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My painting process – start to finish

I’m a simple man. I like simple things and I prefer to follow a repeatable process than wing things.

You’ll see me painting the same painting over and over again, with slight modifications each time.

That’s how you get better at things. By repetition. Bruce Lee said something like he doesn’t fear the man who knows a thousand kicks, but fears the man who’s practiced the same kick thousands of times.

Same thing with anything. Art, my friends, is a craft. The more you do it, the better you get at it.

So I have a morning routine where I do the same thing every morning – 50 push-ups, Romanian lessons, and then I practice drawing gestures with random girls off the internet as my models.

Since I’ve been taking lessons, I start my girls off from a gesture rather than “draw her exactly as I see her.”

Does it make a difference? Yes! She looks more alive. I love that technique.

If you’re wondering what gestures mean, simply do a quick internet search for “gesture drawing.” Or just read the Wikipedia article. It’s a very quick summary in only a few paragraphs.

The pose

My bread and butter are the models. I had 3 models. Then 4. Now back to 3. Allie was my first and Roxy was my second. I’ve worked with Jin before on previous projects so she became my 3rd.

Then Sophia entered the picture. So I had 4 at one point. Then Jin retired.

Now I’m back to 3. But mainly 2 – Allie (the blonde) and Roxy (the brunette).

Anyways, the painting always starts off before I paint anything. My model comes over. We hug. I pour some booze. We catch up for a bit.

She takes off her clothes. I have the model pose. I do a life drawing of her.

We drink and blab the whole time we’re working. Sophia is super deep. Allie talks random stuff and sometimes tries to get me to laugh. Roxy is more emotional and talks more about life. All three of them have totally different personalities.

Then she puts her clothes back on. I either make dinner or we’ll go out to eat. My wife joins of course. We drink some more.

We hug once more. They go home. I’m left with a bunch of drawings and no idea what to do with any of them.

The previous painting

I’ll use my first gouache painting as the start to finish example.

I took an old pose of Roxy that I’ve used once. The first painting wasn’t that good so I’ll either give it away or I’ll use it for something else. I’m such an artist that I’ll wrap containers in my art that wasn’t good enough to sell but still good enough to see again.

Still, not Roxy’s fault. It was mine. I executed poorly. Keep in mind, even the best quarterbacks will throw 100+ interceptions in their career and lose games they could have won.

Likewise, some of my paintings look like a Hail Mary gone wrong. It happens. I’m human.

So I’m sitting here with a wonderful old pose of Roxy and I want to turn it into something good enough to sell. I give it another attempt.

I pour myself some absinthe. Note that I’m 3 things – a musician/composer, a painter, and a writer. Music – I’m 100% sober because I can’t pull it off drinking. Painting and writing? I’m drinking. Sometimes a lot.

And the absinthe kicks in. Keep in mind, absinthe averages around 120 proof. It’s deceptively strong. Once you feel it, you really feel it.

I got the penciling done perfectly. Next, the inking.

I started inking it and I don’t know what I was thinking but I accidentally drew a second eyelid on Roxy. I don’t know if I didn’t realize I had already drawn one or what.

Whatever the reason, I just ruined the painting. I felt terrible as the penciling was absolutely perfect and this is the second time executing that pose (which was a flawless pose by Roxy).

Then I decided rather than throwing it out, let’s see if I can salvage it. You know, Bob Ross it.

Watercolors are transparent so there’s no way I could fix it using watercolors. That means if I’m going to salvage it, I’ll have to use a product called “watercolor ground,” then do several layers of gouache.

OK, let’s do it and see what happens.

What happens next?

Well, I’m buzzing pretty heavily by now. The absinthe kicked pretty hard and I’m hoping it works. Now that I got Roxy finished, I start drawing random stuff, partially inspired by the absinthe.

I loved that flower. The gouache gave it a lot of depth and I’m very proud of it.

Let’s say we’re in water. Maybe the water represents my intoxicated state.

Add some bubbles and my favorite fish – the Siamese Fighting Fish. We used to breed them. If you’ve never bred Siamese Fighting Fish, it’s something you absolutely need to do in your lifetime.

Of all the animals in the world, Siamese Fighting Fish have one of the weirdest mating rituals. And yes, I’m quite serious.

Randolf and Roxy
Randolf and Roxy

So I draw and paint Roxy, a Siamese Fighting Fish, 3 flowers, and a bunch of bubbles. The inking process goes like this – draw, ink, let the ink dry, erase the pencil, paint.

The entire painting takes 3 days start to finish, each day about 10 hours. Keep in mind, this also includes time waiting for layers to dry. With watercolors, you can add layers until you’re blue in the face. With gouache, you’re using less layers since gouache is significantly more opaque than watercolors.

This painting ended up being mostly gouache with some watercolors and of course ink.

I showed Roxy recently and she loved it. Absolutely loved it. She was ecstatic to see I finally nailed that pose.

Her smile, man. It can melt people. She doesn’t smile as often as Allie does. Roxy is more serious. But when she smiles, it’s really melting.

I felt like I’ve done something right when I can get her to love one of my pieces.


The bulk of my inspiration comes from the girls. Everything else is secondary.

As I’ve mentioned, I love Siamese Fighting Fish. Dogs and dolphins are my favorite animals but it’s harder to incorporate them into my paintings.

So rather, I’ll add fish. Usually Siamese Fighting Fish but sometimes other types of fish. I used to fish a lot and know a thing or two about fish.

As for the flowers, my wife loves flowers. I love painting flowers, sometimes loose, or sometimes in the girls’ hair. They give the paintings more color options and I love color.

Most of my flowers come from the Mrs. She’ll go out with her girlfriends and take pictures of flowers. Then text me her favorite ones. Those flowers end up in my paintings somehow.

Awhile back, my wife said that one of my flowers looked like it was dancing. After she said that, I now intentionally make them look like they’re dancing. It gives the painting that much more life.

The backdrop? It’s a wash, the color of my drink.

Click here if you want to see the entire painting.

Absinthe and whiskey make me loose. I don’t think. I feel. I feel like I’m in a daze half the time anyways.

I’ll be in a zone and everything will just flow.

My main goal is to paint something nice. People nowadays are so unhappy. I miss the 80s when Americans were generally happy campers. You’ll see the old live 80s videos and when they showed the crowd, everyone was loving life and half of them were at least somewhat attractive.

So I paint to create happier worlds. I have a positive view of the future. I’m not doom and gloom. I genuinely believe the human race is a good thing and we’ll go on to explore other galaxies, taking Tchaikovsky and Beethoven with them.

And who knows? Maybe one of the future astronauts will enjoy my art. He’ll wonder though why this guy drew beautiful women with Siamese Fighting Fish, flowers, and bubbles.

You’ll know. But this blog will long be dead by then.

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