Madonna by Meg Lyman
9×12″ gouache on matboard
Nothing like an octopus seraph to practice lost edges.
I finally did it! I know I mentioned it before, but here’s the official announcement. I have both originals and prints for sale, so go check it out!
Let me know if you have suggestions for art – especially prints – to post there.
Happy 2013, everyone! To kick off the new year, I’m posting something related to one of my goals. Go, me!
Mt. Rainier in Green by Meg Lyman
~8×11″ oil on paper
I bought some Arches Oil Paper after hearing about it somewhere or another. The product is specifically made for oil painting and requires no preparation. I don’t know what chemical magic they did, but I wanted to give it a try. I liked the idea of using it for studies, not only because it requires no preparation (which can be said of gessoed boards), but because of its texture. The surface feels like a velvety mix between nice watercolor paper and cloth. It’s not gessoed – it’s just really nice paper that you can oil up as much as you want. The tooth is nice too, but without being all bumpy and plastic-y like gessoed surfaces can be.
So, in order to try it out, I picked a subject from my goals list that I have obsessed over since I moved here: Mt. Rainier. We’re 40 miles from the summit (as the crow flies), and although I can’t see it from my house, I can from a block away. It’s huge and ominous and fascinating and dangerous and coy all at the same time. On the days I can see it, I’m always craning my neck to catch a glimpse. It has a sketchy history and an uncertain future. I love the thing. I’m sure I’ll be painting it a lot.
This first try, I had a photo I took at a stoplight (I wasn’t driving!) and some leftover oil paint piles. I also had been wanting to try some old tubes of acrylic rescued from my grandma’s basement that she used for a class in the 60s. I put down some purple acrylic to define the shadow areas. I let that dry (worked fine on the paper, although the paint’s age made it sorta… chunky) and did the rest wet-in-wet all in one go. I used a heck of a lot of oil on some areas, and true to its claims, the paper took it just fine.
Those areas were I used a lot of oil dried shiny, and the others dried matte. I haven’t decided whether to try varnishing this – unlike canvas and gessoed board, the paint doesn’t come off easily once dried, so varnish may not be required. And it’s going to need a frame anyway. But if I do varnish it, everything will be shiny and it won’t matter. If I don’t, the two finishes will have to coexist in harmony. You can’t see the difference unless you hold it under the light a certain way.
Shiny! Even when dry.
The only thing I don’t like about this paper is its propensity to attract fuzz, and there is a lot of the stuff in my house. Sprocket’s fur in particular floats around on the slightest breeze. Because the surface is soft and velvety, it holds dust and lint like it’s going out of style. There’s not a lot you can do about it – brushing if off doesn’t work – so don’t leave it sitting out flat uncovered until after it’s dry.
Bits of fuzz and fur everywhere. You can see the surface texture too.
This isn’t my favorite finished product, but it was a great test of the paper, the acrylic, and a good motivation to paint more Mt. Rainiers. You’ll see more in 2013!
Wreck-It Ralph and President Vanellopod
8×10″ gouache and ink
$65 – e-mail to purchase
Wreck-It Ralph – what a great movie! I loved the strong women characters and the lack of the classic but sexist helpless princess meme. Plus, the design and animation were top notch. And it’s funny! I recommend.
Fire Spider by Meg Lyman
12×16″ gouache on Colourfix (relevant WIP)
In the long-ago days before they were sentient, Nephila females simply built webs and waited for males to come to them. They’d hold out for a good specimen and eat the rest. But as their brains grew, so did selection pressures. Impressively fuzzy joints, a big, sturdy web, and an intimidating abdomen were no longer guarantees of a mate. Competition escalated ridiculously over the millennia. Modern Nephila females have taken to night-time fire spinning to impress potential mates, and the competition has evolved into festive tournaments where betting is lively. And they still eat inferior males when they can get away with it.
Rainbow Octopus by Meg Lyman
8×10″ oil on board
$125 – email to purchase
Another fun experiment with color and graphic brush strokes. Relative of Blue Crab, Rainbow Pig, and Painted Shark. This time I painted the colors as a solid block, and put the grey over the top. Way easier than painting a bunch of tiny colored stripes.
Blue Crab by Meg Lyman
6×8″ oil on cradled Gessobord
I slathered some thinned paint on it a couple years ago to create the basic shape, and promptly forgot about it. When I pulled it out of the closet to finish it, the thinned paint was obviously dry as a bone. I sized it with walnut oil to help the new paint stick – I’d heard that was a good tool to get new paint to stick to old paint – and laid in the background grey. I let that dry a few days and went in with the colors. I had my hand resting on the dry background paint while working, and eventually noticed this:
Great. I must have rubbed it too much or something. I’ll fix it later. Moved on to another area and found a cat hair buried in the grey paint, which is not surprising considering the fuzzy menagerie that lives here. It’s happened often before and I’ve become quite adept at pulling hairs out of wet and dry paint with a palette knife. I went to remove this one, and with one delicate touch, the knife did this:
Now, I admittedly wasn’t this rough on my previous Gessobord oil paintings, but I am becoming wary of the surface nonetheless. It could be any of the following:
1. The years-old underpainting
2. The sizing
3. The Gessobord’s surface
After stories from Larry and personal experience, I have a fear of inferior gesso, and am considering re-gessoing all the prepared panels I buy. Anyone have experience with these things?
Angry Cephalopods by Meg Lyman
12×24″ oil on gallery canvas
I couldn’t resist.
A few things I learned doing this painting:
1. You can use pure medium to wipe off wet mistakes, but if you scrub too hard, it takes off dry paint too
2. Sizing with medium is handy when the time between starting a painting and finishing it is, oh, A WHOLE YEAR
3. Oils take time to dry. Waiting several days between applications makes me lose momemtum (see #2)
4. Regardless, I now love oil paint
Wonders by Meg Lyman
Metallic ink on ACEO
I feel like this toucan today. There is inspiration in the air. It’s probably because it was a beautiful, full-blown spring weekend, the sun was out, the daffodils were peeking up through the pine needles, and I spent yesterday afternoon out in that beauty, arms deep in my car’s engine compartment. Ahh, spring. Too bad it’s going to get cold and nasty again this week.
I haven’t done much art the last few months, and let’s face it, the end of February is a bit late to be planning the year. The weather is partially to blame. But I also think I needed a break to decide the direction I want to go with my art, which is why it has taken so long to figure out what I want to do with this year.
I doubt now that art is ever going to be my main source of income, and I’m OK with that. A lot of my inspiration isn’t terribly marketable, and I just don’t want to paint things for other people for the rest of my life. Luckily, all my commission work has involved cephalopods so far, which makes it enjoyable, but 1) it doesn’t pay very well and 2) it’s hard to knuckle down and do it when you have a dozen more inspiring ideas clamoring for space in your head. Because of this realization, I decided to do fewer conventions this year. After two years on the circuit, I know which ones are money makers and which are the most fun with friends. I’ll stick to those, and probably mail in art to the rest. Note that most of those I’m attending are in Atlanta, or nearby, which cuts down on expenses.
2010 Convention Schedule
Other than conventions, I of course want to keep improving my art. I also want to focus my inspiration more in order to refine my style and start giving my art more meaning. Just because I have a vision of a tractor tire nautilus shell doesn’t mean that anyone will buy it. It needs to tell a story or make a point… otherwise, it’s just my subconscious barfing on the canvas. As fun as that is for me, very few other people dig it enough to pay for it.
I’m using mind-mapping to help me focus. Specifically, I’m using the tool “VYM” for Linux. If you are having problems with art block or with inspiration, check out mind mapping. It can be done with a pen and paper, and can really help you filter through your ideas and pick the ones that will take you somewhere. Without it, I probably wouldn’t have posted this plan until July.