I get a lot of questions about my art so I decided to share some answers to common questions. I post my images on Facebook to over 1100 people, about 12 Art Groups, Instagram and to many of the buyers who have bought my art. Hopefully, these answers will help.
When did you start painting or doing art?
I started painting Watercolours about 16 years ago when my wife gave me a gift certificate for lessons. Within a year I sold about $3000 in original sales and another $25,000 in giclėe prints. A few years later I started painting acrylics for the rich colour. At age 51, I suffered my first stroke.
After multiple strokes, I started painting digitally, about three years ago. I know paint digitally about 85-90% of the time. I actually started painting over 30 years ago when Adobe Photoshop when it came out. I started teaching Photoshop as well as consulting on graphic design, teaching all over the US and western Canada on a daily basis.
So, although I have only painted for three years on the iPad Pro, I have over 30 years of experience and a lot of art experience. Through lots of practice, traditional painting, almost daily digital painting, my art is developing (hopefully for the better).
How often do you paint digitally?
I paint on my iPad almost daily if I can, even if its 15-20 minutes, then I take a break. In a typical day, I might paint 3-5 hours a day (depending on my health).
Most of my painting is done in the 7am till 10am and usually between 7pm till 11 pm with many breaks every 20-30 mins. I try to produce 2-3 pieces of art per week.
This past few months I resurrected 25-30 paintings I started a year ago and I am now finishing. There was usually a technical reason I did not finish them (lack of a texture or custom brush needed). So in many cases, I might go weeks without posting, then post 4-6 images at once. It appears I have been busy, but it varies.
Do you paint “traditionally”?
Yes, I still paint acrylics and a little watercolour. I also paint with Gouache, Pen and Ink, but in smaller amounts. The restriction with my acrylics is that my back and neck hurt a bit and so sitting at my easel is hard some days. If I paint closeup in acrylics, sometimes I get dizzy when I sit up but that varies day by day.
The other issue with traditional painting is the costs of paints and canvases. For a while, I was not receiving any income until my disability income was approved. So, I had to watch my budget.
Many people do not realize that painting with real paint is part of the experience. Like finger painting as a child, you can’t beat the feel of paint and the smell.
How do you paint so realistically?
A big part of realistic painting, is the research and “pre-painting” work. This coupled with the huge custom brush library, I can strive for a lot of realism.The custom brushes are very tied to the custom “textures” and “brush shapes”. I have hundreds of textures available to me to recreate wood, tree bark, rocks and stone patterns, rust and metal finishes.
In many cases, I might use a metallic texture on some wood patterns.When it comes to foliage, I have hundreds of textures and have specific ones for certain types of trees. Some of my old growth forest paintings use custom “cedar” bark textures. These textures really help a lot.
Lastly, the other aspect of painting realistically, is creating natural “mistakes” in nature. So for old, decrepit, weathered leaf patterns, broken twigs, miss coloured patterns. This is sometimes referred to as chaos theory in nature. Making naturally looking mistakes adds realism to paintings.
You create a lot of digital paintings in Procreate. Why? Do you use other programs like Adobe Photoshop?
I use a lot of different techniques to create my art. In some of my images, I use more than one program. For example, I might start a painting using 3-4 images in Photoshop and “ mashup” and image, much like a collage. Then I might sketch out a initial concept in Procreate.
I have also some custom filters and effects in my software as well as techniques I have learned while creating concept art for my US graphic arts clients. This has helped me as well.
You post how long it takes you and how many brushes you use. Why is that? How many brushes do you have? Why?
I do a lot of training and post my work all over. Many people ask me for advice on what brushes I use, techniques I use, layers used in Procreate and many more. The most common question: “How long does it take to paint your images”. It always is of interest and many other artists assume I work quicker when in many cases it takes me 3-4 times as long. In other cases, concept drawings only taken 3-6 hrs, versus 20-30 hours.A big part of my art is sharing HOW I paint. So I like to share details and encouragement. Ultimately, I also like to teach and can share alot that would be of interest to other artists.
How much time do you paint versus research?
Most cases, I can create a painting in 13-18 hrs of actual painting. But there is alot more to painting than the creation of the art.Most people do not realize there are important aspects of the painting process. They include:
- Research of the subject
- Reference photos of certain aspects of a painting (ex: painting realistic horses)
- Colour palettes
- Custom textures and effects used
- Custom brush creation and modification
- Names for paintings (this is done sometimes before I start a painting)
- Choosing the size (dimensions) and resolution (usually 300 pixels per inch).In many cases, I can spend as much time in the above stages BEFORE I make the first brushstroke.
Why do I paint? Besides enjoying art and creating stuff……
Painting is fun, exciting but also helps me reduce stress, helps me deal with health challenges like my vision challenges (I am 99% blind in my right eye), keeps me busy at home now that I am on a permanent disability.I have a list of a few hundred things I would like to paint before I loose any more feeling in my feet or hands. ( I have type 2 diabetes and was insulin dependent till about 5 months ago).
Do you “photo-bash” images?
“Photo-bashing” is the process of mixing a series of photos, usually in Photoshop, to create the image I want to paint. For example, I might want to paint a barn. In addition, I might add in a horse, a old truck and a blue sky with clouds. So I might create this concept in Photoshop and then use it for inspiration and as a reference image or guide.
Most of my images start in my head or dreams. But if I wish to paint a horse or cowboy, I may not know how to paint them. So I do research and in some cases, preliminary “concept” pre-paintings so my horse or cowboy, in this example, looks realistic.
What are your favourite subjects that you like to paint?
I paint many different images and themes. When I started painting watercolours, I painted alot of gardens and Japanese themes. But some themes looked far better in acrylics (primarily due to the opaque nature of acrylics.Now, I can say some of my favourite themes include:
- Japanese gardens, monuments, stone and rock-work
- Marinas and fishing boats from the Pacific Northwest
- Pets (dogs mostly)
- Old Growth Forests from BC
- Old Railcars / Steam Engines
- European Architecture
- Fantasy pictures (Knights, Old cities, Medieval times etc)
- My wife’s Gardens and yard
- Old cars from Europe
- Old bands / musicians like Hendrix / Jerry Garcia
- Mountain landscapes / mountain ranges / lakes
- Tree houses
- Natures scenes, fall scenes, birds and owls
- Western themes (cowboys, old western building, horses etc.)