A Crab-tastic Painting Process

This week I wanted to take you through the planning and painting process of my most recent painting. It all started with an idea - *cue dream sequence music and slow fade*...

CONCEPT ART

Pom Pom Crab Concept Art Sketch

Specifically with THIS idea. I've wanted to put a Pom Pom Crab in a painting for a while because they amuse me. If you're unfamiliar with them, Pom Pom Crabs are a tiny creb that snip pieces off of poisonous sea anemones and either bandy them about like short swords in their crab hands, or attach them to the back of their crab bods as a means of warding off predators. So I took the idea of a crab waving an anemone at me and mentally connected it to the archetype of a grumpy old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn. Crab was now defending his turf, so I needed to give him turf. For his home I used a Red Fox Skull as a base because I think they look cool and I wanted to draw one. Then I filled the skull with an impossible combination of sea and forest dwelling plants because it's my painting and I do what I want. Then I wanted to emphasize the oblivious personality of the crab so I added some fish trespassers hiding out in the nose of the skull, and some octopus eggs attached to skull which would inevitably come with an octo-mom hiding behind them. Octo-mom's presence is felt but never seen because I wanted the crab to be the focal point. After the hit it and quit it sketch you see above I drew all the elements I wanted in the piece separately and then combined them into this final sketch.

Painting Process

Concept Art Ink Drawing

I scanned this line drawing in and played around with some color palette ideas, as well as painting some tiny little watercolor color comps traditionally until I thought I'd found the right vibe. I also digitally added the lines in the background and the circles near the crab as ways to include a background that emphasized the movement of things in the piece as well as to create additional depth. After all these things were done I printed out my sketch and transferred it using graphite transfer paper to a prepared wood panel that I planned to paint the crab on. Then I started painting.

Acrylic Gouache Painting Process

Using Holbein Acryla-Gouache I started with background elements including the lines behind the skull and circles near the crab, as well as some paint splatter and scribbly bits to even out the space and add some crab chi to the piece. Then I did the skull since it takes up so much surface area and I wanted to get the colors on it right.

crab-painting-process

Next I painted the ferns in the background and for some unknown reason I then painted the succulent and moss, but that was silly and I should have painted the things behind them first.

Aoede Pando Painting

Then I painted and painted for what seemed years until I'd gotten most things added. In a choice I will regret until my death, I waited until last to paint the mushrooms in the front of the skull and completely botched the colors on them. I asked my non-artist husband what he'd do to fix them and he said to "sparkle them up with some purple shit". Taking this sage advice to heart I made them purple and covered them in gold. I repainted the shrooms several times before eventually deciding they had reached an acceptable level and I couldn't look at them anymore.

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The scan of the final piece is below. This painting is titled "It's Only Good If It's A Weapon" and is currently hanging at Fresh Pot on Washington in downtown Portland. It'll be there for the whole month of March along with a lot of other original pieces and stickers for sale, so I encourage you to stop by if you're in the neighborhood.

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Before signing off I wanted to announce I've been accepted to participate in Crafty Wonderland this May 5th at the Oregon Convention Center. I''ll be making lots on fun new things for the event so follow me on Instagram to stay up to date on those. If you're local and plan on stopping by Crafty Wonderland, please come by and introduce yourself, I'd love to meet you! 

Show at Townshend's & More Nudibranchs!

I'm happy to say the show at Townshend's Tea House on Mississippi Ave. is finally up and available to be seen by the peoples. Here are a couple shots of one of the walls.

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At home, the painting continues. I have two more finished nudibranchs to share for now, with more still underway. Pictures will be below. But before I share them, I'm also excited to say that I've applied to be a part of my first art fair. If you read my list of goals for 2018 a couple blog posts back, you'll know that doing my first event was a goal I'd set for myself this year. I'd imagined that it would be farther in the future than this, but I suppose when the right opportunity presents itself it's better to hustle than miss it. So I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed that I get in to the one I've applied for. If not though it's okay - there's an entire year left ahead of me to keep trying. Alright, now on to the sluggos.

Cadlina Luteomarginata. This piece is titled "I've Become One With The Wallpaper".

Cadlina Luteomarginata. This piece is titled "I've Become One With The Wallpaper".

Acanthodoris Lutea. This piece is titled "Podcasts All Damn Day". Because that's my life.

Acanthodoris Lutea. This piece is titled "Podcasts All Damn Day". Because that's my life.

Sea Slugs and Café Shows

Hey everybody! I'm delighted to show you some scans of the first two Nudibranchs (sea slugs) I've painted for a series I'm doing right now. The sluggos will eventually be made into a taxonomical print, the originals sold, and stickers made, etc. Here are the first little guys!

Elysia Ornata a.k.a. the Ornate Leaf Slug. This piece is titled "This is gonna be a good year."

Elysia Ornata a.k.a. the Ornate Leaf Slug. This piece is titled "This is gonna be a good year."

Jorunna Parva a.k.a. the Sea Bunny. This piece is titled "I sometimes pretend my life is a TV show."

Jorunna Parva a.k.a. the Sea Bunny. This piece is titled "I sometimes pretend my life is a TV show."

I really only needed to paint the slugs for my project but I decided to have a little fun and make mini paintings out of them. I'll crop them out of their surroundings for the taxonomy when I've finished painting them all. They will all be painted with acrylic gouache like these two were.

These Nudibranchs, along with many original paintings I've completed over the last several months, will be up on display and for sale at Townshend's Tea House on Mississippi Ave. here in Portland, OR through the month of February, so if you're a local feel free to stop by. See you next time, and in the meanwhile stay wild!

Baby Turtles and 2018 Goals

Hey everyone and happy new year! I'm off to a late start this year, having come down with the flu of death a few weeks ago and only recently recovered. But I'm better now and have recently finished my first painting of 2018, a little Burmese Star Tortoise that I'll be hanging in Townshend's Tea House on Mississippi next month along with some other originals and prints. If you're in the PDX area, please stop by and take a look!

burmese-tortoise

I made a process video showing the stages of painting this turtle that will be up on my Instagram later today if you'd like to see the steps I took. I painted this guy in acrylic gouache, a medium I have yet to comprehend and have much to learn about.

2018 Illustration Goals

I really appreciate hearing other artists share their goals for the year, so I thought I'd share mine with you.  These are just a few, but I'm sure that I'll be adding more to the list as the year kicks in!

  • Participate in my first Art Fair. I've never gone out and gotten a booth at a fair or convention before and this year is the year I want to take that step.
  • Start accepting commissions. I want to start accepting commissions from individuals as well as editorial work. 
  • Maintain a better work/life balance. I realized this last year that I wasn't making enough time for myself and my wellbeing in my schedule. So this year I'm trying to take weekends off, get back into some yoga classes, and make sure to get out into nature more.
  • Sketchbooks! I really want to up my sketchbooking game this year, and instead of only using sketch time to study anatomy, or practice values, etc...I want to just stop thinking and sketch for fun. I like to imagine it like stream-of-consciousness writing - I don't care if I understand why I'm drawing a pigeon, I want to just let myself draw that pigeon without caring if it's anatomically accurate. I can worry about those things later, I just want to get the sketch down and play with things for fun. Yay for self expression.
  • Requisite art goals. The ones we all have. Improve my color choices, push my gestures, emphasize values and relationships, get loose where I should be loose and tight where I should be tight. And so on and so forth - far too many things to mention that I want to improve in my craft.

So those are a few of the more important goals I have this year. I'd love to hear what goals you have for your creative life this year so please feel free to let me know in the comments. See you next time!