Work in Progress: Beware

These are strange times we live in. There’s not too many other periods in my life when something so global dominated my every waking moment to the extent that it starts to filter into everything. I think the only time I can really remember this happening was 9/11.

While my daily life actually hasn’t changed too much – I still work from home and spend the majority of my time drawing and painting – everything around me has shifted dramatically. Sometimes it’s hard to focus… but in a strange way, if I didn’t have an art practice I think I would find this entire ordeal much more difficult to manage. When it comes down to it, art is truly therapeutic!

An example of what I mean about the Covid19 pandemic filtering into everything is the title of this latest painting, “Beware.” I’ve been tinkering with a vampire concept for a while now and was having some trouble thinking of a title. One potential title was, “Dead or Alive.” The vampires are stalking an 1800’s western frontier town and there are going to be some wanted posters in the background, so “Dead or Alive” seemed clever… but in the present moment, it also seems to be in bad taste. Do you see what I mean?

Even “Beware,” is a little bit risky but I have to go with something that makes sense for the image.

Something I’ve noticed in my work these days is that I’m constantly shifting and adjusting the image in the early digital phases even after I think I’ve got it nailed in thumbnail. I wanted a playful gesture for this lead vampire character and hit upon the idea of her holding a fan and doing a curtsy somewhat late in the process.

Something about her head just wasn’t right though. Having it tilted back just wasn’t quite exactly what was called for… maybe she should be more coy?

Ah, that was the ticket! Once I dropped her head downwards behind the fan it started to click. I needed an “oops, I did it again,” style expression, as in “oops, I drained your blood.” I think this is the hardest thing about designing a character – how do you get to the essence of who they are? I still don’t have a good answer, other than “draw until it feels right.”

From there it was still somewhat of a struggle – my first face for her was pretty ghastly.

But, you just have to follow the rule, “draw until it feels right.” Second face – much better! Now the background is really coming together, along with the supporting characters. From here on out the road is much smoother.

At this point I sent the work to some fellow artists to get a critique. Oh, critique – why are you so helpful and so painful at the same time? I actually don’t think my art would be as strong without the eyes of others and that’s OK. A note I got was that the image was on the overly dark side. Was there a way I could get the same mood without it being so dark?

I decided to rework the sky completely and introduce a hue shift rather than a value shift for the main character. Wow, so much better now!

I’m truly excited about this painting – I think it represents a step forward 🙂 Stay tuned for the final coming soon!