Star Cave’s New Title


Here is an update to the Star Cave painting I was working on with its new title of “Predatory Stars in the Depths of the Universe”.  It was a surprise to me that this painting ended up going in this direction because I was only planning on playing with improving my nebula designs as an easy exercise.  However, after working with the lower left portion of the nebula, I noticed that it reminded me of the jaws of an angler fish.  Even more surprising, I had intended some time ago to work on a project like this for my sister who is an ocean nut.

I was going to try making a nebula that looked like an underwater coral scene and maybe some other ones that look like ocean fish.  That had not been my intention on this painting but the look sparked my imagination, so I dove in.  I hope to make this much more detailed and the lure, which is the bright blue star, less obvious.  I want people to see the nebula and drink it in without realizing the over all idea.  That way they get an expanded sense of awe when they figure out the larger meaning.


New $3 Reward “Fast as a Cheetah with a Gimp Leg” (from my Patreon page)

Whooohoo, I finally finished the first tutorial that I uploaded to My Patreon Page .

The write-up:

“Here is the first tutorial I promised for the Cheetah painting I will be working on soon.  Whether I will continue with these depends on the response and my ability to improve the product I am giving you. One concern is that the quality of the images is not what I hoped for in the document.  I saved them as jpeg, which may have knocked the quality down so I will see if a tiff file will work better.  Another concern is that this is a cumbersome way of presenting the material.  Finally, as I delve deeper into the actual painting, the steps and results will be harder to document in this manner.

With that being said, I think this first tutorial is very good for anyone with a passing acquaintance of Gimp 2.8 that is thinking of playing around with it as a digital painting program.  I explain a lot about the use of layers (basically sheets of paper) and how they interact with each other.  I show how you can take the drawing you scan in and separate the pencil sketch from the white background, along with why you would want to.  I show in this tutorial all the steps I take in setting up everything I will use to make the final painting.  In addition, I give many of the reasons for my choices and some examples of what I did before learning to set up as I do now.”

Glory of a Sunset (from my Patreon page)


I am a sucker for a beautiful sunset.  The amazing colors nature produces at these times are almost drinkable they are so intense.  Yes, I realize sunrises have the same effect, but I so rarely get to see those.  Several years ago I spent a lot of time taking photos of sunsets around my home so I would have references for painting whenever I needed.  I have hundreds of sunsets stored in boxes.

Watching the transition of colors from warm yellow to earthy red to cool purple and finally steely blue is very satisfying.  Not just the sky itself, but the clouds as well.  Many times they act as counterpoint to the sky’s color, picking up a rosy red even after the sky has begun to turn dark blue.  Clouds will be bright blasts throughout the display of raw color spread upon the bowl of heaven.  So take time and enjoy a sunset or two in your life; you will be glad you did.

Well, What are Your Thoughts? (from my Patreon page)

I was talking to someone about art recently after I showing them my newer digital work and they mentioned they felt digital painting was to paraphrase “cheating”.  They felt it was too easy.  To be fair, I have felt this way myself at times and think a lot about it with the projects I am working on.  My main qualm I guess is with photo-manipulation and the use of skin textures over actual painting of the textures.

I have seen some very well done photo-manipulations but I still do not feel they are artwork.  They are more of a craft.  Yes, there are artistic skills and sensibilities required to make a good manipulation; however, they are not as in-depth as someone who creates the image from scratch not using other people’s work.  The skill level is not as high.  In my own work, I have used many of the skills of photo-manipulation to arrange and join various elements of my final images, but each of those elements was hand created by me from the initial drawing to the digital painting.  The digital paintings I do also do not use any kind of pre-made texture like fur or rock to fill in parts of the image.  Each element is handled like a physical painting.

Where I struggle a little with my own work is that there are some techniques I use that could not be done easily in the real world but are very simple in the digital domain.  For instance, keeping a foreground element separate from the background so that you can paint the background freely is not so easy in the real world and has damaged the quality of some of my physical artwork.  However, in the digital domain it is as simple as two separate layers.  Then there is the issue of brushes.  Some brushes are actually like stamps such as leaves or plants that can be used to fill in landscapes.  For the most part I avoid these brushes but I do make use of another ability of brushes, which is that they can be animated.  Yes, this is something you can’t do with a real brush, but I have found it necessary to achieve softer effects because the digital brushes are basically stamps and have no real world shape or characteristics.  A digital brush is nothing more than the tip of a real brush as a stamp, even the more complex ones.  There is no fulcrum between the fingers and the tip as with a real paint brush so they tend to be more rigid and need animation to add some randomness to their use at times.  I liken digital painting to working with color pencils where there is more control as opposed to a paint brush, which takes more technique to manipulate.  Not that pencil work does’t have its own challenges but the placement of pigment is much more direct and controlled with a pencil compared to a brush.

So, as you can see, I enjoy the work I have been able to produce using a digital format, but I do question some of my assumptions while creating them.  My take; however, is to create and paint as much as I can as if I was painting in the real world.  I use stamping style brushes as little as possible or not at all.  For the most part I use the round or soft round brush to paint with but lately have been using a pencil-shaded animated sponge brush to achieve some of the effects of a real airbrush since the brush alone would be a stamp.  Let me know your thoughts on the subject.

Adjectives and Painting (from my Patreon page)

Yes, I said that.  Just a wild thought, but some techniques used to accentuate areas in a painting could be considered like adjectives in writing.  For instance, using a very dark hued palate for a painting to depict a somber, sad, or evil image is similar to using adjectives like black, stark, or malignant.   On the opposite end, a bright-colored palate for a happier subject can resonate as lively, sunny, or cheery. 

Using a painters knife to cut in thick, defined texture to rocky areas is a visual means (one I have not mastered) of showing rough, angular, and solid stone.  Airbrush painting is a popular method of achieving soft, smooth effects in paintings such as silky, glassy, and gentle are for writing.  Basically, artistic techniques are visual means of enhancing the meaning of a subject much similar to using adjectives to enhance the meaning of literature.

Well Shame on Me (from my Patreon page)

I just realized that I had not posted anything for my $5 a month patrons.  I ask for forgiveness since I have been fighting a sinus infection, which is making me queasy a lot.  To make amends, I will post last weeks and this weeks pictures together.

The first image is a photo I did for art class back in the eighties.  The title is “Healing the Dark Crystal”, which means it is a painting of the Gelfling Jen preparing to make the Dark Crystal whole again.  This is one of the few acrylic paintings still around from that time frame.  I loved working with the colors and contrast of light to dark.  Also, trying to capture the translucency of the crystal was fun.  Obviously, the image comes from the movie “The Dark Crystal” directed by Jim Henson after the success of Yoda in “The Empire Strikes Back”.

The second image is a collection of random drawings and sketches I have done over the years.  There are a lot of skulls and a dragon.  Also, an early study for the painting “Rodeo” that you can find on my Deviantart page.  I started reworking “Rodeo” as a digital painting, but put it aside when the Tiger kept begging me to work on it and the fact that I could not come to terms with the background for “Rodeo”. Hopefully, as I work on other images, something will come along.  Anyway, enjoy these scribbled ideas and painting from my past.

Canvas of the Imagination (from my Patreon page)

If you have looked at my Deviantart page or seen my works in other places, one of the things you will notice is that I use unique canvas sizes. For me, the area to paint can be as important as the painting because it helps define your goals.

I actually had a canvas custom-made for a painting of a grizzly bear I created.  Like the canvas size for “Quiet Strength – Silent Vulnerability” it was tall and thin.  For the digital painting “Sundiver” I tried such a canvas size again, hoping to evoke the vastness of the sun and the smallness of the man, while still allowing some closeness to the man.  Unfortunately, I was not happy with the results so someday I hope to redo the painting with some other canvas.

In other cases, I choose the opposite dimensions where the height is small compared to the width.  Usually, I do this so I can emphasize the scale of the background to the focus image.  I did this with “Universal Eyes – Infinite Sadness”.  I wanted the side view of the galaxy to expand well beyond the face of the wolf.

Finally, there are times I choose a canvas for the challenge or I have no thought about it at all.  I have a huge oil painting I have not finished  that I chose simply for the challenge of its size.  Hopefully someday I will finish the painting and share it with you.