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New Digital Painting – Silent Sentry

This digital painting was created in Procreate with Apple pencil. I used a reference photo provided by my friend, Trevor Reeves. His images are spectacular!

I used around 20+ digital brushes from my collection of garden brushes and digital ink brushes. I used many different layer effects, blending modes. I plan to develop a blog post with much more detail for my GordonCurrieArt.com website.

This digital painting is 16” x 20”. Copyright belongs to Trevor Reeves, I want to thank him for allowing me to paint his incredible photo.

Silent Sentry
Silent Sentry

Garden Paintings from Moberly Lake, BC

Here are two digital watercolours I created over the past 3 weeks. Both were created in Procreate 5X and using an Apple pencil. Each image took about 10 hours of work, I used a number of brushes (most are paid brushes I have bought.

My iPad Pro is the 12.9 version. My Apple pencil is first generation. If I sell more art, once the Covid health problem goes away, I hope to buy a newer iPad. For now, my current one will do.

I used a couple of reference images for the Garden Kitty picture. It was an experiment in foliage painting. I have done many pet portraits so creating and painting pets is getting easier.

The Tree Ropes and Summer Foliage painting was done on location at our family cabin at Moberly Lake, BC. It was done on the back of our property about 3 weeks ago while staying at the lake for the weekend. Its a really cool ships rope from the coast, wrapped around the tree to prevent people walking into the garden. I placed driftwood against it as a fence to repel deer walking through.

I may make some prints of the Tree Ropes image on canvas if anyone is interested. The Garden Kitty painting was created using a reference image, that I am waiting for permission to use. I drew the image from 3 different pictures (for inspiration) and is is not a photo, but a digital drawing I created.

** Occasionally, people write me and ask if its a photo. Its not, but with over 4000 different brushes I use in Procreate, I can get some really photographic looking art. Its part of my “style”.

I took a series of 250+ images at Moberly Lake with about 50 I would like to paint digitally and about 20 using acrylics and watercolours. So watch this website for more art. I paint 2-4 hrs a day if I can (depends on my health and dizziness / vertigo).

Have a great week!

Gordon

Recent Art News and Cool Projects

As I posted a few weeks ago, in addition to acrylic painting on canvas, I am back painting watercolours including watercolour and pen / ink. Part of my goal was to do some outside drawing/painting (known as plein aire, a french term) and urban sketching.

This past week has been eventful for me. I got to attend a wedding on the weekend for my niece Sydney, received a bunch of canvas prints of some of my recent digital paintings. Lastly, I had some health issues that has me resting and recovering for a few days. But still working on art stuff!

Today’s post includes a digital painting I did based on my lake trip on the August long weekend. I took over 230 reference photos for future paintings. These will keep me busy this winter.

On the topic of reference photos, I took a bunch of old victorian houses while on a trip 3 years ago (before covid hit) on Vancouver Island and (ironically enough) Victoria, BC. I have been reviewing old photos for painting ideas. I use my camera on my phone to store ideas and concepts for future paintings and art / drawings.

It is very quickly coming up on September 2021 and fall is coming or starting in a few weeks time. So, I am planning on documenting lots of the fall colours as the leaves change colour. I think we are about at least a month away before leaves drop.

One of my projects I am working on is a short video to promote my art. I have always wanted to promote my art more, in the US and abroad. I used to sell a lots of original watercolours to the US but not as much when I started to do acrylics.

It (the video) will include images of my paintings, prints and drawings (some pen and ink). I am just assembling ideas and mocking up what this will look like. I need to pick some music to put with the pictures that I can use legally as I plan to upload on Youtube. They are very particular on rights (which I support).

Over the past year, I have been working on setting up an online store to sell my art. I want to take orders online and process credit cards. I have the experience to do this but its not a 5 minute job. The first stage for me a few months ago was to create a catalog that people could download. I accomplished this (catalog link). More to come on the online store and more updates.

Lastly, I am still planning on launching a course online on marketing and promoting ones artwork. I had hoped to launch this in May 2021 but my health challenges delayed this. Creating good, educational content takes a surprising amount of time and work. Recording / editing by itself takes time. Just writing the outline and marketing tips took me weeks. But I am getting closer.

Thanks for everyones kind comments during my recent health crisis. I am still focusing on my art and producing, just as not fast as I would like. But I will bounce back and deliver new paintings and art while promoting art and creativity!

Cheers

Gordon Currie

August Painting Update! Still Creating Art!

This past few weeks I have been very busy painting and doing all sorts of art. This update will give you an idea of what I have been up to and the direction I am going.

Firstly, I had the pleasure of spending time at Moberly Lake, BC with my wife and two daughters (including TJ, my son in law and Tristan, my grandson). We swam, boated, and painted. I took about 260 pictures at the cabin of ideas to paint including gardens, wagon wheels, log house stuff, and cool rustic western stuff we have collected. I will have lots of paintings to do based on my photos ideas.

My images gathered will be used in both Digital Paintings, Acrylic Paintings, and soon some more Watercolours. I want to get back to painting watercolours and particularly gardens. I also have been working with some sketchbooks and creating some pen and ink work that I want to colour with watercolour ink.

One area I really like studying and reading about is Urban Sketching. I want to do some sketching outside, before the fall, and then paint using watercolours. I follow a number of UK artists that create artwork and Urban Sketches. You might ask, “what is an urban sketch”. It’s a drawing or sketch usually done on location or from a reference picture. It is used to recreate places you travel to. I have studied it and like that it less about accurate drawings and more about loosely sketching what you see in urban settings ( like cities, towns) and includes sketches of people walking or in parks. They are not photographic images and I took a bunch of photos during my last trip to Victoria and the Island.

I am experimenting more and more with Gouache paint (its non-translucent watercolour paint), inks and fine tip pens. I am also using sketchbooks for ideas and trying to create a group of images in sketchbooks I can paint over the fall and winter.

My goal this month and next is to start selling and promoting my art more and more to cover costs and eventually supplement my income. Although I am on disability, I would like to one day transition to making some income from my art to cover art expenses and maybe travel to shoot pictures. Right now my health is up and down and lately I have been fighting dizziness and some balance issues. This is partly why I am doing a blend of digital art and drawing along with painting canvases. Painting a canvas takes a lot of time and my back hurts sometimes, so I do the art I can physically handle that day.

On the topic of art, I tried to paint or draw daily as much for the practice but to help me stay positive. This past few years of being out of work, fighting with insurance companies over my disability, handling being down, and struggling at times with my heath takes a lot out of a person. I am not complaining but I want to be honest. I can’t hide the fact some days I struggle to get up in the morning, I fight vertigo and pain in my legs and feet. Diabetes, although controlled, has left me with minimal feeling in my feet. So walking is a challenge at times.

On a more positive direction, I am hoping to start to help my wife with the yard work this month. I was able to cut the grass this past few days (took me 3 hrs to cut the front) but I rested 2-3 times. I also am saving up for a newer Apple iPad Pro with the new A12 chip. It will have more memory and I have had my current iPad Pro for about 3 years. Just need to sell more art and market me more. The 25 months of covid did not help me as I could not do public displays without health risks. Now that I am vaccinated and we are seeing restrictions slow down, I hope to do more.

In closing, watch for more art on Facebook posts and Instagram (you can follow me at #gordonfcurrie ). I also hope to post once every 10 days on this blog if I am able to.

All the best! Enjoy what’s left of summer and stay safe with all the fires and smoke!

Gordon Currie

Ps. The painting on the right >>> of the garden flowers was taken from a friend’s garden (Judi McGowan) and I was very inspired to paint it as an experiment. Thanks to Jui for letting me paint it.

The picture below was created from a few pictures of a Bed and Breakfast I stayed at in North Saanich on Vancouver Island 3 years ago at my daughter’s wedding. It was beautiful, so I had to paint it.

Analysis / Process / Research for Paintings

Finished Japanese Koi Pond Image

In the past few days, I developed, over 6 hours, a painting called “Japanese Koi and Pond’. I posted some details on the brushes and program I used (Procreate) but I wanted to add that a lot of work went into researching and analyzing this painting. Here is that story.

Firstly, before I paint a digital or acrylic painting, I research the subject. In this case, not knowing a great deal about Japanese gardens, I needed to know about the trees/shrubs, granite materials, foliage, etc. In order to find brushes that can duplicate these textures.

Reference-Koi Fish

I created mood boards (created in Pinterest) of Japanese monuments, pagodas, and gardens. This allowed me to accurately sketch garden layouts and create plants that looked like they belong. Additionally, I started mocking up colour palettes that would work for me. All part of the process.

My next research task was studying plants from Japanese gardens using my trusty Google search, with a focus on image search. I do not believe in copying but needed to recheck my research on plants and foliage leaf patterns. Nothing looks worse than painting a plant or tree that does not exist in a Japanese garden.

Reference – Japanese Maple

I also researched on Youtube, painting Japanese gardens in Acrylic and Watercolour to see what others had done and to watch tutorials to learn techniques. I also searched through dozens of artists’ sites to see examples of garden paintings in this genre.

At this point, I easily have 8-11 hours of background research completed and I have yet to start the painting!

Before I go much further, I needed to determine a layout and chose a square layout. Using the rule of thirds, I drew in some lines to break the painting up into 3rds. At this point, I determined the stone pagoda structure would rest on the right side of the picture, 2/3 rd’s across the page. And about 1/3 rd down the page.

Reference-Koi Fish Example

Once I placed the pagoda (I also refer to this as a monument/cairn), on the right. I wanted to balance this with foliage on the left side, tiered like stack stones. With a red coloured Japanese maple. Above this foliage “stack”, I sketch in some grass, going from left to right, with a downward direction pointing to the pagoda, as a visual cue for the eye to wander.

Below the foliage stack on the left, I placed a series of horizontal granite blocks with cool textures and light illuminated faces (on the tops) pointing towards the pond on the right. This pond would have a series of Koi fish swimming in circles to add to the picture. They would be created in the water, surrounded by reflections of the pagoda.

The water in the lower 3rd of the image would be made up of dirty water with mud, debris (leaves, flower petals), along with reflections and some blue tints above the fish. The koi fish would be below the water only a few inches, swimming by the surface. This would allow the viewer to see the outlines/shapes of the koi. But more of a suggestion they were there.

Reference – Targetting how people move through picture
  • I have attached a drawing on the general directions my visual elements would take in the image.

As part of my research and planning, I like to list the steps I hope to take in building the fundamentals of the image. So I block out larger areas of colour and shape with custom brushes. I start with shadow colours (in this example, for foliage) and then layer in brighter shades of green and browns/yellows.

After I sketch out the solid colour blocks and shapes (and they look appealing and balanced), I will experiment with some textures. It is critical at this point I determine where my lighting is coming from (sunlight). Garden’s are lit by the sun outdoors, reflected light by the sky (with a blue colour cast), reflected light by other plants as well as water reflections. Lighting a garden image can be very complex and involve a lot of colours.

My painting progresses and starts to take shape. In some areas of the painting, I may copy and paste an area of the picture duplicating the textures to save me some time. I can stretch or manipulate that layer as I see fit. I also review the painting to ensure the leaves and branches do not look perfect. I need to ensure they look random, include discoloured foliage and broken, deformed sticks, chipped stone. As an example when I paint on acrylic paintings, When I paint rocks like granite, there will be cracks, chips, and odd colourations just like in nature. We have to remember to duplicate the “chaos” of nature for it to be believable.

Reference – Granite Textures

I want to add that I am not striving for perfect painting and foliage/plants. I want to create a suggestion of moss, leaves, and stone textures. The human eye fills in the rest and if you are really creative, you see aspects of this painting that do not exist.

As I continue to finish this painting, not unlike a game concept artist, I flipped the canvas to see how it looks in reverse. You can find many mistakes or problems in your drawings/paintings doing this.

Once the painting is getting close to completion, much like acrylic paintings, I will create and layer “digital glazes” to accentuate shadows and colour casts.

The last step, and its a tough one for many, is determining when to stop. On close to 90% of my paintings, I create a signature layer at the top of the painting and then see spots that need extra work. One likes to think you’re signing the painting, it is complete. Rarely is this the case!

Reference – Foliage Examples and Color Palettes

Hoped you like my explanation on how I paint and research a painting. A simple 6-hour painting can easily take 20-30 hours of work. Be sure and check out my Facebook page and Instagram page for more art posts.

Cheers

Gordon Currie

Japanese Koi and Pond Update

Today’s blog post covers some of the software I use for my digital painting. I also talk about brushes I use to create some of the textures I use for foliage (for my garden art).

My program of choice on my iPad Pro (12.9”) is Procreate Version 5. It allows me to sketch ideas and paint images I post on this website. I use a 1st generation Apple Pencil along with a variety of accessories (clear protective cover for the screen as well as special pen tips.

Most of my paintings are created ranging in size from 12” x 12” up to 18” x 24” at 300 dpi. This allows me to print my images and make prints on paper and canvas.  I order them from a variety of sites online and have the prints sent to me.

I use brushes for my garden art paintings from brush packs I have bought online or created myself. Some brushes I have bought include brushes from Art and Design brushes (V4) purchased by DesignCuts.com. I also use brushes from Visual Timmys Holy Halftones,  Mandy Bellwoar’s Ghibili brushes and many others.

When I see textures of plants, bushes and general jungle foliage, I will scan the images into my computer and create patterns used for creating custom brushes, that I create in the brush editor that comes with Procreate. I can customize hundreds of aspects of each brush including colours, pressure, rotation and angle off my digital pencil.

One of the secrets I use to create plants is to paint the dark background and shadows of the leaves and foliage first. Then I randomly generate the leaves and brighter foliage. Knowing what direction the lighting is coming from is key. As is backlighting the can reveal leaf’s veins and patterns. Also varying the colours to include browns and yellows or in some cases reds and oranges for certain Japanese plants.

I have a number of brushes I use that are designed for painting bark and the branches of trees and bushes. Every tree / branch / roots have a very unique pattern and texture. So creating random patterns is very important. I have brushes for dappled tight that pokes through branches and create unique shadows.

Shadows on plants and trees is very important. Know what shape to paint them as well as shadow colours is very important for realism. Angle of light, reflected light ( from both the sky and objects on the ground) and other light sources. This is a topic that could have its own blog post by itself.

Procreate uses layers ( like Adobe Photoshop has for years and pioneered) that allow you to separate objects and create layered water effects. On a recent painting of a Japanese Koi pond, I used layers to give the pond water some depth and allow koi fish to swim just under the water’s surface.

Some of my images I create are designed simply to post online and share my art as well as flush out. These are done at much lower file sizes and resolutions. This allows me to work with dozens of layers. For images that I create for larger prints at 300 dot per inch ( a standard resolution for high quality prints), I have much fewer layers available to me. What this means is I have to plan my digital paintings in advance. As mentioned in past posts, I create a lot of digital sketches, paintings and colour studies on my iPad for my acrylic paintings on canvas. This allows me to mix colours, experiment with different ideas, without wasting paint or canvases. This is better for me and saves me money but it also way better for the environment. Some people don’t like the idea of digital paintings. They don’t feel they are real art. But the reality is you need to have skills to paint (for all types of painting) and understand colour theory, composition, rule of thirds and many other aspects of creating art.

Lastly, I wanted to mention again, that I have a number of my paintings (both digital and acrylic) available for sale at reasonable prices. They make great gifts, wedding presents and gifts at the workplace (retirements). Just drop me a note or call me at 250-784-8383 and we can discuss options. I am not focusing on too many commissions this summer as I am trying to spend as much time outside as I can.

Talk soon!

Gordon Currie

Inside Secrets To How I Create Art

Today I wanted to share some of the ways I create art. In unique ways. Yes, I paint digitally on my iPad Pro and acrylic canvases, but few know how images and paintings come about. I wanted to share one example.

I recently used a reference photo for a digital drawing I painted. Many of my images are made up of 3-4 images that I assemble or Adobe Photoshop or Procreate. This is usually based on either my knowing how to draw something or want to include a tree from one picture and add it to another. With many of my Japanese-themed art, I take a waterfall from one photo and assemble it with a different scene if it suits the combined image I want to paint.

In the case of my digital painting, I completed it after a number of hours and had it printed on canvas and mounted on stretcher bars, and stapled it. In some cases, I stop there and hang the finished artwork. Today was different as I placed the painting on my mantle and sat and watched it for a while. I then started watching some youtube videos of artist James Gurney. I love his style of painting and past work paint dinosaurs for Dinotopia.

On one of the videos I watched he was teaching techniques for using gesso (I use gesso to base my canvases before applying colour) and modeling paste. He created bark-like textures for the skin of dinosaurs he was painting and I thought this would be a great technique to try.

So my plan is to apply modeling paste onto the areas on the canvas I had printed and repaint and add acrylic paint on the image. But first I would add texture using modeling paste. I would apply it with a palette knife and let it dry and then I can paint over it with acrylic paint, slightly thinned so that the paint would flow into the deeper recesses. I would use my acrylic gouache paints and regular heavy body acrylics and build up colour and textures. Many of my landscapes have mountains, trees, and logs that can be detailed with texture, giving the painting a 3D look.

One technique I have used is to thin down acrylic washes and paint multiple light washes over a painting, build up colour layers. When you get up to 20-30 layers of colour, the colour gives a luminescent glowing feel to the painting. It works well if you use quality paints with proper application. I would combine the glazing technique along with the texture technique to create a special painting.

So to recap, here are the techniques and technology I use to create this type of artwork:

  1. Reference photos to understand how certain aspects of my painting look correct.
  2. Using layers in Adobe Photoshop or Procreate software to comp up a concept drawing.
  3. I watch videos on Youtube to learn new techniques or methods to create my art. I am inspired by other professionals.
  4. I will complete my drawing on my iPad with Procreate and the Apple Pencil.
  5. Once the drawing / digital painting is completed, in this case, I have it printed on canvas and stretched.
  6. I then review the stretched painting, and apply modeling paste for texture, and then paint over the texture.
  7. I then apply multiple glazes of transparent colour that when layered make the painting glow.
  8. The last part would be to sign the image and spray with a protective varnish layer so the paint can be dusted off in the future without removing paint. The varnish also brightens the colours, maturing the blues and greens and warming the reds and oranges up.

The above process is not used with all my art or paintings. But you can see I use different tools (mediums and software) along with techniques I have learned and picked up from professional artists I admire. Youtube allows me to watch and learn many new techniques at no cost.

The above is only one series of techniques I use. Every painting is original and unique. Now in some cases, I will create prints to sell as there is only one original and it might sell for $300-$600. My prints can sell and do sell for $150-$200 each. I keep my print runs below 50 so they keep their value. But a regular painting can generate the original price and then print prices. I print on highly quality paper using special archival inks that last 120-150 years

Hope you enjoyed this explanation of how I create art for some of my paintings. I will post additional techniques in the near future if there is interest!

Cheers

Gordon Currie