I love stop motion. It’s the only thing I can think of that brings together all the things I’m passionate about, all in one place. Design, writing, carpentry, puppet-making, animation, poetry, photography, music, and… painting. However, I now have a love/hate relationship with painting. Way back in the 90s I studied figurative painting for 4 years before finding motion design by accident, or more specifically, being called into broadcast design in my last year of college and saying yes. So there’s always been a mild remorse at the thought of a lost career as an artist. But these are just thoughts, and they don’t mean much…
Anyway, let’s just say I began this painting having mixed feelings. Opening up that old paintbox (above) is scary for me. But I really wanted to feature a painting of a Galician landscape in this part of the set. The landscape goes into a 3-panel frame, which makes a room divider screen that separates the dining room from the kitchen. I have a particular painting style that I like, (I like GRIDS, and TRANSLUCENCY!) so I had no choice but to paint it myself. Here are the progress shots:
My reference pic, found on the web and printed out. I was specifically looking for some farmland. A cabbage patch in the Galician countryside, perhaps?
My technique for these types of paintings involves gridding out a source photo, and first roughing the image in on a similar grid on rice paper (coated with acrylic gloss medium).
Once the image is roughed in, leaving some areas translucent, I go square by square and paint one square at a time, as if each little square were an abstract painting. I am selective about the squares I want to focus on: in this case I just do the town in the BG of the scene.
Here’s the final screen, lit from front and back. I had gessoed the middle area where the cityscape is, to make this part opaque, while the field and sky are both translucent. It’ll be interesting to see this lit properly on the set.
Here’s what the screen looks like from the back. It’s kinda interesting to me to paint this way, because it’s a 3-dimensional object rather than flat. You can do the underpainting after you do the main painting. So here I added the grid to the back, as well as some turquoise and teal underpainting highlights, and backed it with the gesso, in selective spots.
Here’s a kinda rough shot of what it’ll look like in the set. The colour palette works with the dining room, and overall I’m really happy with it! Though again, it should be lit so that the sky is more glowy. But that’ll come.
If you’re interested, here’s a blast from the past — old paintings and artwork from college days… I think you can see the similarity. I have made many more grid paintings since, but these are some of my favourites.