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Seven color watercolor palette

7 color watercolor palette

There’s an old adage that you should be able to cut down to six colors if you had to. You know what? There’s no way I can. I need seven.

So I’m going to break the rules and cut down to a seven color watercolor palette. What’s in my watercolor palette? Keep reading and I’ll not only explain my colors; I’ll also explain my reasoning.

Now, if your subjects are different than mine, you’re going to use different colors. That’s just how it is. For instance, if you like painting flowers or birds, you’re not going to obsess over your human model’s skin and hair coloring. Likewise, if you’re painting deserts, you’re going to have desert colors.

Nobody is right or wrong. Colors depend on your subject. And also your style.

Watercolor palette for this pinup artist

I paint fantasy pinups. My main model is a blonde. My secondary model is a brunette.

I love painting them both. I just happen to paint Allie a lot more than Roxy since I see Allie a lot more.

So now let’s do colors. I wrote an article on how I paint skin colors awhile back. I use Titanium White and Burnt Sienna as my primary two colors. For my secondary two colors, I use Hansa Yellow Medium and Perylene Red. All Daniel Smith. That’s because Daniel Smith is what I’m used to. I also like how big and vibrant that brand’s colors are.

That’s four colors right there. I need all four of them for skin colors alone.

If you look closely at your model’s skin, it’s not one color. You have everything from shading to bruises/scars to veins to birthmarks to moles, and everything else. But, I don’t go into super detail. I’m aiming more for beauty. I’m a pinup artist after all, not a super duper realist.

Hair

That shade of yellow also doubles as Allie’s hair color.

Speaking of hair, Roxy’s a brunette. I won’t include a brown in my seven color watercolor palette, but more on that in a bit.

Water

I paint a lot of mermaids, so I’ll need some kind of underwater blue. My favorite blue I’ve found for water so far? French Ultramarine. I absolutely love that color!

I use that color both for water and also for eye color. For blue eyes, it’s the best.

That’s now five. Two more to go.

Others

Yes, you can get a green from mixing yellow and blue. But, I really like Hooker’s Green. It looks fabulous for green eyes when slightly watered down. It also makes brown when mixed 50/50 with Perylene Red. I use that brown for Roxy’s hair. She’s got gorgeous long dark brown hair in real life. I hope she keeps her hair long forever. I have a thing for long hair.

And for number seven – Rose of Ultramarine. Yes, you can get a purple from mixing blue and red. But, this is a special purple. A more rose purple, except it looks like something you’ll see underwater.

It’s the main color I use for mermaid tails. Also, I love using it in my witches’ skirts. I worked it in to most of their skirts.

For black, you can make a real nice watercolor black with yellow, blue, and red. You use a pinch of yellow with a healthy mix of both blue and red, and you’ll end up with a deep black. It’s like a purple black. Real nice looking color.

If I had more colors to work with

I use gold in most of my paintings. Long story short, I bought gold watercolor ground, having no idea what watercolor ground was at the time. So here I am with this big jar of gold. So I decided, I needed to use it.

Then and there, I decided that Allie’s characters will always get a double golden bracelet on her left arm and Roxy will get a gold necklace. In real life, Roxy wears a lot more jewelry. But I wanted to use that gold, so that’s what I decided I’d do.

When I get a third model, I’ll probably give her gold somewhere else. Like maybe a gold headband or golden rings. I haven’t decided yet. Whatever it is, it will have to fit her personality. But that’s in the future.

I’d also get a real black. I hate mixing black. It’s actually hard to replicate. Although yes, that black I mix is nice, it’s never the same twice.

I don’t need a pink since I get my nipple pink from watering down the Perylene Red. That’s one of the magics with watercolors. Water itself actually changes the colors.

What would you use?

If you had an evil witch who broke into your home and had a wand to your head, and said that she’d turn you into frog if you didn’t get rid of everything but seven colors, which seven would you cut down to? And, could you do six? I’d really, really have a problem cutting down to six. But since she has a wand to my head, goodbye Rose of Ultramarine.

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There’s a Hellhound on my trail

hellhound on my trail

Hellhound on my trail. Some of you will know that as a Robert Johnson song from the 1930s.

Ah yes. The Mississippi Delta Blues. That’s where it all came from.

But who was Robert Johnson and did he really sell his soul to the Devil? Well, I can only tell you the legend.

The Crossroads

Historians aren’t sure which crossroads in Mississippi they referred to when Robert Johnson encountered a large black man who tuned his guitar for him. Suddenly, Johnson went from being a mediocre guitarist to the greatest bluesman of his day.

The Devil supposedly also gave him power over the ladies. Too much in fact. So much that it literally got him killed, no matter which legend of his death you believe.

Hellhound on my trail and foreshadowing

Johnson wrote a lot of interesting songs. If you’re wondering, no, I can’t play Johnson. I’m actually quite bad with the acoustic guitar. I only play electric guitar and piano.

But yes, I did study Robert Johnson. Had to. Historically he’s one of the most important figures in American music.

If you listen to the song Hellhound on my trail, it foreshadows his upcoming death, and how he wanted to be with a certain woman. Who was that woman? Who knows?

There are two legends of his death. One, he flirted with a married woman. So her husband gave him a bottle of poisoned liquor. Johnson was unaware that man was her husband.

Supposedly, Johnson’s buddy knocked the bottle out of his hand and scolded him to never drink a bottle that he didn’t open. So already being drunk, the husband gave Johnson another bottle and Johnson drank it, felt sick, and died a day or two later.

Robert Johnson - Hellhound on  my trail
Robert Johnson not too long before he died in 1938 at the age of only 27

Now the other legend is that a white doctor examined his corpse and said that Johnson died of syphilis.

Either way, Johnson’s womanizing got him killed. Literally.

“What is a hellhound?”

A hellhound is a dog that tracks a damned man. Once the dog catches the damned man, the man dies and the Devil gets his soul.

Johnson was always on the run, knowing it was only a matter of time before the hellhound would find him.

I use a hellhound in my evil witches and their familiars series. It takes a very powerful witch to be able to summon a hellhound and actually somewhat control it. Hellhounds are straight from Hell, and are immortal. The Devil uses them to track down people when their time is up. The cursed man runs, but the hellhound will always eventually catch him.

Other Faustian legends

Robert Johnson wasn’t the only great musician who supposedly sold his soul to the Devil for musical greatness. Niccolò Paganini supposedly did as well.

Niccolò Paganini
Niccolò Paganini supposedly sold his soul to be the greatest violinist of his lifetime

Paganini wrote the 24 Caprices which are now standard for violinists. For his time though, he was head and shoulders above his competition.

Legend has it that Paganini sold his soul on a Devil’s Bridge, an ancient bridge in Europe. So interestingly, we have a crossroads and a devil’s bridge.

He was too a womanizer and it was said that his playing actually made beautiful women faint. And quite wet. How much of that is true and how much is a legend? Who knows?

He became quite famous in the 1820s and was even honored by the Pope. But, he too developed syphilis. Unfortunately, doctors didn’t know shit about anything back then and gave him mercury and opium to treat the syphilis. You could guess what happens next.

Paganini died in 1840, although there was no talk of a hellhound stalking him. Just rumors of him selling his soul earlier to become the greatest violinist of his day.

Robert Johnson and Niccolò Paganini weren’t the only two musicians to have sold their souls to the Devil for greatness. They’re just the two most famous.


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Sometimes our modeling sessions are random…

And sometimes our modeling sessions are planned.

Allie and Roxy have both been with me since the beginning. They’re both very different models.

The funny thing is, neither of them started off as models. It just happened that way.

I’m in fact the only person they model for. We’re friends that turned into models.

Both love modeling

Despite what some people tell you, women love to feel beautiful. It’s a great feeling. Just like a man likes to feel manly. If he’s not strong, there are other ways to be manly. Like building a successful business for instance. Or writing the Great American Novel. What could be manlier than writing a novel under the influence of copious amounts of Scotch and tobacco that generations later still gets assigned in college?

There are moments when we’re in a zone. Where the modeling sessions turn out perfect. Where I can get three or four worthy paintings from one session.

It’s a great feeling indeed. We both know it. We both can feel it. It would be the equivalent of when a band executes a song in the studio and they know that that’s the one.

Allie from one of the more random modeling sessions
I turned this pose into a mermaid

Allie warmed up to modeling faster. When Roxy did, she really did. But she didn’t warm up as fast as Allie did.

Almost all my paintings though are of Allie because Roxy’s hard to get a hold of. I don’t take it personally. That’s just how she is. If you knew her personally, you’ll understand.

Allie’s very dependable. And predictable. She’d probably make a kick ass accountant.

Sometimes I have an inspiration

Sometimes before the modeling session, I’ll have an idea where we want to go. Like the upcoming one with Allie, we already planned witches. She’ll have evil faces and evil gestures prepared.

I’ve got my evil witches and their evil familiars series started already. I just finished the second painting. But I need two more.

The imp was the easiest one to do. So many ways to draw an imp. For this one, the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz were my inspiration. I remember seeing those as a kid and they scared the hell out of me.

What a thing to be scared of! Evil flying monkeys? Yeah, they scared me big time.

For the second painting, I did the evil witch and her nightmare familiar. I painted her with red hair. She looks more creepy than beautiful, which is great! It’s good to mix things up. I’ve done straight beautiful for too long.

Quick background – the evil witch with a nightmare familiar is the worst in combat. They attack you in your dreams. Not directly.

Special moments

The very last time I saw Roxy, she was really getting into her poses. I got some spectacular sketches from that session that I’ll turn into paintings later.

It was a special moment. There I was with pencil in hand and she was in front of me, fully nude except for her jewelry. Roxy loves her jewelry.

It felt so right. Every pose she did looked cute.

She has a huge smile with each one. She may have even laughed a little.

It’s hard to get Roxy to laugh. It’s hard enough to get her to smile. Roxy’s a totally different kind of girl. More serious, straight up.

When I said Allie would be a good accountant, I didn’t mean the boring ass accountant stereotype who never leaves the house and just crunches numbers. I’m talking more about responsibility, dependability, and memory, who will every once in awhile let loose big time. Allie has all in boatloads.

femme fatale castle on fire
Femme Fatale burning down the castle

Roxy though is so different. There’s a sadness to her, which I secretly find intriguing. I hope she’s not reading this and mad at me. But I promised I’d never use her full name anyways. It’s not like there’s only one Roxy in America who’s a brunette with long hair and a killer body.

I do miss that girl big time. She sent me a text last week that she misses me. But no word when we’re going to get together next.

That’s her to a T. Uncertainty ought to be her middle name.

That may be why I treasure time with her so much. I see her so rarely.

I don’t show my sketches

My sketchbook is mostly notes. I never learned to shade correctly. My shading almost looks childish.

When I actually paint, I keep the sketch by my side when I’m painting so I can see where to put the shadowing. I also note where and how the muscles move. And where I can see traces of bones and tendons through the skin.

My painting is better than my sketching. My outlines however look pretty good. I’ll share those. But you don’t get to see my shading techniques until they’re translated into paint.

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Artists I like – Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein

Awhile back, I talked about how I recorded two songs with David Lichtenstein. It’s funny. I’ve always thought it must be tough being the child of someone famous. You’re always living in their shadows.

People will often compare you to them. For instance, I’d hate to be Walter Payton’s or Barry Sander’s sons. I of course wish them the best and hope they’re happy. But could you imagine what it would be like if your father was arguably the best player at his position of his generation? People will compare you, whether you’d like them to or not.

David though went an entirely different route. He got into music instead. He’s got a fat studio in Oakland, and if you’re recording any music and can afford that studio, you may want to look him up. Super nice guy!

I knew Roy Lichtenstein from Houston

I don’t remember the gallery name. But the very first time I saw his work, I admired it. No, not loved it. Admired it. Two completely different feelings.

I admired his work because it’s so grand. The cover image is of Roy Lichtenstein back in 1967. Credit to Eric Koch for Nationaal Archief for the photograph.

Anyways, it’s grand. It’s big. And it works.

Some folks hated it as pop art. I get it.

But, it works. Photos don’t give it justice. You have to see it in person.

I’ve seen a lot of art over the years. I’ve also bought a lot of art over the years. I forget almost everything I’ve seen. I’ve even forgot about pieces I’ve purchased. If I remember your work, that’s a huge compliment. I’ll always remember Lichtenstein’s work.

The big bucks

It’s funny. I’m always hearing from kids that their parents try to discourage them from taking art seriously. I think that’s the most stupid thing you can do to your kid.

So you’re worried about money? Well, hate to break it to you. Unless you’re a nurse or a doctor, there’s no job security. Even highly coveted jobs now may become obsolete in a decade or two. You might as well do something you love.

But then, to rub it in their faces, I talk about how I recorded two songs with David Lichtenstein. And I tell them how much their paintings are worth.

Masterpiece recently sold for $165 million. That makes six paintings over $40 million. That’s a lot of money.

Not that I’m even trying to make that much. Yeah, I hope after I’m dead, my paintings go for insane amounts. I’m just throwing that out there. I’ve seen the featured painting in real life. So yes, in this Artists I like series, I definitely want to throw Roy Lichtenstein’s name in the ring.

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Evil witches and their evil familiars

evil witches and their evil familiars

I’ve painted a lot of mermaids recently. I think I’m going to take a break from mermaids for awhile. I think it’s time to explore a whole new category of femme fatales. How about witches?

My prior witches were more sloppy than evil. Like the young witch who accidentally unleashed a poisonous snake.

This time around, I want evil. And not just the witches. How about painting some evil familiars to ride along with the witches?

Evil familiar tendencies

A lot of good witches like cats. That goes back, way, way back. Back in the Salem days, we had cats to get rid of the rats. They made great pets. They’re not only your pets, they also took care of a practical problem.

Now, I’m convinced that the whole reason for the Salem Witch Massacre had nothing to do with witchcraft and everything to do with inheritance. Some old ladies often live a real long time. And some would be inheritors are absolutely shitty people. I’m pretty sure you can put two and two together here. Yes, ’twas a conspiracy to get their land and/or money.

But let’s go back further and dive into the world of Medieval Fantasy, my favorite inspiration for art.

Whereas good witches often have cats or owls, evil witches prefer familiars that are a bit more “combat ready.” So evil familiars aren’t just a cunning evil creature that sits on your left shoulder (remember to throw your pinch of salt over your right shoulder when you’re an evil witch). They also have combat purposes. They have a mean bite. And worse.

Imps

Imps were human once. Damned to the fiery pits of Hell, an evil witch will often bring one back and use them as familiars.

Imps are cunning and conniving. They’re also stubborn, ruthless, cowardly, and completely self-serving.

evil familiars - imps

Imps were evil beta males. They got pushed around in life and when they murdered in their past human incarnation, they wouldn’t exactly do it in a confrontational manner. They feared direct conflict. When they had to do it directly, they made damn sure the odds were strongly in their favor.

You know the old stick versus carrot rule. As familiars, think in terms of two sticks for each carrot. You still have to carrot them since their sense of loyalty is already pretty bad. If you don’t, they’ll either take off or try to kill you in your sleep.

Baby dragons

An evil witch can live hundreds of years. Whereas a human usually dies in double digits, not an evil witch. They can get quite old.

However, dragons live in the thousands of years. We’re talking a whole different ballgame.

Baby dragons make wonderful familiars. The problem with baby dragons is that they’re very rare. Humans and dragons have been at war for forever, with humans in recent years coming quite close to causing dragon extinction.

Their natural habitat? Geez. It’s so small now that I’m not even sure where to find them.

You may be thinking how come humans got the upper edge on dragons, considering dragons are so powerful and so smart. Simply put, biology. Dragons take forever to mate. Dragon eggs only hatch under ideal situations.

But humans? Babies only take nine months to create and are combat ready in only fifteen or sixteen years! No way dragons could keep up with that.

If you ever see a witch with a dragon familiar, she’s on a whole different level of power. Cross her and she’ll not just kill you. She’ll take down your entire Kingdom.

Hellhounds

Some witches are so evil that they absolutely detest sunlight. No, they’re not going to exactly burn up and die like a stupid vampire. Rather, they’re at their best after the witching hour.

Those are the kind of witches you’ll find with hellhounds as familiars.

Hellhounds cannot come out in the sunlight. You’ll only encounter them at night. And if you encounter them, you’re in a heap of trouble.

If you see a witch with a hellhound as a familiar, you’re in a super duper heap of trouble. You got a serious problem.

Hellhounds usually signal death when a human encounters one. Generally, the Devil himself sends a hellhound after someone who sold him his soul. That cursed someone knows his time is short. And he’s on the run, for he knows when the hellhound catches him…

For a witch to actually raise one of these foul (and foul smelling) creatures as a pet? Well, she’s got to be more evil than your average evil witch. Plus, she more than likely doesn’t have a working olfactory sense. Did I mention that hellhounds stink?

Nightmares

There isn’t exactly one size fits all when it comes to evil witches. Whereas most evil witches are pretty good at direct physical confrontation, leaving their opponent either in tatters, turned into an amphibian, or burnt to a crisp, some work through other methods.

The kind of evil witch that has a nightmare as a familiar you probably could conquer in a physical confrontation. That’s not the problem.

Just don’t ever go to sleep. That’s where she’ll get you.

Nightmares cause nightmares. But a Nightmare’s nightmare is so powerful, it causes death. Yes, you’re literally scared to death.

So if an evil witch extorts you, it’s more than likely one of these witches. You have two choices. Either pay her off. Or, find her and exterminate her.

If you do the latter, you better find her location before you go to sleep. Once you sleep, she wins. You simply won’t survive an encounter with her nightmare familiar.

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When painting pinups, the magic happens…

When painting pinups, the magic happens in the initial sketch. Once you get good at sketching, everything else just falls in place.

In the old days, artists took anatomy classes and dissected bodies. I won’t go that far. However, I strongly recommend that you know bodies very well.

I’m a damn good masseuse and also was a pretty good wrestler back in the day. Between massage and wrestling, I know what a body can and can’t do. I also know every muscle of the body, every tendon, every major bone.

I know both healing points and pain points. Before mixed martial arts were actually called MMA, I wrestled NHB, which is no-holds-barred wrestling and would attempt to move my opponent’s body in ways that hurt enough for them to tap.

Why this matters

Alright, maybe you don’t want to get into wrestling. That’s totally fine. Not your thing.

Then get into massage. Know a body inside and out. Know how to heal a body.

Masseuses also know pain points.  They know what hurts and how to alleviate some of that pain.  If you think you can apply this to your artwork, well my friend, you’d be 100% correct!

I’m almost blind. I’d much rather touch than look for obvious reasons. I see nothing without my glasses. You and I could be five feet away from each other and without my glasses, you’re blurry. I literally cannot tell you what you eye color is.

Of course anatomy classes work too. That’s why artists of the old days did them.

Live models

I strongly suggest live models. Yes, I wear glasses and yes, with my glasses, I can almost see as well as you can. My eyes are mostly correctable. Correctable enough for me to legally drive. And no, I’ve never caused an accident and I’ve literally driven over half a million miles.  I have the reflexes of a cat.

I use two live models – Allie and Roxy. Both are dear friends of mine. For personal reasons, I don’t paint anonymous models. I feel like I have to be emotionally connected to my work for my work to be meaningful.

You don’t have to feel like this. Maybe I’m a weirdo. But that’s how I think. I’m emotionally connected to my work. I can’t put emotional investment in something that is anonymous, so my models either have to be close friends or lovers. That’s a hard rule for me.

Regardless, live models are great. You get to see how a woman sits, how a woman moves, how a woman stands, how a woman walks. You get to see all the muscles move exactly how they can move. And, you get to see the shadowing.

Shadowing is so important when drawing. It gives your drawing depth. And a lot of realism.

For painting pinups

You’re looking for beauty. Paint only the beautiful.

What is beautiful? You tell me. We all have different tastes. There are no right answers, and I can guarantee that if you find a model beautiful, someone else will as well.

But yes, drawing is where it’s at. When I first started painting, I listened to experienced artists. I listened to mistakes and regrets.

You know what stood out to me? I remember explicitly hearing some guy say that he wishes in the beginning he spent two hours drawing for every one hour painting. You know why? Because drawing is where it’s at, especially when painting pinups.

Should you be friends?

Honestly? I think it helps.  When sketching either Allie or Roxy, there’s often magic in the sessions.  We joke and laugh and smile a lot.  Makes the sessions easy.

More importantly, we’re all loose.  Pinup art is supposed to be loose.  It’s not supposed to be uptight.

If you’re doing pinups, you’re not painting two bananas, an apple, and a bunch of grapes in a fruit bowl.  You need to make the painting look alive and that means your model should be relaxed.  And more importantly, comfortable with you.

Does she have water? Has she eaten? Is the room too cold?

Paint only the good poses

I’ve taken two semesters of photography in high school and one in college.  Unfortunately, a lot of photographers are dorks.  These guys get a woman naked and don’t know what to do with her.

It shows in their photography.  Whereas, here you got a woman with a beautiful body and the pose is downright awful.  “What are you doing?”

Same thing with painting.  This is yet another reason I think you should be at least friends with your model.  You have an emotional connection.

“Hips out to the right. Just a little more.  Now back straighter.  There you go, baby! You’re gonna knock ’em dead!”

And remember – positive reinforcement.  Don’t be a jerk or else they won’t want to work with you again, even if you’re friends.  (And you may not be friends for much longer).

I start with a sketch

In this one, Allie posed. I sketched her. I sketch everything from the lines to the shadows. I’ll replicate the shadows in the sketch when I paint the paintings.

I don’t use any fancy pencils. I just use this pencil called America’s Pencil and it’s an HB2. That’s it, nothing fancy.

example for painting pinups
You can still see the pencil lines. I’ll usually remember to erase those before I start painting

This is also why I prefer using hot press watercolor paper. It’s personal preference, but for me, the sketch is the most important part of the process.

Painting is the easy part

I love painting. It’s the most relaxing thing I do. But, it’s also quite easy once you get the hang of it.

Yeah, exactly what that old timer said – spend twice as much time practicing drawing/sketching than painting. You’ll get the hang of painting much sooner than the drawing/sketching.

It’s especially true when painting pinups. When painting pinups, if the drawing is bad, the painting is bad. Period.

I make sure I nail the drawing first before I ink. I prefer inking with a very fine ink pen. My personal preference – Sakura Micron 005. You don’t have to use the same tools as we’re all entitled to our preferences. But that’s just what I use.

So if you’re a new artist, get really good at drawing. Everything else will fall into place. Don’t worry. You’ll get the colors and the painting picked up really fast. That’s the easy part!

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Did the Ancient Greeks see a mermaid? Brizo from Delos

Ancient Greek Goddess Brizo

How do legends start? They’re usually based on some kind of truth. Or what someone with a lot of charisma thought was the truth.

On the Ancient Greek island of Delos, women would leave offerings to a beautiful nude female creature that they called Brizo. They’d leave her offerings in exchange for her protection of their husbands and sons from the dangers of the seas.

Brizo the Goddess

She eventually became a Greek Goddess. To be exact – the Ancient Greek Goddess of Mariners, Sailors, and Fishermen.

Later on, Ancient Greeks used her in oracles and dreams as well.

But her primary role was protection of the men in the seas. Note that women worshiped her, not the men who she directly protected.

Delos

Of course, you can still visit Delos today. Very few people live there as it’s mostly archeological ruins. If you’re an archeologist or a history buff, you’ll probably love a boat ride and a day or two on the island.

We didn’t get a chance to go there when we were in Greece last year. We explored Olympia and some nice Greek beaches. If you ever go there, try the seafood!

Origins

Have you ever seen the original Star Trek series? Well, they had an episode where the crew encounter Apollo. Apollo turned out to be a powerful alien, not a God. But the Ancient Greeks also encountered him and with their knowledge for the time, it made sense that he must have been a God.

What about Brizo? Did the Ancient Greeks see a mermaid? Or, was it something else on a foggy day where two people saw something, then filled in the blanks?

I don’t know. I wasn’t there. That’s often how legends start though. They’re often based on something real.

Brizo the character

I’d love to believe in the existence of mermaids. Like Fox Mulder wants to believe there are aliens. Every time they’ve found a body or a skeleton though, it turned out to be a forgery.

So regardless, I’m going to use Brizo as a recurring character. Here’s the first in what will become many Brizo paintings.

,


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How to deal with distractions

how to deal with distractions

Distractions. Nowadays, it seems like we have more than we’ve ever had before.

Before, we had the telephone and the television. And that was it.

If nobody called and nothing was on TV, you got shit done. So much easier to have a creative mindset back then.

Note that I wrote this article mainly for fellow artists. But the same applies to anyone trying to get anything done. Are you overwhelmed by distractions? If so, I hope I can help!

Today

We got smart phones replacing the old telephones. I grew up well before text messaging. Kids would actually come over unannounced and we’d go play outside.

Then, we got social media. You know as an artist, you got things you want to accomplish. You go to check Facebook for ten minutes. Suddenly ten minutes becomes two hours and there goes your evening where you were supposed to get your art done.

What to do about distractions

It all comes down to discipline. I’d advise turning your phone off for at least an hour a day. In that hour, no social media either. Just straight up work.

Even an hour a day every day adds up. Double it and it’s even better. That’s when you get real results.

Yes I know you got a day job. When you get home, you’re tired.

Well, stretch and loosen up for ten or fifteen minutes and maybe even do 20 minutes of cardio, then get to work.

The artists who make it aren’t necessarily the most talented. They’re the most persistent. I’ve always argued that persistence trumps talent anyways.

So the best way to deal with distractions is simple. Schedule me time. Block it off. Shut off everything and in that hour or two, get to work.

Now if you’re one of those people who never get distracted, what’s your secret? I’d love to hear from you!

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Why I prefer hot press paper

blonde mermaid painted on hot press watercolor paper

I personally prefer hot press paper. Why? Because the bread and butter of my art are not the colors. It’s the drawing under the colors. Hot press paper is the most smooth, and the easiest to draw on.

If you’re wondering the difference between the two papers, cold press paper has a bumpier texture. It’s slightly better for multiple washes. However, I paint my skin tones seven times wet on wet on hot press paper and don’t have any complaints.

Hot press paper rules for drawings

For practice sketching, I just used plain, cheap copy paper. Since I’m not going to do anything with those sketches anyways, I don’t care. They’re for practice, and if they turn out really good, I’ll give them to a friend. But when it’s time to actually paint, I’m using either Arches’ or Blick Premier’s hot press.

Note the most important thing here – it comes down to style. If you’re a pure painter, you’ll more than likely prefer cold press paper. Cold press paper is more popular. You’ll notice this when you go into any art store and actually count how much cold press is available vs how much hot press is available.

I’m not a pure painter. I do fantasy pinups. Stylistically, hot press serves me better.

Not that that’s all I’ll ever use. Sometimes, I’ll paint on wood or clay. But when it comes to paper, I’m using hot press.

mermaid drawing on hot press watercolor paper
Pigma Micron 005 on Blick Premier block 140 lb hot press paper

For my style, the drawing is my bread and butter. I’ll still need to do seven layers of wet on wet to make her skin smooth and lovely. But both Blick Premier and Arches hot press paper can take that much water, no problem.

Negatives of hot press paper

It takes longer to dry

Hot press takes longer to dry than cold press paper. I’m not a blow dryer guy. I simply go and do something else in between layers.

For cold press, I can usually start painting again in a half an hour. For hot press, I’ll wait at least 45-60 minutes between layers.

Washes are different

This isn’t necessarily a negative. Although since most watercolor artists start off with cold press paper, they’re thrown off by how hot press acts differently.

The colors on hot press wash off faster after multiple washes. Cold press papers tend to “keep” the colors more than hot press. This is neither here nor there. It’s just something to be aware of.

mermaid work in progress
Work in progress – after a few washes. Yes, my wife and I eat a lot of kimchi

That’s one reason why some folks with start off with cold press, try hot press, then move immediately back to cold press. They don’t like how hot press doesn’t keep the colors as well.

As with anything, you get used to how things work with the method you use the most. That includes the tools. You get comfortable with the tools you use the most.

I’m now more comfortable with hot press. I’ve adjusted accordingly, despite actually starting with cheap cold press paper (which I will strongly not recommend – another story for another day).

Try them both

I strongly suggest that you try them both and see which one you like better. You may completely disagree with me. Which is fine. You be you. You and I may have completely different styles, or may need different aspects from the paper. That’s part of art.

Try having a conversation with ten different people about what is the best car and you may get eight, nine, or ten different responses. Same thing.

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Artists I like – Francisco Goya

Francisco Goya - The Third of May

Francisco Goya isn’t my favorite artist of all-time. I’m writing about him first in my Artists I like series because he’s the very first non-American artist I studied in real life.

My wife and I have a hard rule. Every year, we have to leave the country to a country we haven’t been to before. Our bucket list includes travel and that means we must get to all 50 states and as many countries as possible before we die.

We hit Spain in 2015. We spent nine days there – six in Madrid and three in Barcelona. That’s it. We definitely need to go back. Two cities in nine days wasn’t enough at all.

While in Madrid, we hit every single major art gallery the city offered. Of course, the Prado’s the most important one. And the most important artist in the Prado?

Francisco Goya

Francisco Goya lived a very long time. Goya lived long enough to actually see his paintings in the Prado. How cool would that be to actually accomplish that while still alive?

It’s like that Queen song on A Night at the Opera. “On Friday’s I go painting the Louvre.” Despite hearing that song over a hundred times, I still laugh at that line. You don’t just paint in the Louvre. Just like, you just don’t paint in the Prado. You have to be on an immortal level of artistic success.

Now, I’m not going to go into his life. There’s a Wikipedia article for that. He lived from 1746 to 1828 if you’re wondering.

Style

Goya was a Romantic. I consider myself a Romantic as well. You might see my work and say “wait, that’s not Romanticism!” Well, you got me. I’m working backwards. First, I want to master the American pinup style before getting into true Romanticism.

Goya though was the real deal. He influenced so many people after him. I admire his work so much that I even watched that Goya’s Ghosts movie. No, it wasn’t as bad as the critics made it out to be. Apparently, the critics hate it.

Anyways, yes Goya was a Romantic. His The Third of May painting is one of the most powerful paintings ever painted. Period. It is often the example that an Art History professor uses when going over Romanticism.

I’ve seen it in real life, and pictures don’t do it justice! It’s so much more powerful in person.

Four paintings

I’m not going to go over his entire career. It was long, and Goya went through several huge evolutions. However, I do want to cover four paintings that mean a lot to me.

When studying an artist, I strongly suggest focusing on two to five paintings and really knowing them. It’s way easier than trying to grasp their entire body of work. If you can do the latter, more power to you. But, there’s so much really good art out there that I simply don’t have time to learn everything.

The same goes for music, but that’s another story for another day. So I’m going to select four paintings that mean something to me, other than The Third of May, which everyone’s already seen.

La Maja Desnuda

In English, the Nude Maja. This one’s too shocking for its time so it had to be kept in private. It’s currently in the Prado. But it used to be kept privately by Goya’s friend Manuel de Godoy, who more than likely commissioned it of Godoy’s mistress. Godoy was Prime Minister of Spain.

Anyways, I love how sexual it is. It’s not just some generic nude, which I find more often than not boring. I like my nudes to have something more to them.

This one is beckoning. You almost wonder if Goya hit it as well as Godoy.

Now, not only is it a great painting, this painting got both Godoy and Goya in trouble with the Spanish Inquisition. Sure, we laugh when watching Monty Python today about the Spanish Inquisition, but back then, it was no laughing matter.  The Inquisition made Godoy reveal the artist, who then had to explain why he painted the painting.

Goya got off on a technicality.  He explained that he was only following tradition and assured the Inquisition that he was not intentionally creating depravity.

Francisco Goya - La Maja Desnuda

Saturn Devouring His Son

I was a strange kid. I could tell you every single recent NFL score and every single major career stat off the top of my head. As a kid, I won my father’s football office pool a bunch of times. Against full grown adults.

I also knew all about the Greek Gods and Goddesses. I knew all the major ones and their histories.

This painting freaked me out as a kid. I always imagined that Saturn swallowed them whole. I never imagined Saturn (I knew him as Cronus) eating them like this.

Now in real life, this is even more disturbing. Part of Goya’s Black Period.

Francisco Goya - Saturn Devouring His Son

The Family of Charles IV

King Charles IV commissioned a lot of work from Goya. He and his family loved Goya, obviously.

Goya was neat for his day. Rather than painting the ugly members as beautiful, he painted them exactly as he saw them. For some, that was a big no no.

That’s why I only paint beautiful women. I can’t make someone ugly beautiful. Cursed by Goya? Who knows.

You have to see this in real life. It’s magnificent! It takes up an entire room.

Francisco Goya - The Family of Charles IV

The Disasters of War

This isn’t one painting. Rather, it’s 82 prints done between 1810 and 1820. They’re some of the most brutal pieces of art ever devised, resembling something off a Cannibal Corpse album cover rather than something you’ll find at a museum.

I’m not going to post any of them. I’d much rather you do the research yourself, and also study the history of them. It’s of utmost importance that humans learn from history so they don’t repeat it.

Yeah, you’ve heard that saying a million times. But, does anyone ever practice it?

Goya wasn’t the first artist to have political motivations in his works. But, he’s definitely one of the best. These pieces were so powerful that he had to publish them posthumously for his own safety.