Just a quick update today to show off a piece I just wrapped up. This is a custom pickguard for a Gibson Special 70’s Tribute SG. We had quite a bit of fun taking this design from “maybe something like a skull and crossbones” to what you see here. I also got to play with a few different coloring techniques that I’ve been wanting to try out. Nothing drastic, but the effect was nice. Unfortunately I don’t have the guitar for full pictures, so hopefully we’ll get an updated view of it all mounted up on delivery.
Fresh off the bench! I just wrapped up this custom notepad with a beautiful rustic finish. I wanted to push myself a little bit on this one so I added rolled edges to all of the pockets, which are also all hand stitched. All in all this came out as one of my favorite pieces. I’m sure it’s going to turn lots of heads in many meetings to come. As always, if you’d like a similar piece for yourself, feel free to reach out through the contact page or just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Well, it’s been a while and I’m almost ashamed to say that I really haven’t done any charcoal work so far this year. Between several leather projects, studying for professional certifications, and the day to day grind, I just haven’t had the opportunity to sit down and really focus. That said though, I have been working in my head making plans.
Although I’m pretty detail oriented and live for it in my work, I’m often quite jealous of people who are able to just let go and not worry about obsessing over details. I have a couple of friends in the artist community who really excel at that style of work, one of which (fellow Nitram user Vitya Malirsh) is quite adept at atmosphere and beautiful landscape work without using detail.
Looking at some of these works I was reminded about how interesting I find the shape and value transitions in cloud formations during and after a storm. Even though I wasn’t working on anything in particular, I just knew that I had to try my hand at creating a piece that’s free of detail and really let the beauty of the clouds show through. That’s when I started pulling out my camera every time I saw an interesting cloud formation, just hoping that sometime I’d get the chance to sit down and “let loose”.
After going through a pretty stressful year, I began really feeling the need to work on something just for fun. No commissions, no gallery work, just the kind of thing that would be for me and me alone that wouldn’t matter if I failed (like many artists, I have a problem with “failed” pieces). As luck would have it, I ended up being in a situation where I would be spending most of the day waiting in a car with nothing to do. I could have spent that time reading or scrolling through social media, but instead I decided it would be the perfect time to try my hand at some cloudscapes. People paint outdoors all the time. Why can’t I leave the comfort zone of my studio setup to work on one piece that “doesn’t matter?”
After scrolling through my gathered images, I decided this would be a really good one to start with. It really pulls together a lot of what I wanted to play with but also offered me enough challenge with those trees (another thing I’ve never really worked on before) that I would be sure to feel like I let out some pent up creative energy. This image was taken sometime over the summer outside Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, ID. It’s a tree line I look at nearly everyday as I take an afternoon walk and there are frequently interesting formations like this on the horizon.
Knowing that I’d be doing the vast majority of the work in my car, I decided to take a few moments to rough out some basic shapes and get some undertone placed with charcoal powder. The most important thing here was to save the pure white center so that I could gradually soften it later without having to add white to the mix.
Once I got started “on location” I honestly had a little bit of trouble figuring out exactly how to approach it. Normally when I’m working on something representational of anatomical I’ll have clear objects to block in and measure. Since I wasn’t actually measuring anything here it was a little difficult to decide where to start. But, since I had the central focus oriented first and some of the basic features of the scene lined out, I decided the first thing to do would be to get some horribly ugly marks on the paper. I knew I would do “something” with the tree line, but hadn’t decided what yet. So I grabbed my cheap willow charcoal that can easily be dusted off and scratched out a value reference for the trees. Nothing spectacular, just something to keep the darker values in site as I built up the cloud formations.
From there I was able to start building up some of the cloud formations. Initially I had actually planned on using mostly brushes and cotton balls. However, once I got started, I found the majority of the work was going best with a blending stump and eraser. It was still a little awkward getting used to “scribbling” tone on in order to blend it around, but it quickly began to feel a lot more relaxed.
By the end of the day working in the car, I was able to get the vast majority of it complete, leaving only some touch up cloud work to do and then figure out how I was going to handle the tree line.
After studying the photo above quite a bit, I decided that the lower half of the left formation didn’t quite flow right. Something didn’t feel right and I really wanted to emphasize the drama quite a bit. Granted, based on my viewing angle of the reference while working on it, I had actually missed the true shape according to what was really there. But, I wanted to create and interpret, not just copy a photo, so I really didn’t mind. It did need address though, so I came back and rounded out some of those lines back in the studio while also mixing up some of the other values to build more interest.
When it came time to tackle the tree line, I had quite the decision to make. I really didn’t want to do a detailed drawing, but I also wanted it to look like there were trees there and on the horizon. Once again, the need to start was somewhat paralyzing and I couldn’t quite figure out what to do. That’s when the marathon of Bob Ross I had watched a few weeks earlier popped into my head!!! Why don’t I just make a line for a trunk and call it a happy tree that needs friends? One thing Bob was a master at was not getting caught up in the little stuff that doesn’t matter. So, that’s what I did. one trunk followed by several more in the general location of what was in the photo, but not quite the same. I also decided to make a few of them curve and point toward the center light to guide the eye back to the clouds. In the end I’m quite happy with how they came out looking like trees, but not being detailed trees.
In the end the entire process accomplished exactly what I had wanted. I came away feeling quite successful in learning the basics of a technique I’d admired for a while and managed to do it without obsessing at all. It’s pretty refreshing to put out something that I would consider a finished piece while just allowing the piece to come together. I’ll definitely be doing more work like this in the future, and may even incorporate some of it into my other work.
I haven’t quite had a chance to seal it up and take print quality photos yet, but once I do they will be available for purchase on my Saatchi Art page at saatchiart.com/allenmewes
I’m very excited to announce that my latest charcoal piece, “Laocoon’s Regret” was accepted into the Limitless exhibition with the Federation of Canadian Artists. This was an open call for all international artists, with all entry fees going toward the establishment of a scholarship to one lucky student in a college visual arts program.
You can view my piece and the others that were selected at http://www.artists.ca between June 1st and August 31st – and you don’t even have to travel to Canada to see it!!! It is posted for sale through the show at $730 USD in an unframed state. But, if you would like to purchase it framed, I have all of the materials on hand to do it. Just let me know if you’re the one who purchases it and we’ll make arrangements. I just wasn’t able to get it framed up before submitting the piece to jury. And don’t forget that prints are always available on my Saatchi Art page at saatchiart.com/allenmewes
I’m extremely grateful to have been selected by a group who promotes other artists to succeed. Hopefully this is the sign of many more opportunities like this to come. If you haven’t seen the work that went into creating this piece, I created several additional blog posts throughout the process.
Anatomy study of a different kind. This was just a quick piece to study floral anatomy as I prepare for an upcoming project. I actually had to continually remind myself not to push the details and go for perfection. I also decided to get reacquainted with graphite.
Well, in my last post I said things were going a little slow…. let’s say things haven’t changed much. But, there has been some good progress made on our Laocoon piece, even if it’s not exactly fast.
When we left off before I was still blocking in the main shapes to make sure all of my proportions were correct. I got most of the figures blocked in, with a little bit of work to do on the serpents, but I ended up reaching a point where I had to start making visible progress in order to get things moving. So, I ended up leaving some of the central action for a later time since I’ll be working top left down to bottom right (I’m right handed). That leaves me a little time to start rendering some forms and get a feel for where we’re going. Sometimes my brain just needs that change in scenery in order to refresh and build momentum. In this shot you’ll also see that I’ve printed out some copies of the previous studies to remind myself of what I did with different portions previously.
Once I finished mapping out some details in Laocoon’s face I decided it would be a good time to start rendering some of his anatomy. That allows me to get most of his arm done, his facial features and hair, and a lot of his upper torso. Really that’s a large portion of the work to be done and should set me pretty far ahead. In this shot I’ve just wrapped up all of his facial features and started rendering the arm with some base values. I’ll come back and darken things up once I have more of the piece going.
His armpit here is actually one of the challenges for me since there was originally another length of the serpent wrapping his arm right there, which is now broken off. If you remember from previous posts, I’m recreating some portions in my own vision while trying to humanize the figure a little more than the original. Since the reference images of the statue don’t include the muscle structure right there, I had to bring out my anatomy mirror. I actually took this photo as a joke to show that I’m too tall, but it shows a method that’s important for determining some muscular forms – the anatomy reference we all carry around every day. This is also one of the few pictures that exist of me at work – “Limited Edition”???
As you can see, I still have quite a bit of work to wrap up before my December 31st deadline, but I think I can make it. If you’re in need of any last minute gifts for the Holidays, you can always order a print for your loved ones from my Saatchi Art profile. You have your choice of sizes and materials at the click of a button. Just head over to saatchiart/allenmewes to see the current listings available.