Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Comfort in Dying

-by Eric Fortune

This piece was done a few months back for Copro Gallery's "Espionage Miami" show.  It started out as a tiny piece of chicken scratch done several months prior that sat around collecting dust until I felt I was ready to more fully realize it.  I have a gang load of vague scribbles that I keep and every now and then flip through them to see if any jump out.  Most probably won't turn into anything.  But you never know.

Said chicken scratch, and slightly more refined chicken scratch.

Photo Reference is your friend.  But try not to become a slave to your photo ref...
Unless of course it's consensual and you're into that kinda thing.  Always have a safe word.

I used to just transfer my thumbnail sketches onto the watercolor paper and then use my photo reference to make the final drawing just the once.(vid of my transfer process here)  Usually that's fine.  However, every now and then the proportions of the figure are too skewed or something just isn't clicking enough that I end up doing more erasing on my paper than I would like.  So I started making adjustments at the smaller scale and solving some of my issues prior to transferring.  In the long run it saves me some potential grief even if it adds some redundancy.

Final Drawing
And the "Color Comp of The Year" award goes to..... not me.

Don't judge me.

Something I tend to do somewhat early in a painting is choose a spot that I know will be fairly dark and try to punch in the color and value to give me a relative sense of value so that I'm not making my washes too thin or building up my value too slowly.  It's a slow process and I never "nail it" when it comes to color and value. It's always a build up of layers, and making slight adjustments as I move in the needed direction. But this does help me from being so slow that I start traveling backwards in time.  I also started taking my own advice that I give to students excited about a new piece.  Don't get crazy and do an extra large painting that can be even more time consuming than you want it to be.  Nothing wrong with working in your comfort zone, especially if you have a deadline.

My little set up at Columbus College of Art and Design.

I find it helpful to get out of the studio every now and then to paint with some old friends, teachers, and art students.  Art school is nice because there's so much creative energy.  One thing I hear from a lot of other freelancers is that sometimes we get stuck in our studios with little time for socializing.  We often have to force ourselves out of the house after realizing it's been weeks since we've been out.  Having a strong work ethic is cool but a little balance is required as well.  I probably don't read this often enough but here's a great list of things to keep in mind as an artist, "Tips and Tricks from and Art Slave".

Here is a short process video of this stage:

My work space at home.

And finally, the finished painting...
"Comfort in Dying", by Eric Fortune

As always, look forward to any questions or comments.  If you enjoy this piece and are interested in prints this will be my first print available through INPRNT and I'll hopefully be adding more soon.  The print is available Here.


  1. Beautiful art. I love it when artists include progressive photos and pics of their work space. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Wonderful work as always, and it's so interesting to see your process.

  3. Love the work, the design of the piece. Reminds me of classic Mel Odem too.

  4. wow! Very nice and inspiring art piece.
    If i may pick your brain a little, how do you achieve that ghastly effect ? The lamps where sharp and then blurred, you get this overall blur feeling... ghost effect...

  5. Beautiful, just beautiful.

    (for some reason I am still laughing at the idea of having a safe word for your relationship with reference hahaha oh my)

  6. thanks for the tutorial style post. :)

  7. I really enjoyed your post! It is very helpful to me. What watercolor paper do you use? (I need to start using better materials) and is this strictly watercolor paint that you are using? ...and it looks like you are painting all the way to the outer edges of the paper, what keeps it from curling up and warping?
    Thanks Eric!

  8. Karin van de Kuilen- My painting technique is not so different from using graphite. I'm constantly adding layers and building towards getting darker and more chromatic. I use a dry brushing technique where I take a nice round bruch(#5,6 ish is good for detailing) and get a little paint on it. But I don't want my brush over loaded with pigment so I dab it on a paper towel and test it on a scrape piece of water color paper. When I get a soft, almost chalk like streak that's about where I want it. Then I can slowly darken and soften any sharp edges. If you haven't seen them you can watch some of my technique/demo vids here

    Alyssa L- I'm painting in watered down acrylics on watercolor paper. I usually paint on arches. 140lb Cold Press and 300lb Hot Press are some of my favorites to work with. Just enough texture but not so much that it disrupts the image.

    As for the curling. The paper does indeed buckle and warp as I go. So every now and then I saturate the paper with water. Let it relax and flatten out. Then sandwich the paper between two pieces of clean matte board and some plywood. Add weights or clamps to press it all tight and check it in the morning. When I take it out I use a bull clip to hang it in case there's some left over moisture. If it dries laying on a flat surface it will curl upward as the moisture dries faster on one side vs the other. I hope that makes sense.

    Thanks for the questions!

  9. Thank You for the kind words everyone :)

  10. I like the Rothko painting in the window. An homage to color theory?

    Either way incredible piece!

  11. Wonderful. Every time I come upon your work, I find myself completely trapped in the world of your painting, overwhelmed with emotions. And this post revealing the process itself couldn't come in a better moment for me, so thank you!

  12. Its how to control the brush. You work it out with the depth effect so perfectly. I love at the lamp and the stair part.