This November, thirty of the originals from my novel, Above the Timberline, will be featured along with seventy-five paintings by Frank Schoonover in a special show of adventure illustration at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Two special pieces, based on the story, were created especially for the exhibition by sculptor, Dan Chudzinski.
I wish I could’ve recorded every painting in the novel, but splitting my attention between filming and focusing on a finished piece for the book—over one hundred and twenty-four times—was daunting. And risky.
But I managed to record a few. And this one captures an important moment in the book.
The painting is seen from over my shoulder and shot in real-time. (a few passages are sped up 2x normal speed for expediency) There’s no soundtrack, just me laying down pigment in a state of finite attention, one hundred percent focused on the task at hand. It compresses a two-day painting into thirty minutes.
This is the general speed at which I paint, so you can get a feel for how to lay down value, shape, and color. I cut most of the lag time for mixing paint and staring at the reference to plan moves. My reference was on a laptop on my drawing table, surrounded by sketches and thumbnails of bears, and my model. Each painting is 37”w x 15”h.
As you watch the video, pay attention to the brush and the marks made by it. See if you can spot the angle of the brush and how that affects what I’m capturing. See if you can tell how the strokes vary in pressure and what effect that gives. Pigment load, angle, pressure: painting is drawing.
Notice how the values are built from dark to light, and how the layers are overlapped by painting slightly darker values just underneath a lighter layer on top. Watch how the light grows as the layers grow to lighter values on the top layer.
I taught myself how to paint after studying pictures in a pamphlet made by the Famous Artists Schools from back in the day. I realized even then that painting isn’t rocket science, and knowing where you want to go with it is most of the battle. The rest is fun. Punctuated by intense moments of frustration, alleviated by patience. Grin.
The show at the Rockwell will be up for six months. During the run I will lecture, demo, and sign copies of the novel at the museum. Keep an eye on the website for dates and details.
I hope you all get to see it, and do let me know what you think!