Viking Spirit!

Ahoy, avast, and all that. It recently occurred to me that it had been a year since I stepped aboard the Draken Harald Hårfagre, a Viking great ship built in modern times, on September 1, 2018, while it was docked at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia. This educational visit prompted a 6- to 7-month (painting) voyage on my part, and I realized it had been about as long since I had completed it– without yet sharing it here with you. Lest anyone wonder, it wasn’t a solid 6 months of painting, but rather 6 months or so from start to finish. Sometimes I let her (the painting) sit docked, as it were, for a few weeks while I worked on other things & thought about what to do next. Also, this painting is not of the Draken, but it is decidedly inspired by the ship. I found the deep red sail of the ship particularly striking and thus chose a red color for my painting.

Here is the irrefutably concise–in comparison to a 6-month, day-by-day version–travelogue of this painting’s development. Medium: tempera & acrylic. 

1. An acquaintance had given me a sizeable twice-painted-over painting on hardboard (with hanging wire already installed) that she no longer wanted. I sanded and gessoed over the old image. (Photo might be of the second layer of gesso. Gesso is essentially a primer.)

2. Next, thumbnail sketches (drawn in the car during a road trip).

3. Starting to add base colors/underpainting. The painting was too big to do on a table or my easel, so I propped it against a bookshelf.

4. Adding local color & developing water. I like a number of qualities about the water at this stage– there’s a looseness, an energy, the play of light & dark–but somehow as the painting continued, it got tighter, more controlled, and, because the green water seemed a little too tropical for a Viking voyage, darker & bluer. If I ever paint another version, I’d like to try to keep that looseness.

 

5. Bringing focus to the ship itself, including the sail. Somehow, over the several months, the visual line/direction of the composition changed  from something more linear to a kind of whirlpool. The water in the above photograph is constructed in an angular/zig-zag manner up to the ship; over time I embraced the whirlpool or vortex spiraling around it. 

6. Completion. I took this photograph outside (because my apartment does not have great lighting), so the colors look a bit different than in the other photos. Somehow it also seems flatter…but it gives a lot of depth to the corner where it hangs in my apartment. Curious contrast. 

Ready to cross the North Atlantic?

Latest Nautical Painting

On some previous projects, I’ve sporadically posted images of various stages of the process. For my latest commission, a sailboat painting, I decided to take photos after most painting sessions. Enjoy these snapshots. (The lighting changes, in turn changing the photo colors, but I assure you, it is the same artwork.)

The boat is named Tommy Dundee and is painted in oils on canvas.

TD-01

Underpainting + sky base color

TD-02

Basic cloud shapes + water base colors

TD-03

More developed sky (clouds) and water

TD-05

Boat base colors (local/actual color) and shapes

 TD-06

Boat details (placement) indicated (rigging, equipment, etc.)

TD-07Boat details developed and refined

TD-08Water details (colors, reflections, etc.) developed

TD-09Final touch-ups and completion!

Alice Moran Makes Port

Not-so-sticky greetings from the Tar Heel State! This past weekend, I delivered the finished painting of the Alice L. Moran to my great-uncle, framed it (in a frame he made), hung it, and rearranged the furniture in the room (so the Alice & the M. Moran are more viewable). My, is he pleased.

Again, as with the M. Moran, Uncle Joe (Joseph F. Hack) designed the Alice, and at the time (1966, I believe), she was the most powerful tug in the world. (The M. Moran is similar in that it was the most powerful in the Moran fleet when it was constructed.) The Alice was assembled in Japan, then sailed to England; she is still in service in South America but under a new name. Originally she had four engines (totalling 9600 bhp), but when she went south of the equator, two were cannibalized.

Uncle Joe shared that Admiral Moran (alias “the boss”) once confided that he did not know how he was going to crew the ship since she was so powerful; he thought perhaps a Dutch, Scandinavian, or German crew. Later, the Admiral’s son took over and hired a less-qualified Spanish crew for much less money. They took her on her maiden voyage from Japan to England. There, they tore up the dry dock because they didn’t know how to handle her. The lesson? Cheap isn’t always cheaper.

ALMweb2a

Although Alice has seen her share of toils, troubles, and disassembly, she still makes for a lovely painting.

August Advancements

And very distinguished ones, too.

Alice Moran:

She’s finished! No photo this time–I’ll wait until she’s framed.

Illustration:

Do You Have a Pebble in Your Pocket? (the goat book) is coming along slowly but surely. All the spreads are beyond the base layers of paint and, for the most part, unified in their color and value (light & dark) schemes. There are a few stowaways that I’ll bring into harmony with the rest. (What is that sea foam green doing in the middle of a tree?) Then I can think more about details as I brush up my rendering skills.

And because I’m sure you’re all curious about what the duodecimo happens at a haiku conference…

Haiku-coo for Cocoa Puffs:

First, let me say that last weekend was surprisingly successful! Hard to believe it was already a week ago. Made some contacts, sold a few books, wrote lots of haiku, discovered figgyhobbin… (We’ll see how many comments that garners.)

Friday was casual–registration, reception, a group reading of haiku by three poet-scholars they were honoring at the festival, followed by an open reading (for anyone to share). Let me say that when I stood up to share two poems I had penned that very evening, I did not expect 1) enthusiastic applause, 2) that I’d end up the rising star of the conference. I mean that in a very humble way. Throughout the weekend, several attendants (including some top-tier people) shared how much they enjoyed my haiku and that I had a very natural, intuitive sense. In fact, Sunday before I left, two ladies of the Haiku Society of American (HSA) conferred and said that to keep me writing, they would see about using the HSA scholarship fund to gift me a membership (and some HSA haiku journals) through 2015. This has been confirmed with the president of the HSA. I’m quite honored.

Back to the schedule. Saturday consisted of several workshops on different genres incorporating haiku (eg., haibun, which is short prose followed by haiku, and haiga, which pairs art and haiku), talks on the development and status of haiku, and more reading. Sunday, the group took a ginko (not to be confused with the Chinese ginkgo tree), which is a walk to gather inspiration for haiku, had lunch, and held a final reading.

Now that I’ve learned a few more things about haiku, I’ll expand upon my syllabic comments from last time (for your edification and enjoyment, if not my duty as a new HSA member). Haiku is, of course, brief, and it juxtaposes images, traditionally two concrete images, at least one of which pertains to nature or the seasons. Modern haiku and senryu often incorporate abstract or subjective images or ideas, too, such as an emotion. Both forms include incomplete grammar or syntax and a kire (“cut”), simply a pause or caesura, which aids juxtaposition (and may create an “aha!” moment).

Animal Art:

Since this post is getting quite long, I’ll keep this short. My panda project, Pandagrams, is well underway. Stay tuned to learn just what that includes. I also completed a portrait of a Norfolk terrier I dogsat about two weeks ago; scoot over to the Animal Art portfolio to see it.

Almost There, Alice!

Look, Alice, you’re almost out of “I-wonder-when-I’ll-get-home” land. More directly, the Alice Moran painting is almost finished. I added the final missing details (rails, name, and a few other little things) yesterday. I’ll post a photo here of her current appearance and won’t look at it or the real thing–which has been flipped over so I don’t peek. Once I’ve had sufficient time away from it, I’ll flip the painting back over and see how finished it really is. There are already things I want to tweak, but it’s better to do it with fresh eyes.

amoran_p6b-sm

The next time you see a new photo of this painting, it may very well be in a frame at its home port!

Alice aside, things are coming along slowly but surely with my illustration commission (the goats & pebbles book). The last images I posted from that project were sketches, so next I’ll show part of the next stage: washes. Soon enough, you’ll see a sample of a completed full-color spread.

GP_washes-8med GP_washes-7med

Other projects are moving along, too, such as Cartage. Bit by bit, the idea blooms and grows. I also have some “getting started ideas” and have begun a new little art series of caricatured/cartoon pandas. Or pundas, since wordplay is involved in these pandagrams. More on that another time.