Friday, May 20, 2011

Steampunk Wings and Still Stuff

I really want to see more 1860s inspired steampunk impressions... there's a world of amazing stuff out there from the bustle-era onwards, but it seems as though the steamy age of the 50s and 60s is quite overlooked.

steampunk wings
Oil on Masonite, 18"x24"

Also, apologies for falling behind a bit on the internet!  Even though I drew the initial sketch for this painting last summer, I didn't get around to actually painting it until about four weeks ago.  It was really great to be properly painting again... I hadn't realized how much I'd missed it.

In the spirit of getting back into the practice of regularly painting, I did a couple small still lives recently as well.  It had been several years since I'd painted from life, and even longer since I'd done a still life of any kind.  What I'd managed to forget, however, is how incredibly boring I find still lives to be.  There must be some sort of magical method or prop that would make the practice interesting, but as it stands, I find this sort of thing incredibly dull.  Good practice, but so tedious.  Both are oil on canvas paper, 9"x12".

Habit Shirt

muskrat skull still life

I have a final sketch and prepped board ready for the next painting, and I'm really rather excited about it.  There'll actually be a real background and environment for once!

And next weekend I'll be travelling up to Michigan for my favorite Civil War event, so hopefully there'll be good pictures and interesting tales to relate after that.  I'll be taking a sketchbook along with me too... I've never sat and sketched people at a reenactment before, but I think it could be a lot of fun! (also, I really don't feel like doing handwork or knitting these days, yet I don't want to be completely filled with sloth and idleness)  ;)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Miniatures: putting the brush to... clay

So.  Right.  Miniatures.

The research was easier than I thought it would be; mainly thanks to my access to the Rockefeller Library here at CW, which contains nearly every book published that pertains in any useful way to the eighteenth century.  The technical process on the other hand... well, that's a whole other kettle of fish.

I recently found a link to a vendor than sells all sort of materials for miniature painting, including several ivory substitutes.  While I fully intend to order and try a variety of these, I wanted to get painting (and practicing) at once and decided to experiment with polymer clay.

I rolled out the clay as smoothly as possible, and trimmed it to match the little frame that I have.  Since I wasn't sure which color would simulate ivory the most after baking, I made three different samples in: Ivory (natch), Winter Cream, and Translucent.  Oddly enough, Translucent came out a sort of clear, fleshy tone... way too pinky to be used for this sort of thing.  Winter Cream was a good color, but a bit too chalky in appearance.  Happily, the Ivory actually did look the most like ivory, and I set out to paint.

I started on a little shmushed piece that I'd baked as well, just to get a feel for the watercolor on this sort of surface.  Watercolor is persnickety at the best of times, but when you are applying it to a nearly totally non-absorbent surface it turns somewhat evil.  The most terrifying part which I found, is that even when the paint was dry, if you dripped water on it or added a wet wash, it lifted right back off again... just like it does on a palette.

This really hammered home to me why miniature painters nearly all employed a sort of stippled technique, as it is the least disturbing to paint already laid down.

For the very first miniature, I decided to simply copy an original, as I'm not attempting to do anything other than get a handle on the medium.  So far I've merely done a light outline and started to lay in the background.  We'll see how it progresses...