May 6, 2007

Alien Landscape in Acrylics III – The Denizens

Filed under: Art and Drawings — sarah @ 12:02 pm

You might want to read Alien Landscape in Acrylics I and II before you read this one!

Alien Picture

Ok, first off I am using the word denizen to represent any organism, dead or alive, in the pictures which include the plant-like structures – remember, this is an alien world.

The furthest away ‘trees’ are all on the skyline as they are markers of the different hills or zones in the pictures; they are dark and more elegant and fine than the closer ‘trees’.

They were painted using:

Mars black 036

I used a smallish brush where the bristles tapered to a nice point – I think it was just a smallish ’round’ with half the bristles missing. The way I painted these was to think about plants, especially trees in winter when they have no leaves. I find these structures fun but also hard to paint and make look natural. In the end the only way I can do it is to ‘feel’ the shape of the trees, not just to visualise it in my mind. In fact, if I think too much about how they actually look then I can’t paint them. :/

The middle lot of trees were based more on smaller, more leafy plants, rather than trees, and for this I used a much thicker brush to give them a more stubby and inelegant appearence.

Colour-wise I used:

Cadmium red deep 504

Copper (IMIT) 230

The ‘trees’ in the foreground were based this time on corals, with slightly more elegant branches than the middle ones, but with the characteristic conical base I associate with certain corals and bryozoans. At this stage I wanted one of them to be a very simple, open structure with the idea that I would have an ethereal flower-like display coming from it.

These were painted in:

Cadmium yellow 620

I had to do several coats of the yellow to get any depth of colour – this gave them a nice streaky see-through look.

I was sort of thinking of it as an underwater/thick atmosphere world, so having just read up on lots of pre-Cambrian, earliest fossil life stuff, I began to imagine what sort of creatures would exist in this world. However, this being a completely alien world, I thought that maybe there would be more spacial dimensions, so not all the creature is apparent from any given angle. This led to some interesting ideas that I am keeping for some short stories.

Still, this freed things up a bit – I had a quick flick through some of my paleontology books and thought about the dynamics of motion in fluids. Being of terrestrial origin, I, of course, could not escape the idea of fish, streamlined with no fins, or if they do have them they are not currently visible. I painted the little shoal of three in the top right-hand corner using:

Mars black 036

Titanium white 009

I basically put two dollops of the colours next to each other and scooped the smallish brush through them. I did the fish with smooth flowing lines so that the colours remained in strips, defining the shapes of the creatures.

Using the same colours, I painted the centipede-type creature which was inspired by a fossil I saw when I was seventeen on the Isle of Arran in the Inner Hebrides. Again, the thought that not all the creature was present within the visual and physical realm of this world helped greatly as the chunkyness of my chosen style would have made painting twenty odd articulate limbs a complete nightmare!

Again, I tried to do smooth definite lines, this time aiming not to overly mix the black and the white.

Again, I came back to the concept of fish but this time I was thinking of the monsters that lay in the deep recesses of our own oceans with strange protrusions and vicious spikes.

I only used the Mars black for the two fish; again I just did simple shapes.

The last non-humanoid denizen is a cross between a jellyfish and a crab, and took its inspiriation straight from the Burgess Shales and the soft bodied creatures preserved in it.

I again used only the black and white paint, the body being a central balloon disc thing. I tried to make sure the colours swirled around, following its contours. The legs/feelers etc were done as simple lines; I tried to get specific colours in groups to give it more structure and authenticity – the same with the length of the protrusions.

This brings us back to the last denizen, the rasta-alien flower!

Ok, confession – I didn’t intend to paint it – it was supposed to be some sort of strange alien flower thing, so I painted the green pod with that in mind. I used:

Emerald green 335

Sap green 375

and just a little bit of

Buff titanium 024

I was trying to get a twisted look to it but when I saw what I’d painted, it just said alien body pod to me, and before I knew what I was doing, I was painting the face with the Mars black. Again, this is one of those things I’m not sure I can actually explain how to paint – I just had the feeling of the shapes inside me and there wasn’t really any thinking involved!

So there you have it – on Alien Landscape in Acrylics – my husband is scared of the alien so the picture lurks in my craft area. I haven’t done anything with it yet, but feel that it should be the front cover of something. (Well, actually, no I don’t because like with all my work I think – well I could have just done this slightly differently and then it would have been good enough).

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