Promising to paint something for someone, when you don't actually know how to paint, makes for a daunting experience. The last time I made any sort of concerted effort to paint was probably in the eighth grade. It's been an struggle, after only a single day of painting, to remember color combinations. I finally managed to figure out how to make black with the acrylic paints I have (white, yellow, red green, dark blue, brown-- a "starter" set), but that took two tries.
The tableau is "Maqz versus Satan"-- just a cute little picture that I had wanted to do for my brother Sean in honor of his chihuahua Maqz. It's not a particularly original notion, pitting Maqz against the Dark Lord: many artists like placing chihuahuas-- so tiny, fragile, and ridiculous-looking-- in incongruously cosmic or heroic situations.
For me, the choice was between putting Maqz in the foreground or in the background. I think I've chosen well by putting him in the foreground, with Satan retreating in fear. When I penciled the image in, I had initially included Maqz's tail, but have decided against painting it. Maqz works better when depicted as a mountain-like foreground object. Here's the initial penciling, done Tuesday night/Wednesday morning (well, more precisely, 1:19AM Wednesday morning; click to magnify):
As you see above, the tail simply intrudes. I should probably have done the scenario on paper beforehand, so as not to waste time, but I was having too much fun actually working on a canvas.
Canvas has thick stitching, and even though the canvases I purchased from a local art shop are already painted over, the stitching shows through with every stroke of the pencil. The same goes for the paint, as it turns out. Below, the result of several hours of fumbling (click to magnify):
Definitely a learn-as-you-go experience. Figuring out color and shading has never been my point fort. I can also see that Satan's elbow needs work, and the goatee needs to go, since it adds nothing to the Gestalt. I need to work more on Satan's horns, and while I've made a good start on Maqz's fur (I'm especially proud of the fur between his ears), I need to do the same for the rest of Maqz's silhouette.
Today, I'll be coloring in the stalactites, stalagmites, and cave walls, as well as imparting an unholy glow to all the rocky surfaces. The question of light source keeps popping into my head: if this is hell, then in theory the light's coming from everywhere, but how do you handle that? I think it may be simpler to set the primary light source somewhere in the background. Given the shading I've already applied to Satan, I think this is the right move to make.
Right now, it's mainly about the gross aspects of the painting. Later on, I'll worry more about fine detail. In fact, this may affect how I handle Maqz's fur: I need to paint the background in first before I can do the wispy strokes.
More photos coming as the project continues.
UPDATE: My buddy Mike reports that he can't see any of the penciling, even when clicking the images to enlarge. Is anyone else having that trouble? I realize the pics are out of focus; they were taken at night, in poor lighting, and digicams are notoriously bad at handling poor lighting. All the same, on my screen the penciling is clearly visible in both pics. If you're not seeing any penciling at all, please sound off in the comments. While I'm hesitant to alter the contrast level of the pics, I'll do so if enough people are having trouble seeing the pencil work.