Racquetball Squid, a.k.a. Davy Jones’ Gym Locker
12×16″ gouache on Pastelbord
Last month I finished one of my more involved paintings. You know, the kind that actually has a background and tells a story… one that I planned out very carefully. I get one of these done every once in a while, between commissions and fun, quick little paintings. I try to focus on improving one specific aspect of my painting skills during each one, while hopefully maintaining (and improving) the skill I learned on the last one.
(Click the thumbnails for bigger versions.)
This is the beginning of the Racquetball Squid. The first thing I did was try to block in the background with a wash, to help establish darks and lights. And the first thing I learned is that watery paint bleeds on Pastelbord. BAD. Almost as bad as a paper towel. But that’s OK – it’s just a block-in, and I could still see my pencil lines. I used wax paper and foil to help create the textures.
After the wash dried, I completed the locker background. Texture is fun! But the best part about it was adding compositional lines. I used lines hidden in the background elements to draw the eye toward the focal points. The main focal point is the eye of the squid on the left, and the secondary focal point is the eye of the squid to the right. Can you see all the lines I pointed at that first squid’s eye?
Next I filled in the racquet. One good suggestion I got was to push the darks darker for more contrast. There’s enough to know it’s a shadow, but it isn’t as convincing as it could be. At least I was able to push the top of the racquet into the background. By the way, it’s really hard to paint sports equipment without real-life reference.
Here’s a supreme example of the wash bleeding on the Pastelbord. Yeesh.
Anyway, the next and final step was to color the squids. I believe I succeeded at my goal; the left squid’s eye is definitely the biggest focal point. Do y’all have any other suggestions?