Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Day 43 New Years Eve


Back to work today on one of the central demon clusters.  Having to sit on a table to work.  I don't know if it is the cold I have or not but my back has really been hurting the past few days.  My head feels like 100lbs and my energy is low but nothing is going to keep me from getting a good days work in.  I didn't get to work too much yesterday on "The Damned."  I have another commission for a life sized "Crucifixion" that is due for a church in Ohio by Lent.  Now would be a good time to start!  I spent the day working up an incredibly dramatic composition and the rest of the evening building a 4ft x 8ft panel for it.  I puttied it and came up to my studio to work.  I'll gesso it every hour or so and by the morning it will be ready to paint on.  I will be juggling both paintings for the next few weeks.

Anyhow, here is a shot of the painting as of December 27th.  I've worked my way to the left side of the painting along the bottom.  I'm working on the larger demons in the middle.  You'll see a lot of areas that are more white or blurry.  Those are still in the sketch stage.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Day 41

12:23 AM (next day)

Finishing up after just over 12 hours of work today.  I'm going to bed early tonight.  I've been feeling very sick, mostly sinus congestion all day.  My back was hurting earlier in the day but I worked through it.  I had an awesome day of painting, however.  I finished another two full bodies and three heads near the bottom of the painting just to the left of the photo below.  Everything is working out well.  I have 21 more full figures to finish.  At this rate I should make it under my desired timeline of the next 7-10 days.   Hopefully a good night's rest will help me beat this cold.

11:54 AM

Woke up pretty sick this morning - sinus cold.  The last two nights I've been having trouble getting to sleep after working so long.  This is weird because I'm usually exhausted when I'm finished painting.  I've even started taking Melatonin but the last two nights it hasn't helped.  This schedule is getting the best of me.  At least the holidays are over so I'm happy to have an even longer, uninterrupted schedule.   Fortunately, I just had a nice morning coffee break with Mrs. Armusik and I'm sitting down again to paint.   I just thought I'd post a shot my daughter took of me and about 1/3 of the painting as of Christmas day.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Day 40

11:24 PM

Happy holidays, everyone!

First, I want to apologize for not posting any shots of "The Damned" in progress since day 16.  I am at a critical point in the project and I want to make sure that my client sees the painting in progress before I announce it on social media, a courtesy they most certainly deserve.

So, what have I been up to for the last three weeks?  Work, what else?  In truth, the painting has been going very well.  I've been pushing the boundaries of my normal style to allow for more surrealism and mannerism into the figures in this painting.  The effect is really dramatic and unsettling.  I've been working quicker than I normally do in painting the figures but even so it takes me an entire day to paint 1-2 bodies.  Fortunately, I've finished about 2/3 of the over 60 large figures in the painting and I am hoping to finish the painting in the next 7-10 days, provided the work I've completed is approved.  Being able to finish such a large painting in under 50 days would be an epic feat to say the least.  I've given it everything I have the last three weeks working as late as 4AM and getting up at 6AM to get the kids ready for school.

The last three weeks has been coffee, Visine, Airborne, exercise, paint...repeat, but I think you're going to really love the results.  Feeling exhausted at the moment and fighting off another cold.  It's my bodies way of saying I need to get a little bit of sleep so I'm signing off.

I'll be posting in the next few days or so.

Nightmare on Day 33

I guess it was inevitable that I would be thinking of this subject matter in my sleep.  I painted all night until about 3:30AM and proceeded to go to bed.  Alexei crawled into bed that night with Rebekah so it was the three of us.  I fell asleep almost immediately due to exhaustion.  Within 20 minutes I was screaming in my sleep.  It was one of those terrible dreams where you can't cry out for someone.  I was being possessed by a dark cloud forcing it's way into my ribcage.  Rebekah was in the other room about 15 feet away.  My attempts to scream in my dream were apparently real.  Poor Alexei was crying and Rebekah woke up very upset as well.  Scared the hell out of me.  I'll be glad to move onto the "Final Judgement" painting in January.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Day 16

2:55 AM  (Day 17)

I had a really great night of painting this session.  Seven more hours of work primarily in the middle of the eastern portion of the canvas.  Here I have a scene with a landscape of impaled figures in the distance, primarily in silhouette.  To the right and more in the mid ground I borrowed an element from Hieronymus Bosch's "Christ's Descent into Hell."

My client is looking for a more surrealistic approach to the landscape and some of the figurative compositions.  I've always admired Bosch's work and this will work nicely for some of the small clusters of figures.

Before tonight's session

Painting impaled bodies in the distance

Got the middle of this area roughed in.  Looking to move onto the red abyss that is solid red tomorrow.  

A little detail of the field of impaled bodies
Things are going well even though I have only three more weeks to finish this.  I am hoping once I feel 100% better I'll be putting in triple time on this painting - especially once it is time to start working on the figures, of which there are over 50.  Though the size of this piece is sometimes daunting, once you stand back and think, "I haven't done a thing all night on this," the painting is progressing now that I have more than two weeks to look back at.  I feel a lot better now than I did the day I committed to this project.  There's something about being in the middle of a strange new project that is far more comfortable than speculating how things will go.  More tomorrow.  I need sleep.  The kids will be up in three hours.

8:58 PM

Sorry I didn't get a chance to post anything last night.  I was only able to work a few hours before this head cold put an early end to the night.  I'm feeling a little better tonight so I'll post more in a few hours.  This is where I am at the moment, on the east side of the painting in a distant field of impaled bodies.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Day 14

2:20 AM

Had another good painting night even though I'm sick again.  The cold has moved up into my sinuses and I'm taking Airborne to keep it from getting worse.  Had to go to a concert for my girls this evening so I didn't get started until later in the day.  Another six hours of work on it today.  I spent this evening working on the left side of the painting, getting the bottom jaw of the wolf fish roughed in, a few bodies, a cavernous landscape in the mid ground and some flames in the lefthand foreground.  Overall I'm happy with where it is going.  Once I rough in enough of the foreground I'll start working on figures.  I see lots of great potential for strong expressions and emotions in this piece.  I'm also going to be buying a video camera so I can start to film some of the work on this painting.  I'm getting a lot of requests to show techniques so I just wanted you to know you can look for it soon.  If anyone has any questions about anything FOLLOW the blog and comment!  Thanks very much for your support.  Good night...

Worked on the bottom of the wolf fish, roughed in the flames and some of the background caves and stones

This shot is a little closer to the color and contrast.  This painting is so hard to shoot because of it's size and how it fits in my studio.  I'll be working on some of the figures soon.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Days 12 & 13

Day 13

1:11 AM

Though I woke up sick this morning I spent most of the day working on this painting.  The longer I worked the better I felt.  I had to take Airborne and I tried to drink lots of fluids and homemade vegetable juice to kill this thing quickly.  At the moment I'm feeling really great and I would really like to paint for a few more hours but I should sleep just to be sure.  I was able to paint almost 12 hours today.

I spent the day working on the nebula of fire behind satan, who is in the center of the painting.  I also painted in some of the fiery clouds to his left and I started painting the large wolf fish that has several bodies in his fiery mouth.  My client loves the work of Hieronymus Bosch and Dieric Bouts.  I wanted to draw on the use of animals found in their works to enhance the terror of the scene while marrying the painting to a certain tradition of hell paintings.  I have another pass on the fish yet but this is a pretty good start.  I'll be working on satan too once I get more of the sky and landscaping in.  My plan is to move onto the figures once the scene looks the way I have it in my mind.

Time for bed.  I'm hoping to wake up feeling better.  Too much to do.

The colon on this one is terrible.  I apologize.  The reds are much more subtle behind the devil.  The top and the left are a little more representative of how it looks in person

My "wolf fish" - I worked on the top of his.  The inside of his mouth will be on fire and two bodies will be burring in the fire.  I have another pass on him tomorrow to push out the highlights.

A quick overall shot.  Not the best since the left side is glared out by light.  As you can see at this point most of the top and the middle have been roughed in so far.

Day 12

I apologize for not posting last night.  I thought I my nose and throat were getting agitated by the amount of medium I'm using on this piece for the background.  It never bothered me before but I never work on areas this large at one time.  Though I made efforts to ventilate the room with two fans my throat was still bothering me.  I got in six hours of painting nonetheless and went to bed at 11PM only to wake up in the middle of the night to a sore throat and a cold.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Day 11

8:04 PM

Worked much of the day today on the background in the upper right hand quarter of the painting.  I had my intern working on building up the preliminary layers on some of the demons and the victims in the bottom of the painting.  Things are going well but it's still amazing to see how many hours of work only amount to a portion of this painting.  It's unbelievable, but I'm growing more excited about it the more I work on it.  There is so much potential to add little elements throughout the landscape.  Looking at a lot of Bosch to influence these little scenes.  I may work on it more tonight but here's where it is for now after a full day.

I worked on some of the distant fires burning among ruins in the  middle of this picture.  The right side is still the rough in.

Some of the figures in the bottom middle getting a rough layer of flesh tones to build things up for later.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Day 10

2:54 AM

It's been a few days since I have been able to work on "The Damned."  I had to finish up two other paintings I was commissioned to do for a church in Pittsburgh, PA.  I painted a large painting for them in 2011 and earlier this year they commissioned me to do two side panels to turn it into a triptych.  I also had to build custom frames for them.  Fortunately my art shipper arrived ahead of the snow storm and they were safely delivered to the church.  Here is a mock up of the images as they will appear:
The life of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.  The triptych will be over 6 ft. x 12 ft. when installed.
Tonight is the first session that shows a little more of a finished layer to the painting.  Up until now everything has been the rough in process.  I have to admit that it is different for me painting on canvas like this.  I stopped painting on canvas back in 2001 when I began building my own wooden supports.  I'm still not much of a fan of the tooth of a canvas.  It requires a lot more work when building up the layers you need and the level of detail can't compare to the smooth surface of a panel.  It remains to be seen whether I'll evolve over the course of these paintings.  Maybe I'll have a fresh approach to my other work.  Who knows.  I am also pretty amazed at how much paint I'm using.  I might also attribute that to the rough texture of the surface.  In any case, here is a before and after photo following tonight's session of about 4 hours.  Now that I'm finished with my other commission the days will be much longer.  See you tomorrow, or, today.  Happy Thanksgiving.

(Before) - part of the background with just the rough in from last week

(After) - worked on an area about 5 ft x 3 1/2 ft tonight.  Painted a distant fire glow behind some ruins.  I'll bring more detail in during the next session

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Day 6

11:47 AM

Here's the only work of art I'll be looking at today, the love of my life.

Happy 17th Anniversary, darling.  I love you with all my heart and soul.

3:15 AM

Finishing up another exhausting day of painting.  A little coffee, one of those Monster drinks and some Vivarin to keep things going today.  Unfortunately I didn't get to work on "The Damned" painting the entire day/night.  As I mentioned yesterday I have another commission I need to finish painting and I have to frame before Tuesday.  I did, however, get to work on it this morning and afternoon.  My intern also helped me to block in some of the background elements so I can get more depth to it before I start working on the figures and details starting next week.

I think I may have to do something I've never considered doing before - covering up my artwork.  I've painted nudes for years.  I'm not the type of artist that paints anything lewd but there are many female nudes displayed in my studio and some of the rooms here.  My children have never even given them much attention.  This morning, Alexei saw one of the demons I roughed in yesterday and he started trembling and crying.  That's not the kind of thing I want.  It's certainly good for the painting but I don't want my children upset so I'm probably going to cover parts of it day to day.  It's going to be quite a disturbing painting.

The demon hovering over a tub of boiling oil.  The deadly sin of Greed .

Building a little more depth over the entire painting.  I'll be working on the figures over the weekend.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Day 5

7:35 AM

Remember that commercial from Dunkin Donuts, where the man said, "Time to make the donuts... I just made the donuts?"  I'm feeling like that at the moment.  Hard to get up this morning until I realized I have an art shipper coming in four days to pickup two commissions I have for a church.  I only have one finished and neither are framed.  Looks like I'm jumping on that for the day.  Hopefully I can come back to this later tonight.

Time to get some of Mrs. Armusik's amazingly strong and delicious coffee....

3: 06 AM

I figured I may as well put this post at day 5 since I've worked right into the next day.  After another 14 hour day I've finally finished the entire acrylic rough sketch.  Standing back from it now all I can feel is anticipation.  I can't wait to get into the background and then the figures in oil paint.  Nothing against acrylic painting but it isn't for me.  I've been a strict oil painter for two decades now and after all that time the materials really do become an extension of your hands.  You know how they feel, how to manipulate them and how to get what you want.  I'm grateful to work with something that dries so quickly to eliminate the drying time (and the fumes) but I'll be looking forward to all the subtle effects I'll be able to create with oils.

So far it took 33 hours in three days just to get a rough sketch down onto the canvas.  I've used four tubes of acrylic paint and half of a bottle of black gesso to rough in the dark areas.  That has also been a good decision and it will save me a lot of time.  I've been building up my blacks the gradual way since I learned how to paint.  Burnt Umber, French Ultramarine, Alizarin Crimson, Viridian then glazing over Ivory Black.  Using some black gesso is going to literally save me days.  This is good considering I have less than six weeks to finish this Goliath of a painting.

Well, time to go to bed.  The kids will be up for school in three hours.  Good night.

A shot of the entire 8ft x 14ft painting - first rough pass with acrylic completed in 33 hours in three days.

The view from my desk this morning.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Day 4

10: 40 AM

Got six hours of sleep last night.  My dreams of moving onto another commission for a few hours became wishful thinking.  I was feeling exhausted and I was fighting something off all day.  Fortunately the sleep helped and I'm feeling great this morning.  My goal is to rough the rest of the painting in today so when my intern comes tomorrow, she'll be able to start building up some of the figures in oil.  Feeling great and looking forward to a good day.

Day 6.  Working on the left side of the canvas today and putting the devil in.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Day 3

11: 20 PM

Just finished up a 13 hour day of painting.  Well, not really.  I have a double commission for a church I need to finish before the shipping company arrives next week.  I'll probably work on that until 2 AM or so.

The day went well.  I started feeling healthier as the day progressed.  After a full day I admit I'm disappointed I didn't get all the way across the canvas.  Settling for 50% of it roughed in is a little unsettling.  It's almost like the more you work on it the more you realize there is so much more to go. What is interesting, though, is the side that is roughed in looks much smaller than the left side.  Maybe psychologically that is meant to keep me hopeful I can pull this off.  Who knows.  Maybe I've been looking at it for too long.  Time to grab a bite to eat so I don't fall asleep before I can put another shift in before bed.   Enjoy the shots.

Roughing in the acrylic color.  Saving a lot of drying time so far.

Day 3 is toast.  Only 50% in 13 hours.

10:22 AM

Four to five hours of sleep last night if you count the hour I hit the snooze button on my iPhone.  Very tired this morning.  Very low energy.  Ate a good breakfast and made some fresh vegetable juice.  Trying to stay healthy while working such a long schedule.  I'm hoping the flu that ravaged my home last week spares me.  Getting back into the acrylic grisaille I started yesterday.  It's hard to believe this stage takes more than a day at this size.  Normally this is an hour of work for me on a typical painting.  There is just so much real estate on this canvas.  It feels like I'm painting 15 paintings at once.  With that said, I'm getting to work..

The view from my desk this morning of the middle of this painting.  

Day 2

2: 18 AM

Working on grisaille sketches today.  I've decided to do all of the preliminary painting in acrylic so I can speed up the entire process.  Feeling very delirious at the moment.  So tired.  Trying to stay up but I'm worried about catching a cold that seems to be working its way through our home.  Time for some rest.   See you tomorrow.

|I had hoped to have all the figures sketched in by the time I went to bed tonight.  Looks like
I'll just have to get a earlier start

Monday, November 17, 2014

Day One

Welcome everyone to my journey through Heaven and Hell over the next three months.  The reason for this blog is simple - to document my painting two enormous commissions over the next three months, of, you guessed it, Heaven and Hell.  More appropriately, the two paintings will be of The Elect and The Damned.

I've done a number of sketches for my client, which will remain anonymous, due to the terms of our contract and, as of today, I am ready to start working on "The Damned."   What I am attempting to do might take some artists months, even years to complete.  I don't have that luxury.  At all costs I have to complete both of these paintings by February 15.  My goal is to complete "The Damned" by Christmas.  This would seem an impossible feat considering both paintings are 8 feet x 14 feet.   It's just the kind of job I'm good at.  Let the endless painting marathon begin.  I'm ready to dive in so with that said I'll see you tomorrow with another shot of it.  
Rolling out a very large canvas in my carriage house (the only place I have that is big enough) and cutting it down to 14 feet.  I've come to the realization that a canvas 96" x 168" is just under "ginormous."