Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Collector Spotlight #11 Tony Digg's Schooner

This is a piece I had done a few years back, that was a breakthrough kind of piece. After looking at the work of Anil Gupta and trying to figure out how the hell he pulled off the work he's done. I had to start thinking outside the typical approach for a tattoo of - outline, shade and color - and really started to look at the process as something more similar to painting.
We start off with the picture Tony liked, and his primary question was if I could make it look like the picture, and not like a "drawing". There there was the challenge, and I was excited to give it a shot. I had done only a couple of pieces in this manner, but they had been much smaller, and not nearly as complex. I showed Tony those examples and went to work.
I built the stencil more as a paint by number kind of pattern. This is to show, not where the lines go, but the values. Separating highlights, shadows and midtones. This method is used quite a bit now, especially with color portraits.
From there, if you look more closely, I did a pencil grey outline of the pattern as I knew I would not be able to finish the entire design in one sitting, and this grey line would serve as a permanent stencil for later. Something I do now primarily for larger pieces that don't have line work, or the lines will be minimized, I will also do line work in color, if the piece uses no black. From there I started shading in the clouds as I felt needed, to define the initial spacial relationships in the piece.
As we progressed through the piece, I built up the colors and tones carefully, over multiple sessions, as I would a painting. I did  this to work each element of shadow midtones or highlight up to the level I felt was correct for the piece. Making sure I didn't do too much.
As with most of these collector spotlights. I really wish I had taken more photos of the process. But especially with these earlier pieces, I had no idea I would have a use for all these photos. I was really happy with how this piece turned out, perhaps not 100% accurate, but damn close! I really don't get to do enough pieces like this, painting reproductions. I would really love to do more.

There is a chance in the future, Tony will have me do a second Schooner on his other shoulder blade, and connect the two. The painting at top is of a pair of racing schooners, each piece showing the other  boat in the distance. Separate perspective shots of the same scene.

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