Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Eva-02 Watercolor

Eva-02 from Studio Gainax TV Series Neon Genesis Evangelion, Episode 8, Asuka Strikes!, in watercolor.
I've been spending some of my time of late attempting to paint in watercolor. Please note the emphasis on attempting. I don't pretend to be an artist, but I'm working on it. It was kind of a flash of inspiration over a month ago.
As a kid I used to draw and sketch all the time. I would draw pictures of The Thing from The Fantastic Four, Sasquatch from Alpha Flight or Silver Surfer just to name a few. John Byrne and George Perez were among some of my favorites. Great battles against great beasts were always a highlight. I wish I still had one of those silly drawings. The coloring was always done via crayon. For some reason I actually enjoyed crayons. I couldn't color with a crayon enough.
Somewhere along the way I just stopped. Dead in my tracks- it was over. I just stopped doing it- no more sketching or coloring. Girls. School work. Real life. It all got in the way.
You wake up one day and years have passed by and you realize, man, I used to draw and I drew pictures all the time. Battle Of The Planets. You name it. If it was a pop culture hero or science fiction classic in the making it was on my radar and I wanted to draw it. But again, you grow up and suddenly those things you enjoyed become less and less important. They shouldn't be discounted but they often are.
Well, at the turn of the new year, I just decided to sketch again. Over dinner, a friend of mine who paints talked with me about oil painting and watercolors. She showed me samples of her paintings. My eyes got real big and a smile overtook my face. I knew right away I wanted to get back to drawing and explore if I had it in me to take it to the next level and thus began my research. Talking with her and learning more about the process I knew I would get started the next day. So, I picked up a modicum of paint supplies from Michael's. I knew I enjoyed sketching, but I had never painted before. So I didn't want to invest too much into paints and brushes. I didn't want to go overboard. I'm a very simple man. Give me the basics and I'll make it happen the best that I can. I don't need a 50 dollar paint brush, although they were nice.
With coupons in hand, I managed to get brushes, paints and paper and bring my whole purchase to under 45 dollars. Up next, I had to focus on an idea and begin the process.
As many here know, I have an endless fascination with all things Neon Genesis Evangelion. There are three primary Evangelion units in the TV Series. In Japan, they were designed by Ikuto Yanashita and all were designed brilliantly. The characters in the series are credited to Character Designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto.
As far as the Evangelions, it's actually near impossible to choose which one I love most on any given day. I quickly alternate between Eva-00, Eva-01 and Eva-02. They are that close. It really speaks volumes about how much I love each of their unique designs. Furthermore, mecha designs don't get me particularly excited. I can't be bothered with most in anime never mind actually painting a picture of one. It has to be pretty special in my estimation to get my attention. Gundam and others fail to energize me the way the Evangelions do. Transformers included. There's something truly elegant, organic, sleek and beautiful about the Evangelion designs that are absent from most of the traditional robot depictions. Gunbuster and Patlabor are also very nice creations aesthetically, but they still present a more traditional robot approach. I enjoy them, but nothing is quite as inspired as the work found in Evangelion. Thus, my decision to paint Eva-02 was born.
Prepare for launch. I selected an image and stuck with it. The sketching was a process and most of my energy spent on the painting from the very beginning took place essentially on weekends where I had the most free time.
Taking the sketching process into watercolor painting was taking it to a new level of challenge for me. I thought I'd share the result with you and get your impressions.
My ultimate goal is to hang it on the living room wall where most of my pop culture excursions take place. I want the shadow of Evangelion hanging over my viewing experience. I'm not sure how that's going to fly with The One To Be Pitied. She's already informed me categorically NO FREAKIN' WAY!
The final phase of my painting process returned me to Michael's for the art of framing. I was greeted by a young lady in her twenties. The exchange was amusing. "Don't make fun of me." She smiled. With my painting paper pad [say that 20 times] closed I explained, "I have a painting here I need to have framed." I opened the picture with some slight trepidation. She smiled. "What is it?" "That is a robot, well, sort of. It's animation. You see, it's an Evangelion." "An Evan--what?" "It's an Eva actually. It's an Evangelion, anime, robot. Well, it's not actually a robot. You see it's partially organic, a humanoid-robot type of--- thing... Anyway, you can't laugh. Do you think it looks good? You see a lot of paintings." "Yes, actually, ... no it looks good," she humored me. I don't know, maybe she was humoring me, but she was definitely amused at my expense.
We proceeded to spend nearly an hour hammering out the proper mattes and frame. Color combinations were difficult and I'm not sure I was completely sold in the end, but it was honestly the best combination I could muster. It may have been the hardest part of the damn process of putting a painting together start to finish. Looking at it now I might have triple matted, but who knows. The perfectionist in me could drive one to drink.
The girl was lovely. She was such a cool kid utilizing her white gloves to keep her hand oils off my painting. Then came the price. Now I'm thinking 75 bucks. Honest, I've never painted or even gone to purchase a frame, but heck I wanted to see this thing through to the dirty end no matter how preposterous my painting might have been to some. To me, it represented my time, my energy, my passion, my hobbies and it was something that I created from scratch like a blueberry pancake. In the end, I wanted to eat it up in its frame. "That'll be 184 dollars." Holy Ch-ching! I was mildly slack-jawed. I took a breath and smiled. Again, she was lovely and she's only the messenger. I said, "How about that 50% off sign back there. Does this include 50% off?" "Oh yes, it would be like three hundred and change." WOW! I thought skiing was expensive. Maybe I should start skiing again. I would save money. Well, there you have it. It was done. I had to finish this thing [and work harder to pay it off].
"Okay, so I'll pick it up tomorrow then?" "Two weeks. It'll be about two weeks." Wow, I had no idea it would take so long to frame.
Two weeks later and another young woman smiles and seems mildly amused by the art on display as she unveils and reveals to me the finished product in its frame. According to The One To Be Pitied, "a frame can even make junk look good." Ouch! Well, the lady told me she loved the colors. The One To Be Pitied reckons she may have been lonely. Brutal. Well, I liked it. On the whole, I was pleasantly surprised. I'm putting my first piece of work out there for y'all to give it to me straight. I can take it. Go ahead. I know you painters are out there. Shoot!
All in all it was an artistically pleasing outlet and I'm on to my next project.
Up next, another painting. After that, the world.


Fritz "Doc" Freakenstein said...

On top of your writing talents, you now demonstrate artistic talent as well, Sci-Fi Fanatic? That’s not fair, man! How are the rest of us mere mortals supposed to keep up with that?

But seriously…. Just to let you know I’m not being a know-it-all pompous ass about this – you did ask for our, your loyal blog followers, for our opinions – I need to give you some background on myself in regards to art.
Like you, I started drawing at a very early age. Unlike you, I saved all my sketch books filled with drawings of super heroes, army soldiers and race cars, which were my passions in my grade-school years of drawing. Unlike you, I kept drawing all through Junior High and even took five-day-a-week Art classes in High School in preparation for majoring in Art at college. Until High School, I was always the best artist in my class. Even in High School I was one of the better artists in my class. However, I discovered that my talents did not lend themselves to painting, so I stuck primarily to penciling and pen and ink drawing. I put together a portfolio and unfortunately thanks to mediocre grades in unimportant things like Math and Science, I was only able to get into a 2-year Community College. Long story short, I never graduated and went on to pursue a working career in non-artistic related fields.

I have kept up my drawing for fun though and mostly now I just draw cards for relatives and friends at the holidays. I even managed to teach myself how to use opaque water colors to paint my cards with.

All of which leads me to tell you, as one amateur artist to another, your rendering of Eva-02 is very good. The proportions and even the perspective looks very good; especially since it looks like you “eyeballed” them from the reference photo. I’m not sure what you used to create the black outlines of your drawing, but it looks like you used a small brush and black watercolor paint. Unfortunately, this has caused you to create a very rough looking outline, which I’m assuming was not your intent. Still, because of the large size of the piece, it’s not too big a deal. I’ve already admitted that I never mastered water color painting, or acrylics or oils for that matter, so I can sympathize with your results of the finished painting. It looks like you used a very “dry” technique with the water colors, which enabled you to better control the saturation of the color to the paper. Unfortunately, this also makes the color look dull and flat. Trust me… I made this same mistake many times and finally gave up on water colors. I use Dr. Martin dyes, which are technically a water color, but they blend much easier and dry slower. All in all a very good first effort. However, if you’re determined to punish yourself with further attempts at water colors, I’d ask that friend of yours for a few lessons or at least some tips before starting another piece. That will hopefully keep you from getting frustrated and giving up. You also might try a much smaller size drawing – say 6” x 4” – which will make it much easier to blend the colors because of the smaller areas to paint.

I look forward to seeing more of your art in the future monsieur la Sci-Fi Fanatic! One last word of advice: don’t put your art down. Love everything you do, no matter how crappy you think it comes out. Most people have no clue of what good art is, so if they hate it or love it, their opinions don’t really matter (mine included). What matters is that you are doing what you love and you are enjoying it.

SFF said...


Honestly, I was about to retire, but your hysterical opening remarks followed by a sincere, thoughtful response that truly stands on its own as an entertaining reflection, required I respond before grabbing the proverbial shut-eye.

"Mere mortals." Ha. I'll tell you. It was while I was reading your comment that you spurred my memory to your own artistic abiltiies. I recall your Christmas greeting I believe. Anyway, YES, I forgot you were an ARTISTE, a genuine one at that based on your insightful remarks.

I did not take them as anything more than instructive, complimentary and constructive. Thank you. You weren't the least bit pompous.

I'm envious of your saved and collected drawings. I should have done more of that along the way. Your story was very touching.

I would easily consider myself someone yearning for that creative outlet or else I would be blogging I suppose.

Regarding your input of which I consider you far beyond this novice.

Rendering- thanks, I appreciate "good."
Proportions- I got it close. Thanks. Sketching from an image as you noted. Sketched with a pencil first.

You nailed my biggest issue on the head. The black outline with small brush and black wc paint. The jagged edge was not my intention. You got it! However, I was able to accept it overall.

I did go with a "dry" technique as you put it. It gave depth in spots and well, I kind of liked going that route. It was definitely a learn as I went.

Though I must tell you despite my best first efforts and despite imperfections I was rather enthused actually. I didn't get down. I stayed with it. Inspired I must tell you, I have been headlong into that second painting, where, interestingly, I've run into some difficulty with the face of the image and it has been giving me some consternation.

Anyhow, if I'm frustrated at all, it has been with my second outing. I will very much look forward to your input when that time comes.

Doc, and I want you to know, as much as I'm a bit self-deprecating in my remarks concerning the painting I was happy with it. I definitely employ a similar outlook as your advice suggests. I thank you. I definintely am doing it for the right reasons. I love it. I enjoy it and ultimately if others like it that would be cool, but I agree we need these outlets for our sanity or our continued insanity- I'm never sure.

But, I am looking to see this second one through. I sincerely thank you for taking the time to share your story and your thoughts. They were helpful. I will have a few questions for you here later if you'll check back.

Thank you.

le0pard13 said...

How very cool, my friend. Thanks very much for sharing this with your readers. You're scholar and a gentleman... and now an artist.

SFF said...

Well, thanks L13, but artist may be a stretch. I'm definitely exploring it a bit and having some fun. Thanks for commenting my friend.

El Vox said...

I think the Eva-02 came out well--I like the color and asymmetrical look of it. I dig your enthusiasm in both your interest in all things SF, and also in you artwork. The posting was both interesting and Funny.

If I were to offer any advice, after reading about the price of the matting and so forth. I'd recommend finding a cheaper frame yourself, first. Michaels and other hobby stores, even Walmart, have clip frames and other such cheaper frames and you can frame it yourself saving a bunch of money. (I know this being your first drawing in years, and proud of the way it turned out, you wanted to spotlight it to its fullest benefit.) However, in the future, you might want to find a cheap frame first, and then let that determine the size of the artwork.

As far as matting, it doesn't have to be so expensive either. What I do and have done in the past, is find a frame, then get some colored matte board (Michaels will cut it to specs for you, if memory serves), but you can also just used a colored paper too. Then! float the artwork on top of the matte board--no cutting required! So the matte board will fill the frame area that you have chosen, and the artwork needs to be smaller in scale to float on top of the matte. Hopefully this makes sense. I've done many of mine this way and it seems to be fine for me. Good luck on your continued art.

SFF said...

Thank you for taking the time to write those thoughtful observations.

"Enthusiasm". Well that's exactly it. When you're having fun you just go with it.

But trust me, I will take all of your tips to heart on the end process.

Thanks so much El Vox.