3788: Elephant for Bowling for Rhinos

Today I’m painting the other side of this bowling pin with an elephant. This one went much better than the lion painting but I really like them both. Whomever purchases this bowling pin is going to have a beautiful piece that also contributes to rhino conservation.

Watch me paint it.


Narrative: I didn’t think much of a narrative for this one.

How well does the technical aspects communicate the narrative, emotion, story?

Drawing: I knew drawing was going to be very important for this one so I took my time getting it right.

Perspective: Using the light to show depth but no much perspective here.

Value > Color: Two major value zones for this whole painting and I played within those.

Form: There are very subtle transitions in the form and I mostly described that with texture.

Shape Design: The shape design in the shadows and light was very important here. I tried to simplify as much as possible and go for the the bigger statements.

Composition: The composition is all done with value and color. Opposing colors in the background and dynamic value shapes.

Brushwork/Texture/Edges: The elephant is made up mostly of hard edges so it was easy to accomplish.

Other: Find a subject matter I can go deep on. This kitten has taught me that each subject has its own intricacies that need training in order to master. I need to pick something and stick to it for a long time. Hopefully something that people will want to buy as well.

Accumulated Learning

Narrative: Narrative first, it is what determines how I use the technical aspects of painting. How well do the technical aspects help me communicate emotion, narrative. What does it make me feel, why does it make me feel? “Be your own favorite artist”.

Drawing: Take the time that it needs. Focus on each brush stroke to improve control, drawing, shape design and speed. Speed is all about efficiency not how fast I move. Figures are the best for challenging my drawing skills. Simple shapes are enough to describe most objects. Challenge myself by doing the initial drawing with a brush. Don’t worry about perfect accuracy, the message is paramount.

Perspective: Keep practicing linear and atmospheric perspective. Vanishing points for objects and interior space. How multiple objects in a landscape recede. How object further away get lighter and more blue, except for white. Push the atmospheric perspective.

Value > Color: Identify the major value and color separations at the beginning of the painting. In most cases the painting can be broken down into just a few major values and colors. Value first, hue and saturation second. High contrast and high saturation near focal point. Test all the major color mixtures and when you’re unsure. Try to make the sky glow.

Form: Continue to think of each object as existing in space and takes up space. Back lighting and front lighting will flatten forms. Overcast lighting will need value harmonies to create form. Oblique lighting shows form best with light and shadow. Turn the form with value shapes not just blending all the time.

Shape Design: Practice and begin to understand what shapes are pleasing and why. Simplify complex shapes always. Squint all the time. Increase the angles of the shapes for a more dynamic look. Study Ai and other artists for shape design. Careful drawing effects shape design directly.

Composition: Simple subjects for now. Rule of thirds. Edges. Value. Color. All emphasizing the focal point. Use the direction of the brush strokes to emphasize the focal point as well. Learn from other masters of composition. Andrew Wyeth in particular.

Brushwork: Practice describing as much as possible with only one stroke. Improve my ability to soften an edge with a brush. Try to be more expressive with a brushwork. Look at Quang Ho. Expressive brushwork is often executed carefully, not fast. Instead of getting smaller brushes for smaller shapes use surrounding shapes to cut into others. After getting really good at control then I can be expressive. Not using a brush is an option.

Texture / Edges: Actively use edges to inform the composition more. Have a 80/20 variety of edges. Soft everywhere but the focal point. Think about how depth of field works in a camera. Use this painting as an example.

Other: Stand up at least every 30 minutes.

Keep doing

  • Small paintings for fast iteration of what I want to learn.
  • Working to find my true voice.
  • Simplifying shapes.
  • Getting the value right first and checking when I’m unsure.
  • Finishing a painting daily and reviewing.
  • Squinting.
  • Continue to limit my options when painting. Materials, subject matter,
  • When I’m not painting surround myself with information about painting.

Stop doing

  • Using my smallest brushes.
  • Details everywhere.
  • Listening to podcasts while painting. Music only.
  • Caring what others think about my paintings.

What does “Done” look like?

  1. Gain a deep understanding of my voice. “Know Thyself.”
  2. Find a subject I can go deep on for decades.
    • Paintings with a narrative? Figure or animal in an environment?
    • How can I get more specific with this?

Session Details