IMC 2013 - Day Four

Today I took the best parts of my sketches and mashed them together in Gimp, blew it up to the size I wanted, reversed the image, printed it, drew over it, flipped it over on top of my illustration board, and did a rubbing transfer. (Yes, it's a weird, complicated process.)

Then I began drawing over the transfer.


Rebecca Guay helped me design some interesting flowy robes for Loki. (I love Rebecca's paintings. As a child I loved the book covers she painted without ever knowing her name, until last year when I finally connected the name with the illustrations.)

So. Painting tomorrow!

IMC 2013 - Day Two

Most of today was spent taking reference photos for our paintings.  Yesterday in my critique group, Julie Bell told me that I needed to stop making thumbnails (since I had a good one) and go straight to the photoshoot, because I had a complicated pose that couldn't really be conceptualized without reference photos. The students and faculty here are wonderful about posing for references.   I posed for three valkyries, two Daeneryses, and one Titania.  (Norse stuff, Game of Thrones, and A Midsummer Night's Dream are all among this year's illustration assignments.)

I found two amazing models for Thor and Loki! We shot the photos outside because the sky was nicely overcast, what Dan Dos Santos called "perfect Bouguereau lighting," which is exactly what I want for this painting.

I associate Bouguereau with soft, graceful paintings of angels, children, and Madonnas.  However, on a Google search for more of his art, I found this:


Look at the muscles! This is a scene from Dante's Inferno.  Dante and Virgil are standing in the background, watching.

Now that I have my photo references, back to sketching.

IMC 2013 - Day One

I'm back at the IMC! I loved it so much last year that I had to come again. (It's totally worth the money.) The first day was spent in critique groups. My sketches of Thor and Loki were critiqued by Julie Bell and Donato Giancola.


And the photo is blurry because they were moving so fast for my camera couldn't keep up.


EVERYONE, including my brother, his wife, other students, Donato, and Julie agreed that the sketch on the bottom right is the best. Thor and Loki are eye-to-eye, staring at each other. The moment before the hammer comes down and the dagger strikes. Old friendship vs. bitter hatred.


Julie's quick marker drawing of the basic shapes in the design. Ball of lightning in the upper left from Mjölnir. White column-shapes of the bodies. Dark mist around them.


I went back to Donato for more help with the pose. He did these sketches as suggestions. His paintings are so deeply emotional and epic, and I want to channel as much of that as I can.


More revised thumbnails. Tomorrow I'll shoot my reference photos. I've already cornered a model for Thor...

Chalk Magic


Watercolor on illustration board. 20″ x 14.5″

While the city bakes in the sun, she dreams of water.

I spent too long on this painting because I kept changing my mind. Originally the city was supposed to be very grimy and dark, but as I worked on the design, it gained a sort of Middle-Eastern atmosphere: dry, sunny, and hot.

The view through "window" in the wall was supposed to show an opposite of the city. Originally this was a green forest, then a garden, then a bright ocean. After painting in the ocean, I decided that this wasn't different enough from the lighting and mood of the city. I added some pink and darker blue, and made it a sea at sunset.


Plein-Air - Racquetball Court

Raquetball Court_PaigeCarpenter

Watercolor sketch of a racquetball court. Hardly anyone uses this court, and it has incredible lichen and stains on the walls.

I'm trying to focus on values.   My art teacher in college used to say, "Make the darks darker and the brights brighter."   But I think I left the shadows in the court too light and made the tree too dark.  Better luck next time.

Skin Tone Studies

Until now, I have painted skin tones with a blend of pinks, oranges, and purples, regardless of whether the lighting in my painting was overcast, sunny, indoors, or at night.  I've known for a long time that in such changes of light, leaves are not always green, and that the sky is not always blue.  But for some reason I've blithely used the same paints for skin and hair in any lighting. Faces

(Left to right: overcast sky, night sky, sunlight.)

For the past few months I have been working through James Gurney's Color and Light, and I finally made the discovery that if I want to paint realistic lighting, I have to change the colors I use to paint skin (as well as sky, earth, trees, etc). I don't know why I didn't realize this before.

In one of his blogposts, Gurney made a reference to variations in lighting in The Lord of the Rings films, particularly Gandalf's reappearance in Fangorn Forest in The Two Towers.  The lighting in this scene is very close to the light and mood I'm trying to create in my current painting.

I got out my DVD and paused it in several places to some quick sketches of Gandalf and Legolas:


Instead of my usual pinks and purples, I neutralized everything with Davy's Grey.  I love Davy's Grey.  Since I bought this paint I've used it more than any other color.


Watercolor study of a camellia.   In Victorian tradition, the camellia symbolizes perfection.Camellia

My scanner has died and my digital camera is on its last legs (it has a smear on its lens and turns everything blue). I used the camera to photograph this, then tried to tweak it back to its true colors with Gimp. Hopefully later this month I'll be able to borrow my brother's fancy camera and fix all this.

Tunnel in the Trees

More plein-air painting: a watercolor sketch of a tunnel under some camellia bushes at the end of my street-- the perfect place for children to make a house, or a secret fort. Yesterday it started raining, so I painted under an umbrella until my hands froze. TreeTunnel_PaigeCarpenter

Yes, bushes are that green in January in Florida. And I love that fire hydrant.

Plein-Air Painting

I haven't done any plein-air painting since my sophomore year in college.  I enrolled in a Painting 101 class that promised to teach oils, acrylics, and watercolors.  Unfortunately, I went to class hoping to learn the techniques of the Old Masters, and the professor had other ideas.   I wanted to paint like Vigée Le Brun, my teacher wanted me to paint like Edvard Munch. Our class did one plein-air painting session during the middle of summer, in a particularly ugly area of the campus.  (My teacher's theory was the uglier, the better.)  I was hot, irritated, and ants crawled all over my canvas.

This month, I've started working through James Gurney's Color and Light,and I'm giving plein-air painting another try.


First effort.  Sunshine.  This golden tree looked brilliant against the blue sky.  It's unusual for any trees to change colors in autumn/winter in Florida, so this tree really stood out.

The Hart's Cry

Watercolor on illustration board. 22" x 14".

Fáeth Fiada, the hart's cry. Based upon a legend of St. Patrick. He and some of his early Christian followers were attacked by druids. He prayed to God, who sent a mist that turned St. Patrick and the Christians into deer. They escaped the druids into the forest.

I arise today Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, Through a belief in the Threeness, Through confession of the Oneness Of the Creator of creation...

I arise today Through the strength of heaven; Light of the sun, Splendor of fire, Speed of lightning, Swiftness of the wind, Depth of the sea, Stability of the earth, Firmness of the rock.

-The Lorica of St. Patrick

Query Letters & Painted Deer

Yesterday I mailed the first query letter for my novel.  The agent I'm contacting has represented some wonderful books, so I'm hoping to get a "Please send more" response.  Hoping.  Then again, I think authors are supposed to get, like, twenty rejections before an acceptance.  So...I took a photograph of the letter when it was all pretty and ready to mail, then I realized that it wouldn't be smart to post the photo on the internet because A.) My address was visible, and B.) The agent's address was visible. Instead, please enjoy this in-progress photo of my St. Patrick's painting.

Creepy Druids

So I've been working on the St. Patrick's painting. (See the drawing here.) I'm making a sincere effort to make these menacing druids very creepy, because I don't usually paint creepy. The druid on the far right has a blurry lump for a face right now, because instead of an ominous stare he ended up with sort of an angry pig expression, so I rubbed out the paint. I'll try again tomorrow to give him a face...I've been sick the past few weeks, and I find that drains a lot of my energy.

Also, I looked at my blog stats and realized I now have 98 followers! Very amazing!  Thank you to everyone who's following me.   :-)


Half-Past Summer is now available on Amazon!

THE NIGHTMARE’S NEST Keys of all Shapes and Sizes Inquire Within

On the door there was a battered cardboard “Open” sign, so Barnabas took a few deep breaths and stepped inside.

The shop was dusty and almost totally dark. One flickering gas lamp hung from a long chain and swayed as if he was on board a ship. The shop was full of strange lumps and bumps that were buried deep in dust.

“Hello?” Barnabas called, and broke off coughing. He stepped towards what might have been a counter. “Hello!”

-"The Halfway Clock"

The cool thing is that even if you don't have a Kindle-- (I don't have a Kindle)-- Amazon has lots of free apps that function just like Kindles (you can download, read, bookmark to your computer, iPhone, Blackberry, etc).  The apps come with free copies of Pride & Prejudice, Treasure Island, and Aesop's Fables.

What I learned during this experience:

-Ebook formatting is not easy or straightforward. -Assume everything will take three times as long as you originally assumed. -The internet is vast and unpredictable. Like, your cover image will suddenly appear in invert colors just when you're ready to hit "publish."