Saturday, June 23, 2007

Knik Car: Battery/Fuel

This is a photograph of what I am currently painting. With work getting busy it's been awhile since I've worked on it but I thought I'd share the progress anyway - that's the point of this blog, right? :) Anyway, it's the driver side dash board of one of the cars the military put into the Knik River bank to help stop/slow bank erosion over by the hatchery. There's quite a lot of interesting stuff over there besides cars: stoves, refrigerators, barrels, old tin cans with still-readable labels... Some of the cars were in the bank and some weren't doing much as far as erosion prevention and were just sitting along the river, making for scenic abandoned photography. I plan to paint some of those, as they're probably more appealing to folks, but I liked the dash on this car and thought I could play up the contrast in the blue distant background/chrome and the orange rust.

Left: The canvas with the final sketch on it before I start blocking everything in.

Right: is the first phase of blocking. Currently it has more shadows and some of the birch trees semi-blocked into the blue distant background but this is pretty close. Color-wise, the painting won't really resemble the photograph, which is pretty common for me as I tend to paint pretty saturatedly, which I like. For instance, the Generator/Compressor original photograph was really washed out, the rust was more purple-looking, and the overal image was cold. I'm no photographer - when I take photos I'm more concerned about composition, subject, and angle of light, in that order. Everything else I can make up.

This piece will be a challenge. I had to teach myself how to do rust on the Generator/Compressor and hopefully I've retained something from that but I've not done moss before - and I don't want to do it in the 'easy' Bob Ross style. I will be playing down the moss and concentrating on bringing out the chrome in good contrast - it's all about the dashboard, "Battery/Fuel" (yay for slash names!) :)

Generator/Compressor: Original

I found the original photo of the Generator/Compressor! You can see how washed out it is and not very orange. I had done some Photoshop tutorial practice using the image that darkened the background elements and was inspired to do the painting that way to bring out the foreground elements. Below is the final painting for comparison:

On my monitor at home the painting looks a bit green but at work it looks okay. I hate the inability to achieve true color across the board with monitors and the internet. Grr.

Friday, June 1, 2007


click to view larger image

24" x 18" oil on canvas, 2006

Close up of large black pressure gauge
Close up of large white water cooler gauge

This is my most recent finished oil painting, completed in 2006. I estimate the time it took to be two to two-and-a-half weeks but I can't be sure since I started the painting in 2005 and went for months in between painting sessions. I do know that the large white gauge took 6 hours to complete.

The subject is an air compressor/generator used for powering mining drill bits that I found up above Independence Mine in Hatcher Pass, just outside of my hometown of Palmer, Alaska. I'll have to post photos of the entire thing sometime - it's built into its own trailer and is clear up a mountain side, left to die and rust. Abandoned things are my favorite subject matter because of their unknown history. They invite the viewer to imagine who first owned it, who left it there, is anyone still alive who ever knew the object, was it working when it was abandoned? Some day there may be no humans alive who know what the item was really all about, how it worked, how it behaved, any quirks it might of had. Catalogue descriptions will of faded and the item itself may be rusted to bits and all we'll have left are any possible photographs (or paintings!) that folks like me thought to take along the way.

Here are some in-progress photos I took for posterity:
1) Canvas drawing
2) Blocking
3) Shadows added
4) More details


click to view larger

18" x 24" oil on canvas, 2004/5

This is my second to last most recent (as of this post) oil painting, of some buildings at Kennicott, Alaska that were part of the Kennecott (yes, different spelling) copper mining operation there. I painted this from a photograph I took in the 90's sometime. The composition isn't so great and I knew it from the start but I wanted to paint it anyway, a) just because I wanted to paint and b) because of all the different elements and details it would be good practice.

Again, I painted this over the course of a year, starting in Portland, OR and finishing in Alaska, but it probably took 2 weeks to complete.

The Last Kiss

20" x 30" oil on canvas
February 2002

This is my best known painting to date and is the first painting I did on my own after I got out of highschool. It's a copy of a production shot from the last episode of Xena: Warrior Princess that you see around the web. I printed out the shot at nearly the same size as the canvas (tiled out of QuarkXPress) and painted from that. It took about a week (compressed) to do. The scan doesn't do it any justice; the colors are much richer in the actual painting.

Again, as a disclaimer: I painted this for fun for myself in honor of a show that meant a lot to me as I went through some tough self-realisation in life. The original image does not belong to me and I'm not making a dime from this painting.