About a mont ago I was doing some demo-paintings at the THU Troia was a Unicorn- art event in Portugal.

I had spent the most of the 2 first days painting a sad fox with wings but had finished it earlier than I anticipated, so I needed to start a new one. And just to spice it up I announced that I would make a painting in one hour, so that if people wanted to see some fantasy from start to finish, they could.

I made a small pencil sketch and then went straight to board. Here are the thoughts I had for doing a speed paint:

  • Simple and big shapes
  • Easy to read silhouette
  • Simplistic palette ( mixing colors take time. Using only a couple is faster
  • Minimal background elements
  • Clear contrast in colors and temperature
  • A hint of a story

Lets start with the last point. Having a hint or a narrative element is key to creating fantasy illustrations for me. I drew the ragged wizard and thought about a staff for him. And of cause couldn’t resist the idea of a glowing tip. If the tip was glowing what would that mean? Ahh: its because he is trying to attract something with the light. Perhaps fireflies? Well; in that case its a night scene. Then I could make the staff tip be a start shape, like he had capture some star-light and was using it as a lure. The star-light is best harnessed in a shape of a star of cause, that’s why the tip is star-shaped, and the pattern on his hat could be stars as well. Now he is a Star-Wizard.

As you can hear from my rant of thoughts, all the choices I made for the painting was dictated by narrative ideas. All I needed for the demo, was a figure and a small background in order to be able to show some acrylic technics. But the theme or narrative was what drove me though all the decisions.

The first painting I did during the THU-week was a sad looking fox with wings. With that image I had no story or idea other than a figure in a setting. I was trying to just show as much of the painting process of using color temperature bounce light and contrast as possible, that I forgot to add any narrative idea. Only the sadness.

I remember the feeling from when I was younger and did a lot of pinup drawings. just cool looking figures with no story. The first time I created a little story and painted it, something changed in me and I knew that I was on a path I could never get tired off walking. But alas; it seems like you can easily forget you are walking on tat path.

My point is: even in a One Hour Painting, there can be a story. there can be a hint of an action that has taken place before the image and a suggestion of what happens next. The promise of something happening is so much more engaging than a cool pose.

And it surprised me that it was such a great part of the wizard painting and the whole process: I thought coming up with stories and painting them was hard and took effort that would complicate and make everything so much harder. And I had even said out loud the evening before, that I was just going to paint something simple. Meaning something without content. But after I had finished my second painting, the wizard: I was left with a feeling of joy and happiness that didn’t come from having painted a painting in one sitting. It came from having created a story in one sitting.