Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Here you can see a few different levels of finish in the chair. At the top there's basically just one ugly wash. Some cool things going on there. Bottom right some refinement. And on the left getting much closer to looking finished.

Monday, December 26, 2011


I think both of the pieces are pretty much done as far as drawing is concerned. Tomorrow, I'm going to start throwing some paint down.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Random Progress shot.

I was thinking I rarely put up a pic half through refining a drawing. So here's a random pic. I'm currently working on the wrinkle's in the shirt. I tend to transfer my sketches onto the watercolor paper very loosely. Takes about three minutes to loosely transfer. Using a 3B or 4B pencil is nice because you can get a fairly dark line without pressing too hard. It's quite easy to erase as well. 2B is nice for continuing my refinement. With these two pieces I'm working on I'll try to post up more frequent progress shots as I feel I haven't been posting as much.

Happy Holidays :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Traveling Artist

One great thing about being an artist is that one can work while on the move. We can enjoy a bit of sight seeing, be inspired by fresh scenery, and not feel too lazy or neglectful with our art. Win.

When I'm traveling about I try to consolidate as much as possible. Depending on where/who I'm visiting I may or may not have to bring certain things. For example, if I'm visiting another illustrator, there's probably a lot of things I wouldn't have to worry about. Especially an art desk and lighting.

For long term travel I do have a fold up art desk that barely meets the baggage size requirements. The original desk top had to be replaced with a tiny piece of plywood. I've also tucked my art lamp into my luggage before. To be quite honest it can be somewhat of a pain in and around my rear side. So if possible I try to work around the desk and art lamp. If I'm on a long term road trip room isn't much of an issue. A lot of art stuff can fit into a car. I've even packed up my printer before. Quite helpful.

I recently landed in New York and here's what I fit into my luggage:

-art, sandwiched between two pieces of gator board. I also brought scrape pieces of watercolor paper to test my colors on. After unpacking, I adhere my paintings onto the gator board and use it as an art board.

-paint tubes, I put these in ziplock bags. I've had some leak out before. My theory is the change in pressure while in flight affects the tubes...or gremlins. Or both.

-brushes,, I usually tape these to some thick stock paper and roll it up forming a tube to help prevent bending of the tips.

-small tupperware container, for holding and keeping my paints moisturized.

-water container, you can obviously use just about anything. But some are better than others.

-spray bottle, to mist my paints and to wet the surface of my paper. And spray people in the face.

-pencils, small sharpener, kneaded eraser, I actually brought my electric sharpener with me because I'm in the beginning stages of two pieces and figured it would save a lot of time and trouble.


-watercolor palettes

-lighting, I didn't want to pack my lamp on top of all my other supplies esp if I didn't have a desk to attach it to. What I ended up doing is bringing a pack of neutral temperature light bulbs. I was basically hoping I could be resourceful enough to figure out something that works. I think I did alright.

-and lastly a ladder.

This list will be a bit different for everyone. I'm sure I'm missing some things and there are probably some other things I could've done without. I ended up buying an extension cord for the lamps because there wasn't one available and I didn't think I'd need to bring my own. Perhaps next time I'll remember. If not that will be my ninth extension cord. There's usually one thing or another that I have to purchase after landing.

I've also heard a certain fellow illustrator has a technique down pat for transforming a hotel bathroom into a studio. Makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Next time on Muddy Colors "Muddier Colors- Unlocking Hidden Secrets of the Lavatory.....and then relocking it and throwing away the key forever". Stay tuned.

For anyone interested here are the two sketches I'll be fleshing out while here.

I decided to upload a progress shot before hitting the sack. Hopefully, there aren't too many that have already checked the post. Apologies for the late addition.

Friday, December 9, 2011

More Progress

I have a few different pieces I'm currently working on. Here's what I've been spending my time on the passed few days. As you can see I have my photo ref posted up. If you're not into using photo reference or find yourself struggling with figurative issues, drapery issues, any other issues go get some reference. I highly recommend taking your own reference. This is consistently my most offered advice to art students besides "do art as often as possible".

One thing I've been doing lately which I find helpful is making a very low res version of my color comp that breaks down the image into large blocks of color. It makes for a nice palette guide.

I focused a lot of my initial time doing wet on wet washes on the background. I knew I wanted the background to be fairly dark and chromatic. Having these large dark areas blocked in early helps give me some relative sense of value for the figure and the rest of the piece. Painting on an all white surface can be rather misleading. Context is important and can often make things look dark enough when they should probably be darker. As you can see I've started in on the figure though she has a long way to go.

Monday, December 5, 2011

In progress...

It's been awhile since I've posted something new. I'm working on a few different pieces right now and staying quite busy for my next show in March. In this piece I've been focusing on the hair today. It's coming along well but will probably have to be adjusted after I put more work into the coat. There is always some back and forth at the end of a painting as things change. Hoping to finish this one soon and get on to the next one.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Something New

I came home from Illux Con feeling extremely inspired and ready to jump onto some new work. I actually brought this piece freshly transferred with my photo reference hoping to finish the final drawing at the con. However, my brain was a bit too excitable to do any real problem solving. Here are some new vids and some close ups of the new work after returning from the convention.

First hour of drawing.

Second hour of drawing.

Here are a few details of where the piece is at now. It's ready for some paint but I'm working to transfer another piece first so I can have multiple paintings going at the same time. This should help to give me a break on one painting while I work on another. Staring at something for long hours isn't always good for objectivity. Because I work so transparently I try to envision where I might want edges to fade out so that I don't have a dark pencil line there. There are also places that may be a good spot for spontaneous artsy happenings to occur. I try not to tighten up my drawing too much in these areas. However, when it comes to the main figure I normally try to realize it as much as possible and really nail the drawing before laying any paint down. Once I put a wash of acrylic over the drawing it's fairly sealed and is hard to adjust the drawing while maintaining a consistently transparent surface. This is another reason working out problematic compositions in the early stages is vital. And being completely satisfied with your drawing prior to laying down paint. It can be a lot of trouble if one skips too many steps leading up to the final.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


A little something I'm working on. I meant to work on it at Illux Con but my brain was a bit overwhelmed by all the amazing artwork. Just about ready for paint.

Friday, October 28, 2011

New Vid

Today I thought I'd share a new video. I meant it to be a ten minute video. But it went into a little overtime. Sorry for all the "ums". I'm um gonna work on that. Below is a recent scan of the area I was working on.

Hope you find this helpful. As always, if you would like any clarification on anything I'm doing please ask and I'll do my best to answer for you.

The guy behind the Guy behind the Mask

Fawkes that is. You may recognize this infamous visage. Recent events have led me to re-watch the movie "V for Vendetta". And to my surprise I had completely forgotten it was based on a graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd (pictured below). Lloyd, who illustrated in cinematic chiaroscuro, devised V's Guy Fawkes-inspired appearance.

It appears Guy Fawkes, also known as Guido Fawkes (did not know that), was part of a failed attempt at blowing up The House of Lords in 1605. Fawkes is shown here, third from the right, in this engraving by Crispijn van de Passe. Truly, the mask design could easily be anyone one of the conspirators.

I would like to offer a big "Thank You, Mr. Lloyd", it is quite the bad ass design. And to Mr. Moore as well for the amazingly insightful story. I went out and bought the graphic novel today. Hoping to be inspired. One could only wish to invigorate the masses with his/her creativity in such a way.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Beautiful Day in the Studio

Hello Neighbor. Today, I would like to give you a tour of my studio. Prepare yourself. This is where the Magic happens. Welcome….to My World.

Ok, so if we could all look past the raw wood beams, exposed drywall, and plaster you can see my work place. A bedroom turned studio.

As you can see I’ve altered my art desk a bit to allow it to hold multiple desk lamps at a further distance from the table’s surface. This gives me more consistent lighting as opposed to hot spots and shadows from a lamp that is too close to the painting. It does make the desk a little top heavy so I’ve placed small weights on the bottom to help keep it grounded. Was it worth it? Perhaps.

I have another portable art desk in front of my main desk. It comes in handy when I need to lay out ref, other paintings, the cutting board etc. But it’s also great for when art friends stop by to paint and hang out i.e. mostly just hang out.

The rest of the room is mostly for my computer, printer, etc. and hanging files for organizing invoices, clients and the like. I hope it’s not too weird that I have a bunch of my own paintings on the wall. I really just don’t have a lot of room for them and thought they would be even more weird scattered all over my house. Plus I’m obsessed with my own work and spend most of my days staring at old paintings wondering where it all went wrong…

These are a few photos of my basic set up while working. I’m right handed so I keep most of the supplies on the right side of my desk for easy access. I like my light shining in at a slight angle from the left. The windows to the room are also on my left side so that during the day shadows from my hands aren’t being cast onto the area I’m working on. There’s a small Tupperware container which I store my paints in. I lay a paper towel at the bottom and then set my paints onto the towel. Every now and then the paints need to be sprayed with water to prevent them from drying out. In this way I can keep my paints usable for quite some time. I prefer a basic round water color palette for mixing. Fairly simple. Some things that you may not notice that are very helpful when painting: my hair dryer on the left of my desk, and my eye dropper for adding water to paint mixtures. I love my eyedropper. Perhaps someday I’ll do a “What if I won the Lottery Dream Studio Edition”. Or I can sand down the compound and just finish the walls that are already there. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoyed the visit.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Detail Update

Here's a little detail of what I've been working on lately. The figure is close to finish. I plan on working a lot on the background and hopefully finishing soon.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Questions and an Update

"Just a few questions regarding how you got your start after school? and what route you took to get the publicity you have obtained this far. I am mainly a graphic style artist but I really don't know how to live the life of an illustrator. I have been out of school for about 3 months now and I have not been getting much work. I would just like to know what you did and how you occupied your time from day to day, for example how strict was your schedule? and how often do you abide to that schedule? to be more specific: how much time did you give your self to drawing personal work, how much time did you devote to freelance work, and was there a "normal" job in between?

I know this is a lot. But I just don't know how much time I should be devoting to what. I feel that I am drawing too much sometimes and it's mostly for myself. I dont know much about the life style of an illustrator/ artist other than its tough haha. I know I want to live the life of an illustrator I just haven't figured out how to live it yet. thanks for hearing me out. Hope to hear from you soon!"

Okay, so I'll give a little insight into my own personal experience directly after graduating art school. Apologies for those who are hearing this yet again. Drum roll.................. Not a whole lot. I got a few local freelance jobs right out of school and thought "okay, so far so good" and then absolutely nothing. But what did I expect? No one knew my work and I wasn't busy promoting myself. And the work I did get around to showing people was still college level work.

A year out of school a friend informed me of an opening at a local catalog company that used water color illustrations instead of photography. I surrounded myself with their catalogs and did some very specific art samples based on the type of art they used. Now this was not the type of work I wanted to be doing in the long run and it resembled absolutely nothing in my portfolio. However, getting paid to do any kind of artwork out of school is kind of nice. And it was for a full time position. Not to mention they had the most amazing potlucks! I never have potlucks in my current work place.

Thankfully, I got the position and did rather well at the company. My ruggedly handsome physique and witty humor allowed me to rise through the ranks to a Senior Illustrator position. When not at my 9 to 5 I tried to spend as much time as I could tolerate working on personal pieces to slowly replace the work in my portfolio or look up art directors to send samples to. I would also send jpgs of new work to former school mates and teachers I knew. At one point a group of my art friends and myself developed an art collaborative to split time, energy, and funds on promotion. It started off ok and some of us got some new clients to work for. Unfortunately, the work was inconsistent and some of the participants didn't always have new work for promotion. Promoting the same images only goes so far and eventually we disbanded.

A few years later one of the friends I had been sending new art updates to had forwarded some of those samples to his art rep. I was contacted by the rep and started to take on more steady freelance. I worked full time and freelanced for as long as I could and saved as much as possible for what I knew was to eventually happen. The jump into freelancing full time. This all happened over several years and a lot of effort. So try not to be too discouraged and work as hard as you can on your art and on promoting yourself. These things can take a very long time and obviously a lot of energy and persistence. Hope that helps or at the very least gives some of you realistic expectations for life as an artist after college.

Now for a little work in progress update.
Here as you can see is actually a halfway decent sketch. If you've seen some of my other sketches you know what I'm talking about.

After having a friend of mine get dressed up and levitate for photo reference you can see my final drawing here. I'm doing some shading where I feel it's necessary and sometimes a little more just because. I want my drawing to be as close to what I want prior to putting down paint as the first wash of paint will seal the graphite and make drastic changes almost impossible.

Here I've laid down a few thin washes of acrylic. While wet I took a paper towel and dabbed out the paint where the undershirt is because I know I want that to be a lighter area in the painting. At this point I also laid down some solid black where I knew it was going to get very dark. This black will be a great reference point for me to judge other dark areas of the work as I go. I also took a thinner version of the wash and reinforced some of my pencil work so that the information doesn't get lost in the following washes that will continue to darken the suit.

These last two shots are basically me laying down some thin flat washes. I then start to add a gradation by applying a mid tone wash and slowly diluting it by adding water to my brush as I pull the paint across the figure. On top of this I'm also using a dry brush technique to slowly build value as well. For a short painting demo you can view this video http://youtu.be/U9FJFOLBIjQ

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Feature in Musetouch

I'm currently featured in the 13th edition of Musetouch Magazine.  I found the juxtaposition of some of my imagery quite interesting as I haven't actually held them all next to each other.  Especially seeing "The Escapist" next to "Apart From Falling".  There's some other very cool imagery including the work of Nate Frizzell. Thanks to Maia for putting this all together!  You can see the issue here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

New Start

I'm off on some new work. As usual I'm excited and ready for the challenge. Best to enjoy that while I can:) This is the first of a series I plan on doing that will incorporate figures with more interior elements. As always I'm going to try and stay a little looser in the beginning of my painting and try not to get too fussy too early.

I've been thinking about where I want this work to go. For reference I think I'll be revisiting a piece I did a few years back for The National Labor Foundation. I thought the piece was fairly successful and I rather enjoyed working on it.

Here I scanned and blew up my thumbnail with is actually about 1.5 x 2" so that I would have a larger image to look at when posing my model and shooting reference.

I normally like to save time and loosely transfer my thumbnail onto the paper and proceed with the final drawing. However, there were enough anatomical things that were bugging me that I felt the need to work out my refined drawing separately prior to transferring. I actually made even more adjustments in photoshop after scanning in the final.  Was it worth it?  I hope so.

This piece is in it's infancy and I'm just beginning to refine the face. Stay tuned for more.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Last Embrace

by Eric Fortune

Here are some of the last work in progress shots leading up to the final.  When starting a new piece of art we try to work out most of our problems in the preliminary stages.  However,  after taking reference, finalizing our drawings and adding some paint in things do change.  I'm constantly stepping back and reevaluating the work as I go.

One thing that bothered me after I had got pretty far into the painting is that my eyes kept sliding off the left side of the piece.  I think this was because of some strong directional elements, the arrow shape the legs make with the knees pointing left, and the opening on the left side of the figure.  After having some time to rest my eyes it seems that the line work in the original sketch is probably what helped to keep my eyes from drifting off so much.  Because my line work in the final is much less apparent it didn't have the same effect.

While consumed by a work of art being objective can be difficult. Yet it's needed to solve problems that arise.  We look at the work in the mirror, on screen, upside down etc.  Sometimes we send it to peers for some feedback.  Eventually, I pulled this piece into photoshop and tried a few things that seemed to keep my eyes from sliding of the page.  I started by darkening the area of the background behind where the figures knees are.  I wanted to have the effect of a warm spot light so instead of just using black I used a warmer reddish gray which darkens and adds some chroma at the same time.  I added in an extra branch on the left and extended a more obscured branch on the far left of the paper up and out as well.  Hopefully, this will help to keep the viewers eyes more contained within the piece.

If you'd like to see the original, this piece and one other of mine will be at the Jonathan LeVine Summer Invitational Show opening next Wednesday.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Almost Done

I have two pieces in the upcoming group show at Jonathan LeVine Gallery next month.  And surprise surprise I'm still scrambling to wrap up my second piece.  I've been making good progress and for the last week or so I've been telling myself "ok, should be able to wrap this up in the next day or two".  But this time, seriously, I think in the next day or two I should have this done.

Below are some details of where I'm at with the piece.  I need to add a little more value and depth to the drapery around the figure.  The shaping of the drapery from the neck up was vaguely meandering a bit and didn't quite flow right.  So I've been deciding where the fabric should fold, flap, open up, or fade into the background etc.  Can be a little tricky when painting transparently.  I think it's pretty much nailed down at this point.  I've been making a lot of lateral changes.  That is to say, depending on who you ask it may be better or not or just different.  Of course I feel the changes are worthy but sometimes I wonder if it's worth the time being so nit picky.  Drifting from my reference too much can be a challenge to maintain a sense of realism and cohesiveness.  However, it's probably some of the more enjoyable(What!?  Painting isn't always enjoyable???) parts of painting as well.  Not knowing exactly what's going to happen and then finding your way...most of the time.

I also plan on adding some gray aqua greenish algae on the branches which should make for nice accents of color.  That application will have to be a little more opaque.  Perhaps I could soften the edges of some of the outermost branches to provide more of a focal point in the center, darken the edge of the fabric where it meets the background, detail the hands, a subtle shift in color as the figure moves from shadow to light, add a little more cow bell...  Yeah, definitely one or two more days.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I was wondering if I could ask you some questions regarding technique. I have no experience with watercolor (I use mostly graphite), and I was wondering how exactly you get such smooth gradations on faces and skin. I notice this prominently in your work, and also the work of James Jean and Sam Weber. Every time I try to render in acrylics or watercolor, the layers do not remain smooth - the edges can be seen, and my edge control leaves something to be desired. Do you use wet-into wet, or just noodle endlessly at an edge until it is a smooth transition?

I think most of us are comfortable with graphite as we use it almost everyday. As you can see I try to figure out most of the tricky value structure in pencil prior to laying paint down. It can help smooth out transitions. At the same time it can be a crutch of sorts if you spend a ridiculous amount of time rendering everything in graphite instead of letting the paint do some of the work for you. For example I know the branches are going to be rather dark. Using graphite on them in the beginning for value would not be necessary as it would get completely lost under the paint.

When it comes to a finished painting keep in mind that what one doesn't see in a final is all the time it took to get to that point. Even when one becomes a proficient painter things take a lot of time. Practice Practice Practice. Take however long it takes to finish the piece as best you can. Technically, I do whatever it takes to finish a painting or to try and get the look I want. That's includes wet on wet, dry brushing, more opaque subtle cross hatching, large wet washes and pulling out highlights with a paper towel etc. Remember to always experiment and try to learn new techniques to add to your arsenal. Sometimes mixing your mediums will also give great results.

Concerning painterly edges. If we look at Sam, James and many other artists out there, within the work there is a certain amount of embracing the medium and what it does naturally whether it's a wet dripping to paint dragged across the paper. I like to show some some of this as well. The balance depends on the artist's own sensibilities. So I'm not sure I would necessarily see this as a bad thing. Creating art and solving problems will always have it's challenges. Here are a few shots of what I'm currently struggling with.

I've also posted a new time lapse video of this piece for you viewing pleasure

Monday, June 27, 2011

It's for the articles....

Sorry, I probably should've posted this earlier as June is almost over. My contribution to the current issue of Playboy. And guess who else in in there..... Donato! How cool is that:) What? I'm still allowed to nerd out every now and then. I mean, I'm surrounded by beautiful, young, naked women all the time. ALL..THE...TIME. I rarely have the opportunity to be featured in the same magazine with Donato. Admit it. It's kinda cool.

Friday, June 24, 2011

La Planete Sauvage

"La Planete Sauvage" is a french animated film also known as "Fantastic Planet" in english. This animated feature has been around since 1973. I've seen this cover on vhs tapes at the local video rental store for years and yet I never took the time to watch the film. On a recent visit to my parents house my brother randomly brought up the film and we sat down and watched it.

At first I noted the very dated look and primitive style of animation. However, the film's strangely surreal imagery and odd portrayal of humans had such a profound affect on me I knew I'd most likely make a post about it. I probably relate to the film more now than I would've ten years ago. However, the content seems as relevant and disturbing as ever. If you haven't had the chance or haven't heard of the film til now I figured I would share it HERE

As a bonus the sound track is also quite good and I thought complimented the imagery perfectly. For anyone into hip hop you may very well notice some samples used from the film on some classic hip hop trizacks.

ps I always say "expectations" can kill a good film. So to prep myself prior to any movie I feel myself getting my hopes up for I repeat these three phrases. "Worst plot ever. Worst special effects ever. And Worst acting EVER." This usually sets me straight. You may hate this film ;)

Friday, June 10, 2011

New Work in Progress

Here's a piece I'm hoping to wrap up within the next week. I thought I would go through my process a bit here. I may seem redundant at this point. However, even I finding myself unknowingly cutting corners sometimes and wondering why something isn't quite working out the way I wanted or why I can't seem to move forward.

Of course here's my initial sketch followed by a color comp.

After spending a lot of time looking up different types of trees, taking pictures of some trees around town, and taking photo reference of my figure I was ready to do the final drawing. After a loose transfer of the sketch I use my reference to create and refine my final drawing right onto the watercolor paper. Doing a final drawing and then trying to transfer all of that detail is a bit tiresome to me and it also tends to loose some freshness which needs to be recreated. There are usually areas in the drawing that I don't want too finished as it can restrict some spontaneity later while I'm painting. When it comes to the figures however, I try to make them as tight as possible.

Now it's ready for some paint. I usually start off with some large washes to fix the drawing and tone the paper overall. Knowing I wanted the center of the figure to be highlighted I lifted out the paint while it was still wet with a paper towel. From here on I'm slowly building up the value and color and beginning to refine some shapes within the piece. If you compare the figure's skin tone in image 5 with image 6 you'll notice it appears to have warmed up. Most likely, this is due to all the cool tones I've added to the background. I actually like the more muted skin tone so at some point I'll have to adjust it. There's always some back and forth, push and pull of this nature the further you get into a painting. I actually think that's the fun part.

Atmosphere is also important here. Besides the focal point of the piece I don't want my edges to be too sharp or contrasting. In the last image presented here I'm just starting to have a little fun refining the branch above her head. And that's where I'm at with this piece. I'll be sure to post more when it's finished and I get a good reproduction.