Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Friday Tip - Finally!

At long last! I was pretty much snowed in at my mom's place last week over Christmas. It was all I could do to get out and feed the horses, never mind go home to get any real work done. Things are finally getting back to normal over here and so, better late than later, the awaited Friday Tip.

As you can see, the markings are well filled in. There is still more work to be done on making the white areas completely opaque, but I like to finish that up while I am doing the pinking in the thin skinned areas. The first step in mapping is to finish off all of the edges. I am doing a demo on a little grouping of cat tracks in the video. Paint in the direction of hair flow in little strokes as best you can. This will simulate the edging on patterns much better than tracing around the marking in a circle. Now is the time to put in the itty bitty edging that the larger brushes used for filling in the white can't get to.

Once the edges are nice and crisp and filled in, thin the paint a little and again painting in the direction of hair flow, overlap the white markings. Horses have different amounts of mapping in different areas, and some horses will have more pronounced mapping than others. Look at references to establish how much mapping you want to show. This part doesn't show up very well in the video... sorry. But it is just like painting the edging on, only now you get to color out of the lines. If any areas get too much paint on them, look sloppy, or you just don't like it, use your finger to gently wipe the paint off before it dries. You may have to re-do a spot several times before it is just right, but better to re-do than to have an eyesore.

With the second step complete, you will be left with a faint white border around your markings. You can go over it again to intensify, leave it as is, or do what I usually do and paint tiny hair-like lines in the mapped zones. Keep in mind that this will whiten the mapping up considerably, so start with a faint mapping basecoat for the best results!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Delays Delays Delays...

Chinook and Lucy have go in them in our unseasonably cold and snowy weather, but my car doesn't! It - and therefore I - have been in the shop all day today (just a dead alternator, no worries) and life is pretty busy right now, so there won't be a Friday Tip this week. But look for the mapping tip next week - I hope it proves to be worth the wait! :-D

Best wishes to everyone for a safe and happy holiday season.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Show 'n Tell

I did a little arty gift project today and it was so fun and refreshing! This is Lucy, the horse that lives next to Chinny. I took this picture a couple years ago and it has been one of my favorites ever since. The photo is deep inside a layered shadow box with mats and grasses. You can click on the picture for a bigger version. :-D

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Tip

I'm not quite far enough along yet to show how to do mapping this week like I had planned, but that actually leads me to a very important tip. Patience! I used to rush horses for shows, painting furiously right up until the deadline. But then those horses always needed fixing later causing unnecessary extra work, and frustrating work at that because they were already "done". When I made the choice to stop rushing things for the next show (there will always be more!), there was a dramatic increase in the quality of my work. So I encourage you to look closely at your painting habits. If you see rushing going on, make a conscious decision to slow down. You will be surprised at what you can do!

Even though I can't show you mapping today, I can at least share the latest steps on Anthem! In the first picture, you can see the final two coats of oils. In addition to detailing out the colored parts, I went completely over all of the cat tracks to make sure their color was all filled in. After that had dried thoroughly, I sprayed another coat of sealer and went back over the pattern (which is only slightly visible under the new paint) in gesso. This time, I went very slowly (this one layer took about 2 1/2 hours) and carefully around each spot and painted right up to the edge of the previous gesso layer with a small detail brush. It's important to get as close as possible so the previous covered gesso layer doesn't show, and not to go over to prevent pattern creep. (I'll touch on this in the mapping tip as well.) I also sketched in her facial markings now that I don't have to worry about painting over them.

And finally, to answer some questions in the comments from last week's tip:

1) The brush I was using was a #2 round. It could be anything that is a suitable size for the pattern though. As long as the brush has a reasonably good tip that will draw out a point, it is fine.
2) I do not thin gesso. It tends to weaken and not adhere well when it is thinned. To prevent brush strokes, only put as much paint on the brush as you can smooth out before it starts drying. With gesso, this really isn't much. Spread it all out evenly as you go and be vigilant looking for strokes and you shouldn't have any problems!
3) If you are painting in acrylics instead of oils, you do not need to seal in between layers. I use DullCote and ModelMaster Lusterless, but you can use whatever works for you!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Holiday Sale!

I hope everyone is having a warm, happy and safe holiday season. Through the rest of December and through the 5th of the New Year, everything on the Chinook Studios website is on sale. The prices on many items are marked down by $60, so if you've had your eye on anything now is the time to grab it!

Fly By Wire, Have Blue and Sanskrit's runs are almost sold out and I won't be making any more after this. I still have plenty of Jasmines and Gus and John Henry are open editions for now.

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Friday Tip

For this week's Friday Tip, I made a video of my process for getting the tobiano sabino markings started on Anthem. There is a normal speed bit at the beginning and again in the middle when I start adding cat tracks, but the rest is sped up. The whole process took just under an hour so take your time and look at your photos frequently, especially until you have a very good feel for a particular pattern. In this case, I used a couple of references and mostly freehanded the pattern, taking some general shape and location cues from my selected pictures. Always keep in mind that this is a basecoat - an idea for a pattern. You needn't stick to it if it doesn't work out!

To start, get the horse mostly painted. I used oils, so before painting the gesso on, Anthem got a thorough spraying of sealer. Basically, just start! Have no fear about putting paint on, because it can always be taken off. I like to design my patterns from the neck back, but you can start anywhere you feel most comfortable. I also like to start small from inside the pattern and let it grow in a way that best fits the horse. On tobianos especially, be careful to keep the pattern from becoming too geometric. You can think of tobianos as being white with very large (or not...) colored spots, but avoid the trap of making those spots too circular or even in shape and size. Think in a general round spotted pattern way, and let the back and forth motion of the brush loosen things up a bit for you. Don't spend a lot of time finessing this part because you'll be painting right back over it. Just get the general shape in. If a particular area will only have small markings, like the head, don't bother sketching them in at this stage. Not only will it be wasted work, but sometimes the basecoat can be more of a hindrance than a help!

On to the cat tracks or ink spots. Put a bit of rubbing alcohol in a dish, and using a small paint brush, gently rub out the gesso wherever you would like to have a dark spot. Make these spots bigger than they will ultimately be, because going back with the white later will encroach on them. You can even take out a large area of white like I did on the left shoulder if you decide you don't like it.

Next week, pinto pattern details!