Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Portrait of Jon Snow: Game of Thrones Fan Art

Winter sure is taking a long time to get here!

OK...I could easily fill a whole post with Game of Thrones quotes...but let's get right to my obsession with painting the characters, ok?  I have to get back into the studio!

Right from the start - like most other Game of Thrones fans - I loved Kit Harington's portrayal of Jon Snow.  I've never read the books, so I didn't come to the TV series with any pre-conceived notions of who he should be, so I guess in that way I was lucky.  Anyway - Kit Harington, obviously, is a very good looking man, and combined with the cinematography and costumes and his amazing acting I had no choice - had to paint a portrait of Jon Snow!

So just the other day I was lucky enough to get my hands on a tube of Torrit Grey - the color that Gamblin Oil Paints releases every year in honor of Earth day.  It is created from all of the dust particles trapped in their filters over the course of the last production year. turns out to be a perfect foil to one of my painting characteristics:  I love color.  Maybe a little too much at times.  I am always trying to "tone down" my skin tones.  So...I found a Jon Snow screenshot that I liked, him in a cool green forest with an overall atmosphere of grey-ish green, and got out my usual palette.

However, this time, every color I mixed - from the black of his hair to the green of the trees to the flesh on his cheeks - had a touch of Torrit grey mixed in.  Sometimes more, sometimes less.  Now I am not the first artist to do this - having a pile of color that an artist mixes into each color on his painting is sometimes referred to as "the mother".  An artist will add a touch of this to every color she mixes, to unify the palette.  Often times this is a light purple, like a periwinkle, sometimes a combination of alizarin crimson, white, and blue (french Ultramarine would work)

Once I knew the reference photo I wanted, the color approach I wanted, I got to work, starting with transparent red oxide on 11" x 14" gessoed panel.

I spent a lot of time on subtle tweaks to every angle on the face - a slight change in the arc of the eyebrow changed the expression from fear to steadfast, a crinkle in the corner of the eye from thoughtfulness to rage, the line of the lips changed from tense to confident.  It's amazing what subtle changes can do to an expression.  And I am so in awe of what this amazing actor captures in just a glance, I wanted to be sure to honor that in every stroke.

I've also painted Tywin Lanister, Master Luwin, and Lady Stark (I will share her portrait soon!)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

You Are Valid

Sharing my work on line is one of the most rewarding things in my life.  Not only because the actual selling of my work supports me and my children, but the act of connecting with people through my work can be so powerful, and sometimes, can even change my life.

Last week I received a note from a woman who saw my two self-portraits, "Unleashed" and  "Draw Forth".  She explained...

"I am going through a rather complicated breakup and these speak to me. Both the calm resignation in 'Draw Forth' and the hurt and rage in 'Unleashed'. Seeing these emotions external to myself has helped to put some things in perspective"

"Draw Forth"


This note meant so much to me.  Just a couple weeks ago, I was having a discussion with a fellow artist about what I was currently working on, and we started talking about work with a Message - social, personal, political, etc.  And he asked why I wasn't creating more work with a personal story.

My only explanation at the time was that for so long now, my thoughts and feeling rarely seem validated, and/or understood by some of the people in my life.  NOT ALL - just some.  But sometimes they are the people who have the biggest impact on my self-worth.

I don't want to get into specifics either, because I think there is a way to learn and share without throwing people "under the bus" so to speak.  It felt like there was a pattern in my life for so long, that if I wasn't comfortable in a situation or how something was going, I was told "well other people have it worse so don't complain", or if I changed my mind on something I was WRONG to change my mind. Or worse...wrong to have an opinion in the first place.

Changing your mind, wanting something more out of a relationship, having thoughts and opinions that might differ from someone else, these are all VALID.  Valid things to go through in your day to day life.  If you are surrounded by people who challenge those feelings, belittle them, or cut you out of your life because of them, that is THEIR short-coming, not yours.

So what do you do in this kind of situation?  First of all, you become a better listener, which I am thankful to say that I am.  Because, truly, that is what I want sometimes, too - to be really listened to. Not have my feelings dismissed or belittled or challenged.  So that is the first thing I am going to put out there into the universe - my willingness to listen to my friend's, children's, and loved one's feelings, and always let them know that they are valid.

Secondly, I need to listen to myself.  I need to stop letting someone who is bigger than me or who is stronger than me or who makes more money than me or who is simply louder than me (which is not many people) decide which of my feelings are "right" or "wrong".

So let's get back to my point:  this woman's note really meant something to me, because she saw a message in my work, interpreted it for herself, and learned from it.  I don't know if there is a higher compliment that I can receive as an artist, or a human being.  I am so thankful for that.  I am emboldened by her sentiment and finding a lot of personal strength because of it.  I'm inspired to re-examine pieces that I have abandoned or never even started because I had become afraid of expressing my thoughts and feelings.

THANK YOU to every one of you who follows my work because you relate to it, enjoy it, feel something when you look at it - even if it's just joy! - which is a valid response to art!  Thank You for listening.