FInally - I got to particpate in a figure drawing session!

Tonight I got to take part in my first ever figure drawing session!

All of these years I have done art, gone to art school and so on and I never had a figure or life drawing class before.

I have been wanting to do this for the past few years but none were close enough to make it convenient for me.  But the Art Guild/Gallery hosted a session tonight and it looks like this will likely become a once a month thing.

Some of the quicker timed posed sketches are at the bottom - we got 2 mins each for several.  Then it was moved up to 5min each.  And the last two (with her sitting in the chair) were 25 min each.  She changed costumes midway through the 2 hour session as well.

Those two hours FLEW by.  It was so much fun!  I have a whole lot more practicing to do but I felt good that i know exactly what i need to do to improve and it will just take practice to get there.

Brick On The Go

After sharing the images of my piece Having A Ball online, I was contacted to see if I could create a custom piece of this happy boy, named Brick. 

He even has his own Instagram you can find him at BrickOnTheGo.

Brick loves to play catch, and run along the beach.  But I am told he is not a fan of waves.  So the piece I create for him, needed to have him on the beach, but not in the water. 


I really loved the photos of him on the beach and how they had some seaweed or other debris that had washed up, so I knew I wanted to include that detail on the finished image.

With all of this in mind I started my usual process of the loose sketch, local colors and then adding in the details.  After the client reviewed the piece she suggested some changes to his body so a variation was done until we came upon one she felt looked most like Brick and his playful spirit on the beach.

With the final art approved, it was onto the second phase of all my art projects. 

The artwork is printed onto canvas using an Epson 3880 printer which has waterproof inks, which is key.  It then has to dry for at least 24 hours. 

Once fully dry and cured I then begin applying three coats of varnish onto the piece.  The varnish I use Premiere Art Gloss Eco Print Shield is made specifically for printed canvas, so do your research if you decide to try this yourself!

You have to allow anywhere between 15-30 minutes between coats. 

Once the third coat is applied, it is recommended to allow it to dry 2-3 hours and then gallery wrap the canvas onto the wood stretchers before the varnish cures to hard and leads to cracking.

I love using a product called Simply Elegant Gallery Wraps, so easy to work with and such nice clean corners when you are done.  With the canvas wrapped and ready to go it's now time to apply the gel embellishing medium to select areas of the image to add depth and interest to the final artwork.

I use Premiere Art Eco Elegance Embellishing Gel which is also made for printed canvas and has to be applied AFTER the piece has been varnished.

For this piece I focus on the wave and crashing water rolling into the shore.  The seaweed on the beach.  And then I just add a little brush stroke texture to Brick himself, along with building up a bit on his nose and his favorite ball in his mouth.

The embellishing gel dries totally clear and needs at least 24 hours to dry, sometimes a bit longer depending on how thick it is applied and the air quality.  If its humid for example, it takes longer to fully cure. 

Once it has dried,  I then mix some acrylic paints and painter over some of the texture areas to add even more depth and dimension to them.  It really makes for such a dramatic effect when viewed in person.  And then after the paint dries I apply two more coats of varnish over the entire piece to seal everything and give it all the same level of shine.

Then it's on to mounting the canvas into the floating frame, applying the dust cover and hanging hardware.

Once that is done, turn it over and enjoy - Brick On The Go is ready to go! 

I made matching greeting cards shown below.  Along with Brick himself enjoying his portrait!

A pair of portraits for a happy couple

My friend Nava contacted me about creating a pair of commissioned portrait pieces of her and Michael to celebrate their anniversary.  I do not take on people portraits very often but she helped get me through a tough half marathon in Indy a few years back and so this was the least I could!

She sent over some photos for me to work from and knew she wanted the final piece to have some embellished texture after seeing one of my other recent works. 

I used a different photo to get the best image of each of them for reference.  And created my basic sketch to begin creating the art.

During the entire process I kept the original photos of them up inside of Photoshop so that I could constantly glance over and refer back to them, to make sure their likenesses were spot on. 

To give the piece something that would work well with texture, I incorporated a nice evergreen tree behind them. 

Once Nava approved of the art the following steps took place to bring it all to life.

The happy couple with their custom portrait art!

The happy couple with their custom portrait art!

I wish Nava and Michael a lifetime of Happy Anniversaries and all the best!

Plein Air in Dellwood Park - Lockport, IL.

This was the second weekend of Plein Air 17 - hosted by the Illinois State Museum Lockport Gallery.  I ventured over to Dellwood Park as I had not been there before and heard it was nice.  I found this great spot on a lookout over what used to be a dam.  It was perfect to hold my portable easel box and gave me a nice viewpoint of the small stream below.

I bought a set of gouache artist paints during the week and this was my first chance getting to try them out.  Heck it was my first time ever even using gouache paints.  So it was fun to learn and experiment.  The weather was great.  Had a few nice folks come over and look at what I was doing and ask a few questions.  But for the most part it was just peaceful and I was completely engrossed in what I was doing. 

After I packed up my gear and got home, I scanned the painting into my computer and then I began working on some details digitally, using brushes in Photoshop to mimic the gouache paint effect.  (Brushes are from a set by Kyle T Webster).

And I also worked on creating a more dramatic lighting by enhancing the darkness of the shadows and letting some more sunlight in. 

I really liked taking the work I had done, learning from it and building upon it.  I am hoping this might lead to something interesting as I continue to look for and develop my own personal style in my work.