Tag Archives: painting

Ms. Kitty’s Heart

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You know what would have helped? If I had any idea how to paint. 

Well over a year ago Ms. Kitty was extolling the virtues of her heart collection–a series of paintings by various artists, which she’d acquired over the years, and which all featured prominently the image of a heart–and asked if I would contribute. But I don’t paint all that much (the last really big painting project I did was like 18 years ago) and I didn’t have any real canvas and it just kept getting bumped. But she had asked me again a little before Thanksgiving, and during Thanksgiving my sister was cleaning out her room at my parents’ house (my parents are retiring and threatened to throw all her stuff away, which is something they would totally do and had already started doing) and she was going to toss a painting she did in high school, so I just painted over it.

I know that’s not how you’re supposed to do it, but, as I said, I don’t know how to paint. Unlike me, my sister has taken painting classes, and she told me to cover the canvas in gesso, but I skipped that step and just laid the paint on thick enough to mostly obscure the original image, although you can still see a prominent line on the left side (through the wrist) and there are a couple places where her textures or colors peek through.

For all that, I think it came out decently, even though when I look at it all I see are its myriad flaws and I’d like to paint over it again and do it right this time. But Ms. Kitty seemed to like it. At this resolution, you can’t see the 6 ghost cats hidden on the bottom right.

The canvas itself is about 18″ x 24″ and the paints are acrylic, just the common stuff you can get at Michael’s or any art shop. I think the brand might even be called Basic. Most of the paints were fairly old but still seemed fine. I had to acquire 2 new brushes and 1 new paint. Even in acrylic, painting is a really expensive hobby.

This took me about a week, working between 2 and 5 hours every day. I imagine, if I knew how to paint, it could have gone faster.

Painting made me want to paint more, but I don’t have more canvas. I was actually thinking about trying that thing where you buy terrible landscapes at Goodwill and then paint monsters into them. I bet I could make a killing if I painted Pokemon into them. But actually, getting paintings at Goodwill is not as easy as you’d think.

In other news, The Man decided to give me an early Christmas present by teaching himself bookbinding and creating a hardcover version of The Hermit! I am astonished. It’s really remarkable work. If you’d like to see the step-by-step tutorial of his process, you can follow this Reddit link (and upvote if you’re a Redditor and you like me and you think his work is worthy, which, of course, it is). Now that the paperback version is available, the ebook will be offered, for a limited time, as a free download.

A Fish Is More Than Nothing

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You clean your brushes your way and I’ll  clean my brushes mine.

By doing the bare minimum with my thumb for a couple days, I have taken it from ~5% to maybe 50%, which is an improvement, but still not optimal, so I’m sticking by my resolution to draw no comics this week. What we have here, instead, is a quick painting of a fish I did last after I had painted all those origami fish and didn’t want to waste all the unused paint I had squeezed out on to my palette.

What I’d like to do is more drawing/painting from live models. Seems like the only way to improve. Most artists have a better connection between their memory and their art; I’m still more a writer than an artist, and I can hear/see words in my head much more clearly than I can see pictures, although apparently it’s possible to train oneself to understand things like light and shadows across 3-dimensional objects, even though they’re harder to grasp when you lack depth perception.

More Magical Paintings from the Past

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The mythopoetic tree serpent ascends. 

Before all the webcomics, and the Trickster’s Hat, the first couple months of this blog were just scans of every piece of art I’d made prior to starting the blog. Not everything, of course, but everything I still had that I still liked, going back to when I was 11 years old. But still not everything, because I keep remembering, for example, this photograph of a painting I did when I lived in Israel, in the fall of 1997.

The original’s probably long gone. When I left the kibbutz, I gave it to the volunteer coordinator because he had admired it once, and I was going to bum around Europe and didn’t want to carry it, but about 6 hours after I gave it to him, this guy I knew told me about a terribly racist thing the volunteer coordinator had done and I wished I hadn’t. He probably didn’t want it anyway. For my purposes, the photo is probably sufficient.

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The Fabulous Butterfly Screen

This butterfly screen is definitely the biggest thing I ever painted, and the most complex. Actually, paint costing what it does, I’ve done very little painting in my life, and this is the only piece that took me more than an hour or two to finish. I think it took close to a month, actually, but it was a labor of love, a gift for an old friend. This is Christmas 2000, I think. Maybe 1999. Wonder if this screen still exists.

It’s hard to imagine painting this by hand. How much more righteous would it have been if it were done in Photoshop?

No one ever goes back to the beginning of this blog but it’s still nice to have everything uploaded to one place. Although if I could go back and do it again, I would have made this blog a Tumblr.

 

The Living Reef

It's even better if you can imagine David Attenborough gleefully narrating the death throes of one sea creature as another organism devours it: "The speckled spitfish thrusts its meager stingers in all directions, but it is too late. The tentacled pseudoblob has already begun the digestion process."

It’s even better if you can imagine David Attenborough gleefully narrating the death throes of one sea creature as another organism devours it: “The speckled spitfish thrusts its meager stingers in all directions, but it is too late. The tentacled pseudoblob has already begun the digestion process.”

One of the first digital paintings I ever completed was Eilat, Coral Reef Nature Reserve, August 1999, which has its merits, all things considered, but looking back it’s almost funny. I was working off a photograph for that one, but I had not yet learned how to use layers, or basically any tool other than the brush and the color picker. I didn’t even know how to change brushes at that point, or opacity, or begun experimenting with brush modes. I never did feel 100% satisfied with that picture. I don’t mind things being deliberately rough, but in that case, I simply lacked the knowledge to take it where it needed to go.

That was 11 months ago.

This image does help me see how far I’ve come; it’s not even based on a photo. I didn’t use any reference images at all. The fish are all just bits of color that I played with until they took shape. The entire painting is basically bits of color smeared around. It’s one of my favorite things in Photoshop right now; the blur took can take the roughest image and make it look more real.

(Or, as in yesterday’s comic, it can take a more realistic image and make it look more fake.)

Some of it was probably also inspired by David Attenborough’s The Blue Planet, which is a really lovely thing to watch before bed as long as creatures eating other creatures doesn’t upset you.

The red fish is my absolute favorite. It looks perfect and I would look at it carefully before I drew another fish to see what made it work.

Another thing that’s happened since I got the Wacom tablet is that my brain has begun to dissect light everywhere. Understanding how light works when it falls on objects inspired a big leap for me in taking my work out of the purely flat realm and giving it greater dimensionality. I only tried to use realistic light and darkness in small doses here, but it really changes the character of the image.

I have a headache and now you can have one too

Alien world or weird filter? You be the judge.

Alien world or weird filter? You be the judge.

One of the hardest parts of drawing webcomics, for me, is the constant staring into the screen. My eyes, as I’ve written before, do not work all that well. They certainly don’t work like normal people’s eyes, and sometimes they betray me. Migraines, nausea, that sort of thing. When I was just writing 4 or 6 hours a day, it didn’t bother me, because I touch type, and by and large I don’t look at the monitor anyway, but I’m a much better typist than artist, and drawing a hand, or something like that, means squinting at the pixels and erasing and redrawing and shifting perspective, zooming in and out and erasing and redrawing again.

I’ve got a big analog project I want to tackle, which I will share when it’s ready, and tonight seems like a good time to start. No webcomic, no eye strain. There will be tiny scraps of fancy paper involved, but they won’t be backlit.

Instead, feel free to enjoy this weird portentous beach scene I painted about a year ago. My painting always looks pretty rough and experimental, because it is. I know nothing about painting. If I could afford it, I would take a class, at least something basic about technique, because I’d love to paint more, but it’s an incredibly expensive past time.

For that reason, I’ll probably be sticking to my Wacom tablet. You can have any size canvas, and any color paint, and it’s free.

Dragon Comics 53

One thing I learned from drawing this comic is that owls IRL cannot wear big floppy hats without covering their entire faces. Through the magic of cartooning, the owl's floppy hat levitates about an inch over her head to allow for maximum visibility.

One thing I learned from drawing this comic is that owls IRL cannot wear big floppy hats without covering their entire faces. Through the magic of cartooning, the owl’s floppy hat levitates about an inch over her head to allow for maximum visibility.

Happy New Year!

Sometimes, scripting comics comes easily. Monday’s comic sprung, fully formed, into mind, every word in place. Today’s comic script came after a difficult labor, one panel at a time, with no sense as to the outcome. Even after panel 4 was completed, I spent hour staring at it looking for a punchline. The owl asking if this was better and the dragon concurring. The dragon stating that waiting was actually pretty nice if you knew how to do it. In the end, I’d like to believe that panel 4 is drawn with such palpable joy as to render words unnecessary. The reader can see that the situation has improved; no words are needed.

As the year winds down, it’s hard not to reflect. I quit my job at the beginning of 2014 and began drawing all the time. I started this blog and the QvD T-shirt shop. I sold a few T-shirts and a few copies of an embarrassing book whose authorship I don’t like to claim even though I totally wrote it. Finally, I’m living my life in a way that feels more or less authentic. According to the laws of the New Age, the money should follow, right?

Not that you go into the arts for the money, but it’s also nice to earn your keep.

QWERTYvsDvorak is going on winter break as of now. We’ll be back January 5 with new comics and drawings and T-shirts and hopefully a dragon hat. Have a great holiday!

My Nephew Goes Wading, Take 2

My brother emailed me asking if I could send him a high-res version of “My Nephew Goes Wading,” the little doodle I scrawled out a while back when I was working on “My Sister and Brother-in-Law Look to the Future.” I sent him the files but really, it was just a scribble. I always meant to paint it. He wanted an art print or something! It was just a few lines. So, the last few days have been dedicated to fleshing it out.

It's hard to capture the joy on her face.

It’s hard to  accurately capture the joy on his face.

It’s not quite 100% satisfactory yet. In small format it looks good but for a blown up version it’s not quite there. Maybe in the next day or so.

Digital paint has a lot of advantages over real paint; it’s less messy, and it’s easier to take back, paint over, or adjust mistakes. It’s cheaper. It smells better. But…it’s still nice to have real materials (which I can’t afford right now so whatever). Painting is for the wealthy, or for people with patrons.

Anyway, “My Nephew Goes Wading, Redux.” I can get better with practice. I know I can.