Saturday, February 28, 2015

The House That Dripped Blood

I got bored one day and bought a palette knife.  I don't really know anything about palette knifes.  I know more than I did when I did this piece (like how different mediums can help create a more three-dimensional look), but at the time I basically figured you took the knife and started slapping paint on.

This is the second piece in what I would like to become a series of paintings inspired by the album Tallahassee by the Mountain Goats.  This quick-and-dirty acrylic piece is based on track number five, "The House That Dripped Blood".

It's another rather literal interpretation of a single line of the song.

"The cellar door is an open throat"
Acrylic on 5 x 5 canvas
This was done rather quickly.  I like to think that I was able to get across the idea of either peeling, painted wood or crumbling red brick.  The idea is an extreme close up of the house in "Southwood Plantation Road" (also based on a song from said album), so I matched up the color scheme. 

The concrete entrance is supposed to look empty and cavernous.  Some of the shading and perspective is a little off, but overall I think I managed a sense of foreboding.   It's a bit more impressionist than I usually go for, the surrounding grass especially.

It's kind of interesting to note that I went from a far-away, very detached perspective in the other piece to an extreme close-up here.   Should I continue pursuing this series, I'd like to treat the decaying house as my main focus, rather than the couple the album is based around.


UPDATE:  So, whenever I have a song or literary inspired piece, I like to tweet or post to the Facebook wall of whichever artist has so inspired me.  After posting this piece to Twitter, I received this response from John Darnielle and pretty much couldn't stop grinning for three days.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Old World

This is one of my favourites. I had a lot of fun painting this.

Acrylic 8 x10

This image was inspired by The Burning Hell's tune 'Old World', a catchy piece of music that talks about birth from the perspective of a baby who is born and finds the world outside the womb is not what it is cracked up to be.

The narrator speaks of the easy life he* had as a wee fetus, just hanging out, smiling for ultrasounds and making plans for life after birth.
From the universe I planned out the world I would create,
I'd ride a scooter or a bus
and I would go on dates
And in the evening I'd stay in and concentrate
On drafting plans for my own benevolent state
Our narrator finds his little universe in the womb comfortable, but ultimate kind of boring, and looks forward to getting out, even though he senses there may be some let-down. The baby narrator has no idea until the day comes.
Then I was finally born into the disease of this world
and so were thousands of other little boys and girls.
We shook our little fists at the sky and cried and hurled our insults in our anger
Unfurled our flags and banners and waved them and we said
Take us back to the old world
We don't want this ugly new world
We were much happier back then
We want back in
Take us back to the old world
When I came up for this I wanted to attribute a sort of indignation and sorrow to a crying newborn. The fetal image is supposed to act as a sort of thought-bubble/wordless scream coming from this obviously pissed off baby (who, incidentally I am told, bears a resemblance to Phil Collins).

I used an acrylic wash for the background colour.  I wanted to use colours that were kind of warm and hazy in order to reflect the narrator's descriptions of the womb as a tiny universe, but I also wanted to bring to mind blood and tissue and the human body.

I don't what to call the style, but I wanted for the baby to look like it had been sketched quickly, with a marker or something to that effect (it's actually, you guessed it, black acrylic paint).

My only regret with this piece is not stopping before I added the text above the baby's head.  I feel like the sentiment was already apparent without people over the head with it.  Oh well.

*I don't actually know what gender the narrator is supposed to be.  I just think 'he' because the singer, Matthias Korn, is a dude.


UPDATE:  I tweeted this to @theburninghell and got a lovely bit of appreciation in return.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

#tbt - Esther and The Black Balloon - Redux

This piece is not only one of the first pieces I attempted, it's also one of the first pieces I looked at and said to myself "God, what crap. I think I can do better than this."

What it is, is a fairly literal interpretation of a passage from Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, where the narrator, Esther, describes the execution of the Rosenbergs (Wikipedia), comparing her fixation to her first time seeing a dead body:

For weeks afterwards, the cadaver's head - or what was left of it - floated up behind my eggs and bacon at breakfast and behind the face of Buddy Willard...pretty soon I felt as though I were carrying that cadaver's head on a string, like some black, noseless balloon, stinking of vinegar
I was drawn to the idea of carrying that sort of weight around, like a tiny rain-cloud when everything else was sunny, and that image informed my whole reading of the Bell Jar.

I will openly and honestly admit that the original version of this painting is rather terrible, but as I mentioned, this one one of my very first attempts at painting since high school.
Original acrylic on 8x10 canvas
When I went back in to try this again my main focuses were sharpening everything, giving more detail, straightening up the background, trying to give 'Esther' more expression.. pretty much fixing every damn thing.

I think the original may have been done in dollar-store crafter's acrylics, so the color is kind of bland.  You can see in the second that the colours are a lot brighter, with more texture.

The two images were taken years apart, with different cameras (the original might actually be from a scanner), in different lighting so that also accounts for much of the difference in tones.

I still feel like there could be room for a lot of improvement here, but there are elements I enjoy, such as the way she looks as though she is looking apathetically over her shoulder in the updated version.  Also the bushes around the houses are nice, I think.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Lake on Bruce Trail


I've been having a bit of a creative slump over the last couple of weeks, between being busy, not feeling up to painting (or writing, or music), and just a general feeling of 'BLEH'.  We're a week into February and it's kind of getting to me.

I've got a couple of works-in-progress that, in spite of my excitement, I had hit that moment of "This is coming along so well! I better not touch it in case I screw it up!"

So as a quick exercise and a chance to try out some of the mediums that I highlighted in my last post I pulled together a quick-and-dirty landscape scene, based on a picture that the boyfriend-guy took on a vacation we took two summers ago to the Bruce Peninsula National Park.

Acrylic on 9x12 canvas
I used the semi-gloss for the sky and some of the higher gloss gel for the lake.  I used some of the moulding paste and clear tar for the trees.  To be honest, I had a hell of a time with the trees and when I first started adding them I thought I had messed the the whole picture up for sure.

It's not my best of course.  But I was enough to get me motivated to work on some of my other projects, so that's something.