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Thursday, December 26, 2013

That Busy Time of Year.

Well merry Christmas one and all! It's been a fun and exciting year and what better way to end it than with something fun and exciting. The freelance/writing my own book thing has been a little slow in getting going but I've finally started getting some work coming in - some really cool stuff too.

This was a fun, but busy, Christmas. Dina got me some cool new shoes, a pair of pants that I love so much that I've already ripped them getting into her car yesterday. Being the skilled seamstress she is she's already repaired them and I am happily wearing them again today. She also got me the Lethal Weapon series soundtracks box set! I'm a big collector of movie soundtracks - think Star Wars, Batman, Predator, etc - not Top Gun, Ferris Bueller's Day Off... This box set was released by La-La Land Records and features all 4 complete scores. Other favorites in my collection: Conan The Barbarian (Intrada 3 disk set), The Shadow (Complete), and Predator. I have close to 500 soundtracks... so... yeeeah...


It was a happy Christmas. I spent the day with my beautiful wife and her family.

Among the many freelance jobs I've gotten in the past couple months one stood out as particularly special. I enjoy being asked to help create a special gift for a friend or loved one. Dina worked as a costumer for 5 years on the show Big Time Rush, she introduced me to the wonderful cast and crew of that show. One of the guys of the show - Carlos Pena - had asked me, long ago, if I could do a painting of his fiance. We never get around to the painting until a week ago when he contacted me about doing the painting as a gift for Christmas. I was thrilled and honored to be asked to complete the task of creating a special gift for his fiance.

He met Alexa while he was working on BTR (Big Time Rush) and she was working on Machete Kills and wanted a painting that commemorated the event. He texted me with his ideas and I quickly got to work. A few of his stipulations were that he was to be in the painting somewhere wearing what he was wearing the day he met her, and that the words "The Beginning" be present as well. No problemo!

First I did a sketch painting portrait of Alexa to practice - I was a bit out of practice in the portrait department and I didn't want to waste time or risk screwing up and starting over. I would be working from photographs Carlos provided me and I decided to work with what I was most comfortable and confident with - watercolors.

I looked to the work of Alex Ross and Anders Zorn for inspiration as I would want this to be halfway between a portrait and an illustration. Zorn has some amazing watercolor paintings and Ross is unsurpassed in his illustration techniques and voice. I was nervous going in... really nervous... ask Dina. The final painting would be 25" x 35"... the biggest I've done yet. The practice sketch was only 10" x 16" and was just a close-up of her face so it wasn't as scary an endeavor as the big painting would be but once I got going it went surprisingly smoothly.

I also took progress pics which I will share in the next blog entry.

Here's the portrait "sketch" that I did as a warmup and to get a sense of the colors I would need to complete the full painting. This painting took about 2 hours (+-) with watercolors on a scrap piece of 10" x 16" Arches watercolor board. I'm glad I did this painting because it got me back into "portrait mode" after having spent so much time drawing and painting monsters and hamsters. :) It was able to figure out mixing and colors as well. I gave the painting to Carlos as an added gift.

Alexa Vega - practice portrait
With that done I felt a bit more confident and ready to start the painting... not that I had much choice, the Christmas deadline was only a week away. I transferred the images I was using onto the huge board and quickly got to work!

Here's the final painting! It took 4 solid days to complete. I delivered the painting to Carlos at his home last Saturday and he loved it! He surprised Alexa with the paintings on Christmas eve and I was relieved to hear that she loved the painting too. It really was such an honor and a huge compliment for me to be asked to complete such a thoughtful gift. Carlos and Alexa are engaged to be married in January and I couldn't be happier for them.

Ugh! I'm babbling! Here's the painting...

final painting - 25x35 watercolor on Crescent illustration board
It was such a huge painting!

Here are a few close-up details...

"The Beginning" that Carlos requested be present somewhere in the painting.

Detail - Alexa

Detail - Carlos

Detail - Carlos and Alexa

A picture of Carlos with the painting. He was eager to give her the painting... as was I.

Me painting...

This was a scary painting for me (not the subject matter)... it was something I've never done before, I wasn't the most confident going into it, it was being given as a gift commemorating the start of their relationship... I was psyching myself out on so many levels. My wife Dina was so very confident that I could not only complete the task but that I would do it well... I love her so much. She's there by my side, while I bite my nails anxiously before I start a new project, cheering me on. I'm not nervous about every project I start... just the big ones. :) Hamster and monsters...pssh! No sweat!

But I dove in feet first and just went to town. There were a couple moments I was convinced I had messed up and would have to start over... I stuck with it and when all was said and done - it worked.
This was a fun project, a learning one and a confidence builder. I can finally see what my artists friends were talking about when they told me "don't make excuses - just do it."

I couldn't wait to share this painting with Carlos and Alexa and everyone. I can't wait to share some of my other projects too.

Stay tuned!