Illustration Master Class 2011: Part 3 – A Good Sky

So IMC was a very different experience for me this year than last. I still had a blast and learned a lot, but the lessons were harder this time, and it took me about a week to recover. I’ve received quite a few messages from folks wanting to see my painting and asking how the week went. I want to thank everyone for keeping me in their thoughts and for all the interest and well wishes.

However I’m sorry to report that I will not be posting the revised painting. There were a lot of factors, but ultimately I failed. This of course was quite a blow for me, but I think I learned more from this experience of failure than from many previous successes. What I will show is the sky from my IMC painting. I really nailed the sky and throughout the week I got compliments on it. In particular I will quote Julie Bell, “That’s a rockin’ sky Sam, now just bring the rest of the painting to that level.”

… and that is exactly what I plan to do. Due to the complexities of oil painting I feel the best way to do this is to start over again. So that’s what I’m working on now. I’m taking all the feedback I got at IMC and I’m going to do a piece that I hope is as “rockin’” as my sky!

But enough about my painting. Here are a couple of the things I struggled with and a few of the things I learned:

– Before starting a painting, write down the single word emotion that a piece is about. In a 2D image it’s difficult to capture more than one emotion. If you don’t have an emotion, viewers will feel nothing when they look at your piece. Too many emotions and viewers get confused.

– Paint the things you love. My own take on this is… if you love creepy/funny/gory monsters and zombies, don’t be afraid to paint that sort of thing. It doesn’t matter what your passion is, but you have to have passion. This is true in all fields, not just art. We humans are drawn to other people’s passion and confidence. Figure out what your passion is and pursue it with confidence.

– Clients don’t hire you to do everything well. They hire you to do one or two things because you are the BEST at those one or two things.

I hope all of you can find your passion and your confidence, but remember to STAY STRANGE!


5 thoughts on “Illustration Master Class 2011: Part 3 – A Good Sky

  1. Sam, two of those insights about doing a memorable illustration are exactly the ones that caught me: know what emotion you want to convey in your work, and the one about not being hired because you can do everything, but because you can do one thing better than anyone else. The third one, to paint what you love, also came across, not so much in what the faculty said (though Rebecca said it very clearly), but in how they themselves work. I was absolutely stunned by the great love that EACH ONE of the faculty people bring to their work, for the subject matter (Did you watch Iain McCaig draw Aaron Miller’s portrait? Dazzling!), for the process of making gorgeous paintings, for Art itself. It all opened my eyes in a way that I had not expected at all.

  2. Hi,

    I like the idea of using a single word emotion and looked at your image of what I think you are saying is your sky, with my initial thought being fear. It looked like a volcanic eruption to me with a large rock face to the left, perhaps the mouth of a volcano. I looked a little harder and I could see a figure sitting down in the same hand corner on the rocks playing a keyboard. I thought about you stating your interest in the strange and the macabre to then give it some potential meaning. I conceived that the figure sitting down playing the keyboard could be a skeleton or even the grim reaper, playing the out row to the end of the world. I looked in the very left hand corner and could visualise the whole image starting out as a photo realistic image of a floor with a computer swivel chair with and the Grim Reaper playing or typing at a keyboard but as you move from the chair into the figure it becomes more “stylized realism,”. From that point the rest of the picture would be as it is now with a stack of keyboard modules, some wires, just behind the Rim Greapper and to his left, also painted in photo realism. Fear, I went a little further, I imagined that you could have the torch from the statue of liberty poking out of the volcanic, red hot lava, melting into it and I stole a great title from Pieter Bruegel the Elder. From his Gothic painting in Palermo, The Triumph of Death.
    I can actually see this figure already in your painting, sitting down in the left hand corner, although he now reminds me of a drummer sitting behind a drum kit. The shape of the head ,with the colour of the hair, reminds me of Ginger Baker who used to be the drummer with the sixties rock band Cream.

    Thanks for the “single word emotion” trigger, the opportunity to day dream my imaginings and the chance to express them, Gareth.

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