He is coming... Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde update

Sometimes a piece of art doesn't go the way you planned. But if you are flexible it can turn out to be a really awesome piece despite (or sometimes because of) whatever "went wrong".

Dr. Jekyll was great fun to paint. However I did a few things in the beginning of the painting process that came back to bite me in the butt when it was time to format him for prints.

I had planned to paint Dr. Jekyll in acrylics - because of that I prepared the substrate a particular way. In fact I applied a texture to the surface. This was my fatal error.

I started painting the piece in acrylic then decided to switch to oils. The oils looked great. The painting went well. Except...the texture I had applied to the surface is unscannable. The painting looks great in person and the texture adds to its beauty - but when I try to scan the painting the texture is extreme and obscures all the details. We tried to photograph the painting and while we were able to get a good photo we were not able to get a photo good enough to make prints from.

Soooo....I had a dilemma. Ultimately I decided that I had to effectively re-paint Dr. Jekyll digitally in order to get a crisp enough image in order to offer high quality prints.

This meant that I would then also be painting Mr. Hyde digitally. Its important that the two pieces complement each other because they are a diptych and go togther.

In the process of re-painting Dr. Jekyll I made a few changes. Minor changes but I think he looks even better for it.

So here is the last version of Dr. Jekyll


And now - for the one I know you've all REALLY been waiting for.

Here is a sneak preview of the painting of Mr. Hyde.


I'll share more as I progress.

For now I'm off to work on an entirely different painting...mwahahah. One I am really excited about. It's part of the upcoming gallery show.

Later Ya'll!

Dr. Jekyll Update 8-28

Sorry for the shiny fuzzy pick.

I glazed the whole surface of the painting with a deep sepia glaze and added very dark glazes around the perimeter of the oval frame to create depth. So the whole painting is very wet and shiny right now. Hard to photograph.

He is essentially finished.

But there is one last thing I want to do to this piece. But I have to wait till he's dry and then I have to see if I have the nerve to do it. It's a pretty neat effect I want to do to the surface of this piece and I could end up ruining it in the process. But if it goes well it would be really worth it. I could also do an in between thing and kind of cheat the effect. Trying to decide what I want to do. I'll let you know!


I hope to start on Mr. Hyde later today. Yay!

Dr. Jekyll - Steampunk Art Update

I FINALLY have a Dr. Jekyll Update for you. (btw I know the Dr. Jekyll half of this diptych isn't really steampunk - just Victorian - but the search engines are logging these posts in a certain way and I want to maintain consistency across entries - and Mr. Hyde is decidely steampunk so it will even out in the end. )

First a quick bit of background. Some years ago I was diagnosed with Chemical Sensitivity. This sucked big time of course especially since I couldn't use my most favorite medium any more - Oil Paints. I did look into alternatives at the time but unfortunately with CS you can become so sensitive that even smells that are not toxic but have a toxic association can trigger a response. So even though I tried using turpentine alternatives the paints themselves made me sick sick sick.

Happily after several years off and an all natural organic diet (and eliminating refined sugars, High Fructose Corn Syrup and wheat from my diet - which allowed my body to detox and reboot) I am MUCH better. And I've found I can use my oil paints again.

I had suspected I could for a while now for a variety of reasons. But I proved it yesterday while painting Dr. Jekyll.

See I HATE acrylics for portrait painting. Now let me explain before you get upset. There is nothing wrong with acrylics it is a great medium. Many many amazing artists use them and do amazing things with them. I however, do not. Acrylics just don't mesh with my painting technique. They work fine for me when I am painting Munnys or Manga or Design work - because I paint differently when I create those kinds of things. But when I portrait paint - when I am working in realism - I tend to "buff" the paint onto the surface and blend blend blend. Acrylics just don't work for me in that respect then.

So yesterday as I sat down to paint I looked at the acrylics with dread and said there had to be a better way  and resolved to try oils again but with some major differences.

One major change is that I no longer use turpentine or any of its alternatives. To clean my brushes while painting I use simple Safflower Oil and paper towels. This works brilliantly. Then at the end of the painting session I cleaned the brushes with shampoo and water.

This experiment went so well that I now feel comfortable investing in some Walnut Oil based paints and dive back into oils again. I painted all day yesterday and felt fine. Yay!

Here is yesterdays progress.

The little sparkly glints are just where the light has hit still wet oil paint.

I don't know about you but I see a MAJOR difference in the quality of the painting in this piece versus when I was still working in acrylics. I'm interested in your thoughts as well.

Steampunk Art - Dr. Jekyll sketch update

Alrighty from listening to Bobbi's feedback I enlarged my initial Dr. Jekyll sketch and really focused on refining his expression.

I also added some mood lighting to give me a feel for how I want to paint the piece. I looked at a LOT of antique daugeuerrotypes and I think I've got the lighting approximated pretty well.

steampunk art dr. jekyllI really worked hard on his expression so let me know what you think. I want his expression to constantly change for the viewer so they aren't quite sure what they are seeing.

One technique for achieving this is to literally give a each side of the face a slightly different expression - not drastic but subtle enough so that the viewers eyes bounce back and forth across the face and can never quite decide what they are seeing.

Hopefully I got it right.

Here is an example of his different expressions.

steampunk art - dr. jekyll - anguish

steampunk art - dr. jekyll - fury

But again all this should hopefully be subtle yet still convey a man whose intense conflicting emotions are boiling beneath a carefully restrained and composed Victorian veneer.

As always I am interested in your thoughts.


Steampunk Art - Dr. Jekyll Meet Mr. Hyde

Before I head off for a busy Saturday I thought I would post my VERY rough preliminary sketch for Mr. Hyde. This is the drawing that features a Mask by Tom Banwell.

Well, actually I have two sketches here and thought it might be worth posting both as they are a good example of my "process".

This first image (above) is the original sketch - drawn in graphite on vellum paper.


This second image is a great example of how I use photoshop to assist me in the creation process. Even when I will be painting a piece in pigments (as opposed to painting digitally) I rely on the computer a great deal to allow me to experiment and play with a piece to find the best composition.

In the above example you can see I added shading to his jacket, hat and background - this was just a small visual adjustment since I spent very little time shading this sketch with values but rather focused on the development of Hyde's mechanical enhancements. The resulting sketch was so lacking in any kind of depth I found it a little distracting and so quickly added some digitally.

I also adjusted the angle of the gripping hands to make them a bit more menacing and active in the portrait. They may need further adjusting still. The last addition was a bloody smear of color. These portraits will be painted in grayscale but I do want to play with a splash of vivid red on Hydes portrait - a smear or fingerprint could be very interesting. *wicked grin*

Alright I'm off to a lunch appointment. I'll be back later on to keep working on this piece. I'm really enjoying it!

Steampunk Art - Dr. Jekyll - #1


I'm currently working on several pieces of art right now but the one that is at the forefront of my attention is a piece inspired by Daniel Proulx the man (and creator) behind Steampunk Rings.

Mr. Proulx posted a series of photos on his Flickr account - some simply of his own handsome self - some in the same clothing but wearing an incredible (and eerie) Steampunk mask made by artisan Tom Banwell .

I knew right away I wanted to create a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde piece inspired by the photos so I immediately wrote them both for permission - which I am delighted to say I received.


The inital sketch was a play on the dual personalties styled after the Joker card from a deck of playing cards. I quickly abadoned this as well, frankly, its a bit played out in contemporary art at the moment. I've seen similar concepts popping up all over the place so I decided it was a no go.

Additionally all the art I create right now has to be made in the spirit of "fitting in" with my upcoming exhibit. I can't branch to far off the overriding theme for the show and a playing card concept - no  matter how cool - wasn't going to fit.

But a daguerreotype would. ;)

See where I am going with this? No? K - let me elaborate.

I LOVE antique daguerreotypes - everything about them. And the particular look of these fantastic photos does influence my exhibit heavily.

So I'll be drawing Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde as two seperate pieces. Part of a pair of faux daguerrotypes that will - when completed be displayed in a hinged frame and mounted behind upholstered mats. The mats will be covered in two different fabrics (respectively) designed by myself (something I've been playing with). The design of each fabric will echo the personality of the man whose portrait they grace. (Ya know fluffy for Jekyll - mean for Hyde).


Now the fun part. I'd love some audience participation on this project. Give me your thoughts and ideas. I LOVE collaborative projects and since this piece started out inspired by fellow artists I think it only fitting that the collboration be ongoing.

And when it is finished - if there is enough interest I have plans to offer this set as a VERY limited edition of say 12 pieces that would be giclee prints with fabric covered mats set in hinged frames.

So without further delay here is the initial sketch for Dr. Jekyll. I am open to feedback. The only point I will make is that I do want his portrait to be reserved to enhance the contrast between the two personalities.

Please feel free to leave your comments below - I've turned off comment moderation so they should show up right away.