Wednesday, October 26, 2011

discovery painting

I've been enjoying listening to the Writing Excuses podcast (with Brandon Sanderson and company). One of the things that they talk about is the difference between outline writers and "discovery writers." I've come to realize that part of the reason this train table backdrop is taking so long is that it's basically an exercise in discovery painting.

I started out with a general idea of the lay of the land, but that was about it. I'm not always so good at coming up with things out of my head. If I have a picture I can make this look like that, but for most of this I've been flying pretty blind.  (I did have a photo of Mt. Rainier which I put to good use, as well as some crepuscular rays for reference.)  So mostly I just mess around with it and see how it turns out. It's been fun but it's quite different from the way I usually work.  I put in some hills in the background, then decide they need to be lighter and bluer. I spend a couple of hours dropping in hundreds of little trees on a hillside, and then realize that it's too detailed for how far away it's supposed to be. I've been putting in some rocky bits to match the hills on the train table, but I've discovered that "rocky" is not really my strong suit. Keeping the color and perspective consistent across eighteen feet has proved a little tricky, as well.

This little section has been keeping me busy for the past few days.

It doesn't look much like I'd imagined it, but it works. It's still not quite done. (The tree is going to have a swing in it, too.)

I wasn't entirely happy with the landscape in Scott's mural, and I was hoping I could make this one work better. I think for the most part it's come together nicely. I do have some good ideas about what I would do differently next time--more detailed sketches to start with, and possibly a small scale painting, to try things out. (More pre-mixed-up colors in larger amounts would be helpful, too.) I've started keeping a mural reference board on pinterest, with some ideas that I hope I might be able to use later. I especially like the misty lighting effects.

This has been a long project! I'm looking forward to seeing what it looks like all put together on the train table. That should be very cool.

Speaking of Writing Excuses, a recent episode featured my brother Peter (Brandon's assistant), and Patrick Rothfuss's assistant Valerie, talking about what their jobs are like.  I'm probably biased but I thought it was great fun.


Stefanie Eskander said...

Awesome discovery painting, Helena! It's turning out beautifully. Can't wait to see the finished product!

Angeltown said...

It's really beautiful, Helena! I love the little stone wall & home area especially. :)

Anonymous said...

This is simply an incredible amount of work. I'm exhausted just looking at the pics.

Ross Farr

Helen in Australia said...

Gotta love a post that makes me find out what crepuscular rays are! When I was growing up a single crepuscular ray (or, I guess, a narrow stream of them) was interpreted by us to mean that someone was having a "First Vision" event!

Great painting; can't wait to see the whole effect.

Mary said...

Every time you post, I feel like I've been handed a new secret treasure. I'm not a visual artist but I love words and can't wait to check out that book.

Mary said...

You know I meant say podcast :blush:

Heather T. said...

Wow, this is stunning Helena! I am just SO impressed. So, so, SO impressed!!!