Sonntag, 24. März 2013

Kai is reading

My son Kai learns how to read.

I'm always in awe when I see my kids manage to learn a new task and that everything that we are able to do today and oftimes are tending to take for granted was difficult and only through diligence to achieve once.

To me the attitude of a learning child, open, curious and persistend in it's continuous striving is the most inspiring one.

Samstag, 23. März 2013

the Making of "Mysteries of Miskatonic University", part 2

Building a tableau

In today's post I want to show you a bit more of the process of the painting "Mysteries of Miskatonic University".
In the first part I told a bit about materials and inspiration I gathered, out of time and organisational reasons most of them are photoreferences.
In my point of view photoreferences are an absolut legitimate support for your final painting but they do come with certain challenges.
Firstly they are already translation from the threedimonsional space into a twodimensional picture which limits the information we can gather from them.
And secondly most photographies do as well limit the value range by clipping in the highlights and shadows.
What I did to deal with those challenges was firstly to make a little tableau, a small modelkit of my compositional sketch.
This practice has already been in use mainly by painters of historical or mythological scenes in the 19th century:

I start out to build a model of my main character:

Errmm...wrong picture:

I built a rough model out of mash wire and  tecclay and lit it:

Here is another picture from a later stage where I used additional reference material for the gun. In the background you can see that I also used a small globe that has a small bulb inside to get a notion of how the bluish moonlight falls onto the main character's shoulder:

I then did a black and white drawing on my board and an underlying tonal painting (in acrylics, I used raw umber on this one).

After that I painted a smaller sized poster study, a rough version of the painting, to explore color range and tones I want to use in the final piece:

Here you can also see my set up while I'm working. On the right hand side I have my computer, I usually load all my photoreference into one Photoshop file on different layers. Far left is a small taboret with brushes, water reservoir (on this painting I used water soluble oil colors) and next to that the tableau.

During the process of painting I didn't do any photographs (sorry, it consumed my whole attention :-)): I worked from area to area, starting out with the face:

This is the final piece:

For the figure of Siobhain McCorkindale I also used the principles of shapewelding and as well the windmill principle to help her better blend into the picture.

Main painting references for this painting were

James Gurney's Imaginative realism

and as well the tutorial videos by Scott Waddell, especially "the Art of painting" and the extended version of Webisode 7

I hope you enjoyed that little trip through this painting process and could draw something for you from it.

Tomorrow I'll be off to Cologne for a week and I'm looking forward to be sharing some impressions from there with you.

Freitag, 22. März 2013

buy one, buy two, give it to strangers...

we interrupt our Making of Feature for a brief happy anouncement:

The textbooks for my advanced artstudents arrived:

After a basic drawing course I usually start out to work on pictures with a more complex content aligning to John Howe's Fantasy Art Workshop (German: Handbuch der Fantasy Kunst).

If you follow the posts by John Howe on social networks and on his webside you will know that he sometimes anounces publications with a pretty subtle kind of promotion ;-) :

"Buy one, buy two, give it to your friends and strangers you meet on the streets."

My art workshops give me the good opportunity to  broad grinningly do so.

("always at your service!")

The German version comes as a rugged Hardcover, perfect for a often to be used studio reference and is published by Heel Verlag in Königswinter

Donnerstag, 21. März 2013

the Making of "Mysteries of Miskatonic University", part 1

Choosing a theme and collecting references

To work harder on my portfolio and find clients and publishers that suit the way I illustrate I decided to contact a professional advisor for illustrators. Through the German illustrator's organisation IO I was introduced to Mrs Karin Gruß, who has been working with illustrator's in the editorial offices of many of the important german publishers for over twenty years.

We thoroughly went through my portfolio and decided to as well add a few a more darker pictures.

A good  oportunity to play around with two themes that I wanted to explore a bit more for a longer time:
the weird fiction of H.P. Lovecraft and a bit of Steampunk.

I started out with some sketching and decided to go for a composition like this:

In the Natural historical museum in Berlin there's one big room with old compounds in glasses; floating and warped in their conserving fluid I find them most peculiar and strange and being locked in with them in a room at night seemed to be one of the most unpleasant things I could think of.
Sending our protagonist at nighttimes through a creepy old univeristy, filled with mysterious books and Grimoires and as well some of those weird species invented by Lovecraft preparated in those jugs seemed to be a fitting setting to me.
Here are some of the reference pictures I took at the Natural Historical Museum in Berlin:


Concerning the protagonist for the pictures (it's going to be a small series) I wanted to go for a female protagonist. A cunning investigator of the supernatural who is capable of dealing with fierce, extraterrestrial, ancient species.
I gave her the name of an old character a friend of mine used in the "Call of Cthulhu" roleplaying game:
Siobhain McCorkindale.

Two good Friends of mine, singer and actress Mirjam Zipf and her husband photographer Philipp Schläper liked the project, joined the fun and helped me with quickly improvised costumes with diver-goggles and an old coat:

My brother Martin got me a reference shot of himself for the old and worn out leather jacket:

Another dear friend, Alanna Schmitt a.k.a. Inkibus who is making props and costumes helped me tremendously with the costume research and was so generous to let me use one of her props as a basis for the weapon of Siobhain McCorkindale:

A big and cordially thank you for all of your support!!!

Those were the main references. During the process of painting I added a few more, like an old sheepfur for the collar of the jacket etc.

Tomorrow I show you how I built and lit a small reference modell and the process of the painting.

Mittwoch, 20. März 2013

It is Spring.........

Er Ists

Frühling lässt sein blaues Band
Wieder flattern durch die Lüfte;
Süße, wohlbekannte Düfte
Streifen ahnungsvoll das Land.
Veilchen träumen schon,
Wollen balde kommen.
—Horch, von fern ein leiser Harfenton!
Frühling, ja du bists!
Dich habe ich vernommen!

Eduard Mörike  1829

It Is Spring
Spring lets her blue ribbon
Flutter in the breeze again;
Faint, familiar scents
Drift with promise o'er the land.
Already the violets lie dreaming,
Longing to unfold.
—Hark, from afar the faint sounds of a harp!
Yes, spring, it is you!
I can hear you coming!

Translation: Charles L. Cingolani 

Alas....We do have more snow than in January......

Dienstag, 19. März 2013

Everything Lovecraft, part 2

In yesterday's post I reported a bit on my experiences on the bookfair in Leipzig and how that all "mysteriously" related to the weird fiction of H.P.Lovecraft.

If all of that wouldn't be enough my brother, illustrator Martin Schlierkamp, had just finished a private comission that was based on the Cthulhu Mythos by H.P.Lovecraft.

"Curse of the dreaming God"

Martin is so generous to share parts of his process:

This is the layout (drawn in pencil on paper) that was accepted by the client:

This is the final black and white drawing that served as a basis for the painting.

Here's a small collage of different working steps:

(From left to right) At the beginning he's priming a mdf board with gesso, than he's drawing in a black and white preparatory drawing with strong contrasts. He's laying in the colors with an airbrush and then starts out to work in the details with colored pencils.

One of Martin's favourite techniques is most popular in the poster art of Drew Struzan

In his video tutorial "conceiving and creating the hellboy Movie Poster Art" he's elaborately explaining his different working steps.

A thousand thanks, Martin!

In some of the following posts I'll also share a making of for the "Miskatonic"-painting.

Montag, 18. März 2013

Everything Lovecraft, part 1....

 One question I oftimes ask myself is whether we do have the choice to avoid magical thinking at all and whether this would be a desirable state of being.
It would definetely deprive us from a lot of magic and mystery, a throughout questionable loss, but in some cases it may as well hinder us from drowning into  insanity....

Since last November I was preparing a couple of motives for bigger works based on the weird fiction of Howard Phillips Lovecraft and his Cthulhu Mythos, amalgamated with a bunch of steampunkish elements which I thought would make a very interesting mix in preparation of the bookfair in Leipzig.

I was delighted that one of my most favourite Fantasy Art contests on the web John Howe's "theme of the month" was featuring a Lovecraftian theme for March.

How lucky I was! Perfect timing to prepare and paint a portfolio piece, let a postcard being printed of it and post it to John's website.

Here it is:

 "Mysteries of Miskatonic University": Investigator of the supernatural and Airfleet Captain Siobhain McCorkindale discovering dark secrets at the (imaginative) Miskatonic University.

Everything went right on time: Postcards received, picture posted, Portfolio prepaired.
And off I go, to the bookfair in Leipzig on the 15th of March, the anniversairy of the death of H.P.Lovecraft

I came late for an interview with comicbook artist Reinhard Kleist and had enough time to do a five minute sketch of him which he signed for me:

Reinhard is a groundbreaking artist who helped paving the way for german Graphic Novels. I remember that I was literally (but positively) shocked when his first Graphic Novel was published which was based on....Lovecraft.

Later I was thrilled to meet two of my heroes of the German Fantasy and Science Fiction scene: Dieter Winkler and Wolfgang Hohlbein, celebrating the 30th jubilee of Hohlbein's career as writer of bestsellers and the 15th anniversairy of their dark-fantasy saga "Die Chronik der Unsterblichen" ("chronicle of the imortals").

 Hohlbein's fiction encompasses a wide range of themes ranging from Fantasy stories for young readers via high Fantasy, horror but as well adventure stories among others the six official german language Indiana Jones novels and as well a series that was originally published as dime novels called "the Warlock of Salem" which was based on...yes! Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. Lovecraft himself appears in the stories as the mysterious H.P.

 He wrote as well three novels that depict the adventures of the decendant of the warlock Robert Graven in "Der Magier", the magician.

 At the time the books came out I had already totally fallen for Hohlbein's novels and one year before, in 1991, John Howe's Tolkien calendar had strengthened my will to try something I had never dared before with watercolours:

To illustrate one of the stories I read.
I was 16 years old and had already experimented with watercolours. Fantasy pictures and drawings of extinct animals were my favourite themes and I had done one illustration for a poem by Walter de la Mare, "the Listeners". Now I wanted to try to depict a whole story and thus I painted:

"Der Fluch des Wissenden" - "The curse of the knowing" of which I brought a print to the anniversairy celebration and gave it to Mr Hohlbein, as a thank you for all these years of inspiration!

Thank you and congratulations, Wolfgang Hohlbein and all the best for the next at least 30 years of writing!!

To me that was definetely the highlight of the day, but if you think that was all of the weird coincidences around H.P.Lovecraft on the bookfair and in this weird March are wrong...

Listen to how the story continues tomorrow...weird and mysterious....





Sonntag, 17. März 2013

Alles zeichnen - drawing everything

At the turn of the last century, young art students in Berlin were questioning the academic teaching methods.
In a circular letter that was addressed to famous painters like Böcklin and Degas, the students were doubting the necessity of drawing from plaster casts and were asking whether a contemporary approach to fine arts should include lengthy studies of plaster casts before the student would  finally work with a living model.

While other artists wrote long essays and explanations why it was necessairy or whether it wasn't, the Berlin painter Adolph Menzel replied with a single sentence:

alles Zeichnen ist nützlich
und Alles zeichnen auch.

A german pun that is pretty hard to translate, for the capitalized noun "das Zeichnen" can mean the whole complex of drawing while the verb "zeichnen" describes the process of drawing.
The best translation that I could find so far is:

all drawing is useful
and drawing everything as well.

 While exploring the working methods and life of Adolph Menzel together with my friends Christoph Heuer and James Gurney I relied on one of the most important sources for art historians when researching Menzel. It was the memoirs of his friend, the artist Paul Meyerheim, in Berlin most known as the "Löwen Meyer" (the "lion's-Meyer"), because of his exquisite work as an animal painter and  mainly interested in the depiction of exotic animals.
You find the famous Menzel quote slightly altered there namely:

"alles Zeichnen ist gut
aber Alles zeichnen ist besser"

("all drawing is good
but drawing everything is even better than that")

With the help of James, I tried to translate the pun into english.
And here we go:
Welcome to Blogland! 
Alles Zeichnen, drawing everything. or as well "everything that has to do with drawing", but as well with painting and everything that crosses my way and my curiosity.

I hope you'll enjoy and find some interesting and useful things here.
Thank you, Carol Craig for proofreading!