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.

crab-painting-process-pic

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.

acrylic-gouache-painting-process_crab_the-curious-wild_aoede-pando.jpg

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! 

Crabs, Fish, Turtles & Birds

This week I have lots of lil' bits to share, so let's get right to it. I hinted in my last blog post about a delusional crab I'm going to paint, and I can now share with you the concept sketch for the painting I'll be doing.

Boxer Crab and Fox Skull Painting Concept Ink Sketch

Why is this Pom Pom Crab delusional? Because he thinks he owns the little plot of skull-land he's standing on, and is vigorously preparing to defend it with his filched anemone Pom Poms. However, below him are some octopus eggs, evidence that a lady octopus is living beneath the skull, and there are some tiny fish hiding out in the skull's nose that call it home too. He's a deliciously inglorious crab, and once I thought of his oblivious character I knew I had to make this a painting. 

I've already done some color studies in Photoshop for this piece, and am currently waiting for the gesso to dry on my wood panel to start the actual painting process. I'll share the stages of this crab with you in an upcoming blog post as I complete it, which should happen next week. 

In the meantime I've been working on creating a series of notebooks that are dear to my heart. This is where "growing as an artist" comes in. For whatever reason I've always tended towards a degree of realism and felt compelled to put lots of detail into things. So I decided I wanted to see what it's like to draw the simplest versions of animals that I could, fighting my inherent tendencies for the sake of stylization.

I decided to do this experiment on a series of notebooks called Land, Sea & Sky with each notebook having an animal representative for their respective space on Earth. For Land I decided to draw turtles, for Sea I drew fish, and for Sky I'll be drawing birds. I wanted to have fun with shapes and colors, and to practice making simple things that have personalities. At first the struggle was real. So my mantra was "keep it simplest", and I tried to imagine each animal I drew in sunglasses for attitude. After I finished drawing the fish I felt like the turtles came along much easier, and now I'm really looking forward to giving the birds a go. Here are some of the fish and turtles.

Illustrated Fish Notebook
Illustrated Turtles Notebook

Aside from the fact that fish, turtles, and birds are uniquely important animals to me, these notebook designs are special for me because I learned that I can keep it simple and enjoy myself making something without obsessing over details. The notebooks themselves will be made available in my online shops at some point in the near future, so keep an eye out if you'd like to get one. Until next week, stay tuned and stay wild!