At what point were the augmentations so manifold, they changed her true nature? After all, thanks to them she was able to connect. A glimpse into so many minds, that every synapse in her brain was firing. A feeling of ecstasy caused by the chemical reactions. It was real. More real than anything she had experienced before. A true connection. But with whom? Or even, with what?
This piece is a special one for me. I put a lot into it and it is not my ordinary scary, monstrous art. And that is why I love it. Took nearly 30 hours which is the piece I have worked the longest so far.
I hope you do enjoy it as much as I do. Make sure to check out the time-lapse painting (just scroll down and you will see it). Thanks!
The Making of “Drone of Clouds and Minds” - Time-lapse Painting
Here is a link to the video of the making of my last painting.
When I publish my paintings, I always feel the urge to write and explain how and why I went down the path I did with the creation process. Most social medias don’t give you that opportunity though. Also, sadly, most people run around and are so busy these days that I just cant see myself intriguing anyone to sit down and read a piece of writing. No matter if it takes just 5 or 10 minutes, sometimes even less.
Building a following is also hard and I don’t know if this is the place where people are interested in the insights of a struggling artist. But anyways, here it goes (if you like what I say and would like to see it integrated in the video itself next time, do say so please).
I had a university drawing assignment calling for the creation of a character. Well no, this here is not the character that I created for university. What I handed in was a half-assed magician with a robe and very broad shoulders. But one of the initial ideas I had with him was: I wanted him to hold a magical fire. And I wanted it to be something interesting, something novel. So I thought, why not follow some mathematical shapes? Maybe he is a wizard that knows every secret of this world? And he resides in a world, where, though predominantly fantastical, science still exists. Who knows, if they had a scientist good enough, they could probably formulate magic itself too.
That’s why I said - well, his fire will have a three dimensional shape that is a bit more unorthodox. He will be holding a fire that is an polyhedron. Maybe icosahedron? 20 faces. That didn’t matter at the time. I even wanted it more abstract.
Some polyhedrons can be seen above. I especially liked the one numbered 8.
This concept stuck with me, but I wanted to explore it in a personal painting, and not something related to university. Here came another idea, one that I had circling in my mind for the prior 4-5 months. A portrait of a woman looking directly into an abstract shape. As such this sketch was born:
You can see how it started loosing its mathematical concept and went more into an abstraction. The days that followed though, I had doubts whether I want to be exploring something as abstract or not.
In Diablo 3, the Wizard had some incredible held in off-hand sources and orbs. And although its been very long since I last played, I think that some of the electric colors and interesting shapes had an influence on me too.
One of the off-hands in Diablo 3. While painting I didn’t use any of this as a reference, but I believe the game had left a mark on my mind.
Call me cynical, but a lot of art will circle around and become famous for just being a tiny bit abstract but immensely pretty. There is nothing wrong with it, but I just think people are prone to easily liking stuff that is just pretty and nothing else. Sometimes there even isn’t any deeper meaning into it. I wanted a beautiful painting (for a change in my ordinary monstrous portfolio) but I wanted more than that into it. So I started exploring the idea of a robot. Or a drone.
One of the first sketches of the drone. It ended up looking totally different, but you can see the starting points and similarities.
But all of that you can see in the video itself. Also, this blog post already stretched to be a bit too lengthy, so I will leave the rest of the insights for the video itself.
Hope you found this post interesting, Pete.
Commentary from 2023
As you can see in the title of the article above, I created this painting back in 2017. It still holds a special place in my heart and I think I learned a few things whilst making it.
There are some parts of it that I’m no longer really satisfied with as well. The months after I created this illustration I revisited it and slightly positioned the right eye of the character better on her face, fixing it all up a bit.
I remember I really struggled with another thing in this artwork back then. It’s her skin. The tone and the texture of it. I remember the issue lingering on the back of my mind way back then when I was painting it. I think I gave my best shot at trying to overcome it. Now looking at it through the lenses of time, I don’t really think I managed to.
I don’t have the interest of painting on top of it once again, 6 years later. I believe it would be more productive, and kind of cooler, if I were to take the character and completely repaint / remake them in the skill set I have now. Into a brand new composition. If I’ll ever get into doing that though, I am doubtful.
Yet I wanted to describe what I would do differently, knowing what I know now, with the hopes that perhaps it could be intriguing. Or useful to any 2D artist out there reading this right now and analyzing my artistic process.
If I were to rework this painting I would restructure her skin quite a bit more. Right now her skin is very smooth and very perfect. To the point of looking flat, unrealistic and inhuman. She looks like instead of skin she has plastic or some other porcelain. Like a robot.
It’s almost like from the picture cover of a magazine promoting unrealistic skin products. Where you look at it and you go “wow, ye, that is certainly air brushed to death in Photoshop. No way a real human skin looks like that.”
I think we, humans, have lots of imperfections that make us… perfect. They make us beautiful. I feel like my painting lacks exactly that.
Sissy Spacek Portrait
Few years after painting this, even though I had started heavily into 3D and had made my mind up to pursue a career as an Environment Artist for games, instead of a 2D artist, I did a study. That study was a painting of Sissy Spacek, playing Ruth Deaver in the TV-Show Castle Rock. She was stunning. Her performance left such a heavy impression on me that I just had to paint her. (You can find that here).
Perhaps just by looking at that painting above, you can see where I am going. With it I actually learned how to through simple brushstrokes capture skin imperfections. I also left lots of brush marks on her skin, instead of smoothing it all out. If my painting above, the Drone one, had some of that going on, I think the portrait would come much more alive.
The other thing I would have to mention, given its 2023 now that I’m writing this, is AI art. I first hand observed, like all of you, the rise of AI generated imagery. Even few years ago, before it went as mainstream as it is right now, I knew its possible and I knew its under development. I closely followed it because of my love for tech and programming.
The first time I saw impressive results from it was after my favourite artist James Gurney started sharing some on his Twitter. Around early 2020. Someone had taught an abstract model on his paintings. He, like many of us, at the first appearance of AI images, was amazed by it. Empowered. Not looking into the nasty restructuring and elimination of human jobs it would scatter through the years to follow. Not realizing the utter spam it would produce, the perfect copy, utter soulless, devout of creativity “art” spam.
I am quote honestly overwhelmed from the utter amounts of lacking creativity ai imagery that has overflow everywhere. My fascination for tech and the programming side of it has washed away. The novelty of it has disappeared and I clearly see mostly the rat race it has exacerbated. I could write and write about it, and perhaps I will, but in another post, not now.
For now, I just wanted to mention it in order to set the tone and picture of where I am going with this:
The masses of spam of uncreative AI art has made me see thousand of images of the same perfect, robot like, chick. Just the same way everything gets spammed with Joker AI art. I won’t go into analyzing why that is, but you can perhaps guess.
With that being here now, it has distorted my view of my painting above. It has made the perfect, plastic like skin even worse looking that it even did back before AI images. The red shade lipstick, perhaps as well.
That is not a problem of my painting per say, but I thought its interesting how the times changed the past few years and how our perception has moved on as well. I had to mention it. I had to tell you. Because every time I see my painting now, AI has left a mark on me and I go “oof, that cliché woman again”.
Back on a more positive, quick note:
I wanted to also mention that even though back in 2017, when I was painting the “Drone of Clouds and Minds”, I didn’t have any screenshots of “Aloy” from “Horizon Zero Dawn” used as a reference. And even though I didn’t play the game back then, I still remember watching a quick playthrough of the first hour or so of the game.
I believe, now, that Aloy left such a big impression on my mind back then, that perhaps unconsciously she was the big inspiration behind the painting.
Right now, as of writing this and creating this blog website in 2023, I actually finally, with years delay, got to play Horizon Zero Dawn. I got into the PC port release of it. It’s an absolute blast and an amazing game. Inspires me in so many ways.
How all of this lined up, and I ended up writing about this painting just as I am playing the game, I find a bit funny. I hope you enjoyed reading all of this.