Frequently Asked
Questions 

Hello everyone!

I often get various questions about my art interests, techniques, supplies & influences.  I'll try my best to address all that I can think of on this page.

What medium do you paint with?

I paint with gouache and acryl gouache.  Gouache is an opaque watercolor that can be re-activated at any time.  This allows me to to go back and blend or even remove paint if needed, with no time limit.  A downside is that it can be re-activated at any time, which can be frustrating for novice users. 

Acryl Gouache is really just acrylic with a matte flattening agent which makes it look like gouache once it's dry.  Once dry, it doesn't reactivate and can be painted over with more acryl gouache or regular gouache.

My regular brands are Winsor Newton and Turner Design.  

What kind of paper do you use?

I use both Arches and Fabriano hot press watercolor papers, 300 lb.  20 x 30" sheets.  I cut them to size as needed.  Being a heavier paper, they don't buckle as badly when laying down a wash.  If they do, they eventually regain their shape when completely dry.  They are both expensive, but with water based mediums, painting surface, to me, is the most important part of the puzzle.  They are the best papers I have used.

What are the techniques you use when painting?

It varies.  Usually I lay down thin washes to stain areas & " kill the white of the paper " as many artists would say.  I then attack every area, sometimes working from dark to light or vice-versa, depending on the requirements of the piece and my mood.  One thing I don't do, is leave the white of the paper for highlights.  I like to do them with paint, as they feel more solid to me.  If I require a super bright white , I'll use Dr. Ph Martins Bleed Proof White, as it goes on bright and has no color shift when dry.  This would be done right at the end.

I generally paint thinly and build up my layers as needed, and only going truly opaque when necessary.

If you are trying to learn gouache, I would seek out videos on Youtube by James Gurney as well as Jeff Watts, who runs the Watts Atelier in California.  Paolo Rivera also does fantastic gouache work and has a Youtube channel, as well as an amazing blog.

What kind of brushes do you use?

Various, but my favorite is a 1/4" angle brush, which is my go to for blending & smoothing, as well as paint application. However, I use cheap brushes.  Store branded stuff from various art stores or inexpensive brand names.  I use them, abuse them, and throw 'em out.  The only time I spent big money on a brush was when I used oils, which I no longer paint with.

How long have you been painting?

Drawing most of my life, but actually using paints since 2014 or so.

What art education do you have?

Nothing formal.  I took workshops when I was able over the years.  I bought books, watched videos and just practiced a whole lot.  I'm 90% self taught.  

What art books do you recommend?

Ask 10 artists, you'll get 10 different answers, so here's mine.  This is by no means a complete list:

Andrew Loomis:  Drawing the Head & Hands, Figure Drawing for All It's Worth, Successful Drawing.

These three Loomis books are required reading for any artist trying to learn & grow.  That is a hill I'm willing to die on.

Stephen Rogers Peck:  Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist

Ernest R. Norling:  Perspective Made Easy

Great book, easy to understand instructions about a VERY complicated subject.

Davis Chelsea:  Perspective for Comic Book Artists

Will Eisner:  Comics & Sequential Art

Patrick Jones:  Sci-Fi & Fantasy Oil Painting Techniques

Walter Foster Artisan Library Series:  Color Theory

There will likely never be a more contentious subject in art than color theory.  This book is basic and not a mind bending read, which can be the case with many books on the subject.  As soon as someone turns color into calculus, I'm out.  Honestly, I'd rather see someone do 10 paintings and really learn about it as opposed to reading 10 books about it.  Go paint, experience color.  Don't read so much about it.

James Gurney:  Color and Light

And hot on the heels of what I just said, I recommend another book on color.  This book is very appealing to the sci-fi and fantasy painter.  Excellent stuff and another must have.

Jack Hamm:  Drawing the Head & Figure.  

A quick, simple read, but tremendously well packed with good info.  It's an inexpensive book, so you've got little to lose by getting it.

Stan Lee & John Buscema:  How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way.

No arguments here.  If you want to draw comics, hell, even just draw, get this book.  Done.

Who are your favorite artists?

Many!  The names that have influenced me the most are:  Alex Ross, Alex Raymond, Joe Jusko, Bob Larkin, John & Sal Buscema, John Romita Sr, Lee Weeks, Michael Cho, Paolo Rivera, Chris Samnee, Gene Colan, John Byrne, Frank Frazetta, James Gurney, Andrew Loomis, Robert McGinnis, Paul Mann, Drew Struzan, Alex Toth, Al Williamson, Joe Kubert.  I know I missed some, but those are the big guns.

How long does a painting take you?

It varies, depending on size & complexity.  And the always present " x-factor " - Am I having a good or a bad day at the drawing table?

Anywhere from a few hours to a week.  

Do you take commissions?

Sometimes.  I always advertise those on my social media platforms when I open up spots.  Follow me on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram and watch for when I do.

Do you use reference?

Absolutely.  I can't do a proper portrait without it, nor could I draw an object/animal/location I'm unfamiliar with without it.  I cannot possibly memorize every complicated pose, expression, hand gesture, or a million other things in this world.  Reference is a must, so do not shy away from it.  Using reference in a piece can separate the pro from the amateur very quickly.  As you draw more and build your mental library, you will find yourself not needing it as much.  But it is a must, and I encourage other artists to keep files on their computers ( or cut pics out of a magazine ) with various things like objects, poses, facial expressions, locations and the like.  

Do you sell prints? 

Not currently, no.

Advice for beginning artists?

That could fill a website.  But in general, draw draw draw!  Try to draw as often as possible.  If you can only manage 15 minutes a day, then do it.  I'd rather see someone do 15 minutes 7 days in a row than do 105 minutes one day a week.  The frequent lessons will stick with you more readily.

Learn to draw people well, and learn to put them in an environment.  Practice perspective, figure drawing, all of it.  If something doesn't work out, do it again.  If you get good at drawing something, draw something you're not good at.  Don't get comfortable.

Draw!!!   Take a workshop, do an online course, get a book, become friends with other artists so you can motivate each other.

Should I have a website?

If you are an artist looking to get work or a seasoned pro, yes.  It's a place where you showcase your work and send clients/art directors to.