The Process Behind 'Skin the Shine of the Rain' Part 1


This painting has probably been through the most changes over the course of its creation.

The central idea of a destructive creature pushing people away has remained throughout each version. I started with this idea and drew a few thumbnail sketches to consider different compositions (see above) and then I used Photoshop to develop my favourite further (and please bear in mind that the stupid looking bull/wolf creature is a placeholder for what would have been a rather strong and powerfully violent creature):

I quite liked this, it had a distressing atmosphere. But it seemed to be missing something visually. So I tried this:

And I was virtually sold on this idea, obviously with a different creature. The more I looked at it, the more I realised that I'd seen this kind of image before. Many, many times. I wanted something different.

By the way, the piles of rubble were pieced together in Photoshop from images I'd taken when the old Council house in Doncaster was knocked down. I knew they'd come in useful at some point.

I went back to using free association to come up with a new direction. Again this is a very rough mock-up of an idea. The broken figure was going to be made up of rubble.

This composition proved really hard and I never really gelled with it.

One cold February day, it was raining, so I thought I'd take my camera out and find some inspiration. I ended up on a pedestrian bridge overlooking St. George's bridge in Doncaster. It felt like fate because the rain just stopped as I got my camera ready. I took a few photos and set off back to the car (a one minute walk). As soon as I got back in the car it threw it down again. I thought, I've got to use these images. And here's one for your viewing pleasure:

I was a happy little fella, but still nothing was coming to me. My next - rather hopeful - move was to start doodling on the top of one of the images and just add in some lines to give an interesting composition:

The last one may look very familiar. I loved the fluid nature and the way that the curve interacted with the bridge. It immediately led to this (accompanied by another placeholder, a comedy stick man with silly hair):

I transferred this on to a sketch and added in some sinister vegetation that I thought was needed at the time. Plus I decided to flip the image so that the character was on the left hand side to complement the other paintings in the series. Ironically, that worked out pretty badly for me when I rotated the image 180 degrees later in the process. At least I can correct that with the final paintings that I'll be doing over the coming months.

The next part of the planning process was the painstaking creation of the 'rubble snake'. I carefully selected different sections and elements from my Council house demolition photos and used Photoshop to collage them together to create a cylindrical snake. This took a while...

Lovely. Now that I'd got the main idea planned I had to look at the design of the creature.

I had changed my mind on having a bulky beast. I felt the creature should be stealthier, more manipulative, yet still incredibly powerful.

Fitting in with the binary theme of the creature being there and not there, (I'll talk about this more in the post that I'll write on my interpretation of the painting coming in the relatively near future) I designed the creature so that it was made out of numerous 'bones' that would allow the background to be seen through them. At a later point these became muscle bones: bones based on the position of muscles. But again, I'll come back to that in a later post.

For the head, I initially started to go down the route of having half of the face metallic and half the bone structures. I was never that keen so I changed tack and merged two faces together.

I thought this was a much stronger idea as the creature could look in two different directions at once and feel two different emotions. I developed it further to lead to this:

And that's the end of the planning stage. Next time I'll look at the start of the painting process. See you then!

If you've got any thoughts or questions, or things that you'd like me to cover in upcoming posts, then leave me a comment in the box below. Your feedback would be much appreciated.

For Part 2, Click Here.

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