Saturday, March 7, 2015

Learning To Tell a Story with Words and Pictures

For the next while I thought I would post about things related to the challenge of reaching an audience. How do you tell a story with a single image? How about with many images? What scenes do you choose and what styles?

This is mostly on my mind due to a book project that I've been working on for a while (in the planning stages) and I'm just starting to work on it seriously. More on that in future posts.

I also recently had an older painting of mine posted on my Church's Facebook page and have been fascinated at the response. Here is the painting:
"Stand" by James Fullmer, Acrylic on panel (24X36)
"The storms of the world can be scary and the winds can push a weak person here or there but she stands strong and unafraid. She is illuminated by a light from above. You can not see the source but you can see the effect that it has on her - how it brightens her compared to her surroundings. She is hopeful, standing on a firm foundation and looks to the heavens. She is focused on her goal. Around her feet are beautiful things. She didn't go to this location because it was beautiful. She brings beauty where she goes (notice how the rock is barren and in shadow but becomes more alive as it gets closer to her). It's all about how one person can make a difference in the world. How being an example can light the world - how a little bit of beauty can bring happiness and hope to many."

I painted this in 2002. It was part of one gallery show and had a good response from visitors that I got to speak with. I submitted it to the LDS International Art Competition and it was not selected. After that it's pretty much been in a box in my studio. It wasn't part of the projects I was working on and I really had no idea what to do with it.

A couple weeks ago, I was contacted by a Church media department to ask if they could use it on one of their Facebook pages. I gave permission and yesterday they posted it.

I will tell you that I've never had an experience like this before. As of today, about 300 people have commented not just to what was painted but what I wrote about it. I've published things and my LDS projects website gets a good deal of traffic but I've never heard from so many people about how a creation of mine has been inspiring to them. I'm still trying to process it.
 What do you see?

Mermaid Finished

... And after a long time...

The finished image!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Just a Little Lesson

OK... So I did something dumb. I decided to put some retouch varnish on one of my oil paintings to unify the finish. So a poured the varnish on the piece and felt it was covering really strangely. I used a brush to move it around and scrub it in. I was very surprised at how fast it was drying.

Then I looked at the can - Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!

It was paint thinner! I took a cloth but whether I gently wiped or dabbed paint came off so I quickly stopped and just let it dry. I later put the varnish on to protect what was there.

In my defense, look at these cans. I know I had the right can when I started but I set it down close to the other can and that's when it all went wrong.

...So be careful.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Little Mermaid Part 2

So now I am blocking in the painting with this layers of oil. I begin running into a problem as I moved the lighting in the composition. This, of course changes how the light would fall on the figures. I play with the idea of fudging it but decide that I just need to reshoot the figures in the studio.

For the wave reference I have a pile of images collected from the web, great painters like J.M.W. Turner, and even screen shots from movies like Master and Commander.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Little Mermaid Part 1 - The references

The painting was going to be of the little mermaid rescuing the prince when his shipwrecked in a storm. I was a little intimidated to take on a project involving a storm in the middle of the ocean. I haven't spent time painting seascapes and I knew that finding references for storm waves would be a challenge. Not to mention that I had no idea what my lead characters would look like floating together in the water.
A first I thought I could get away with just setting up the models in the studio but after the initial shoot, decided to go all out and find a pool. Friends of mine were kind enough to let me use their pool and set up my studio flashes on either side. My hope was that one would represent the lighting and the other would act as a fill light. Unfortunately my "fill light" was too strong and I didn't realize it until later. But I gathered some great information about how my figures would interact in the water (It helps to have a volunteer pound the water to give us the waves).

As I developed the painting, I moved the lightning which caused me to have to reshoot the reference for my prince.  By the way, I dressed up the prince in a nice costume with a vest and everything (maroon puffy-sleeved shirt and blue vest) but everything looked black once it was wet.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Making Breakfast for Mom

I'm a little late but this post is for Mother's day.

So how do you create an image with a complex, perspective ridden backgrounds and children? Why with good reference of course. For this project I contacted some family friends and asked to borrow their kids... and their kitchen... and make a mess.

I came up with the idea, did some sketches and went through the cupboard to find the crazy breakfast items. With a couple of bags of food and dishes I headed over to the "set." The kids were ready for me in their pajamas but had no idea what to expect. They watched as I put dishes around the counters and then created my breakfast concoction. There were many questions about why I was putting chocolate syrup on the grapefruit and Fritos with the pancakes.

I then put them in poses and took about 25 pictures. I will admit that I did not stage it very well or mix up my compositions. One problem I ran into was that the oldest son was quite a bit taller than the girls. It was also challenging to get the right expressions on all three at once. But that is why you take many shots. Upon reviewing the images I found 3 individual poses but none were together. So I just clipped out the ones I liked best and posed them, adjusting height and position.
You can see I wasn't too interested in making this very clean - just wanted to get everyone in position. Next came the painting. Due to time I went with a digital medium - just my tablet, Photoshop and me. The final version turned out like this.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Women's History Month - Betty Zane

I know it is the last day but in celebration of Women's History month I thought I would post a sketch for a painting I am working on. It tells the story of Betty Zane, who saved Fort Henry from the British toward the end of the Revolutionary War. The fort was out of powder and 16 year old Betty dashed from the fort to a cabin some 60 yards away to get a keg of powder. She dashed back to the fort at full speed while the ground exploded around her with the shots of the enemy. She made it without injury and the fort was saved.