second faust sketch
More extensive. I always make notes. They serve more as open ended questions that I leave for my mind to trail down. I'm starting to work out more specifically the poses. In this stage I'm still working from imagination. I try to do as much from my head as possible so that I know how many references I really need to take.
Faust oil on linen 50x34
Some of the last things I added were the table items, food and what not. I sort of worked this painting everywhere, very sporadically, until it was all done. This kind of method is tough because the painting looks like shit until the very last few weeks of work. It took me 6 months to do this painting. Ridiculous, but that's what happens when you work a job and have to paint. It was all worth it. Composing this picture felt like staging a play. You only get good at this stuff by trial and error.
My random scribblings and occassional sketches. I'm terribly lazy with this sort of thing, I justify it by actually trying in my finished work. One day I'll be a master sketcher and then I can give up the finished painting thing. It's good to have dreams.
Unless it's an old master study my only rule for my sketchbook is that it's gotta come from the old memory banks.
Behind the scenes.
If you've ever wanted to know what it takes for me to make one of my larger finished works, this is the place for you. Here I'll be showing my process, the references I take and how I use them, and even my mistakes and how I solve them. I'll be adding to this as I create my step-by-step guides.
A lot of my references for Faust were lost in an apartment fire before I had a chance to photograph them, and what I had photographed was in a camera also lost. So I'm using this as a sample for what's to come.
Later works like my Death in Malaga painting, I took hundreds of references. So more to come!
How much information do you need?
That was always the question on my mind when doing preliminaries back then. Now I just stop when I feel I have it and then move into painting. It helps to include value as your perception of size and shapes change when value is introduce. So getting some contrast is helpful.
I added a rat for fun, and with help from my instructors repainted the background pillar. It was a good first jump into doing the thematic works I've gone on to do after this. I remember how numb I felt from the challenge despite how simple the composition and painting actually is. Funny how that works.
The Forsaken King
This was one of the last paintings I did while going to the Ravenswood Atelier. I had a lot of help and guidance from my teachers and friends on this, and it became a better painting for it. This also marked my first painting into my ongoing series On Death.
In preparation for my Death in Malaga During the Spanish Civil War painting, I had to stage the scene, which means I had to pick a space where I could visualize the action. So I decided to take a perspective reference I could study to show what a figure looks like, in the space and the light of the scene I intended to paint it in.
I picked a day where the light was what I wanted it to be, and in five foot increments I took shots of my girlfriend going all the way back to 110 feet, about the maximum length of the scene as far as the figures go.
Check out a more thorough overview of this process on my blog.
Here's a quick demonstration showing the different stages of a drawing from start to finish. It's an old drawing, but my process is still pretty much the same. The difference being that now I lump the early stages together to save time. When I get stuck is when I default back to the step-by-step process I'm showing here. I also give a much more in depth view on this process in my blog.
spanish civil war anarchist outfits
Having a good idea of the kind of scene I wanted to do I started looking for references of the civil war directly. Thing to note, it was this war that really started to define what war journalism is today. No one before this point had been able to get to the front lines of conflict and photograph the horrors for people to see. This is an outfit reference.
Mr Edward Norton
So first off I started by reading the edited memoirs of Edward Norton, in Death In Malaga. He had been an American diplomat who set up business in Spain, and refused to leave when the conflict started. In his personal notes he mentions very little of all the good he did for fear of his journal being confiscated and used against him. But he and his wife saved a lot of people during the duration of the civil war, hiding them in their basement and sneaking them out in their car when able.
Death in Malaga Spain
This painting was the most complicated of all the pictures I've done so far. It was a lot of preperation in taking reference shots and finding old pictures that I could use. I read 4 books on the topic and discovered an excellent documentary entitled The Mexican Suitcase, which goes into the many intricate facets this war was about. In addition to this "making of" I talk more about the process of making the painting in my blog.
Ilia Repin (1844-1930) Volga Boatmen
Repin is one of my all time favorite painters ever. So I've spent a lot of time looking at this painting. The biggest influence on The March of the Damned, was this piece. The tension in the lean, the tired look and gesture of the figures, and how each one tells it's own story while still working with the whole. It's a great composition.
I saw this image in the documentary The Mexican Suitcase, and instantly it reminded me of so many of the paintings I love. It also struck me for the similarities it has with the current refugee crisis. I think this is the first crisis of this size where it's become so easy to see what's happening because of social media. But war journalism really started with Capa. He was one of the first to get into the heat of conflict to capture things no one had ever seen before.
This was actually the first painting I thought of while doing research on the Spanish Civil War. I'm happy it was the last one done because I was really excited to do it, and had worked out a lot of bugs in my technique with the last painting.