I think there is great value in taking on projects that are ambitious. You don’t have to look beyond Muddy Colors to see some great examples. Donato’s incredible large scale Tolkien paintings, Justin Gerard’s massive battle scenes filled with hundreds of characters, Arnie and Cathy Fenner starting Spectrum (remember to enter!) and building it into the institution it is today and many other works and projects come to mind. Dan Dos Santos is working on a killer large painting right now as well, I can’t wait to see it when it is done!
It is inspiring to see people reach high and then keep climbing. I have found that I go through phases where I take on fairly safe work and then I build up a little ambition and bite off something a little harder to chew. When I do that, I really grow. Those pieces mark periods of greater change and progress… and stress. The stress goes away though and the progress stays with you! I highly recommend it.
I recently started a large painting (large for me). It is 60″x60″ and has 30 figures in it, just under life sized. It is going to be similar in presentation to Norman Rockwell’s painting The Golden Rule.
My wife has been helping me with this project by finding models and costumes of kids from many different countries and ethnicities. I have had a photoshoots in two different states, coordinating with models, wrangling costumes and working out the composition as I go.
I have been doing studies of each of the faces as well as a full sized drawing. Here are some of the studies done so far along with :
And a quick time lapse of the study:
Starting the painting. Canvas is toned, drawing is transferred, first pass on face begun.
Below is the underpainting pass for one of the faces. I will do a second pass to refine the painting, add more texture, color and detail.
A few more faces with the underpainting complete. The face on the right has a quick flat wash that I will paint into to finish the underpainting. I can do the underpainting for two faces a day and will spend another day to do the refining pass.