Thursday, March 18, 2010
Except for the Friday figure sessions, I haven't done any painting in the last three weeks. I have been spending my time in front of the computer, working on my new and vastly improved(!) workshop handout. Since I have my Napa workshop coming up in less than a month, I'm really racing against the clock to get that done.
As I have no paintings to share with you today, I thought I'd dig up an old illustration job I did and talk about that a little bit.
As you may or may not know, before I became a full time painter, I made my living as an illustrator for such clients as Time, Newsweek, Rollingstone, SI and hundreds of other publications. I was mostly an editorial illustrator, but from time to time I got to work on book jacket assignments. Because of my moody style, I got moody stories which was just fine by me.
Last Child by Michael Spooner was one such book. It was written for early teen readers, I think, and it featured a central character named Rosalie, who is half Caucasian, half native American. She struggles with her identity as she transitions into adulthood, which came on too soon due to a tragic smallpox epidemic that wiped out her tribe.
I really wanted to work with the identity thing, so I chose to do a portrait treatment for the cover. I did not know any 14 yr old half Native American half Caucasian girl with a "defiant gaze and a determined chin", and dark, wavy hair as described in the script, so finding a model that exactly fit the description was pretty much out of the question. So I made her up, and fortunately, the art director and the editor loved how she looked.
After I got the OK on her looks, I did several different designs using a few choice symbolic elements from the story; the feather in her hair, the buffalo, fire, smoke. The client and I fine tuned the design, and I finalized the illustration by refining color, texture, edges, etc.
This is the dust jacket spread. The flattened look of the illustration style is my nod to a couple of my illustration heroes, Bernie Fuchs and Mark English.
The illustration was done entirely in Photoshop. The girl and the buffalo are basically tablet paintings, with texture worked into them. Below is how Rosalie looked at an early stage.
As you can see, it's very loosely done, and like my tonalist paintings, built around a single color theme. I "toned the canvas" as it were, and simply used lighter and darker versions of that color to start the painting. Working transparently, I gradually (but fairly quickly) built up the forms, just trying to get the general feel for her personality.
I saw that she was looking too young and meek, so as I developed her features, I tried to imagine what a "defiant gaze" would look like on a 14 yr old girl. By and by, I started to recognize her as the character in the book, and by this stage, I was pretty sure I had her.
I didn't worry about going much tighter than this because I knew I was going to work with a lot of texture and details would be lost anyway, and also because I wanted that Mark English flatness. Too much realism would surely have worked against that goal.
A detail shot of Rosalie after I worked out the surface texture. I was pretty happy with how it turned out.
My typical editorial illustration had this kind of dark moodiness, but I did more of the digital collage thing for magazines, not so much painting (albeit tablet painting) like this. I loved fiction projects because they gave me opportunities to draw and paint. Not that I didn't enjoy the digital collage assignments - I really liked those too, especially since I got to do gloom and doom kind of stories. I'll show ya some of those another time~
Posted by Terry at 9:08 PM