Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Life Painting with my students

Right before thanksgiving break, I scheduled a model for what would be a small Wednesday class and decided to do a little painting of my own in between chatting with students. It was a 2.5 hour pose, but I maybe worked an hour on this. Made me realize how much I miss life painting. Time to start making more room for the Boston Figurative Society again!

Fun fact: The model's name was Kristina too.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Bavrogar - A story and illustration for Halloween

The Bavrogar
By Kristina Carroll 

Somewhere in the gray creases and folds behind your eyes is a cold and twisting swamp. You won’t find the entrance to this labyrinth in the daytime; you won’t even find it in the easy chaos of dreams. But in that uneasy midnight of the soul, when you've woken staring into corner shadows and glancing at hours that swiftly devour sleep in a digital glow; this is when the way opens. This is the path to the Bavrogar.

It starts with a shiver and a clammy uneasiness. Fog creeps from between roots under the bed sheets and into your lungs. A path yawns under your feet and wet, rotting leaves cling between your toes as you take one step then another, hoping movement will shake the chill. Green, wet hair weeps from leaning branches to caress your neck. A light that always floats just beyond the next tree whispers answers, and you follow because going back means only questions.

When the flicker of light disappears and stagnant mud gives way to sticky, black pools, that’s when you see it. A skeletal finger of smoke leads you between trees to a pond with no reflection of the silent spirit floating above and the snuffed bone-yellow candle in its hand. The Bavrogar is the place and it is the figure. It is the smoking candle and it is the cold chill that surrounds everything here. The delicate face of the spirit is beautiful but any detail of features forgotten behind the melancholy of one who has no dreams. For there are no dreams in the Bavrogar. Never any of its own anyways and never for long. But that is why you have come here, after all, to the cold swamp with your fever of bright dreams that burn away sleep. Hope is often an uneasy burden and there are few fears like those of dreams that may fail. Fear has led you with bare, dirty feet to the Bavrogar and its sweet face is a painting of compassion.

Come. The Bavrogar says. Come, let me take this fever that burns you so. This little dream of yours, it is too hot, so terrifying. Think about how peaceful and cool you will feel without it. And I am cold; can you not see how this dream will keep me warm? You do not want it, let me take it from you and you can sleep again. Sleep like a babe without fears or hopes. Such a beautiful sleep.

You hear the words like cold water behind your eyes. It soothes you and comforts you. Yes, you think. This dream is too big for me, how much easier it would be to leave it here. Yes, take it and let me sleep in peace. The Bavrogar softly smiles and holds out the candle. A chill winds up from your toes and out your head as the candle lights with a burst of white-hot flame, burning fast and blinding. You throw up your hands to protect your eyes and wake with a start. Cold sweat makes the twisted sheets stick to your legs and back, but you don’t remember why you've woken and turn over to fall into a black, hard sleep.

When you wake, it will be as if from the dreamless sleep of one who has been walking all day. You will feel light and rested, suddenly unburdened and certain that life is going to be easier. And it is, for a while. After all, life without a dream is very easy.

Yet somehow, you will always feel just a little colder than you used to.  The sun is never as warm and the colors never as bright. For when you leave something with the Bavrogar, the Bavrogar leaves something with you. A shadow on your vision and a string of smoke behind your eyes leading you back to that mirrorless pond. For the bone-yellow candle never stays burning for long in that place, and with each dream you surrender to the Bavrogar, it becomes easier and easier for it to call you back. Until all you will have left is the white-hot dream of life itself to light the Bavrogar’s candle.

© 2012 Kristina Carroll

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Watcher of the Bruinen for the LoTR card game

A while back I did this piece for Fantasy Flight games' Lord of the Rings card game. I do love Tolkien, so this was a lot of fun. I did a few color studies because really wanted to push my colors here to get that sense of early morning, as if this guardian has been standing still for a long time. It made me realize how much those help, and started me on a trend of using them regularly. 

I don't believe I will never tire of painting elves.

© 2012 Fantasy Flight Games
10x10 oil and digital
© 2012 Fantasy Flight Games 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Charcoal Portrait: Opening

Been painting away, a few private commissions and lots of personal work. Several of those 'Almost Finished' pieces scattered around the room waiting for those last few hours of time and glazes to dry. Walnut oil is a bitch for glazing and I don't recommend it. So here's a little in-between thing that's been taped to the wall a bit. For the longest time I thought I needed to go back and finish it, then I realized it was already done.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pond Ghost drawing

This idea sprung from a random abstract thumbnail I did in my sketchbook several months back. I'd begun the drawing right after, then it got pushed aside for other projects for a long time. I started it up again recently with the lofty idea that I might make it a painting for Spectrum Live, but it wasn't to be so.

Looking back at the thumbnail, I might change the figure a little bit to bring back some of the original shapes, and I am on the fence whether to light the candle or keep it smoking. But I like the overall feel of it, and look forward to moving into the paint.

EDIT: Went back into it and changed it up some. I think this has a little more going for it:

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fun with charcoal: Twain and Walken portraits

So a few weeks ago, Scott asked me to do an oil painting demo for his class at MassArt and I thought it would be a great excuse to mess around with some portrait ideas I had wanted to flesh out. The Christopher Walken was the one I ended up moving forward with (more detailed post forthcoming when I finish the painting) but Mark Twain will end up fully painted as well, with a few more details added.

This was not my first portrait of Mr. Walken, because I love the way he looks. I enjoy his face so much in fact I have an idea to do several portraits of celebrities with very unique features. Here, I wanted to mess around with some dramatic lighting and thought some severe Film Noir effects suited his character. Christopher has a larger than life personality that fits in ideally with the Noir pastiche.

For Twain, I wanted more of the straightforward portrait.  I focused more on capturing the direct gaze with that touch of a smile that he always seems to have in photographs- like he knows something you don't. I knew that playing with the signature white suit and white hair would be a fun challenge, so I am very much looking forward to bringing this into paint too. I have a few more high priority pieces to work on before coming back to these but hopefully now that my first semester teaching has ended, I can devote some more time to my pet projects over the summer.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Bronze and Blue

Hello from the void.

 'Elevation', has won a bronze medal from the Society of Illustrators LA! Check out all the gorgeous work at their website.

In the midst of private commissions, work that I can't show, working on samples for the portfolio and teaching, it's important to take some time for self. Which for me is just pushing some paint around for a few hours and seeing what happens. So this week I took a small bit of primed illustration board, some fashion photos cut out of a magazine for inspiration and made this while listening to the audio book of "The Night Circus" (which is excellent by the way)

Blue Meditation
Oil on illustration board

Monday, February 27, 2012

Jorge Luis Borges

Jorge Luis Borges is one of my favorite authors and probably the most influential Spanish writer after Cervantes. Many say he is one of the founding fathers of speculative fiction and you can see his influence all over the genre from William Gibson to Doctor Who. His stories weave in and out of reality and psychology and I often find myself thinking about one of his stories years after I've read it. Nearly all of his works include reference to a labyrinth, which is a symbol I have always been drawn to and is certainly another reason his writing speaks so strongly to me. The profile portrait is traditionally used to depict someone passed in a more symbolic and immortal composition, and I thought would present him as the noble, timeless titan of literature he is. Even though he struggled with poor eyesight and blindness for a good portion of his later life, he saw realities enough for a hundreds lifetimes.

If you have never read Borges, I recommend starting with his "Labyrinths" collection. The Garden of Forking Paths, The Lottery in Babylon or The Library of Babel are some of my personal favorites and you may recognize some of the ideas.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New painting for Lincoln Arts Project show

Oil on 16 x 20 cradle board

One of Scott's former students, Pat Falco, and his friend Elliot Anderson have started a gallery in Boston. Their goal  is to bring quality, new art in from  young artists around the city into areas that might not normally see it. The resulting Lincoln Art Project Gallery has already hosted some unique shows including a showcase of concept  artists from Harmonix and a Type show.  When Scott and I heard about their plans to do an 'artist couples' show for Valentines day, we couldn't resist and thought it would be fun to create some portraits of each other for the show. I decided make Scott into a symbolist image about the relationship between artist and creative urge.

charcoal drawing and beginning washes of color 

Scott did a fantastic portrait of me looking very confident with my painting attire and, best of all, surrounded by books. It's a stunning graphic piece and I love that he sees me this way:

acrylic and pen on 16 x 20 cradle board

You can read Scott's blog about the process here.

And some press about the show, in which we are interviewed with some of the other artists, in the Weekly Dig here.

'Match'  at Lincoln Arts Project Gallery

Show Dates: February 8 - March 10

RECEPTION: Friday February 10, 7-10 PM

Gallery Hours: Wed - Fri 4-9 PM, Sat 2-8 PM or by appointment.