Itching for More

 

My goal this week: stepping up my background game.

I’ve chosen a Simpsons character this week that lends itself well to a detailed background. Itchy and Scratchy is a cartoon show within The Simpsons that parodies classic cartoons such as Wile-E-Coyote and the Road Runner. The catch is that the mouse is trying to catch the cat and most of the time, he succeeds.

This week, I painted Itchy (the mouse) and used the props from his plans to capture Scratchy. In Looney Tunes, you’d often see Acme products, whereas in The Simpsons, Itchy uses more realistic means.

To draw the TNT box that Itchy is coming out of, I used the following video:

This box was my own addition to the painting and was not included in my reference image. I also chose to include a wooden background. I used this YouTube video to help me with that pattern:

YouTube videos are always great for my original sketches. I often choose the shortest ones, however, as I sometimes feel that they are too slow. In an article with pictures, I can work at my own pace, whereas a YouTube video limits me to working at someone else’s pace. In the above videos, I found that I skipped ahead quite often.

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In terms of the actual painting, I have definitely found my groove in terms of the characters (colour, proportions, etc). I have also become quite fast. My first painting of Marge took me 3 and a half hours from start to finish and did not include a background. This one took me about 2 hours, background included. Little points of progress such as this definitely help to build my confidence and encourage me to continue taking more risks. The documentation of progress through blog posts has allowed me to visually see my progress, which allows me to see that I am not standing still. I am moving forward every week.

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Next week, I will be wrapping up my learning project by exploring various options for my artwork (other than cluttering the walls of my apartment). Stay “tooned!”

Painting over mistakes is like sweeping dirt under the rug. No one will know unless you want them to.

Having finished my third The Simpsons painting (Milhouse Van Houten), I definitely feel as though I’ve hit my stride/found my groove in terms of style. This is where I belong: painting the Simpsons, one character at a time.

This being said, however, even the smoothest of grooves contain a few bumps here and there. The final result is perhaps one of my best (stay tuned to later in the post), however, it wasn’t easy getting there. Normally when I draw my characters, it goes pretty flawlessly. This time was different.

I, for whatever reason, struggled with Milhouse’s proportions and erased and redrew at least 10 times. Each time I erased, my new lines were harder to see so I had to press more firmly with my pencil, creating darker and darker lines. Then when I erased those lines, I had to go even darker the next time. Long story short… I made a mess.

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Normally my sketch is just a bunch of dotted lines as you can see from my Squidward sketch.
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This week, I had to use actual lines. Compared to the Squidward above, these lines are much darker and harder to paint over.

My plan was to simply paint over the pencil lines over and over again until they went away. This would have been difficult considering the yellow I use is fairly light (I mix it with white). Luckily, I found the following video that seemed to save several layers of paint, a few hours of repainting, and the piece in general.

 

This site, as well as art-is-fun.com (which has become one of my go-to sites) also offered some great solutions. It was, however, much easier to watch the video on YouTube. The Internet has many articles that are super informative, but in this particular scenario, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

So here is my final product. You can see that this character is much more detailed compared to my previous characters. In particular, the glasses were quite complex. I also painted his entire body instead of just his head.

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Lastly, I’m quite proud of his facial expression and the background that enhances the character’s mood. I’ve found that my best work comes from bringing the characters to life, and this one in particular seems to portray a sense of emotion. I consider this a victory.

Mr. Ingola Paints Mr. Burns

For this next piece, I worked on incorporating a more elaborate background. Since Mr. Burns works at the nuclear power plant and is often seen polluting Springfield’s air, I included a billow of smoke. This is in addition to the dollar signs, which are a symbol of his wealth. I quite enjoyed painting a “villain” or antagonist this time around, as I could experiment with slightly darker colours. I am also very pleased with my incorporation of more background elements without taking away from the character as the actual focus of the painting.

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I used the sponge brush to create the smoke effect. In researching the sponge brush, however, I discovered that it is actually called a foam brush. According to heartlandpainters.com, one of the negatives of using the foam brush is that it leaves a ridge of paint on both sides of the paint stroke. I used this to my advantage as it created a texture within the smoke and gave the illusion that the smoke was thicker in some places.

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While incredibly happy with the stylistic advantages of the foam brush, the cleanup afterward was not the best. Unfortunately, the foam absorbs a lot of paint and, compared to the standard brush head, requires a lot more work to get the paint out (in my experience, anyway). I developed a technique of letting the foam brush soak in the water, and then ringing it out like a regular hand sponge. This seemed to work.

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I had originally wanted to use a silver colour for the smoke, however, the acrylic paint that I had purchased at Dollarama was very hard and would not come out of the bottle. It was unusable. For this reason, I had to mix black and white together to make my own sort of grey. This disappointed me, as I had initially envisioned a more metallic silver. My disappointment lead me to doing a bit of research.

This site offered many great solutions for thinning hardened acrylic paint, including a product called the “Acrylic Flow Improver.” I also read a great WikiHow that offered solutions that could be reached by using simple household products. Chipping the paint out with the end of your paintbrush and then grinding it up and adding water to it seemed to work for me, however, my painting was already finished at this point. I also noted that doing this to the acrylic paint turned it into more of a water colour, which gave me a great challenge for my next painting: using water colours. Stay tuned.

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My first three attempts at becoming a fan art artist. I challenged myself by going a little bit bigger with the canvas size each time.