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Are we having fun or what?!

Opium Tales dragon riders

When was the last time you had genuine fun doing your art? When was the last time you looked at your art and started just laughing hysterically? I mean, not at it of course but with it?

This last piece, I couldn’t stop laughing. You have three distinct girls. The serious down to business one, the one who’s aloof, and the one who’s late to work and putting on her makeup while in a vehicle. Well, on a dragon.

I showed it to some friends and they laughed as well. Unfortunately, some girls do that and drive at the same time. A big no no. They could end up killing someone.

But on the back of a dragon? That’s totally OK.

We’re definitely going to work with Sophia again. She’s exactly what we look for in a pinup model. She has the personality, the attitude, and the body for it. She’s great to be around and she drinks whiskey, which in my book is a huge bonus. I may offend some folks here, but in my book, whiskey > everything else. Combined.

The other two girls? Allie and Allie. Allie in real life is a blonde. Since I see her at least once a week, I use her both for blondes and redheads. I’ve used Jin as a redhead before too.

I simply don’t have a true redhead model and honestly, red is my favorite hair color. Always has been and always will be. I even married a redhead.

Fun

I’ve also talked about beauty for beauty’s sake and how I don’t like cynicism. We live in very cynical times. You look around you and everyone looks like they’re either going to cry or blow their brains out.

So many zombies walking about. It’s just sad.

We’re all going to die. Yeah, I try to be healthy. Sure, I drink too much but everything else? I’m very healthy. Work out at the gym. Eat right.

That’s why fun is one of my artistic goals. My paintings are fun. They’re not so serious.

My music? Serious. Very serious.

Well, lyrically I’m having fun. But the music itself is very serious. Trying to do a modern version of Romantic era Classical music.

Need to live before we die

The meme has a woman assisting a dying man and desperately yelling to a professional looking man with a briefcase – “are you a doctor?”

The man in the briefcase says “yes. I have a PhD in Philosophy.”

The woman says “please help! This man is dying!”

The Philosophy guy says “but did he really live?”

Yes. It’s a silly meme. But how true is it really? Have you truly lived?

I can honestly say yes.

That doesn’t mean by any means I’m ready to die now. I still have decades more of living to go.

But I can honestly say that I’ve truly lived and you can see it in my art.

Serious exercise – you’re an artist or you’re training to be one. Or you wouldn’t be reading this article.

Have you really lived? If you can’t positively answer that with a straight face, then what do you need to do to change that?

I strongly believe that artists need to live. Truly live to create good art.

My favorites – Alphonse Mucha, the Pre-Raphaelites, Frank Frazetta, they all truly lived. And you can see it in their art.

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You can teach yourself how to draw

At the age of 42, I still got intimidated by the drawings parents put on the fridge that their bratty kid did. Yes, those brats were more talented than I was.

But, I finally said to myself I wanted to learn to draw. I was sick of being outdone by children. Yes, I was that bad!

So I scoured the internet for help. I came upon this one lady artist who said that if you can’t draw, draw lines and circles an hour every morning until they look good.

It took me over a month. Every day. First thing in the morning. Well, actually third thing in the morning. Coffee first, then guitar, then lines and circles. Over and over again, lines and circles.

This is key. If you can’t draw lines and circles that look good, you need to continually draw lines and circles until they look good.

Yes, that sounds boring as hell. Did I say it would be easy? I don’t remember saying that.

If you’re serious about learning how to draw, then don’t be a whiner. Just do your lines and circles over and over again until they look good. Heck, you might be able to do it in less than a month.

Step two

OK, you’ve had your coffee and spent the past month drawing lines and circles. And now they look good. Now what?

Excellent! You can move on to step two.

Buy yourself a notebook and some pencils that fit your hand comfortably. I used to used American made #2 pencils. I’d also buy those erasers that you put on top of pencils.

Then, I just drew everything and anything. That tree looks nice. That mountain is pretty cool. Hey. I like that cloud.

Then a friend will come over and I’ll ask her to smile and I’d draw her for a bit.

This year, I switched over to mechanical pencils. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you draw. Constantly.

While inside the house, I practice drawing on cheap copy paper. It’s great for drawing practice. And it’s cheap.

Outside the house, I bring a notebook and a pair of pencils everywhere. I never bring my mechanical pencil to anyone’s house though. I’m weird – very attached to that pencil.

Practice will give you technique

I draw exactly what I see. And constant practice gave me all the technique I need.

My wife retired this year. So in celebration, I took her on a Caribbean cruise.

I wake up before she does so before she woke up, I’d do my walk around the ship, then find a quiet place to draw. Every single day, I drew, even on vacation.

All you need is a sketchbook, pencils and an eraser. If you’re old school and using regular pencils, you’ll need more than one as the tip will always break off at the worst possible time.

I’m an extrovert and I love going to bars and talking to random people. Great place to bring your sketchbook.

I’m married, but if I were single, I’d bring my watercolor journal to a bar. Just start drawing in it.

People are curious. They’d want to see your work. You’d have completed watercolor doodles as well as the incomplete penciling you’re working in now. Would be a great way to meet chicks.

Opium Tales - Sophia, Allie, and Allie work in progress
Sophia, Allie, and Allie work in progress

How good do you want to get?

Now, shading is a different story. You can easily learn how to shade via a YouTube video or a $20 book. I personally love Dover Publications because they’re cool people and have lots of art instruction books that are good.

However, I don’t shade when I draw. I do all my shading via watercolors. Plus, I never know where I’m going to put my light source until I start the painting.

Perspective? Once again, you can learn Classical perspective from a Dover book. They have books that go into intricate details.

I’ve even met hyperrealism artists who taught themselves how to draw. If you don’t know what hyperrealism is, the art literally looks like a photograph. You have to do a double take to realize it’s not.

Working with live models

If you got the money, I strongly suggest you hire live models and paint them. You can teach yourself anatomy.

I have an advantage over most artists. I used to both fight and do massage.

Fighting will teach you the body like nothing else will. I did both Muay Thai and wrestling, so I know how to really hurt someone.

No, I’m not a tough guy any more. I’m old and slow. But the knowledge is still there. I can tell you every major muscle group and I know anatomy quite well. I know which way to bend limbs if I had to break one. I also know what parts of the body will buckle with a good knee or an elbow.

I also learned how to heal. So I literally know the body hands on. If you don’t want to go to a live dissection, I strongly suggest massage class as an alternative. You get to know every muscle group, how they move, how they feel, what looks healthy, and what needs hands on love.

This translates very well to art. By the time I started using live models, I already knew the body quite well.

When I had the falling out with my previous model, Allie actually offered to model for me. Then Roxy did. So I have two very close friends modeling for me. Plus, I occasionally use other models.

I’ll see Sophia again next week. That’s her in the front of what will be a dragon. Three girls on a dragon? Why not?

Are you having fun or what?

I strongly think that once you get past that boring ass lines and circles stage, you should be having fun. I never drew the banana, apples, and grapes in a bowl. Boring as hell.

I feel like once I got past the lines and circles stage, I earned the right to enjoy drawing. Not make it an exercise.

So of course I choose live models. And fantasy art because I love fantasy.

You and I are not the same people. Find what you love to draw. And draw it.

You should never get tired of drawing if you’re drawing what you love. And I guarantee that if you keep drawing what you love, you’ll eventually get really good at it. Talent only means you have to put in 10% less hours than the rest of us. That’s all it means.

So don’t ever use lack of talent as an excuse. I don’t buy it.

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Have you ever questioned your artistic purpose?

Artists, writers, and other creative people – have you ever questioned your artistic purpose?

Why are you creating art or literature?

Now, it’s perfectly acceptable to say “I don’t know.” It’s also perfectly acceptable to say that you’re creating because your inner demons make you. You just let it all flow. That’s totally fine.

I’ve talked about artistic statements before and how important they are. If you’re planning on selling your art, it definitely helps to have one. For at least you’ll have a somewhat “elevator speech” when they start asking you all kinds of questions.

My purpose

I’ve pondered. I write the music out of love. But for my paintings, it’s something completely different.

Opium Tales Allie
Allie

I think the world today is too serious. Look around you. You’ll see a lack of something. You’ll see a lack of people really enjoying life.

They’re way too serious. Afraid of the world. Doom and gloom. They’re really living to get through life rather than to really live life.

Your average person walking downtown looks like they haven’t taken a good shit in weeks. And they also look like they don’t enjoy their jobs. Their family doesn’t like them. And they’re just going through the motions.

Why is this?

I think it’s twofold. You have a doom and gloom media. Doom and gloom sells. So that’s all they blast you with. All day long.

I turn off the news for weeks at a time. Most of it is meaningless drivel anyways. It’s always bad news because bad news sells. Imagine being bombarded by bad news all the time. Imagine what that would do to your psyche.

And the second? A lack of beauty.

That’s where I come in.

Beauty for beauty’s sake

My art aims for one thing and one thing only – beauty.

I got these two beautiful models that I work with on a regular basis and a few more models that I work with occasionally. They’re all beautiful. They all qualify to be my pinup models. I set high standards for beauty but also for personality. They have to be the right fit.

I create beauty. And I want my models to exude personality as I want to reflect it in my paintings.

Frank Frazetta did this very well. So did Gil Elvgren. And Olivia De Bernardinis. You get a little bit of personality with their beautiful paintings.

Beauty alone can make someone’s day significantly better. And better days mean more peace and less crime. I’m trying to do my part to make this world a better place.

Yes, seriously.

Opium Tales Roxy
Roxy

I don’t like cynicism

Cynicism is useless. It accomplishes nothing.

Sure, things don’t work off the bat most of the time. So, sit around and do nothing? That’s just stupid!

When I meet someone who’s cynical, they’re almost always lazy. They’ll tell you how something won’t work without even putting the effort needed to make it work.

This is most cynical people in a nutshell. They’ve bought into the doom and gloom media bullshit and they’re already defeated before they even put out the effort.

So, they expect you to feel the same way.

Well guess what? I don’t.

I’m living proof that you could have a great life starting from nothing. Yes, I started from nothing. I’m not going to go into my personal story that much because it’s personal. I’ll write an autobiography someday and publish it posthumously. I got too many demons that I’d rather the world didn’t know about.

So yes, my life didn’t exactly start off great.

But you know what? Fuck it. I’m going to live regardless. I’m not going to sit around and whine and feel sorry for myself. Rather, I’m going to create something beautiful. And I’m going to seek out beauty in this world because I’ve already seen there’s still plenty of it.

My music? It’s beautiful. My art? It’s beautiful.

I’ll also surround myself with people who aren’t cynical. Rather, people who are full of life. Who want to live. Who want to get the most out of life.

And that, my dear reader, is my artistic purpose.

What is yours?

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There is no negative correlation between beauty and intelligence

Opium Tales Allie and Roxy

This, my friends, is something that actually gets under my skin. We have a media that loves to play to people’s insecurities, and loves to bring down those who have it, whatever it is.

Jealousy, I can assure you, is a pathetic trait. It serves no purpose and accomplishes absolutely nothing. Jealousy is especially poisonous if you’re any type of artist. All it does is burn bridges. And you want bridges open, especially in a highly competitive industry like yours and mine.

Today’s media loves to promote a negative correlation between beauty and intelligence. They love to portray beautiful people as stupid.

You know what? That’s all lies. Beautiful people on average are actually smarter than average as there are genetic reasons for human preferences.

I’m married now but if I were young and single, I’d be looking for a smart woman because I want smart kids. And I’d be looking for a beautiful woman because I want beautiful kids.

I had absolutely no problem finding both qualities in the same woman. So many examples in real life of smart, beautiful women. I had a lot of opportunity. And I got one.

Why are they doing this?

There are two types of people who love to promote this myth. And you guessed it – one from each gender.

You got men who are bitter towards women. Yes, you can use the word misogynistic if you’d prefer. And you’d be correct. They are bitter for whatever reasons. A horrible relationship with their mothers. Bad luck with women. Whatever the cause.

So, rather than look inside and see what they could improve, they blame women. And make statements like if she’s beautiful, she must be stupid.

Then, you got the women who hate other women. Yes, I’ve met plenty of these in my lifetime. In fact, I’d argue that there’s more misogyny amongst women than there is amongst men. But I could save that for a later post. Let’s not go off on a tangent here.

You got women who are short in the looks department. So rather than do the work required to improve, they make statements that beautiful women are stupid.

Allie and Roxy are both above average in intelligence

Now, I’m not saying this because they’re my buds. But it’s true. Allie and Roxy are both above average in intelligence. They just happen to both be beautiful.

My wife too is both beautiful and intelligent. Does she get shit for it? Of course she does!

It amazes me how insecure others are. Rather than trying to raise their own value, they’d rather cut others down.

I don’t get it. I’m far from perfect. But, I’m always trying to get better.

Whatever my flaws, I either accept them or work on improving them. The last thing you’ll see me do is try to bring someone else down because they’re better at something than me. That’s just dumb. If anything, I’d want to hire them to teach me how to improve that area.

So yes, I’d go far as saying that the average beautiful woman is actually smarter than average.

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Fantasy inspirations are unlimited

Are you a fantasy artist or a fantasy writer? And you’re wondering what to do next? You’re trying to write or paint but drawing a blank?

Well, worry no more. Bookmark this article and you’ll never run out of ideas again.

Characters

First, let’s talk characters. You have your lead character and your secondary characters. Are they human? What about the secondary characters? They don’t have to be human as well. They could be a humanoid race like elves, fairies, dwarves, goblins, orcs, ogres, genies, pixies, mermaids, giants, trolls, or even Gods, Goddesses, or Demi-Gods. Or the son or daughter of a God or Goddess.

Heck, they don’t even need to be humanoid. They could be dragons, unicorns, or even talking animals or familiars. Keep in mind that certain creatures can take forms of humans. I’ve even painted selkies before.

Quests

Now that you have your main character and characters, you need a reason for the story. What are they doing?

A common theme I’ve seen recently is a “bad creature” trying to be good and fit in with society. For instance, an ogre who’s now a good cop. Or an orc detective.

Sometimes, a race splits and you have to correct it. Like a race of elves goes totally evil and you need to rein them in.

Or, the old rescue mission. Rescue the princess from a dragon sacrifice? There’s been plenty of that in the old days. Why not do it again?

I know my son likes that Goblin Slayer cartoon. That’s a great one. People think goblins are easy. Until, they try to do it themselves. I could come up with three or four similar themes immediately.

Rescuing a thing. Or else. Something if not discovered in time will blow up a city. Some powerful artifact might fall into the wrong hands.

A bad guy needs to be reasoned with. Or slain. Something really big is at stake.

Settings

This is easy. You’re creating a fantasy world.

Simply take settings we have here. And exaggerate them.

The seas. The forests. The deserts. Mountains. Hills. Caves.

I’ve recently ventured into Sci-Fi territory. Except using Ancient Greek Goddesses. Why not?

The only limits in a fantasy world you have are the ones you give yourself. You’re literally allowed to do anything in the fantasy realm. That’s why it’s called fantasy. Your fantasy world gets to break all our earthly rules.

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What I look for in a Pinup Model

Jin n Tonic and Allie

I primarily use two models for everything – Allie and Roxy. Allie is the blonde. Roxy is the brunette. Both of them are some of my closest friends on the planet.

I worked with Allie throughout her pregnancy and regret never doing a pregnant painting of her. I really should have, just to do.

She’s already looking great, despite her baby being born earlier this year. How did she recover that fast? I’ll leave that a secret, just in case Allie wants to write a book or sell a course.

Seriously. I should encourage her to do just that.

Occasionally, I’ll use other models. I’ve use Jin n Tonic before a few times now. Jin modeled both for my selkie painting and also for my homage to Mel Ramos.

As we speak, I’m taking a break from finishing up Alicia, a character from my Humpty Dumpty story. Roxy modeled for this one, and I’m going to sell it in an eBook form since it will have a shitload of illustrations, mostly really cool doodles.

If you’re wondering how to find pinup models, that’s an entirely different topic. I actually put a paid ad out. This isn’t my ideal way to find them though as I like to know people really well. I knew Allie and Roxy before they were my models and I knew Jin from working on music videos before from a failed band.

This weekend, I’m working with two new models. If they’re the right fit, I’ll keep one or both of them. If not, then I’ll keep looking. I want to have more than two regular models to work with. Of course nothing against Allie and Roxy, they’re the best, but for variety’s sake. I simply can’t have the same two women for every single character I come up with.

Fit – Can she be a Muse?

More than everything else combined – fit. We have to get along. And she’s got to fit the part.

Getting along is huge. I’m an artist. I’m probably more emotional than most. Some people I love to death. Some people, I’d never work with again.

I’m very loose. I don’t like structure. I don’t like rules.

If you come into a relationship and immediately lay down your laws, I’m going to roll my eyes and it will be a one time thing.

However, if you’re super cool, I’ll be more than happy to work with you for years. I’m like a dog. The people I like, I like forever.

Body

I’ve seen a lot of overweight pinups. That’s the new thing nowadays. Love your body no matter what.

More power to you! Seriously. If you’re happy being you, I’m happy for you.

But, I’m not going to work with someone without the body shape I like. I like a woman with more 1950s curves. Like Bettie Page. Or Marilyn Monroe.

Sure, not everyone can have a body like Marilyn Monroe. Allie and Roxy both do though. And Allie just had a baby.

I’m an artist, not a doctor. But, I lost 15 pounds by cutting carbs and eliminating processed foods entirely. If you go through our house, we have pasta, rice, and everything else will spoil. We eat mostly meats, fruits, and veggies.

No more sugars. The only sugars we get are from natural foods, like apples, bananas, grapes, etc. We also try to eat organic when available and free ranged meats when available. Our eggs are all either organic or at least free range.

Once again, I’m not a doctor. But, I myself lost a lot of belly fat by changing my diet.

Every once in awhile, we’ll order a pizza. I’ll only eat cake if one acquaintance of ours makes it. Her cakes are the best cakes I’ve ever had in my life. She’s a friend of a friend, and super talented. She even used to do sculpture and I really hope she gets back into it.

If it’s not her cake, I don’t eat it.

And yes, I drink alcohol. But no more beer for me. Usually whiskey or red wine.

Proud of her femininity

Femininity has power. A lot.

Wars were fought over beautiful women. Cleopatra. Helen of Troy. Then, you got your femme fatales that bring men to their doom because we simply can’t resist their beauty.

The pinup queen knows this. She wields her femininity with great power. It translates well to the canvas, or in my case, the watercolor board.

Attitude

Pinup models are pinup models. They’re not shy, although sometimes they’ll play that role for certain poses. But no, they’re not shy.

They’re by no means socially retarded. In fact, they’re social creatures. You know they’re there. Which leads to…

Presence

The very first time I saw Jin in real life, she was singing karaoke in Vegas. And you know what? Everyone in the whole fucking room was paying attention.

She wasn’t even dressed up. She was wearing street clothes. Yet, she had this presence that despite not looking that much like she did in her pictures, I knew that had to be Jin.

Most pinup models I’ve known drank. Not a requirement, but it’s part of the culture. For obvious reasons, Allie can’t drink too much just yet but she promised that when her kid is old enough to leave him with her parents, we’re getting plastered together.

Aura

And speaking of presence, whether you believe in aura or not, I’ll mention it. Good pinup models definitely have an aura. Olivia de Berardinis is so good as an artist that you could practically feel their aura from her paintings. Olivia is who I want to be when I grow up.

Can play different roles

If you look at pinups from the Golden Age of Pinups, they play different roles. Sometimes, the pinup model plays the shy girl. She’s often embarrassed or in a compromised situation.

You’ll also see her play the femme fatale. Or, she’ll play a seductress for the sake of seduction, without luring the everyday man to his doom.

Opium Tales Roxy
Roxy

She could play the party girl or the naughty housewife. These are just examples. The thing is, my ideal pinup model can play multiple roles and pull them off well.

What I don’t want

I can’t play poker. If I have a good hand, you’ll know it. If I have a bad hand, you’ll also know it.

I’m an open book. And I like people who communicate.

I don’t like soulless people, people devoid of life. Whether you believe in Heaven, reincarnation, or absolutely nothing, you get one shot at being you. I can’t speak for you, but I’m going to make the best of my shot.

More than half the models I’ve ever worked with didn’t have that pizazz. They weren’t full of life.

They simply went through the motions, and that was it.

That is exactly what I don’t want.

I want someone who loves being that character. The way Allie or Roxy models is the best. They really get into it. We got music going on and they don’t even have to fake their smiles. They love doing it.

I’ve worked with models before that once they’re done smiling, they go right back into a dead face.

Pardon my French, but fuck that shit! I don’t work with those models ever again. It’s a one-time thing.

We have to connect

Also, we have to connect. If there’s no connection between me and you, I don’t want to work with you ever again.

It’s just like I had one corporate job in my entire life that I absolutely loved. You know why? Because several people I worked with connected. I’m still friends with those people. Actually, one of them, we were just over at his house for a wine tasting.

We argue art all the time. Often agreeing though. Like for instance, his favorite band is The Cure. I liked what is now called “Dad Metal” from that time period but I still loved the album Head on the Door.

The same goes with my pinup models. No connection, no workie again.

I’m a Romantic after all. I have to feel something. If I feel nothing, there is no art.

It’s just like when I play music. Sure, I read sheet music. But when I play, it’s not just notes. I’m playing from my soul.

So that’s what I’m looking for. I give people chances and see if they’re a good fit. If not, I don’t work with them again and I actually don’t bother painting them. They stay as sketches and that’s that.

About the image

That’s Jin (initially wearing a black wig but I changed it to red) and Allie in a watercolor painting I did for a friend. That painting is not for sale.

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Painting with honey watercolors, Part II

One thing about being an artist – your opinions will change. You’ll have your favorites. And something else will come along and you’ll end up liking it even better.

We are constantly evolving. Constantly. All of us.

Not too long ago, I wrote an article on how important is watercolor paint brand. Well, I’ve already changed my opinion since then.

This shit will happen to us. We’ll like something. And like something else just as much. Then, suddenly fall in love with something and realize those two previous things just weren’t as good.

I now like Sennelier watercolors more than Daniel Smith, Winsor and Newton, or Blick’s artist brand. Just my personal opinion, but one formed after serious time spent painting.

Smells better

I’m probably one of the only people you’ll ever meet who even cares about this one. Regardless, I’ll say it anyways. As I’ve previously discussed, I’m nearly blind and it’s made my other senses way more sensitive. I absolutely love the smell of both Sennelier watercolors and M Graham gouaches, both made with honey.

You use way less paint

I ended up getting a Sennelier travel set. They come in smaller tubes than I’m used to buying.

But that’s OK.

I’m no scientist, but I’m obviously using less paint when using honey based watercolors. These tubes are going to last much longer than the non-honey based watercolor paints.

This is a good thing since I’m painting constantly. Sure, they cost more. But considering how well they spread, I have a feeling the cost is really a wash.

Mixes easier

I’m one of the rare watercolor artists who really don’t mix that much. The only time I’m mixing a lot is when I get my skin tones with watercolors.

That said, I made a new batch of skin tones. And you know what? Super easy to mix! Way easier than the other paints I’ve used.

After five layers of paint - all Sennelier watercolors
After five layers of paint – all Sennelier watercolors

Learning curve

Well, not everything is a-ok. It’s a bit of a learning curve to use these honey based paints. I’m used to using the other ones and the washes are a bit different. The mixes are a bit different.

How I paint skin tones is a bit different as well. The burnt sienna really pops through. I do something that you’re not supposed to do with watercolor. You’re supposed to paint light to dark. Well, for layer five, I do a burnt sienna layer. Then paint my skin tone layer over that layer twice (for a total of seven layers).

The burnt sienna really shows through with the honey watercolors. Way more than when I used the non-honey watercolors.

As I’ve mentioned – a bit of a learning curve. I simply learned to use less burnt sienna with the honey watercolors then I’ll use with the non-honey watercolors.

Also, you’re going to have to clean your brush a little bit better. You know how you swirl it around in your jar? Well, expect to do it a bit longer. Not too much. But it’s noticeable. This for me is by no means a deal breaker. I don’t mind at all.

Colors?

Daniel Smith wins with total colors. I’m still going to buy DS’s luminescent watercolors. I especially love that blue one that I always use. It’s great for mermaid tail blends and for eye colors. Nothing like luminescent blue eyes in my fantasy world pinup girls.

I’ve heard some people say that the honey based paints are bolder. Honestly? Hard to say. Daniel Smith has some bold colors as well. Winsor and Newton appear more subdued and old fashioned to me. I do love those both though for those specific reasons. Sometimes you want bold. Sometimes you want subdued.

So honestly, I don’t really have a preference when it comes to colors.

What wins me over is I’m just having so much fun with these. It’s like when I got a Paul Reed Smith guitar. I loved my Ibanez and my Schecter already. But the PRS was just better. Why? Because of intangibles.

You may look at the intangibles I’ve listed and think I’m off my rocker. That’s totally fine. I may be nuts. But, I do make some pretty good pinups.

Selene's Rangers - Guardians of the Moon
Selene’s Rangers – Guardians of the Moon

This is Allie in all three poses. Mostly Sennelier watercolors and M Graham gouaches, but with Daniel Smith’s Moonglow for the moon (I love that color) and Daniel Smith’s luminescent paints for a lot of the rocket. I also use Daniel Smith’s Rose of Ultramarine for their eye shadow. I’m really fond of that color.

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Similar poses for the win

Every morning, I do a quick five minute sketch. This is one of the best things an artist could possibly do to improve his or her technique.

You get good at drawing at a decent pace. The timer is brutal. As it should be. No forgiveness. No mercy.

You get good at managing your time with the pencil. You simply learn to not waste time.

This ends up applying to other things as well. You’ll notice you’ll find your more efficient at other aspects of your life.

Gratitude

But, I also want to mention, I also start off mornings with gratitude. I say what I’m thankful for.

And this morning? Allie.

Allie is a rock. She’s very reliable. Very responsible.

If you haven’t been reading this blog, long story short, I’m married with an adult son. But I have two models that I use regularly. Allie is the blonde and Roxy is the brunette.

I see Allie more than twice as much as Roxy though. Allie is way more reliable.

Similar poses

Anyways, every week, we look for poses. And sometimes, we’ll do a similar pose.

Yes, I’m a fantasy pinup artist. But lately, I’ve been doing a lot of space themed ones. Coming up, I’m working on a larger painting called Selene’s Rangerettes – Defenders of the Moon.

Sounds cheesy? It’s supposed to. It’s an homage to that old sci-fi except this time, with the women naked. Because I’m a pinup artist first. Every once in awhile, I’ll do something outside of the fantasy realm.

Selene is the Ancient Greek Moon Goddess. I’ve painted Allie modeling for Selene several times now.

Selene Greek Moon Goddess
First time painting Selene
Second time painting Selene
Second time painting Selene

So I painted those two similar poses. And you know what? I’m getting more and more comfortable with those poses.

Try it! Hopefully you have a reliable model you can work with.

Not gonna stop

After I did that last one, I did the one listed in my latest blog post about how technique is more important than the tools you’re using. And now I’m doing yet another one – that Selene’s Rangerettes.

When it comes to ideas, why not take something old and make something new out of it? Do you think the Greek Gods and Goddesses still do all the same stuff they did 500 years BC?

I’m doing Selene’s minions with rockets and laser guns. Because, why not?

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Technique over Tools

A good artist will produce better art with cheap crayons than a bad artist with the absolute best oils, acrylics, or watercolors. That’s just a fact. You know it. I know it. Everyone knows this.

Just like give a guy like Carlos Santana or Jimi Hendrix a cheap guitar and have him battle a newbie guitarist. We all know who we’d rather hear, even with the cheap guitar.

That said, we’re all searching for the right tools. Watercolor artists are the craziest. We’re always looking for the right surface, whether it’s painting on wood, the best paper, or even experimenting on canvas (yes, the watercolors will slide right off so you’ll have to use some watercolor ground). We’re always looking for the right paints, the right brushes, etc.

The same goes with guitarists. Sometimes you’ll see a guitarist who falls in love with one guitar and uses it forever. Like Brian May of Queen or BB King with Lucille.

Usually though, guitarists try out every guitar and amp they could get their hands on.

Technique is more important than tools

That said, sure it’s fun to play around with new tools. But the art comes down to you. Are you any good? What can you produce?

That’s where I strongly suggest that you put the time in.

Art is just another craft. The more you work with leather, the better you get at working with leather.

The more you work on your art, the better you get on your art.

Sure, having nice tools helps. However, you simply acquire them over time.

Besides, you’ll find that the more known you get, the more people will give you their stuff to try, or even pay you to use their stuff.

My newest

I love quality watercolor and gouache paints as much as the next artist. Still for me, good paints are good paints. So far, I love M Graham gouache and I love Daniel Smith and Winsor and Newton watercolors the best. I have Sennelier watercolors coming in the mail simply because I want to try painting with honey based watercolors.

This latest piece though is with the first three I mentioned. I’ve gotten to the point where I could make good paintings even with cheap watercolors and mediocre paper. Sure, I’d rather have the good tools. But like this whole article is about – technique over tools.

A good artist with cheap tools smokes a bad artist with the best tools. We all know this.

Selene and Hecate
Selene (Moon Goddess) and Hecate (on the asteroid)
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Painting with honey watercolors, Part I

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I love M Graham gouache. But, for a completely different reason than anyone else.

I’m nearly blind. I literally need my glasses to find my glasses. Do you remember Velma from Scoobie Doo? If so, you probably remember when she’d lose her glasses. She’d be feeling the floor trying to find them.

That’s me. I can’t see shit without them. I have to feel around the house until I find them.

I cannot drive without my glasses either. No way. I’d kill somebody.

So, what does that have to do with watercolors?

Well, I also have the controversial opinion that high end watercolors are high end watercolors. I’m not a watercolor brand stickler. I’m not a brand stickler for anything though. Guitars. Cars. A good tool is a good tool. The brand is secondary.

Smell

So, going back to not being able to see shit, my other major senses are way better than the average person’s. It’s because I rely on them more.

No matter how beautiful a woman is, if she stinks, that’s three strikes. I can’t get past that.

And on the flip side, I love a good perfume. I only have two bottles of cologne – a Tom Ford and a Versace. Yes, they’re expensive but they make me smell good.

Likewise, a +1 to a woman who knows how to smell good.

Honey based watercolor and gouaches
Honey based watercolor and gouaches

M Graham gouache smells good. So, Blick stores had a killer sale on this French made Sennelier watercolor paints. They’re honey based. So what does Roman do? He buys them.

The next question – how do they paint?

Well, first I have to paint with them. Part II coming up in 30 days as I want serious time with them before an honest review.