Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Substitute

This image is part of a larger project that I'm not able to talk very much about right now, so I'll spare you the details and you will have to excuse my brevity in that regard. On the other hand, I did want to reflect a bit on the process, as I feel it signals growth in the right direction for me, if only from an illustrative perspective. Illustration is a unique form of art in that it allows certain "rules" of art to be bent or distorted. This is not to say that illustrations are somehow less deserving or otherwise unqualified than fine art, but form does often take the back seat in exchange for subject. In short, illustration is storytelling.

I started with a sketch on a folded sheet of standard 8.5x11" paper. The same type of stuff you can pick up anywhere for your printer. Copy bond. Once I had the basic shapes roughed in, I started working on the characters and other elements in more detail and tweaking the overall composition. At this point I am thinking of the sketch as a seesaw (or teeter-totter, if you prefer), where its balance correlates directly to the position and "mass" of elements on the page.


Once satisfied with the skeleton of the image, I scanned it into Photoshop and blew it up to somewhere in the neighborhood of 22x30". After printing out the pages and reassembling the image on my kick-ass light box (thanks, Robert), I recreated the drawing on a much nicer sheet of cream-tinted Rives BFK and sealed it with acrylic gloss medium.


After scanning the finished drawing back into Photoshop, I laid the flats in monochrome, establishing some value and separating the different elements. Once I had decided on how bright or dark each part would be, I started painting in the larger expanses of color. I created contrast, tone and depth in the picture plane using cool vs warm colors. You can feel that the substitute teacher is very angry and quite evil, really, but it is not the expression on his face that communicates this so much as the coolness of the blue and magenta in relation to other areas of the painting.


My personal critique: I am happy with the finished painting overall, but next time I will spend a bit more time polishing the initial sketch, as it seems to be lacking in energy compared to my original vision. On the color side of things, however, I exceeded my expectations.


• • •

A signed and numbered edition of prints of this piece will go on sale sometime early next year. If you would like to be
added to this list, drop me a line.

2 comments:

Saphron said...

*really long comment alert*

I think I'm going to show my brother your blog. I always think of him when I come here. You guys share a vision (although not completely, of course, and I don't mean to take anything away from your work). I just wish he would use his gift.

I loved reading about the process. It really is fascinating. And I know what you mean about the end result differing from the original idea - but how to ever really capture that, you know? There's a lot to see in the painting and I could definitely stare at it for a long time because I am the least "interpretive" person in terms of art and I never really get it right, LOL.

Can't wait till you reveal the true purpose of it... ;)

Thanks for asking about my 'project.' Just last night I went to a local book printing agency and took a tour and found out a lot. There's plenty left to research before I truly commit to self-publishing, but it was funny when my mom said, "So have you thought about how you're going to do the cover?" and I just smiled. :)

I will keep you updated. Right now I'm trying to figure out how at all to explain to you the image I see in my head. :\

Ryan Cooper said...

Thanks, I enjoyed this one. Can't wait to finish the project as a whole.

And yes, take your time! It sounds like a big step, so it's important that you make the best decisions possible along the way. You know where to find me.