Today’s post will show my current work in progress (wip) along with some of the early preliminary images I designed. These images will give some insight into my working process before anything makes it to canvas.
The design process for a piece like this can take roughly a week on average although some designs can sit for months. Sometimes I come back to them with fresh ideas or parts of a scene will get incorporated into a new design or sometimes the deign will just get scrapped completely. It’s all part of growing with an idea and I have to really feel for the piece before I will commit to drawing it out onto canvas and beyond that commit to the hundreds of hours involved in the painting process. To fully commit I need to feel that if I walked into a gallery that my painting would be the one I’d walk out with over all of the others. At the end of the day I only paint for myself and by that I mean that I don’t paint to fit any trends or fashions or for any preconceived ideas about what I think will sell. There’s an Andy Warhol quote that I often see being posted around the web and it reads “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” That quote sums up very well how I go about creating my own work.
The first image below was a render taken from my modelling software and this was taken after a couple of days of designing. I created various hexagon designs which were to be used in a random fashion in the various layers. My software of choice for this design is Houdini FX, a highly complex piece of software with a steep learning curve but the rewards are great. If you can dream up an idea then there is usually a way to make it a reality in Houdini FX. In the final design there are five layers of hexagons which vary in size. In the third and fourth layers the lines that appear on the hexagons are driven by a black and white photo. This is invisible in the final image but where there are light areas in the photo then this is where the most complex patterns appear on the hexagons. Where there are dark areas in the photo the patterns appear simpler. This is what I mean by if you can think of something, no matter how strange, Houdini FX can handle it.
The circular sculptural shape has appeared in all my paintings since 2014 and it’s a theme I shall continue for the time being. Sometimes I design the paintings around the shape whereas in this example it was added around half way through the process as per the second image below. The overall design was then modified to find a harmony once the shape was included. The shape itself is made up of around 7 different parts and in each painting it is modified very subtly.
In the third image I have added coloured lights, positioned them to get the shadows to fall in the way that I want and I have added materials to the 3D models. This just consisted of a flat white material for the hexagons along with a black material for the wires and a gloss white for the sculptural shape. This adds an extra dimension with reflections etc but overall I wanted to produce a fairly monotone painting with the only colour coming from the light sources. Once everything is to my liking I tell the virtual camera within Houdini FX to create a final render. This is like taking an extremely slow photograph as the final render in this instance took 22 hours for the computer to produce.
The last image shows the pencil outline that I have created onto a 60″ x 38″ stretched linen canvas. To create this very precise drawing I project the render onto the canvas using a digital projector. This stage of the drawing was produced freehand and currently I am going over all of the lines again with a straight edge. There are also some areas of the image that are not drawn at all yet because the projector I own presently could not resolve the finest details. These parts I am drawing in by hand after studying the printed photograph very closely, measuring and plotting points before joining the lines. The projector is a tool that photorealists have used for years and the recent digital projectors are excellent for this job. Early in 2017 I will replace my current projector with a hi-res, full HD model and this will save me a lot of hours during the drawing process. Once I finish this drawing then I will seal it with a thin wash of oil paint before starting the painting process. I shall be posting work in progress updates over the coming weeks/months.
Update May 9th 2017 – I took delivery of a new HD projector in March of this year and this projector will allow me to start work again on finishing this drawing later this month (May 2017). Besides that I have been working on other paintings and spending time on new design work. I expect all current paintings to be completed over the course of this year. The last few months have mostly been about investing in equipment, building the website, advertising and above all learning the software which has a very steep learning curve. I do everything myself so there’s a lot to cram into every day.