A Painting Is Like An Onion
A Metaphor is Like an Ogre
The title to this issue is a reference to the movie Shrek, in which Shrek claims that Ogres are like onions because
they have layers. And yes, paintings have layers. I'm not talking about layers of sociopolitical meaning but,
quite simply, that you create a painting by adding one layer of paint over another. Some layers are opaque and
some are translucent, so that the final appearance is a result of the interaction of several layers.
In a way, this is similar to working in colored pencil. Just as was the case with colored pencil, you create the desired
result by layering colors. But working in acrylics is different in two significant ways. For one thing, you
can mix the paint on the palette instead of the painting so the desired color does not have to be achieved
by layering as it does in colored pencils. But the other difference is that, with colored pencils, once you have
colored a section there is a lot of work involved in changing it. You have to get it right the first time. With acrylics, you
can always lay down another layer to either fix mistakes or to add a new dimension. You can add objects, shadows,
light sources... all the things you need to plan ahead of time with colored pencils.
I like to start off a painting by laying down some rough colors to help me get the right idea in terms of
saturation, color and value. In the first picture below, I have applied some basic colors in order to block in
the areas and get a feeling for the direction.
I had a basic idea of how I wanted the mountain in the distance to look but I had little idea of how to achieve
it. So I threw down an initial guess. This quickly convinced me that I needed to find reference to work from.
After a few minutes of searching the internet (thank you, Google Image Search!) I had a small set of landscape
photos to work from.
Getting the Sky Right
Before working on the mountain any further, I wanted to get the sky right. A properly colored sky would help
me get the mountain correct the next time I attacked it. So I carefully mixed the exact color I wanted for the
sky using a variety of colors including phthalo blue, cadmium orange deep, phthalo turquoise and titanium white.
While filling in the sky, I only lightly painted the cloud shapes in order to retain their outlines; otherwise
I would have no idea where they should be. Once the blue of the sky was painted, I painted in the clouds. I did
not record the process, but they began as shapes darker but less saturated than the surrounding sky. The white of
the clouds was layered on top of these darker shapes, and finally the darker tips of the clouds receding
into the distance was applied.
Taking On The Mountain
I made a file with splotches of color based on the landscape photos I found (see the picture to the right).
This palette gave me a set of colors to work with. Using the landscape color palette as a guide, I painted
the whole mountain a dull purplish blue and then painted the features and trees
over that. This resulted in the picture below.
Bringing Civilization to the Mountainside
The mountain was painted in, but there was no cityscape on it. Thanks to the layering abilities of acrylics,
it was easier to paint the mountainside and then add the city than to try and paint it all at once. By this
time, however, the inked lines of the city were completely covered up. The printout of the inking, mentioned
in the previous issue of IMPrint became very helpful. Using the printout and
the features of the mountainside, I added in a city roughly but not exactly the same as planned. Trying to work
from less detailed to more detailed as the city comes closer to the viewer, I added in the houses, governmental
buildings, spaceships and other features of the bustling city in the distance. The final result is below.
The Pangalactic Bazaar as of February 5, 2004
Click on the picture above for a larger version
The next task will be to start on the ground and architecture of the foreground.