...seeing work in a photo always highlights problems, but photos (at least the ones I took) seem to make the painting look a  harsher than it does to the naked eye.

I don't normally paint on paper mounted panels, but it was an experiment. In the future, I'm going back to my standard use of panels without the paper. Acrylics sometimes form unwanted textures, and in this painting I overworked the glazing medium early on, which created pock marked areas. I was concerned about abrading the surface of the paper so I didn't sand the pocked areas until much later on, but it was essential too late to get rid of the texture by that point.

I think I may have spent as much time on the background as I did on the face. I usually paint whatever exist behind the subject, but in this case, the walls of the bathroom were creating some bad compositional lines, so I needed to shift where the walls sat. I added the towel (after several experiments) to fill the large open area and balance the negative space around my head. A fun fact: the towel is a ancient Dungeons & Dragons beach towel from the early 1980's.

The manner in which I painted this was a departure from my normal dry-brushing. Also, I didn't blend as much, leaving some paint stoke visibility, to get away from an overly smoothed effect. Golden's glazing medium is definitely the way to go to allow wet-on-wet blending (it as retarder in it), which is normally difficult with acrylics unless you use fluid acrylics or a lot of water. The glazing medium also facilitated visual blending, by using translucent layers of paint over dry areas and made it much easier to intensify areas of color, without having to repaint.