Sometimes, I need something softer. For those moods, Loreena McKinnett, Blackmore’s Night, Enya, and random Celtic stations from the Internet radio do wonders for my paintings.
McKinnett and Blackmore’s Night especially. Their lyrics and moods are totally fantasy. For painting background music, they’re downright awesome.
Celtic music is great music! It’s just so alive. So real.
For random background music, I’ll take Celtic music above anything else. I’ve bought CDs from live Celtic acts we’ve seen anywhere from Celtic pubs to farmers’ markets. I don’t have a drop of Irish blood. But I sure love their music. (And their women!)
And of course Classical music. Except I’m quite particular when it comes to Classical. I love the Romantic era. If you’re wondering who they are – Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner, Mendelssohn, Chopin, etc.
They all had themes and sometimes even the characters that I paint. I would have loved to have been alive back then and heard that music while the composers were still alive. Imagine being alive to see your heroes actually conducting their own music!
So what about you?
What do you paint to? Does your music fit your painting? Why or why not? And, does it make a difference?
Loreena McKennitt – performing at the InterCeltic Festival at Lorient, Brittany in August 2008. Photographed by Maelor
Blackmore’s Night – live at the Tarrytown Music Hall, October 2012. Photographed by Nsoveiko
Beethoven – Painting by Mähler, 1815
Judas Priest – Live in 2005 Moline, Illinois. Photograph by Zach Petersen
Tchaikovsky painted by Nikolai Dimitriyevich Kuznetsov
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.
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.
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 gesturesprepared.
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 was 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.
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. 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. Allie has all three in boatloads.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
Have you ever asked anyone why they bought art? I don’t mean in a negative way, like “why the hell would you buy that?” I mean, ask them sincerely why they purchased that particular piece of art.
You’ll be surprised at the responses you’ll get from art buyers.
You pretty much have two types of buyers. Some buyers buy completely on a whim. Then the second group actually went looking for the art.
From those two types of buyers, you have overlapping subcategories. I say overlapping subcategories since they don’t necessarily fit into the two primary groups.
I wish I remember which member of Motley Crue invested in art. I remember the days when a google search actually brought relevant data. Nowadays, you search for an answer to your question and you get a bunch of bullshit.
Anyways, I remember reading about one of the members of Motley Crue who would buy hundreds of thousands of dollars of art every year. And then proceed to have art auctions. And actually make a lot of money!
Yes, you can buy art as an investment. Of course, keep the pieces you’re in love with. But part with the rest.
An up and coming artist may slaughter the stock market. Whereas a good stock investor will make 10% or more a year, art can go up infinitely.
I recorded two songs with David Lichtenstein. His father Roy had a painting sell for $56 million, another sell for $95 million, and another sell for $165 million. Imagine if you owned any of those paintings! So far, seven of his paintings have sold for over $10 million.
Ah, one of my favorite words. I’m a hopeless romantic. I think all good artists are.
Some folks just love collecting art. They fall in love with a piece of art. Then they buy it.
These people often have so much art that they have to end up taking a piece down in order to put the new piece up. There’s literally no room on their walls.
I love meeting people like this. They’re passionate about not only art, but also life. You could see the smiles in their eyes. They’re fun to talk to, fun to be around. If I could pick one type of person to hang with, it would undeniably be them.
What motivates them? I have no idea. I wish I had that much enthusiasm! These are my favorite people in the world.
This may have a negative connotation but it really shouldn’t. Some folks love to predict trends. Others set them.
Artists create art. However, if there’s nobody showing it off, then the art will eventually disappear and the artist will be forgotten.
Trend setters find a style they love. Then they push it out to the world.
This is yet another reason not to hate your competition. Imagine, you and someone with a style similar to yours getting both picked up by the same trend setter. You not only both make money, you both make the news. The trend setter helps you both succeed. Then, you’ll see other artists try to emulate you both, only further enhancing your artistic portfolio since a collector will often look for influences.
I’ll never get picked up by a business. They’re not my market. Yes, you guessed why. I don’t have anything that’s necessarily safe for work. Unless you work in the Playboy Mansion.
I don’t like “business art” anyways. It’s more often than not sterile. It looks like business art.
In these parts, business art tends to be politically correct. “What’s the latest virtue signal? We need to display that!” That art more resembles a bad parody of itself than real art.
Disney though has some pretty good art up. Yes, I know it’s cool nowadays to hate on Disney. But whenever I see their art they got up, I have to compliment the artists. I say this because I wish other companies would recognize the importance of real art, not the sterile shit that most have hanging up.
From the Renaissance to the 19th century, artists depended on commissions. Rich people commissioned artists. That’s just what they did.
Rich people back then were cultured. They often spoke tons of languages and could play musical instruments. They knew, and loved art. So much different than today’s rich people, especially the Silicon Valley stereotype.
The Medici’s funded the Renaissance. Tchaikovsky had Madame van Meck. Goya had Charles IV. I’ve seen the infamous picture of that royal family in real life. Oh, and Tchaikovsky was the very first person to play in Carnegie Hall.
Classy people commission art. They’re some of my favorite people as well. It’s one thing to take a family photograph. You really want to have style? Have your family painted.
Friends and family
And lastly, you have people who know the artist personally and have strong relations with them. They’re the easiest to sell to since they know firsthand the motivations of the artist.
I won’t go into details here as I’d be stating the obvious. You know the artist. You may have even commissioned the work yourself.
Romanticism was an art movement. Musically, it died when World War I began, but was dying before WWI began. But then again, WWI began before WWI began. If you’re a historian, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Opium was the drug of choice for Romantics
Well, alcohol too. So opium and alcohol were the drugs of choice for the Romantics. However, Alcohol Tales has no historical context. It’s also meaningless. “A bunch of drunks telling stories? How fucking boring. I’d rather read the news”.
Opium also gave its users creative abilities. At a cost, of course. Like the Devil, you can have the item you desire. It will just cost you something later on.
Thus, Opium Tales makes sense. It has historical context. You know they’ll be unique. And you know at the very least, they’ll be interesting.
This won’t be the only medium you’ll see them
You’re reading a blog. However, this won’t be the only place you’ll see Opium Tales. You’ll also see them in my music. You’ll even see them somewhere else.
For that, I won’t go further as I’m currently in negotiations for some money.
By the way, I’m also a painter. Check out some of my works..
Dammit. I open up one of my old tales and it’s called A Pirate’s Tale. Written before Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean series came out, one of the main characters was named Jack.
So no. Not going to keep that name for obvious reasons. Everyone will think I copied them. Complete, and quite unlucky coincidence.
Of course, I’ll now have to change the name.
As for the Disney movies, the first one was excellent. None of the sequels held up to the first. I know it’s hard to do. It’s like so many bands that have an excellent first album cannot live up to it. Same deal.
The Godfather was one of the best movies ever made. The Godfather II was slightly better. That’s extremely rare.
So, not going to harp on the PotC franchise. They have my condolences.
However, I still need a name
So, before I even begin, I need to come up with a new name for this pirate. Give me a little bit of time to ponder it.
I’ll also consult history.
Anyways, I got a lot on my plate. Once I get some of this shit resolved, I’ll work on that name, and get A Pirate’s Tale uploaded here.