Hello James, and thanks for visiting! This gallery contains a few images of how your books and blogs have informed and influenced my studio practice and artwork.
For the most part, the support materials here refer to my painting series, Dark Animal. Feel free to look here for more context.
My art school education, while very fine in most respects, didn't cover much color theory. We students just worked with an earth-color-heavy palette and never thought to ask questions. Following your discussions of color wheels on the blog, I investigated and mapped my own paints, and bought more vibrant hues in the cyan and magenta sectors. I also took Robert Gamblin's theory of a three dimensional color space and and your demonstrations of palette gamuts to explore custom palettes. I now understand much more about grays and consider palette choices before even getting a brush wet.
More color/paint theory. This mixing exercise was very eye opening, though I anticipated many of the results after the years of painting experience I already had.
I now map palettes I use for various projects. I can begin to see the rise of some of my favorites.
Your book and blog also encouraged me to take a second look at my studio painting set up. After working in carpentry for six years, I've cobbled together all of my own studio furniture, and I felt confident to try to adapt some of your designs into a new taboret. This unit has been through a few configurations, but it's basically a custom upper section on top of a converted shelf on casters. I've installed drawers for paint below, and the kind of angled palette you use on top. One trick I picked up from school was to use an old phone book as a nearly endless wiping surface for unneeded paint. 'Works great.
Here is the angled palette that uses butcher paper as a disposable surface. I don't use the left-hand panel anymore, but it makes a nice spot for my cup of medium! Initially, I mounted a hinge used for drafting tables on the back, which has a notched arm for producing different angles. The plastic shims wedging the paper on the right are from when I worked with cabinetry :)
Here's a painting set up yours inspired. I bought a portable drafting board and installed a support behind it made of crossbars and the same drafting table hardware as the palette. This makes the board adjustable, and able to be stored when not in use. I liked experimenting with the ergonomics of painting this way - it made sense that scribes, engineers and illustrators have been using it for centuries!
The back of the drafting board, showing the special hinge.
I've known about grates in jars of thinners since school, but I never favored them. However, your blog urged me to experiment again, and I like how they reduce maintenance. I use two jars of thinner, one dirtier for an initial cleaning, and another cleaner one for a second. Over time, I can clean all the sediment out of the dirty jar, fill with fresh thinner, and designate it as the new clean jar.
Do you use anything like this? I hardly ever clean brushes (with soap, and then dry, etc.), and instead keep them in stasis like this. Many years back I bought a variety of springs for brushes of different widths, and suspend them this way on the edge of a jar containing a small amount of clean thinner. They stay perfectly usable this way for weeks or even months
Here's the game-changing upgrade I added this year to my taboret: a monitor arm! Mounted this way, the palette is now adjustable in height, pitch and even rotation, yet maintains rigidity when in place. I paint both sitting and standing, so this addition has solved all my ergonomic needs. I'm really pleased with it!
The following are a selection of methods I learned from you in support of my Dark Animal painting series. This is a simple concept sketch of the falling/floating cat figure I wanted.
Mapping the wire armature.
Super Sculpey, formed and bake-hardened over the wire armature. I made models in grade school for fun, and I really liked trying out three-dimensional modeling instead of the usual two.
The finished maquette, painted and lit for experiments in posing and lighting.
Untitled (falling cat)
8”h x 8”w. oil on canvas on aluminum panel. ©2013 Matt Brackett
Faith Transit II
24"h x 18"w. oil on panel. ©2015 Matt Brackett
Another concept sketch
This time, filling out the figures with crushed foil.
2D to 3D. And on to lighting!
You are so correct that having a 3D model of one's subject is a wonderful opportunity for exploring an idea. I was thrilled this technique filled the needs of the painting series so perfectly.
Exploring more moods. An old Christmas ornament helped me remember the lighting situations produced from a more-capable light kit.
In developing the sheep idea, I wanted to make a detailed head for more information. This maquette began with wood and a belt sander.
And the final state: baked Sculpey once again, but painted gray. I think I added the gloss finish to be able to pick out the highlights more easily.
I photographed the head at different angles, to match the pose of the smaller figures. This gave me the desired, extra lighting details for each sheep.
I had to go back to drawing to work out some of the figure details before moving to the canvas.
I ended up using a light table and drafting vellum to develop a final drawing.
Since I was compiling the final contour from multiple sources, I used color pencils to keep the layers straight. This was easier for me to do physically than on the computer.
When the Wind is Blowing in the East
36"h x 36"w. oil on linen on aluminum panel. ©2011 Matt Brackett
I like this model because I developed it much faster, yet got just the right information that I needed.
This time all I really needed were silhouettes. I made individual drawings of the dogs first, scaled them down to be printed, and cut them out on matte board. Simple wire stands attached with hot glue held them up.
This proved an extremely simple and effective way of getting the light, shadow and perspective information for the invented scene.
36"h x 48"w. oil on canvas on panel. ©2011 Matt Brackett
The concept for this next painting involved trying out different coils for the snake's base.
With that solved, I built a Sculpey maquette off of thicker armature wire.
Painted and photographed in a shallow puddle for reflection information.
Again, however, I realized I needed to develop the drawing - in particular the pattern of scales over the snake's markings. This took a while, but was worth it in the end.
Underpainting on this big panel involved a pink layer for the sky. I still experiment with various kinds of layered paint techniques, versus more alla prima applications.
60”h x 35”w. oil on canvas on aluminum panel. ©2012 Matt Brackett
Once again, thank you! The image for this cardinal maquette was never realized, but at least I finally got around to sharing my gratitude with you. I hope you enjoyed it!