My dragon model didn't hold up to an application of black acrylic paint, but it still proved useful along the way. I decided to start on the sky first in order to get over the initial anxiety of committing paint to the board. I had never worked much with magenta, pthalo blue or Naples yellow, but together they created a nice foundation for the sky. My paint set up was all wrong. I learned late Thursday night from Dan Dos Santos that I should work with the paints in a tray with a bed of moist paper towels. The normal palette that I always use at home was letting the paint dry too quickly. I was also starting to regret choosing not to bring my oils this time.
At this point, I took a chance on painting the shadows with a base of warm colors. I wasn't sure if these colors would end up buried under additional layers of paint, or if I might keep them like this, thus minimizing the amount of detail in the shadows.
I also found later that my camera had grossly exaggerated the head of the foreground figure. Jeff Mack kindly did a few corrections to the figure, and shared with me his cloud painting technique used with acrylics. Jeff used a vigorous scumbling technique with a round brush to simultaneously push and blend the paint. The result is texture similar to that of an orange peel.
With just one more night before the final show, I put every ounce of energy into the figures. I eventually had to accept that the piece would not be finished by the end. The priest's outstretched hand also wasn't reading well, so I painted over it with the sky color. Somehow the design of the dragon itself had also changed along the way. It was missing a shell segment near it's tail. Without it, it does look a bit more sleek and aggressive, but I would like for it to be true to the original concept. One habit I'm trying to break is that of changing things when I get to the painting phase. The temptation to make even minor tweaks is always there, but it's risky to experiment like that with traditional media.
The surface of the dragon was inspired in part by volcanic glass and bones. It looked really good when initially painted with dark, cool blacks, but the blurriness of the composite gave the low-flying dragon a greater sense of scale. Having it more in focus is what I imagined for the scene. The dragons are closer to the size of modern fighter jets, as opposed alien mother ships.
The images above are more or less where I stopped painting at 5:00 a.m. on Thursday night. The night before I had stayed up to about the same time working on a drawing for the faculty gifts organized by Tara Larsen Chang. She was kind enough to entrust me with the task of personalizing the first few pages of the Moleskine included in Boris Vallejo's gift. I found myself reverting back to my love of rendering organic forms in graphite right out of my head. The drawing went surprisingly well. Writing a dedication page was very hard. I was so nervous about misspelling something that I wrote the message in pencil first, then in ink. Then, I realized later that I had forgotten to erase the pencil. Nonetheless, it was huge honor considering how long I've enjoyed and studied Boris' work. I ended up missing the closing ceremonies on Friday at 2:00 p.m. when the gifts were handed out. I had gone back to my room to get something, and ended up taking a 30 minute nap.
Overall, IMC 2011 was yet another challenging and inspiring experience. I'm not sure if I'll go again next year. My short-term goal is to be very busy with projects and preparing for midpoint review at AAU. My long-term goal is to crank out about 10 years of strong professional work. It's time.