So the first painting of the year is done. A commissioned piece of a mother and her two sons. As the I mention in the video, this was difficult as I only had a single photograph to work with. Seeing as how this was a commission and would be a gift for someone, I really had to focus on capturing the joy that is a family bond. How do you achieve this feeling in a painting? What is it about a smile that tells a story? Faces are just like books: they all tell a story.
In this video I discuss the challenges that came with working on this triple portrait. I made some mistakes, learned from them, and now take that new knowledge with me as I start yet another portrait. This one is a bit simpler in that there will be just two faces. One human and one, well, not. What is this animal? Stayed tuned.
It’s been a couple of months since my last post, but if you follow my YouTube channel or Facebook page then you know what the 50th painting looks like. The portrait of my grandparents entitled “Forever Belles” turned out to be a big success – both in my eyes and my family’s. That painting had a tremendous amount of meaning for me. What mattered most to me was seeing my grandparents smile and enjoy what I had created for them. My Grandmother passed away a couple of months ago and so it was one of the last things I was able to do for her and for that I will be forever happy.
Moving on to future plans, I am about to release a series of videos in which I go back in time to show all 50 of my paintings. You can watch the first part here… …to see the first 10 works and here the stories, but I wanted to give you a prequel and a little more detail on my artistic history here. So how did it all start? In the fall of 2004 I started recording and watching taped episodes of “The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross.” It was a relaxing way to end my busy days of study at Long Beach State’s computer lab. I would watch the same episodes on tape week after week and kept saying to myself, “I can do that.” or “I have a great idea for a painting!” Then one day in December of that year I decided to put my brush where my mouth was, it didn’t taste good, but I finally started painting on my own. My first easel was a table with a mini-fridge on it. The canvas sat on top of that fridge to make for an awkward easel. My first palette was some cardboard, which proved to be horrible as the oil just absorbed into the material. After an hour of hastily slapping paint on the canvas I had completed my very first, uh, well – mush. It was then that I realized you have to approach the canvas with a little preparation and cannot simply improvise your ideas – hence my personal painting education began.
As the paintings went on, I learned more and more about the nuances of painting. I started with landscapes and then started dabbling in still-life. I knew people and figures would be the most difficult and so I put that genre off until I felt more comfortable with the brush. I did start sketching people however and that was helpful in teaching me about proportions and the fact that I knew nothing about anatomy or the locomotion of humans did not deter me from learning more.
10 years later what has changed? Well I’ve acquired a fair amount of knowledge about the human figure. People are the most difficult of subjects because the viewers know inherently what the subject is supposed to look like. We can make up a tree or a mountain or a flower, but if the nose is on the forehead, people will look at the painting funny and think, “the artist is incompetent” or “modern art is so trendy.” Well I don’t care much for modern art and I don’t want to have my art reflect incompetence so I have been working hard to learn the intricate features of people. Given my last portrait, I feel I have made significant progress in that direction. So I hope you enjoy this video that shows the first 10 paintings of my work. Again, this is part 1 of a series of videos that will take you through my history.
Currently on the canvas is a little commission. I say “little” with my tongue in cheek because this painting is 36″x60″. This is not exactly a Sunday afternoon dalliance with the canvas. Currently I am up to 17 painting sessions and about 75% complete. I look forward to showing it you sometime this month. If you would like a sneak preview then checkout my Facebook page or Instagram account for photos.
I hope you had a great summer. Let’s hope for a colorful autumn.
How many times have you been driving down the road when you suddenly hear a rattle or a pop and you think, “Crud. How much is this going to cost me in repairs?” I dread those moments because we own used cars and as the years go by it becomes harder to justify the repair costs. However, the decision-making process is rendered easy when you have a mechanic-friend who insists on performing the repairs free of charge. That was the situation for me which lead to my new painting – “The Mechanic’s Apprentice.”
I drove over to my friend Richard’s house and as he worked on my wife’s car I took notice of his old dog; Mary is her name. I had an idea for paying for working on the car. As he worked under the hood I started snapping shots of Mary in different positions. In the end, I never really got a pose that I thought would translate into a successful painting. So I used the shots as a composite for the position you see in this work.
Originally the painting was to be a simple portrait with a standard nondescript background. As I started to sketch, however, I realized I could make a light hearted scene of this sweet and gentle soul. The idea also crossed my mind that if I painted a scene that illustrated the loving relationship between Mary and her owner Richard, then the gift would have that much more meaning to Richard and his family in the years to come. Paintings of loved ones require more attention to detail and not just on a technical level, but on an emotional level as well. Since Richard loves to work in his garage with Mary walking around and investigating, the focus of the painting became the strong bond between the dog and owner. The painting still needed to primarily be a portrait of the dog so I just limited to human interaction to a single outstretched arm. I felt this simple gesture would give the viewer pause to wonder if Mary is helping of teasing Richard. In this scene you just can’t tell and I like it like that.
It’s good to have friends and its important to let them know from time to time that you appreciate all they do for you. My intention with this painting is to let Richard know I appreciate his generosity. In Episode 14 of Brushes and Bytes Video Blog I discuss this painting along with my hopes for 2014. Now give me back that wrench Mary. dog artanimal artsunset art
Doesn’t have the same ring to it does it? Well it doesn’t matter much because this December 21st, the world will come to an end – according to the Mayan legend….right?
Yep, 4.3 billion years of the earth rotating, millions of years of evolution in the animal kingdom, and 11 years of garbage reality television will all be crumpled-up and thrown into the celestial recycle bin just 4 days before Christmas. All previous existence will cease and all of this fear is based on a misunderstood concept that was created by a long dead civilization. You see, archaeologists have uncovered artifacts that detail the Mayan calendar’s long count system and, well (long-and-overdone story short), the long count runs out this year and resets as we enter a new era of enlightenment – again this is according to the Mayans. From this, western civilization has twisted the translation of the Mayan Calendar’s “Enlightenment” message into a story that we all die in a yet-to-be-determined fashion. HUH? How did western society come up with that? From enlightenment to annihilation? Crap, what a precipitous drop in standing. Jeez take it easy people. I assume the dude who came up with that bleak outlook needed to get laid – REALLY BAD. Perhaps there are a few of you out there who are saying to yourselves:
“Of course I don’t believe in this stuff…..but then again… what if?”
If this is you then let me try to reassure you with this thought: are your bills still coming in? Does the taxman still expect payment? Does your mortgage run past 2012? If your debtors are planning past December 21st, then I think you’re going to be just fine. Remember the two things that are certain in our world. Yes death is one, but the other is taxes. Convinced? Reassured? Still worried? Well go to church and pray for your gullibility. With all that said, what shall we aim to achieve in the last year of our lives? (sigh)….Well I know what I want to do – PAINT!
First a Look Back
Looking back on 2010 and my newest works, I feel I made some reasonable improvements in my style. First there was “A Sparrow Takes Flight” and when I look at it I feel very proud of the way I rendered the water and the tentacles of the beast. I learned that preparation is key and you can never have too many sketches before applying paint. This was evident in the painting of the ships.
Then there was “Rose Park”, which paid tribute to a park I frequently visited while living in Long Beach California. The goal was to capture the friendly atmosphere that exists between the neighbors and their dogs. I removed the houses from the real scene and put in a lush background as this was an idealized place. I’m very happy with how I rendered the trees and the grass. Although I think I should have planned out the location of the people a bit better. Check out this video for a little retrospective on the creation of these two works.
That reminds me…
I have a YouTube channel now. The channel name is RyanWilliamsArt and if you like my sense of humor and don’t mind video production skills just above the a/v club in high school, then I encourage you to subscribe to my channel as well. I’ll have some fun stuff on that channel and all of it will shamelessly plug my art. Now back to the review…
There is a third painting that will be discussed after I have given it as a gift to a cousin. Until then, this will only be known as “the painting to be named later.” You know – like in baseball when they make a trade for a big star and then some little player who isn’t even good enough to mention?
Of course I’m also working on the Doc Holiday and Joker painting which you can read about in my previous post. Look for that one in about a month or so. So now let’s look ahead…
My Artistic Goals for the Year of Our Destruction
1. More is more
So let me go over some personal goals in 2012 by revealing my failures in 2011. First I would like to paint more. Wow, that was a shock wasn’t it? I bet you didn’t expect that like you didn’t expect your taxes to go up. Okay specifically, I want to revisit my painting goals of 2010 where I attempted to complete 12 paintings by year’s end. In 2010, I only managed to complete 6 pieces. In 2011 I only managed a meager 3 pieces. So I want to try and reach that magic number 12 in 2012. Seems like the right time at least in terms of numbers.
2. Strike a Pose
Next I would like to improve my portrait and figure painting skills. I find myself being continually drawn to those genres because humans are drama and I want to tell that story. Currently I run into problems when painting the figure; the proportions and shadows have been the most challenging. In 2012 I hope to have a strong portrait and or figure piece to brag about.
3. Wishing Upon a Star…a Really, Really, Big Star
And then I would like to finally complete my Disneyland piece. (What? He has a Disneyland painting?) Yes I do. My original idea was to paint a scene that captured that warm and magically feeling we had as kids (and still do as adults) visiting the magic kingdom. The scene was going to have 50 tourists roaming the streets of the park – the number 50 was chosen as a tribute to Disneyland’s 50th anniversary. Now if you’re a Disney aficionado then right about now you’re saying:
“Hey Ryan, why would you do a painting that pays tribute to an anniversary that happened 7 years ago?”
Okay, so you do the math and discover that the 50th anniversary was in 2005 which means Disneyland opened in 1955 right? I had every intention of completing this painting when I started it back then. However I ran into a problem with that piece about a third of the way through. I didn’t like the perspective and really did have a road map for what I wanted to include in the scene. I felt like the project was a dragging and lacked any direction. For a few weeks I tried to press through but then one day I picked up the brush and felt like it was a chore. So I decided to stop production because the thought of turning one of my passions into a chore makes me ill.
Side note: the wife and I are huge Disney-nuts. We’ve had annual passes to Disneyland for the last 9 years and we honeymooned at Disneyworld in Florida. So knowing the opening year of Disneyland is like asking us who the first president of the United States was, but I digress.
Long story short….I want to finish this damn thing. It’s a big canvas (24”x48”) and only a third of it is complete. So I’ll need planning, paint, and peanut butter cups. Hey it never hurts to have some sugar around to get those neurons firing right?
4. Drop that Brush and Honor the Code
Finally, I hope to have a working database up and running on my website to manage my painting inventory. I have spent time on the front of the site, which is still a work in progress, but I have not spent any real serious time working on the back end. Alas, time working on the website is time away from the easel and that is frequently a difficult choice. I’ll will need to further develop my PHP skills (geek acronym meaning “semi-smart”) to get this database online.
So Where is this all Going?
So while I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions (they’re for unmotivated people who procrastinate to change a behavior until the new year in order to have a “fresh” start – only to fall back into their bad habit on February 1st), I do have a list of artistic goals that I would like to complete. I think my biggest hope for my art this year is to develop a more refined painting style. I want my works to be clean and harmonious. I want the colors to tell a story as much as the subject does. Practice and more practice is the key but as you have already heard; I have other priorities to deal with.
My other priorities that lie outside the art life is finding a new job. I relocated to the Sacramento area in June and have yet to land a web developer job that I have been looking for. The job market is showing signs of comeback, but the competition is still strong here. It can be a stressful environment when looking for work, but that is why I started painting in the first place – I needed an emotional outlet. I needed to figure out a way to release stress and express my feelings for the world around me. Art has really helped me to relax get a new outlook on life. I’m glad I started painting on that winter day back in 2005. Hey! – That reminds me…
January 1st is my 7th anniversary of being an artist! Hard to believe that 7 years ago on January 1st 2005, I opened up a Bob Ross art kit to start learning about oil painting (Boy have I come a long way since then!). I have since deviated from the Bob Ross style to develop my own look, but I credit Bob with giving me the confidence to go out and give painting a shot. You can tell from my first painting that I didn’t understand depth, color theory, shadows, perspective, and more. Those skills are much more developed but there is still more to learn. The most interesting thing about my adventures in painting is that I found out that my strongest interest is not in the landscape genre like I used to think it was. Rather, my strongest interest lies in the figure and the portrait. That discovery came out after exploring different subject matter. Painting truly is an adventure. Who knew your easel could double as a compass? I didn’t know it would take me in a new direction.
Well seeing as the new year is underway and I have many things to do and only 12 months to do them in, I better get to work. Now its a leap year which means we have 366 days this year. If you subtract the 10 days from the date of the end of the world, we actually only have 356 days to do what we want so make them count! NOW SERIOUSLY, if you believe in this 2012 hocus-pocus jazz then you really need your head examined. Actually, if you DO believe in that, then you won’t need your money right? Soooo…..how about buying the original painting of my “Original Eviction?”
It’s only $1,500 and you wont need money after December 21st right? C’MON! Put your money where your misplaced beliefs are.
Ah well, anyways, happy blessed new year to you all and I hope I can entertain you with more of my work in the years to come. I’m off to paint!
Happy Friday art lovers! While the look and feel of my website is still a work in progress, today I announce the grand opening of the video gallery! (Hold your applause) The video gallery will be the home of short films that I create that contain art related material. Some features will be small thoughts on upcoming projects, others will be a post-mortem on recently completed projects, and then there will be films that are painting session peek-ins that take you from the beginning to the end of one of my paintings.
That is the content of the first video. In episode 1, “My Bonny”, you will see how I just recently completed my latest work. It’s a dog portrait of my puppy – her name is Bonny. While the painting is the focus of the film, Bonny does make an appearance or two. Actually when I started painting her, I found out that she doesn’t like the sound of a brush hitting the canvas. She tried on more than one occasion to jump up on the easel. Perhaps she was trying to tell me that I made her nose too big or her ears too long. Eh, everyone’s a critic and she knows where she gets her food so if she knows what’s good for her she will just keep quiet – but I digress. The painting spanned over 2 weeks but only took about 5 days worth of work. I was ill during those weeks so painting was difficult and I find it to be a bad idea to paint when ill. Overall I am happy with the portrait. I did make her look proud and regal as I like the old classical portrait look. But make no mistake about it – she is a fire cracker and if you don’t keep your eye on her at all times you might lose a sock or two.
This is the second dog portrait I have done (check out “Little Skipper”). I enjoy these animal portraits because it feels like I can capture a moment in time that sparks many fond memories of a pet. That is how I felt when my wife Rachel commissioned an artist to do a portrait of my childhood dog Spot. I had tears in my eyes when I saw the painting because my mind went immediately to 1984 when I was 7 years old and we had just brought home our new dog for the first time. I figure 20 years from now I will have similar feelings looking at this painting that I did of Bonny.
I hope you enjoy this painting and I hope the video is interesting for you. I like watching other artists because I find the creation process fascinating. When an artist goes from a white canvas of nothing to a fully realized vision then I just think it’s a amazing thing. That is one of the reasons I loved watching The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. He inspired me as a kid that I could not only be a painter, but that I could do anything.
Once again, the look of the site is still under consideration, but the content will keep on coming. I have to put aside those perfectionist tendencies when designing something otherwise it never sees the light of day. Thanks for checking it out and more to follow. See ya soon!