Tuesdays are my day off, and as the kids are in school and my wife had meetings all morning, I had the computer all to my big ole self. Instead of playing Star Trek Online, I figured I would do a little painting. Above is a Norwegian girl, taking a pause in her day to think about butter, sugar, salmon, vikings and whatever else they think about, ha ha. I tease… it is actually my wife painted there. We joke about how most Norwegian food they eat in the US is either salmon or some sort of butter cookie or sugar covered thingy… and my Greek food is all about feta cheese and olives.
A month or so ago we were visiting her family in Decorah, Iowa during NordicFest (where a dark, swarthy, furry Greek like myself REALLY stands out in a crowd of tall thin blondes). I snapped a pic of my wife when she was sitting in her Grandma’s Lay-Z-boy, all dressed up in the bunad (traditional dress) her mother made for her. I liked the way the colorful dress with frilly shirt and silver chain jewelry (solje) were juxtaposed with the bare feet and legs. The trick was to visualize her not in a Lay-Z boy chair!
I started with a rough sketch, and populated the frame with a barrel and a shed. The chair was replaced with a crate/chest and since the armrest was out, I replaced it with a basket to give a reason for her right arm to be elevated. I began with the face, and got a nice, crisp likeness. Once I started the dress, I liked the way the rough scribble of colors looked, and decided to change her head to match. I used a drawing filter called “oilify” which blurs and blobs up an image to make it look like it was oil painted. Then came the foreground elements in a separate layer, and the distant outdoor setting in another. All of that was just drawn on the fly, without any planning of color schemes or composition. I did make the entire background of lesser opacity which whitens/lightens it all up and makes it seem out of focus and distant. Finally came all the foreground grasses and dirt, which were done with brushes made to mimic grass by just stamping out the shape over and over.
I like this over all, I got to play with some program functions I rarely use. The only thing that sort of bothers me is the inconsistent style… the girl and background are crudely “oil painted”, but the foreground is not… you would not be able to see individual blades of grass in an oil paint. I had to let this go since “oilifying” the grass would blur it too much and kill the sense of distance you get by having the different layers of focus. Also, in real oil paint, you have physical texture (brushstrokes, etc) in the paint that light strikes and creates an added dimension and detail a digital print would not have.