-By Dan dos Santos

A few months ago, you may remember me mentioning that I was working on a large painting, and really trying to loosen up. Well, I finally finished the painting, and though I didn’t loosen up quite as much as I had hoped, it was still a really fun experience.

The job in question was ‘Kalimpura’, the third installment in Jay Lake’s ‘Green’ series. In this volume, the antagonist packs up everything, including her two children, and ventures back to her home country.

The idea of a single mother, with all of this burden quite literally placed upon her, really struck a cord with me. Given that she is an assassin, I immediately had visions of Lone Wolf and Cub. I knew I had to show her as a Warrior Mother, protecting all that was precious to her.

Here are two alternate sketches that weren’t chosen. One has a little more action. The other, more mystery. Ultimately, the Art Director chose a sketch that I felt was a good balance of both these themes, and accentuated the importance of the ‘journey’.

The themes, and local, of this novel had a notably ‘Orientalist’ feel to them. Thinking along these lines, I wanted to paint something full figure, outdoors, with a strong sense of spacial atmosphere.

The trouble with painting loose, is that it means I have to paint a lot larger than normal, or I just can’t get the necessary amount of detail in the face that my clients expect of me.

Logistically speaking, painting big usually isn’t great for deadlines. It simply takes more time to cover that much surface. Plus, there’s a lot more STUFF to paint. In this case, it took me about a week and a half longer than I normally would spend on an illustration.

I started with an abnormally loose underdrawing, in the hopes that it would force me to loosen up some. And it did… a little. But ultimately my OCD got the better of my intentions, and I ended up rendering everything way more than I should have.

In the end (and I say that reluctantly, as I feel like I can keep working on it forever), I’m fairly happy with the result. I tried a lot of new things that were out of my comfort zone, and discovered a LOT of weaknesses that I now know I need to work on.

Below is the final product, and how it looks with type treatment alongside the others in the series.