Football, Baby! - Big Ben & SB 42 Giants Art

I finally finished that Roethlisberger piece I've been posting about for the last month, and, I must say, I'm more pleased with it than any other painting I've done. In most of my previous works, I concentrated solely on the subject; the main figure of interest. I generally blew it on the backgrounds. What I ended up with was a pile of canvases that showed I could render the human form well enough, but hadn't a clue as to how to compose a finished painting.

Which is why I'm so happy with this one. It's the first that fully occupies the canvas and doesn't seem half finished or not-thought-out.

One of the first things I thought about when applying the paint was how I would use color, and, very early on, I decided to use a very muted color scheme for the background, while going with a bright, slightly saturated look for the foreground. Essentially, my thought process was that the background was a painted landscape and the main figure was on HDTV. Also, as I moved further from the main subject I became less interested in accurately depicting details and took a more expressionist approach to the painting.

You'll notice the defenders arm rendered in complete detail because that is a part of the main center of action, but, the further the figure is away from the center of the action, the darker the color scheme gets and the looser the painting technique is.

Below, are a couple of diagrams to show my thinking about the composition. The two most important things to me when doing a piece, especially a sports one, are line of action and composition in the frame. Doing a scene with multiple figures I wanted to make sure that the composition of the piece was balanced, that the figures in the fore, middle, and background all complimented each other and helped to emphasize the main subject, and that the painting gave you a good sense of the action and kinetic movement going on.

The first pic shows the two competing lines of action and the second blocks out the composition to show you the balance amog the fore, middle, and background. I don't know if I've gone on too long. I just hope that some people might find it interesting getting a li'l behind-the-scenes on the thought process that goes into a piece like this, and maybe somebody starting in art might learn something.

I plan on writing up something on my feelings about the Giants perfect Super Bowl win, but, for right now, I just wanted to give a little sneak preview into what i'll be doing the next month and a half. The short version of the story is that I'll be doing a lot of Giants Super Bowl stuff, and I thought one way to make it interesting for myself, and to learn something, would be to do a few of them in some different mediums; including some I've never tried before. Below is a color test for an illustration I'll be doing in marker of Osi Yumeniora sacking Mr. Bundchen.

New Demo

Man, have I been away for awhile... Here's the deal for those of you that missed me. The Giants won the greatest Super Bowl ever. I spent last Monday hungover and reading just about every newspaper, sports site, and blog article on the game I could find. Tuesday morning I watched the victory parade, and then...

I essentially locked myself in the studio until I finished that Roethlisberger painting and then the band's demo.

Then on Friday I babysat my nephews.

Now you know.

So, here I am fresh as a daisy on a fine Monday morning with all sorts of great new things for you, my loyal readers. First off, is the band's demo. You can click here and listen to all 3 songs at my MySpace profile. I'll have them loaded up on craigmahoney.com by next week. Below is the artwork I put together for the cover.

I'll have the finished Roethlisberger up later in the day, with a little breakdown and analysis of the piece.


Big Ben IV: Progress Is Made

I'm in the homestretch now on this Roethlisberger joint. It's amazing how I always underestimate every new project I take on, and then, once finished, immediately forget how hard it was and how long it took.

The biggest pain in the ass when doing illustrations of football players is the damn helmet and mask. When drawing or painting any other type of sports figure you can be a lot looser and try to get a little bit of expression and kineticism into the piece, but once you tackle that helmet and face mask, you enter the realm of technical illustration. And, of course every bit of it casts shadow and reflects light. I always find that, once I get their heads out of the way, illustrating football players becomes a lot more fun.

Overall, though, I'm very happy with how this piece is turning out. I've always been good at rendering figures, but (with my paintings, mostly) I never knew what the hell to do with the background. I never want the backgrounds to be too realistic or busy because: A. It will distract from the figure in the foreground; something I really want to stay away from in sports portraits, and B. I don't see the point in rendering an entirely realistic canvas from top to bottom. You may as well just get the photo.

In this piece I think I've struck the perfect balance between abstraction and realism that places the figure in a specific time and place without distracting from the figure itself. My original intention was to go with a dark, muted color scheme in the background so that the foreground figure will really pop right out at you, and I think this achieves it wonderfully.

Working on this piece, and finally getting to this point with it has left me very excited to do more of these paintings now that I have a better idea of where to go and what the hell it is I'm doing.