All posts by Ryan Williams

I am the artist and admin of this blog. I try to provide insight into my painting process, my thoughts about the current state of the art world, and links to interesting painting resources. Subscribe to Brushes and Bytes now!

Game On

Android Game Sketch
This funny little guy will not be so friendly in my game.
My hobby is painting. However, hobbies generally don’t pay the bills. I went to college for computer science – so during the day I develop and test software. When I was younger I had this little dream, as many young programmers do, of developing games for a living. Well reality hits you when you hear of terrible working hours and comparatively low pay. If you develop business software you will generally make anywhere from 25%-50% more than a game programmer. So those who develop games have not just a passion, but more of an obsession for games. I would describe my interest in games as an occasional diversion. I’m actually more interested in telling stories than playing one out. So I decided to change my focus to the business side of software development.
Character Sketch for my Android Game
You will be seeing a lot of this little guy in my game.

The creative spirit never dies however and I have always had an interest in creating my own game and telling my own story. I just never found the time nor patience to complete a fully functioning game. All the software I wrote was more to prove to myself that I could learn something new and have fun with it. I never had anything anywhere near commercial release. This precedent is about to change. With the relative ease of creating a mobile application and getting it to market, I see a new opportunity to take my creative urge to the Android market.
Android Game Character Sketch
He’s a little goofy, but very dangerous.

During the last year I have been spending time learning the Android platform. After months of reading documentation online and in books, I have reached a point where I can actually start my concept drawings for characters and scenes in my game. So before you are character sketches and a level-world sketch. This game is not breaking any new technological barriers – it’s a 2-D space shooting game in the theme of Galaxian or Galaga. The point here is not to invent some new graphics rendering engine or some new A.I. algorithm, but rather tell a story with engaging game play. The sketches of the characters are in 3 frames; this is to study how the animation will look when in game play. I have done these drawings in pencil and when happy with them, I will move them to my Gimp editing software for a digital copy.
Sketch of a Level in my Android Game
Ever seen another planet? Well, you still haven’t – this is just a drawing!

As the game development progresses, I will have more about how the game will work. I hope to have something to market before the end of the year, but I have other interests (painting) that I split time with so I’m not sure if I will make that self-imposed deadline. At any rate, I hope you find these drawings interesting. There will be more to come soon.

Coming up next….my encounter with a successful artist. See you next post!

Great Ideas Never Die….(they just get copied)

Haunted Arkham Asylum by ArtistAbe (Courtesy of DeviantArt)
Haunted Arkham Asylum by ArtistAbe (Courtesy of DeviantArt)
I have to thank my wife for finding this great piece of work on Deviant Art, otherwise I would never have known about it. Now how awesome and creative is this? The artist has taken the Batman universe and thrown the characters into the familiar settings rendered by Disney Imagineers for the Haunted Mansion – I mean that is just sweet. Upon examining the artwork let’s first start with the characters. Everyone knows about Batman and Robin and the Joker, but the artist chose to include some lesser known names (lesser known to people who are not comic addicts of course). I love the fact that the artist added Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, and Clayface to these images. The layout is so creative and yet it holds to the settings laid out in the original haunted mansion paintings. Let’s talk about those paintings – they’re classic. If you have never been to Disneyland or Disney World then you need to find a way to get there because both my wife and I feel those places are two of the most relaxing and fun places to go. Sure they’re tourists traps but they also happen to be a great destination. Disney is known for their imaginative artwork and the Haunted Mansion attraction features some of the best works. The long portraits of some of the Mansion’s “guests – as they appeared in their mortal state” offer an idea of what you are in for when you walk into the mansion – spooky fun. My favorite portrait is the business man missing his pants and reading a letter while standing on a barrel of TNT. Yeah we all can relate to that can’t we? I hate it when I have to read something and I end up losing my pants while standing on a powder keg that is ready to launch me into orbit. What the artist did here was great. He kept the same setting – the TNT, the pants-less legs, and the pompous pose – and replaced it with the most popular Batman villain: the Joker. The facial expression is a great mimic to the original figure. Even the color scheme is on par with the tones used in the original although somehow they also manage to reveal their own identity. The artist has in fact taken two ideas that he was familiar with and created a derivative work that is all original. The Characters are strong resemblances to the animated series but just different enough that you can sense the artist license embedded in the canvas. I love this kind of art. I would hope the original Disney and DC Comics artists would not be offended by these works because this is simply a tribute to two great franchises that we are all familiar with.

Jump in the Wagon

My Radio Flyer Wagon circa early 1980's
The subject of my next painting is my radio flyer wagon from my childhood.
Well paint my wagon red – this studio easel is a real gem. It has been so easy and convenient to raise and lower the easel at will to accommodate my posture. Combined with my mahl stick, I find it easier to perform detailed work on my paintings. If you’re a serious artist then I suggest getting a studio easel for all of your creative needs – that’s all for the plugs.

The New project is due for release towards the start of April. If you have already seen the videos then you know what I am painting – an old Radio Flyer wagon – yeah I thought it was time for another still-life. Although in this case the still-life is being combined with a bit of landscape work.

So why an old child’s toy? Well this idea has been in my head for about a year. I was thinking about my childhood wagon and it was just rusting in a shed so why not immortalize it? I may restore it someday to let my unborn kids play with it, but if I can’t then this is the next best thing. I mean I’m really not all that great with tools anyways. Now I could paint it as a new wagon, but I really think wear and tear adds to the character of the any object – heck it adds to the character of anything.

This project has been a real test of hand-eye control. While I don’t need hyper-realism here, I really want the viewer to see and feel what I see and feel about this wagon. So in order to get the correct look and feel, I find myself using my old mahl stick to steady my hand throughout the process. The background was loose, but once I hit the wagon the progress slowed down. It simply requires a lot of attention to detail and a quick hand would fail to realize. Important subjects tend to take more time as they have a personal connection with me and this wagon is another symbol of a happy childhood that my Brother and I enjoyed so I want to share those good memories with the viewers. Patience and a steady hand are what’s called for here.

In my next post I should be finished with the wagon and talking about the final results. In addition to that I will be discussing my next project. This has been a busy month for me. At work I have been swamped with paperwork. I still need to do my taxes. Oh and most importantly….baseball is back! So yes I am playing on Sundays again! I love the springtime. I hope you can get outside and enjoy the warm sun wherever you are too. And now I am stepping outside for some spring air……

still life paintings teddy bear art

Great Things for a New Year

Happy Painting in 2013!
Oh Baby I can't wait to paint in 2013!
A very happy new year to you all! I hope you all enjoyed the holidays. I always enjoy them myself, but I confess that I’m very happy to be done with them. I feel as we get older, the holidays seem to get more stressful. I’m worn down from all the running around from visiting people and shopping and moving living quarters. Wait, what was that last part?

Yep. I spent the last month moving into a house. I am now in larger quarters and I have a dedicated room for my painting endeavors. It really is a bad time of year to move – the holiday season, but we found a lovely place to move into and jumped on it. I cannot wait to start painting in my new studio. With my new studio easel. Wait, say that part again?

Oh yeah, didn’t I tell you? I ordered a new studio easel. This will be my first experience with a full fledged studio easel and I have to say I am bursting in anticipation of using it. Of course I have to get in the house first. I ordered it a couple of days ago and it’s due for delivery towards the end of the month. So that means there will be no new painting projects for a couple of more weeks. But alas, I due have my next painting in mind – a still life. I want to paint my Radio Flyer Wagon from my childhood. I actually have the original wagon I played with as a kid and I plan on painting it – rust and all. Should be a blast, but more on that in my next post. Back to the moving part – I will also now have my own taboret. What is a taboret? It’s a cabinet or dresser-like piece of furniture used in painting studios that holds supplies and can have an easel attached to it. In my case I am using my old baby dresser. No easel attached, but the drawers are long and deep and perfect for storing my ever-growing supply of art gadgets. My plan is to set up my studio with all of my new utilities and show you my photos. Will this improve my artwork? Well it won’t hurt that’s for sure. I now have space to walk around my painting and see it from different angles to better evaluate the process. I also have more lighting which is always a plus. So if my art doesn’t improve then it simply means I have skills that are lacking.

I will go into the details of my easel in a later post. For now the only thing I will mention is the model. It’s a Best University Easel. You can Google that and learn more about it. It looks slick and it was the best deal for the money I was willing to spend. The prices attached to some of these studio easels is staggering.

Alright, that is all from my world. Let me know how you are spending your new year. Also, if there is something you would like to see from my website or the youTube channel then please let me know. I want to entertain and educate whenever I can. Is the delivery truck here yet?

Joker on Holliday

Joker on Holliday - Copyright 2012 Ryan G. Williams
Joker on Holliday - Copyright 2012 Ryan G. Williams
Well here it is! It only took a year of on and off frustration. Geez. For me to complete this piece, after having banged my head against a wall many a night, tells me that I have even more persistence (or stubbornness) than I thought. Enough of the self-loathing – let’s look at this fine new painting.

“Joker on Holliday” is a 24”x36” oil on canvas. This is the third painting in a row to be of those dimensions and that’s not by accident. I have really enjoyed that size as I think it is just large enough to display some details without overwhelming a viewer. With that said, I think I’m going small for the next few projects (gotta conserve space in the home). The painting is telling a straight forward story: Doc Holliday and the Joker are playing 5-card draw poker and Joker appears to be the dealer. Doc has a full house and is excited about winning the large pot on the table. Joker, on the other hand, is more interested in playing jokes and goofing off. Holliday’s expression says it all. He wants out of this game and out of this painting. Of course with all of that money on the table, and being a card shark, he is inclined to stick it out.

Doc Holliday loves a full house but this guy is worse than Joey.
Doc Holliday loves a full house but this guy is worse than Joey.

The original concept held true for the most part here. I wanted the two characters at a table and I wanted Doc to be looking at the viewer seemingly asking for an explanation. There were a few small changes from the original idea however. Those changes revolve around the supporting props. Originally I wanted Doc to be holding a revolver in this right hand and I wanted one of Joker’s knifes stuck into the table. I decided late into the project that it would leave the painting looking a little too dark or aggressive. As it is, I figure this piece approaches that fine line of light comedy and dark comedy; I wanted to keep this closer to the family-friendly comedy genre. Other than that, there were no major adjustments to the piece. The colors are what I expected and what I hoped for. My favorite parts? I like the purple of the Joker’s coat as a great contrast to the lit-up green felt poker table. I also love the playing cards in Doc’s hand as they lend themselves to a bit of reality while navigating a field of ridiculousness.

I can see parts of my personality in this work. Viewing this piece, it makes me think this is what’s going through my head at times. There are situations when you need to be focused and down to earth. Then there are those times when I just want to let loose and be a goof. Am I the only one who feels like this? Do you have those same emotions and thoughts as I do? Which one are you most like? Doc? Joker? I’m somewhere in between. I guess that makes me the poker chips?

Interested in seeing the process of how this painting was made? Wanna know more of my thoughts on this work? No? Well screw you then…..for the rest of you lovely folks you can check out my channel on youTube to catch episode 6 of Brushes & Bytes Video Blog. Watch Here!

The original will be for sale along with reproductions on canvas and paper. Personally I think this would look great in a kids room. I mean what child wouldn’t feel safe at night knowing the Joker is looking over them? Sure nightmares are a potential side-effect, but a good painting leaves you thinking about it after viewing. If you want to make the kids feel safer then give them a night light. How about a black light on the painting? That should calm their nerves.

Hey Joker, cheer up will ya?
Hey Joker, cheer up will ya?
Hey they may even learn valuable life lessons about poker! Then they grow-up to become professional poker players who bring in the big bucks and give you an easy retirement! All of this from a painting – sounds like a deal to me!