This blog was set up as a fitness gym to exercise the gray muscle in my skull with creative writing in forms of short stories, opinions and criticisms. But as an artist, I feel that occasionally it should be used as an informative or instructional column in regards to my illustrative work.
Almost a year ago, I was asked to partake in a group show curated by artist Greg "CRAOLA" Simkins. I've known of Greg's work for a decade now, through my friendship with Alex Pardee. I remember our early career days of zines and little back alley art shows in San Fransisco. Every comic convention was like a reunion. When I finally met Greg, I really took to his genuine demeanor. There are people I like to see reach success and others I would rather see fed through a corpse grinder and made into cat food. It's been nice to see these two deserving artists move forward in their accomplishments.
Here are some selections from Greg's letter of invitation:
When I was 12, my Grandfather bought me the book Watership Down to read on a road trip we took together. Since then, I have read this book and its' sequel numerous times. The characters and the struggles in this book were more about society and conflict than the rabbits used to portray these things. The story sparked my imagination and it was this book that fueled my obsession with using rabbits as a tool of art. One rabbit in particular stood out...the Black Rabbit of Inle.
I am inviting you to take part in a group exhibition that I am curating because I really admire your work and would love to see your take on something that has been such a big part of my artistic journey. I am asking for one piece that is your interpretation of the Black Rabbit of Inle, which can be literal or loose. Also, feel free to paint from our own memories of Watership Down if that grabs you. I appreciate your consideration and would be honored by your participation.
Greg "Craola" Simkins
So naturally, I agreed to be a part of the show, even though I have not agreed to any other gallery commitments for the past year due to my involvement in the production of Pinocchio. I've ventured away from my illustrative comfort zone, painting with acrylics on wood opposed to my usual medium of choice - Watercolor and ink. But for this piece, I thought I would bring it back to my roots and express this piece the way I am best known and comfortable.
I started with a rough sketch of my interpretation of Inle on watercolor paper. I get asked this question all the time, so please take note so I don't have to repeat myself. I USE MECHANICAL PENCILS. No special brand. I like the precision I can get with a diameter of lead that never seems to get dull.
After that I will throw down an overall tone. This is usually a nicotine wash that I like and prefer to use on almost all my watercolors. It gives the painting that dingy smokers feel that I remember my uncle's house having or a seedy bar. Then I'll go in and paint in other shapes, usually starting with my darkest color which is a black coffee soot.
Once that's done you can really see the negative and positive shapes pop out. Then I'll throw in some other colors - Like blood red. I like blood. It cuts the sweetness of my coffee in the morning. People ask what I use for watercolors. I usually find myself painting with Windsor Newton.
One of the last things I do in the form of painting is add little touches of splatter. Sometimes this is an accident when a cut to a victim's throat too close to the painting ends up spraying everywhere. But I usually look at the piece and say to myself "That works lovely."
At this point, the painting is complete. It is time for me to move onto the inking stage. This is the stage that I have not yet started on with my INLE painting. So you will have to check back with INLE PAINTING PROGRESS PART 2 to see how that all turns out. I'm curious myself.
Mark your calendars. The INLE show will be March 12, 2011 at Gallery 1988 located on 7020 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038.
Copyright 2011, Gris Grimly