Follow up Sneak Peak: Character Paintings

It may seem like a long time from sketch to paint, but in between I have been working on a million other things ... okay, not a million, but quite a few.  It is the irony of my line of work that we have to think in snowflakes in the middle of summer, but planning is everything.  I think about Christmas all year long and by Christmas I will be planning spring and summer ecards ...

But I finally got around to painting the characters for the Thanksgiving card and I promised to share an update when I did, so you can see the whole process.

I first paint the leaves and start some slight shading of the squirrel


As you can see, for these I wanted to keep a simple watercolor style, nothing too detailed, to give the card illustration style a relaxed and casual feeling.  I therefore limited my usual layering of primary colors to a minimum and instead just worked with colors premixed on the palette.  Quite relaxing for a change and fast!

Working in some shading and details before the final color washes are applied helps make the character pop

And voila - the first character is done.  You will have to wait until the card is released the see the rest :)

Since then, they have been scanned, cleaned up (white background removed) and are now ready to be used in animation.


I also painted a LOT of fall leaves and nuts and the centerpiece, an imaginary tree, that sprouts the leaves of a variety of trees.  If it sounds a bit strange, you will see that it works quite well visually, making for a nice bouquet of a tree.

I love Fall - can you tell?


On to key frame sketches for our little squirrel ...

Of Flowers and Georgia O'Keeffe

One of the dearest people in my life is my sister.

I painted this painting for her while I was in Denmark - in fact it came together very spontaneously and fluidly a summer afternoon on the grass in the garden.  When I showed up to her place with it I pretended I just wanted to store it there while traveling to Norway, which gave me an opportunity to see her reaction to the painting before giving it to her.  If she did not seem particularly moved I would have not given it to her, because I wanted her to really love it.  Well, her reaction was better than hoped and I could tell she really liked it even before she knew it was for her.  Needless to say my mission to make it an early birthday present for her was accomplished.

"Ode to O'Keeffe", Acrylic on Canvass, 80x80cm


This painting was inspired by my love of Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings of flowers, hence it is titled "Ode to O'Keeffe", although in many ways it is nothing like the paintings O'Keeffe painted.  For one, most of her flowers really do bear an uncanny resemblance to a certain part of the female anatomy.

Detail of "Ode to O'Keeffe"


When painting with super strong colors, especially reds and pinks, on a larger canvass it is easy get worried mid process that the end result is going to be a too bold or (shock) even crass and tacky.  You have to push past that and allow it to play out, because somehow by the time you put the final details in place things start to finally make sense.  It is hard to explain, but this is where experience and having faith in the artistic vision help - and worst case if the end result is still horrible you chuck it up to experience and the need to experiment.  This is exactly what happened with this painting - while I was working on it I was getting a bit worried about the huge areas of pink and red, but by the time I was painting the little pollen pods, it was all starting to gel quite well.

Texture is really important to me when painting, whether it is watercolor, acrylics or any other medium.  For some pieces you want that absolute smooth finish and perfect gradients, but for this piece it was important to add interest into the big areas of bold color by using texture.  If you have ever observed the surface of flower petals really closely, you will notice many are almost covered with surface of fine hair or powder.  When the light hits at a certain angle it shines and glistens ... it is really magical.


A Collection of Amazing Art Tutorials

Thanks to a lot of generous people there is a an amazing availability of art tutorials online.  These are a great way of getting your feet wet if you are new to art or a certain medium or simply looking to challenge yourself if you have some experience already.  Even as an experienced watercolor artist it is interesting to see how other artists work - everyone has a slightly personal way of doing things or has found a particular thing that works in addition to the fact that there are many ways to get good results.

Follow Frederikke Tu's board An amazing Collection of Art Tutorials on Pinterest.


While you can learn a lot from these tutorials, I do think there is no substitute for learning from others.  This is where taking a class or getting together with a few fellow creative souls will help you learn from each other.   But that said, I have learned most of what I know from books, experimentation and online tutorials.  This way I got a ton out of the few classes I have taken, because I already came prepared with the basics.


Sneak Peak: Character Development for Fall/Thanksgiving Card


Yesterday I started work on developing the characters for this year's Thanksgiving/Fall production.

The card will have quite a few characters, so this part of the design phase is especially important.  Some will be painted in watercolors, and separated into different body parts after scanning them into the computer.  This way I can keep the watercolor style but still animate the characters.  I have not yet decided whether the squirrel will be hand painted for each frame of animation, or whether I will  render it on the computer, since it will need a full range of motions when jumping.

The main character is the woodpecker, so I started when him first.  Once his character was in place I build the other characters up around him.  I will share more photos as I start painting the various elements of the card ...