Monday, August 9, 2010

Eternal Summer

Behold! The tan-lined, tattooed, sleepy-eyed dame.

And now it's time for round two of long and detailed process explanations.

But first, I must say how extremely excited I am for this show at Gallery Hijinks! It's right around the corner, the 21st of August. (As well as right around the corner from my house. Win.) Anyway, if you are in town and in the neighborhood, my tattooed ladies would love to see you.

Alright. So this time around I tried out some things differently. A lot of people have been asking me if I use a primer on the wood or some sort of gesso. I haven't in the past, but this time I did. The problem you run in to when choosing a primer is that it's generally white and very opaque. I like to leave the wood exposed around the figure, so a white gesso just wouldn't do. And it's terribly limiting to only apply it where you think paint is going to be. I'd feel very trapped if that were the case. Then this lovely lady reccomended a product to me, something to add a barrier between the woodgrain and the paint. Ladies and gentleman, I give you GAC 100! It's white in the bottle but dries perfectly clear! Now, I must say, it definitely did the trick in making the wood more vibrant and not so sponge-like. It also did make it much more forgiving if a drop of paint landed where it shouldn't have. (A little bit of mineral spirits picked it right up.)  Since it's like adding a thin coating of plasticy substance to the wood, the paint handles very differently. I found it a little more difficult to work the skin how I normally do, but it made doing the hair really easy as well as the halo. I personally prefer to paint directly on to the wood when rendering skin, but the hair was so easy to do on top of the primer, as it stopped the india ink from bleeding through the grain. So, for the next piece I'm doing, I applied the primer to everywhere but the skin portion. (More details on that later, but I definitely prefer doing it this way)
Here she is at the start. I start filling in the pencil sketch with the basic pattern of light and shadows. From there I keep layering and layering until I'm satisfied.

Here I am drawing little houses. I know, weird, who paints in little dresses? I seriously do. Somehow I manage to get paint on everything but my clothes.. some strange skill I have acquired somewhere. I usually end up with bits of red or black paint on my face instead.
I also introduced a few new colors in to my palette which was fun, Rose Portrait and Mars Red (which is basically a Burnt Umber with some red hues).


A sleeve of Victorian houses, my homage to San Francisco.

As stated in my previous post, the words say "thy eternal summer shall not fade", a snippet of Shakespeare's sonnet XVIII. This particular sonnet is so very special to me. In the 6th grade my grammar teacher taught this sonnet to us, we all had to memorize it and later recite it in front of the the class. I remember repeating it over and over for my mom, nervously trying to remember all the strange words. She would always tell me slow down, to speak it as if someone was writing it. I still have it memorized, as do my two best friends Lizzy and Morgan. It's this funny little connection we all have to eachother. I've always loved Mrs. Motgomery for making us memorize it, even if I didn't really understand it at the time. Now I find it to be so beautiful..

Here it is in full length:

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.


For the halo, I mixed gold paint and bleached linseed oil, it made it nice and glossy.


As for the tattoo above, it's an outline of a world map, and a famous French quote that I adore.
"Il n'est rien de réel que le rêve et l'amour."
 "Nothing is real but dreams and love"
(which pretty much sums me up entirely)

Alright, I'm starting to get all sentimental and shit. So it's time to wrap this up.
 Once the piece is done and dry, I start the scan. My scanner bed is only 8.5" x 11", so it definitely takes a lot of scans to capture the whole image. Someday I'll invest in a larger scanner, but for now, this works. Here you can see the ridiculous amount of layers already, and that's only half the image. It's very tedious but definitely worth getting a high DPI image of it.

Also, the sound of my scanner drives my kitten nuts, it's a hilarious sight.

Think that's about it. Thanks for reading! As usual, I'm happy to answer any questions you may have. I am always experimenting and learning as I go, but I'm happy to share my discoveries with you.



Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing

Denarmen illustration said...

OMG! this was VERY helpfull! because i'm going to start a series of paintings about the maya calendar ad i wished a lot to made the pices on wood. Didn't know about that layer of primer! and thank you so much for the recomendation (:

Thank you so much Honney! ;D
Keep the good work!


Christina said...

These process posts are SO interesting to me! Thanks for taking the time to do them.

And Kathleen said...

Beautiful! One you get everything scanned in do you just adjust each layer at a time in Photoshop to get a seamless image?

herman and ivy said...

Lovely work! Was just wondering if you paint from a reference pic, or is it all from your imagination?

charmaine olivia said...

@Kathleen yes I adjust each layer, erasing certain portions and rotating slightly if need be. I do this until the edges line up perfectly. which can be a while :p

@herman and ivy Yes I paint from reference photos :)

Unknown said...

I've been a fan of your art for a couple years now. I first found you on Etsy when I started my shop. I have to say, it is really nice to hear about your processes and get a little back story. Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I really love these pieces, but instead of scanning them so tediously, I seriously suggest learning how to photograph them. It isn't hard at all and so much less work than all these layers and maneuvering the piece over such a small scanning bed. Plus you really don't need any fancy equipment.

Check out this photo:

Any questions I can help with don't hesitate!

tobaccoandleather said...

Amazing, it's great that you share the process. Good luck with the exhibition!


labyrinthine said...

I can't believe you go through all that with the scanning! I'm curious why you don't get it professionally scanned, I don't know that I'd have the patience.
But AS USUAL, beauuuutiful work. ♥

Sara said...

Charmaine you just made my day --- I'm so glad my recommendation of GAC100 worked out so beautifully for you! She's absolutely gorgeous and that halo just glows. Wish I could come see your upcoming show in person!

charmaine olivia said...

I go through all the trouble of scanning because it looks soooo much better than a photograph. I've only recently started scanning my paintings, because it looks x309243 better than the best photograph i've ever been able to get. I would love to get it done professionally, but seeing as I dont have a car in SF it makes lugging paintings around the city kind of difficult. It's worth the hour it takes to scan and put the pieces together in photoshop. I don't mind it so much :)

Anonymous said...

i just found you via artist a day on google home page....i am smitten!! you are inspirational!!!!!!!!!! much love and happiness to you -

Alex Louisa said...

Hi! This is my first visit to your blog, and I do love to find process posts! I've been experimenting with the same thing at the moment... You want to protect the paint from the wood, but then no sealers seem to be nice to paint over.

Thought I might just let you know something that I read somewhere... the GAC-100's apparently the best for sealing since it protects against rising stains from the wood, but if you don't like the surface it leaves, you can try going over that with a matte medium to give it a tiny bit more grip for the paint.

You can also build up a few layers and sand it if you'd prefer an extra smooth surface. I haven't tried it myself yet, but I'm hoping it's a solution!!

Good luck with your show :) And around the corner from your house sounds perfect!!

Peter Fong said...

That is some insane tattoo details! Thanks for showing your process. Helps alot. We can do it too! Do you edit the final piece in photoshop after? Or it's done just like that

JUURI said...

Hey Charmaine, sorry this is a late comment but how do you keep the image sharp when you scan? My scanner won't focus on the image properly unless it fits into the 8.5x11 "guide" lip thingy. If I set the painting on top, it's all blurry. Does your scanner not have the "lip" part?

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