Sunday, November 8, 2015

Both Paintings Finished in 108 Days

Finally finished with my epic double commission of "The Final Judgment" and "The Damned."  Both paintings were finished in just 108 days total.  Both pieces are oil on canvas and total an enormous 8ft x 27ft.   I can't reveal where the will be going at this point, as per the terms of the contract with my client but I will announce it here when I have permission.  Thank you so much for your support during this whole crazy ride.  Originally I had exactly three months to finish the project.  Fortunately I was given a little more time but I still executed and completed the project just over that small window of time.  

Friday, November 6, 2015

Day 46 The End is in Sight

For days I've been saying "I'm almost there..."  Now I can actually say that knowing it is true.  I only have two more days to finish this commission and that's just about all the time I will need.  If I'm lucky, I may not even have to stay up late tomorrow night!  Things are going well but it all depends if I can keep up the pace.  I'm really to the point of complete exhaustion at this point.  The combination of late hours, early mornings, no coffee and strength training has be longing for the end.  Fortunately, the end is in sight.  You'll have to wait until Tuesday next week to see shots of the finished product.  I'll be having the talented photographer Darren Penrod photograph me and the painting this Sunday.   I can't wait for you all to see it.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Day 41 Deadline... Painting Finished? No.

Sorry it has been over a week since I posted.  At this point the painting should have been finished as today was the deadline - November 1.  Fortunately there is a little bit of leeway for me to finish it a few days late.  At this point I had to make the decision to paint much longer days to insure I'd finish the commission on time.  I've been working from about 9AM until around 2AM each day until the painting is finished.  Though I'm not as exhausted as I was during the last commission I'm certainly not as used to this long schedule as I was before.  Not to mention I gave up coffee before I began this second painting so things are a little more challenging.  Only another week to go.  Wish me luck.
Painted in a quick figure of Jesus on day 27.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Day 26-29 Working in the Middle

I've spent the last few days working in the middle of the canvas.  It looks like I'll be finished with all the figures on the ground in the next two days or so.  As it would figure, I mentioned how well I've been feeling a few days back.  Well, the last three days I've been fighting off a cold.  It hasn't developed into anything serious but it has cut into my late nights working on this painting.  I'm hoping I'll be past it soon.  It is my goal to be working on the angels in the sky by the next time I make a new post.  Wish me luck.

Add caption

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Day 24-25 Halfway Finished? Not quite.

I had hoped to be done with half of this commission by the 15th of October but I didn't quite make it. However, I've been picking up the pace the last few days and I think I can make the time up.  After weeks of work I believe I'm finally feeling in "the groove".

All of the figures I painted the last few days are in the on the right side of the mural in the "Hell" section.   I will be finishing the last few today and painting some of the demons before moving onto the middle of the painting.

I mentioned at the start of the project that I decided not to stay up ridiculous, late hours working on this one and that I would try to get at least six hours of sleep each night.  I also stopped drinking coffee and I've continued weight training.   In contrast to my last painting I feel healthy and ready to take on the rest of this painting to deliver it on time.  That isn't to say that the next two weeks will be easy but I'm ready to take it on.  Til next time..

Monday, October 12, 2015

Day 21-23 Moving Over to the Right Side

Sometimes one needs a little change of pace when working on a large project.  This was the case for me this weekend.  I decided to finish up what I could on the left side and I moved over to the right side of the painting to make some fresh progress.  I had hoped by the 14th of October I would have at least 50% of the painting finished.  At this point I'm around 30% finished so I really need to pick up the pace.  Fortunately this weekend went well.  The right side of this composition is mostly demons torturing and throwing bodies into the fires of hell.  As per the client's request the style of the painting is overly mannerist which you can see by the rendering of the body proportions and the stylized environment and flames.

That's it for now.  Lots of work to do.  Thanks for following along.  It's going to be a really busy three weeks...
Getting started on the right side on day 19.  Just roughing in the background around a falling body.

A close up of some of the bodies I painted over the weekend.  

What the painting looks like this morning.  I'll be painting somewhere in the middle today.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Days 11-20 Painting Hell Figures

I apologize for not posting for several days.  If I told you life is way too busy at the moment I'm sure it wouldn't take much convincing for you to believe me.  At the moment I should really be painting since I only have three more weeks to finish this painting so I'll be brief.  You can see exactly where I am by the two photos below which were taken about 5 days apart from each other.  I hope to post more frequently as I go forward.  Wish me luck.  It's crunch time.

(5 days ago)  Starting to rough in some of the figures being pulled into hell and begging for forgiveness
This is what the painting looks like in my studio this evening.  I'll be working my way out of this corner tonight finishing up the initial rough in of the remaining figures.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Day 10 - Painting Over the Finished Underpainting

This is what the Final Judgment looks like in my studio this morning.  The underpainting is crude but done to my liking.  I've never been much of a perfectionist in the under layer.  What the hell is the point of doing something perfect that you paint over?  That's just my personal preference and something that works for me.  Even though this painting will not be something rendered in my normal "realistic" technique of Baroque naturalism, I don't see the need of going any further on it, especially with only four weeks to go on this project.

As per my client's request, the composition will be more of a 16th century mannerist style and much of the composition was decided on before the project was given to me.  There are several references to the great final judgement scenes of that time period and I'm very excited to take on the challenge of doing something this complex in a very short amount of time.  There's nothing better than an extreme deadline to bring out the best in us.

I have, however, decided to be a little more conservative about beating myself up this time.  Since I painted the last commission I've decided to scale back my late hours and I've stopped drinking coffee.  This doesn't mean I won't be giving my all and working some long days but working so many late hours over the last 20 years is going to catch up to me sooner or later.  I fought off about 5 different colds while trying to paint the other commission on three hours of sleep for two months.  My immune system couldn't handle it.  I'm in the best shape of my life today, just a week before my 42nd birthday.  I'm training hard to keep it that way and for my health I need the sleep.  That is where I'm at today.  Who knows what I'll be feeling a week from now but that's how I feel today.

Thanks for following along and sharing this blog with your friends.  It's going to get crazy from here on out.

Day 2-9 Getting the Rough Layout Finished

Sorry to group a bunch of days together.  I've had a pretty packed schedule the last week and I haven't had the time to keep up with this blog.  I did, however, get a bunch of photos of the painting in progress during that time.

I began work on the canvas using a rough grisaille in oil with turpentine, unlike the last painting that I did the underpainting in acrylic.  After a few days I decided to go back to that method again.  The speed at which I could build up skin tones will be much better and it really helps with the dark areas on the bottom of the painting.

You can see a few days in where I even had my son, Alexei (7) and my daughter Milla (10) helping me block in the bodies of the painting.  They did a good job even though I think there was more paint on the plastic tarp and the baseboard.  A few minutes later I had to relieve them of their duties before the hardwood floor was completely ruined and Mom threw all of us out.  lol  I can't complain though because they saved me several hours of work.

Day 1 - Take Down "The Damned"

Welcome back to my blog, Three Months in Heaven and Hell.  Originally the commission was for me to finish two enormous paintings in three months by the end of December 2014.  After a few delays in the project I completed the first painting in 60 days by early 2015.  The second painting, The Final Judgement was on hold until August 2015 when I got the green light to start on it.  It's funny to note that even though both of these paintings were nearly a year apart, I am still working under the same deadline of "three months" so the title of this blog isn't really as off as I thought it was.  If I had to say, truthfully,  how many days I truly worked on the first painting during the Christmas season, it was more like 45-50 days out of the 60.  With only 5 1/2 weeks to work on this new painting the math all works out.

Here are some shots of day 1 taking down the first mural and getting ready to put up canvas #2.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Some Last Minute Changes to The Damned - Officially Moving on to The Final Judgement

After a few days of making some alterations to the first painting "The Damned" I'm officially moving on to the second painting in the commission "The Final Judgement."  My client wanted a little more people in the mid-ground and background of the painting and a few of the figures to be altered.  I did a final glaze of Cadmium Red and Vermillion on all the flesh  to marry the skin tones to the environment.  After it dries in the next 24 hours I will be rolling up the canvas onto a tube and getting the second canvas ready to be taped on the walls of my studio.  Some shots before the changes and after are posted below.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Painting Two, The Final Judgement, is in the works...

In front of "The Damnation" in January 2015    oil on canvas    8ft x 14ft
It has been a few months since I posted here.   Now that I was able to get a bunch of paintings behind me, including the Crucifixion for a church in Akron, Ohio, a few other minor commissions, my Circe painting that is currently in Barcelona, Spain after it was shortlisted for the Figurativas International Painting Competition and another version of Circe that I am currently finishing.

Now that my client is ready for me to resume the second part of this commission I will be starting on a companion piece to The Damned which will be The Final Judgement.  This painting will also be 8ft x 14ft with about 100 figures.  It will show both Heaven above and demons dividing up and dragging people to Hell.  It will be the most ambitious painting of my career so far.  That is saying a lot considering the last painting was as challenging as it was.  From what I know at this time it will have to be completed by October so it will make for an accelerated timeline again.  In plain terms, no sleep for another two months.  I will post once I make a few alterations to the Damned painting and I get the new canvas secured to the wall of my studio.  You'll hear from me again soon.  Get ready for a crazy ride...
The Crucifixion - commissioned for St. Sebastian
RC Church in Akron, Ohio    March 2015
"Circe" oil on birch  4ft x 5ft  May 2015
Shortlisted for the Figurativas International Painting Competition in Barcelona, Spain

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Day 69

2:57 AM

As promised here are some overall shots of "The Damned" from this past Friday.  The photographer and I are still piecing the file together we shot of the painting but here is an overall shot of it that I created from the skewed photo that was taken from the side.  The resolution on the camera was pretty incredible and it allowed me to give you a descent overall shot once I stretched it out in Photoshop.  There is loss of resolution on the left side but it at least gives you a chance to see everything.

There will be some edits to the painting in the next week or so as I am requesting final approval.  With that said, here it is as of Friday, January 23rd.

The Damned as of January 23rd.  8ft x 14ft completed in 63 days

This is how the shot looked in my studio.  I stretched this out to get the first photo.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Day 68

I just wanted to make a quick post to tell everyone that I'll be posting some high quality shots of "The Damned" painting tomorrow.  I took some photos of it with photographer Darren Penrod this past Friday.  I have a pretty good overall photo, which I haven't been able to take until now due to the enormous size of the painting in the small studio I paint in.

We are still piecing together a VERY large, high quality photo of the painting.  Darren shot the painting in 21 pieces which we are assembling in Photoshop.  He put the tripod in one spot shot one at 7ft, one at 4ft and one at 1ft then we moved the camera two feet to the right and repeated the process.  It's hard to imagine, I'm sure but in the end the file will have little or no loss of resolution.

So stay tuned, tomorrow morning I'll post an overall shot and I'll have some close ups to show as well.  For now here's another shot he did of me working.

Working on one of the small figures in "The Damned" painting

Friday, January 23, 2015

Day 64

12:01 PM

I finished up painting around 3AM last night.  I finally started to paint in some of the little people in the background on the right side.  In all I probably painted in at least 100 little people.  It's funny because I used to have a body of work that centered on little people in these huge apocalyptic skies and landscapes in the mid 90s.  I started working on them in college at the encouragement of my art professors who found no merit whatsoever in the beautiful large figurative pieces I was working on at the time.  Funny how I remember one of them telling me in a critique, "You'll never make it as an artist painting traditional figurative paintings."  Yeah, right..

I digress..

The painting looks great with the little people.  I'm going to add more after today but I wanted to wrap things up to have a professional photographer shoot it this afternoon.  I've had an impossible time photographing the painting because of my lack of experience, equipment and the size of the room I'm trying to paint this in.  After today you'll FINALLY get to see what this painting looks like for me.

Anyhow, I have to go.  We need to move some things around to start photographing.  I'll be posting them next week for you.  I'll also be starting the Final Judgement!!!

You'd think I'd be rejoining after finishing up such a large project, but I'm only, barely, halfway there....

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Day 63

10:40 AM

Back to painting after a busy morning.  Poor Alexei woke up numerous times last night with a fever.  He's been battling the flu so he's asleep on the couch.  Fortunately his temperature is coming down but he isn't eating or drinking anything but Gatorade.

After a whirlwind morning helping Rebekah to organize the house I'm back to resume work.  I've been looking forward to today's work for some time.  I have to put in a bunch of little people in the background.  I didn't want to do much of this until I finished the larger figures throughout the painting.  Now with that finished I can have a little fun.

I just found a video my daughter filmed of me from my phone.  I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the work on the demons being roughed in.

1:38 AM

Getting to bed a little early tonight.  Last night was a little too late.  Once I go past the 3:00 AM window I'm in trouble the next day.  Fortunately I had a great day painting today.  I painted four figures.  Tomorrow all I have to paint is the snakes crawling up the leg of "Sloth."  After that I have a few adjustments to some of the figures.   After that I am going to do a lot of fill in with smaller figures in the background.  I'm really excited to do this because it has been almost 20 years since I did paintings with little people.  This is an opportunity to show off a lot of ideas I have very quickly.  I've done enough studying torture for this reference, the past few weeks that I am ready to move on to something a little less gruesome.  I am painting a Crucifixion for a church next week and somehow that seems serene.

I filled in an area on the right side of the painting with a "Catherine Wheel."  I have a figure chained to it and he is being turned upside down in the flames.  Envy is also painted.  I'm looking forward to a few hours extra sleep tonight.

Good night.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Day 62

11: 58 AM

I'm back to working on the center of the painting.  I have one single figure left that I need to work on and then I'm shooting over to the right side again.  I'm feeling healthy today but getting up to get the kids to school this morning was not easy.  Alexei woke up around 5AM with a fever.  I don't even think I had fallen asleep yet after getting to bed at 4AM.  Milla burst into the room this morning to wake me up.  I don't think my eyes even focused until a half hour later.  I'm not exaggerating.  All I could see was a cloudy mess.  After a strong coffee and a shower I'm ready to attack this painting with all I have.

I have some unfinished figures there that will be the bulk of my work today.  One is for the deadly sin of Envy.  Normally this person is shown in freezing cold ice.  Since that's a little difficult to show (she's surrounded by an inferno) I am taking a more emotional approach with a little bit of visual help using the color green (green with envy etc.)

I am also painting out two figures that were skewering a woman and using one of them to operate a "Catherine Wheel," a medieval devise used to break a human body.  It will find a nice home in this painting.

Off to paint more maiming, torture and sinister things.  Wish me luck!

3:19 AM

Finished with another day.  Time to rest.  My eyes are not doing too well.  Had a great night painting. I spent the day listening to "The Fountain" soundtrack.  I really love the music.  I decided to watch the movie while I worked.  Very strange film yet really sad and depressing.  I don't know if it was that or the creepy demon I was painting this evening but my stomach has been in a knot all night.  Feeling really anxious.  I am not sure if it is a combination of the imagery or the pace of things but this is becoming a recurring feeling.  Anyhow, that marks another day.  I'm feeling pretty good that tomorrow just might be the end of the large figures.  See you then.

This is what 2 months of sleep deprivation looks like.  The canvas behind is what you get for it.

12:13 AM

Getting ready to dive back into painting again.  I had to take care of some art marketing materials I'm sending out.  I'm enjoying a nice plate of Eggs and Ful for my midnight breakfast and I should be good for another 3 hours tonight.  I needed a little boost for this evening so a cup of Starbucks Verona and a Vivarin and I'm ready to rock and roll for another late night.

At this point I am thinking I can wrap up most of the large figures by the end of tomorrow's session.  This would allow me Thursday to do just small people everywhere.  Friday I'll get some great shots with the photographer.  Well, my food is getting cold.  Time to eat and work.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Day 61

2:16 PM

I'm having a great day today.  I was able to get right back into the painting after dropping my children off for school.  I finally wrapped up all the figures on the left hand side.  More specifically, I finished painting the deadly sin of "Greed."  The punishment for all eternity is to be boiled in hot oil.  I went a step further as per my client's suggestions to have one of the people in the tub slithering out to reach into a spilled pile of gold.  This area has the feeling one might have after being slowly stewed.  There is a very subdued, surrealistic feel to the characters, like overcooked pasta.  The creepiest part is the demon that is watching over the pot.  He is disgusting and has a deranged, almost amphibious face.  This is the demon that made my son cry in the sketch stage of the project.  It's just disturbing.

Well, onto the middle of the painting.  Soon my children will be home from school.  Have to keep moving. I'll be on this another 12 hours today.

2:24 AM

Good morning, everyone.  Sorry it has been a few days since I posted.  Things have been more busy than ever.  After another week of sickness I'm finally feeling like I'm out of the woods again.  My nose isn't stuffed up and my energy is back.  Having little or no problem staying up these days even without coffee.  I'm getting sick of drinking it again.  It happens every so often.  I'm usually a slave to drinking it but I think after this long my body is adjusting to the schedule.  That's good because I still have another painting to do yet by mid March.

Feeling great and anxious to bring "The Damned" to the finish line this week.  I have about another 4-5 figures to finish up and then I have some revisions to a few of the characters for the client.  I'm also feeling really great after this weekend now that Rebekah has totally redesigned my studio and I have new large strip of track lighting to work by.  The lighting is so much more diffused now and it is so easy to work.  I never had to worry about lighting so much in the past but due to the size of this painting I had to use 3x the normal lighting in my studio so that everything could be seen while I am working on it.

In any case, wish me luck.  I have my good friend Darren coming this Friday to professionally shoot the painting.  I can't wait to share the shots.  The ones I post here are just from my iPhone and not very accurate in terms of color and contrast.

Anyhow, I have to get to bed.  Need to get a few hours in to recharge.  Take care.

A shot from the bottom left of the canvas at the end of Day 61 (unless you count the fact that I'll be back on the canvas again when I wake up in four hours)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Day 56

1:41 AM

Finishing up another late session.  After three days of good health my immune system is under attack again.  I can feel a cough settling in my chest and everything in my body is starting to ache.  I have no time to rest so I'm loading up on Airborne again.  Every time I have a major project the late hours and no sleep do a number on my body.  My mind wants to continue but it is a struggle.  

I have been focusing on the left hand side of the painting today.  There are a number of figures in the mid-ground that I was able to paint in today.  If I have a good day tomorrow I'll be able to finish the rest in that area. 

Not feeling really well right now.  Hopefully some rest will help.  Good night.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Day 54

1:57 AM

Sorry it has been a few days.   I've been working nonstop the last five days on this painting and my last entry for this year's Art Renewal Center competition.  I finally finished up my painting of "The Beheading of St. John the Baptist."  It turned out incredible.  Between this schedule and adding an additional painting, I've been getting even less sleep.  The payoff is that I'm doing the best painting work of my life.

I finally kicked the sinus cold I had since Christmas.  It never fails this time of year.  With a hard painting schedule without sleep a cold likes to stay around much longer.  In addition I almost got hooked on Afrin during that time and I had a few extra days of sinus problems before everything went away.  I know Rebekah will be disappointed with me but I will not be joining her addition!  Lol.

Anyhow, I'm feeling great again and I'm going to start working out again starting tomorrow.  I don't know if it is the duration of this project but staying up is becoming much easier.  I haven't even been drinking coffee at night because I am having problems going to bed, even if my nights are ending at 4AM.  I started taking Melatonin to sleep and that seems to be helping satiate the problem.

Looking forward to a big week with the painting.  I am hoping to wrap up all the major work, work on a few adjustments requested by the client and bring this thing to the finish line so I can start the next painting "The Final Judgement."

I worked on this little area of the bottom left corner tonight.  It is for the sin of GUTTONY.  The historical depiction of this in hell is to be force-fed rats.  The bodies are contoured and elongated adding to the mannerist feel of the overall painting.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Day 49

11:35 PM

I'm sitting here, ready to paint for another session fighting some really nasty fatigue.  For me it's just about the worst feeling I can have - trying to get back to work after falling asleep.  Unlike some people I can't stop.  If I do, fatigue sets in and I'm asleep in seconds.  I'm not the kind of person that can nap either.  Instead, I do all I can without stopping.  This isn't because I don't love sleep.  I LOVE TO SLEEP.  I just believe my purpose to paint is more important than sleep.  When I have a deadline like this project it is only logical that my normal system of work is ramped up with more intensity.  Four years ago I had to pull off a 14 panel "Stations of the Cross" commission in only 4 months (including getting compositions ready, hiring models, posing and delivering the finished product across the United States in time for lent).  I've also painted 22 portraits in 48 hours of continuous painting without sleep back in 2010.  For me it's about the thrill of what is possible when you push yourself to the limits.  I'm grateful for the opportunity to do it again with these enormous commissions.

When I reflect on that success in my personal and business life, this uneasy feeling in my stomach, my burning eyes that won't focus, and the nagging conscience in the back of my head that keeps telling me to call it a night doesn't seem to affect me the least bit.  With that said it's time to get back and paint until dawn.

Here's an iPhone shot of the devil from last night.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Day 47

2:01 AM

Just finishing up another night of painting.  Things went very well.  I finished the devil and a three headed dragon monster he is riding on top of.  Looks very disturbing.  Rebekah refuses to look at it every time she visits me in my studio.  I'm glad that part of the painting is finished.  I can retire the ladder until I have to finish an area on the left side of the painting which has a temple structure that is burning.   After the devil I painted in a large scaly rat coming out of a hole and eating a human.  I also roughed in another tortured figure and two demons around him.  These should go very quickly tomorrow.  As for tomorrow I'm moving along the bottom of the painting to a section that has one of the deadly sins of Gluttony.  The picture is a very obese man being force-fed rats by a demon.

See you tomorrow.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Day 46

I tried to finish the devil last night but I wasn't feeling well enough to make it past 2AM.  I'm digging in again to finish him.  I finally moved my lighting above so I have more space to move in my studio. I've never had to juggle so many chairs, stools, ladders and tables.  Normally, even with a larger painting I'll use a chair and a table.  With all the area to move around this painting it is easy to get cluttered.  Today should be some of the last ladder work I need to do.  The devil is at the top center.  As of this point I have all but his face and the faces of the dragon he is riding finished.

Now that I have decent light I wanted to share a photo so you can get an idea of the scale of this painting.

Day 45

12:56 AM

I'm still sick as a dog but soldiering ahead.  So much head congestion I feel dizzy.  Normally this wouldn't be a good time to be on a ladder but I have no choice.  I am working on the devil tonight.  I had to go to bed early last night.  Trying to nurse this cold but it isn't letting up.  Lots of nausea today as well.  Sadly my Rebekah is sick with the same cold.  I couldn't think of a person I'd rather be sick with!

Anyhow, I just wanted to check in with a gratuitous selfie from on top of the ladder.  I'm near the ceiling tonight until I finish this devil.  Things are really looking great.  I finished the largest cluster of big demons on the bottom and they look really disturbing.  I can see the end in sight.  Lots of work to go yet, though.

Ladder work tonight.  Have to finish this devil.