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."