For the IMC (Illustration Master Class), there are always cool choices for the assignment. This year there was the High Fantasy: "Tristan and Isolde", the SF: "Old Man's War by Scalzi, movie tie-ins: "Tarzan" and "The Hunger Games", and a YA short story about a boy and a ghost.
I've always chosen the fantasy assignment. At this stage of my life, I'm more interested in doing things for myself and I prefer to concentrate on fantasy images. Although Tarzan was tempting. But I liked the costumes and romance of "Tristan and Isolde."
I worked up several sketches--all sadly pretty similar, of a couple, full-figures. I'm afraid I had a pretty set idea of what I wanted, the poses just varied slightly. I didn't do thumbnails (bad me), and I didn't draw boxes around the sketches (I use the page size as the box (again, bad me).
Here's the sketch my instructors (for the crit: Rebecca Guay, Dan dos Santos, Greg Manchess and Iain McCaig) chose:
And yes, it's very romance-y. I was looking at romance book covers... Oh, well...
Rebecca said: You have almost a straight line dividing the couple. NEVER do that.
Then somebody suggested that I could bring Tristan's cape in front of them to break the line. Or visa-versa, Isolde's cape flowing in front. And another suggested that I could have Isolde's (or Tristan's) cape flying out more.
They took tracing paper and sketched it. And then flipped it.
After the crit, Scott Fischer came by and suggested I lean Isolde into Tristan more. (I drew darker lines on the sketch to see where she should lean in her body more). And I caught Julie Bell to ask her if the sort of "A" shape of the couple was OK, and she said to go for it.
I rather crudely re-worked the sketch like this--
I'd always been meaning to have birds flying around them. Someone had suggested the birds flying away, and I liked that... (I thought, as if their love was fleeting, flying off, doomed, right?)
I then went off to work up the piece in photoshop, taking bits from images. I also took ref. photos, but not too seriously (bad, bad me). That took a day! But I was also working out color and values that way. And getting reference.
I took my file in b&w to the copy shop to get it enlarged to 18"x24" to fit my masonite (clayboard) the next morning... ok, so next afternoon! After the 10 lecture and lunch...
And I spent the afternoon wet-mounting it (the Donato transfer method!). I used semi-gloss medium instead of matte, and since I wasn't sanding between layers because I was in a hurry and didn't have sand paper anyway, it was a super-slick surface! bleh...
The toner was crap and lots of it washed away with the water and medium. bleh.
But I can work under idea conditions! I did a quick value/base-color underpainting in acrylic (ultramarine blue... I just favor that, or burnt umber if I'm doing a warmer colored painting). The acrylic stuck well to the slick medium and helped that a bit.
hmmm... not much change here... Anyway... acrylic underpainting-- good because it dries quickly, also good because I had barely let the medium and board dry out. I quit painting for the night and let it dry out so I could start with the oils in the morning.
So... only two days to paint! Aggh. Laid out my palette-- using plastic wrap from my masonite board taped around my sketch book because I forgot my palette paper... And quickly started slapping paint on (very thinly with tiny brushes, though, to keep it from getting goopy and hard to work with and bearing in mind that I had to pack the painting up in a few days to get it home and didn't want sopping thick oil paints to mooosh everywhere!).
Greg Manchess dropped by to say he'd make the birds behind Tristan only go to shoulder level, which sounded good to me. I'll have to try and recall that when I actually get around to the birds. Will need to dig up better refs... the ones I dug up for my photoshopped image were pretty awful.
I got rid of the darks in T's cape... not sure if I like it more neutral or not. Might go back and darken it later, for more drama. Might look better to be dark towards the bottom, anyway...
Also discovered that I was using the crappy kind of Turpenoid. Dan dos Santos said the "Natural" Turpenoid wasn't like regular Turpenoid... it took forever to dry and remained a pile of goop instead of evaporating away. I borrowed some... Gamsol? I think, from Nicole, and it was nice! I'll have to get some of that.
"Natural" Turpenoid is a bit easier to carry in luggage... but I'll have to try and work around that the next time, I guess!
Anyway, I now had more fears of a smooshed painting... so my painting pretty much slowed down after that.
Oh, and Boris came by and said I had to move Tristan's arm up... and he was right--it was way too low!
I'd already tried to move it up, but he said it need to be moved up more...
Julie Bell came by and I asked her if I should stick with my original
plans to make Tristan's tunic brown and she said to go for it...
Check out my cool maul stick (below). It's a collapsible magnetic towel bar from Target--and it sticks to the metal easels here! (I find this pretty funny... some day I will get a real maul stick.) --for those of you who don't use oils--they remain wet so you need something like this to rest your hand on for detail work.
Eh, I got pretty far... I can see where I'm going with it, anyway, which is the important part.
I think i need to move his belts up, too. *sigh* And I was reminded to make sure the highlights and lowlights in her hair weren't all so even...
Trip home... the portfolio case doesn't show up on the carousel, so I go to talk to the Baggage folk for American. They manage to dig it up, to my relief. It had come in on an earlier plane. And my painting was mostly un-smooshed. A bit up in the sky got mashed a bit, but that's an easy fix! Yay.