Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Loosening Up.

-Dan dos Santos

I almost always do a really tight pencil drawing before I start painting. The drawing shows through the paint (doing a lot of the work for me), and typically prevents me from making any huge mistakes. And although it may save time and reap consistent results, tediously rendering everything out in pencil is not always the most fun thing to do, nor does it always reap the best results.

Believe it or not, once upon a time, I actually used to paint pretty loose... and Alla Prima.

Go figure.

'Stretch', 2001, oil on canvas.

On occasion, I get a real hankering to do that again.
I always promise myself I am going to loosen up and just sling some paint, but I rarely do.
This time though... I made good on my promise.

I'm working on a job right now that has a classic 'Orientalist' feel to it, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to deviate from my usual methods. So I decided to paint this piece really big, and without a pencil drawing.

It is giving me a chance to push some paint, play with texture, and most importantly... MAKE MISTAKES.

A sneak peek of the piece I'm currently working on.

The end result will likely look the same as my usual stuff (After all, I've got to give my clients what they are expecting of me), but already the process has been a lot more fun, fluid, and really quite rejuvenating.


  1. Super cool. Can't wait to see the final.

  2. That is cool Dan! I look forward to seeing the final and more progress shots if possible. Thanks for taking the time to share and post!

    1. I've been taking lots of progress pics along the way. I'll be sure to share them when it's completed.

  3. Replies
    1. Big for me... about 40 inches tall.

  4. I love the ballerina piece, Dan! That's my preferred method of painting (alla-prima/loose). I've noticed that most illustrations for books, etc call for highly detailed and tight drawings. Is this the norm?


    1. In Fantasy it seems to be, and I don't really know why. Though there are exceptions (Like Manchess, Hale, etc). Oddly enough, I think the digital medium has been changing that though. Having such a consistent medium forces people to be more expressive in their execution if they want to distinguish themselves. A painterly approach is becoming more common amongst digital artists now, and I think that sentiment is slowly spreading across the entire genre, regardless of medium.

  5. I really like the more loose feel to these, will be interesting to see how this progresses. Thanks for sharing, Dan!

  6. I wish I could see more of the Muddy Colorers student work. The evolution of your work is inspiring.

    1. I admit I almost did that, but chickened out. One of these days.

  7. Fascinating...
    I've got a pretty loose wrist myself right now. Most of my teachers and classmates are advising that I should become an impressionist, or learn to keep my lines clean. As much as I like water lilies and French bars, it's not really something I'd want to do with the rest of my mortal life. The past few months I've been trying to keep my lines more clean and assertive, but I feel that my progress is close to nil. What was you proses for kicking the sketchy bucket?

  8. Isn't that funny! I tend to loosen up with oil painting, say a still life. But I render very tightly with illustration and acrylics. Way to be bold!

  9. Love the loose expressiveness of that face. If it makes you feel better, I loved the face in the final, too.


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