Ghost Girl work in prog

December 12, 2012

Although I haven’t posted in a while, I have indeed been doing stuffs…here’s one of the projects I’m workin’ on.

Not sure what this one will be called but for now I’m calling it Ghost Girl. I started it at a party a few weeks ago where I was doing some live painting.

Ghost Girl WIP 12-12-12

Ghost Girl WIP 12-12-12


I normally keep a lot of notes on my projects but on this one since it’s supposed to be quick I’m not doing so…therefore I’m not sure how long I’ve been working on it exactly but it’s something like 4 hours. I plan to finish it in another couple sessions. It’s 14×18 inches, oil on canvas board.

This is more colorful than much of my previous work…the greens are Cadmium Yellow Pale Hue mixed with combinations of Mars Black, French Ultramarine, and Cobalt Blue. I wanted the landscape greens to be more drab so they are black and yellow whereas the face is using more of the blue and yellow. Other colors I’ve been using are Phthalo Blue, Yellow Ochre, Raw Umber, Cadmium Red Hue, and Titanium White.

Update: I finished this and realized it’s obviously called The Ghost Girl of Willowglen Manor. Here’s the finished version.


A Country Girl Near the Dream City (revised – 2012)

June 28, 2012

I’ve been taking some previously completed paintings that I wasn’t happy with and making some changes to them when I thought that spending the time would be worth it. I recently made some big but fairly quick changes to “A Country Girl Near the Dream City”:

A Country Girl near the Dream City (2012)

A Country Girl near the Dream City (2012)

The way I see it, if I have something that I am almost happy with, it’s worth the risk of making it worse and it’s worth the extra time (let’s say an additional 15%) to try and make it better. I have been forcing myself to just focus on the key aspects that will improve the painting the most and have been pretty good about not letting myself start changing too much. I also ensure that I have a good plan of attack and have done studies so that I know how exactly to alter the painting once I get started. In this case I had been thinking about changes since last year, and did some tests in Photoshop to make sure that if I did alter stuff that it would look the way I wanted, rather than just employing trial and error which could end in frustration and an at least temporarily ruined painting.

This one went smoothly and I’m really glad that I took the extra couple hours so that now I have a painting I am much happier about.

A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie altered and completed

June 2, 2012

I decided to make some major changes to this painting. I messed with the face a bit more but decided I wouldn’t be happy even if the face was OK since the figure etc were too flawed.I debated this for a while but decided to just paint over the figure completely. I had spent a HUGE amount of time changing the face and figure but painting over it is not going to take away the stuff I learned working on this project – and now I will have a painting I can be happier with.

Here is the full painting:

A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie

"A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie" by Airn LeBus, 16x20 inches, oil on canvas, 2012.

Here is a detail view:

A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie (detail)

A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie (detail)

My previous posts on this have a lot more info:

Final post on the earlier version



Memento Mori MMXII – completed

May 22, 2012

OK, I have completed my Memento Mori painting.

I’m pretty satisfied with this but towards the end I just wanted to wrap it up and work on other projects! I started this in October 2011 so I’ve been working on it for seven months, off and on.

Here’s the finished painting:

Memento Mori MMXII

Memento Mori MMXII

I spent about 21 hours painting this, in many separate sessions. I also spent about 4 hours drawing / planning it and then another couple hours making the maquette model to figure out the lighting and doing additional studies with a skull model etc. I talk more about that in previous posts (below).

Here’s a detail view:

Memento Mori MMXII (detail)

Memento Mori MMXII (detail)

I think that “Memento Mori” will be a running theme for me for at least my next few projects…I usually work on a few paintings at once so right now I am planning my next one while I also redo some parts of my tragically flawed A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie painting.

Happily I am also going right from finishing this onto another oil on wood panel project, the Robert Campin study I am working on. I really love painting something with an archaic feel onto smooth wood panel whilst listening to some Medieval music…quite lovely.

Here are my other posts on this painting:

1. Memento Mori: work-in-progress

2. Memento Mori: update 2

3. Memento-Mori: update 3


Master Study – Robert Campin

May 20, 2012

I decided that I need to do more studying with the old masters…to start I am going to try painting one by Robert Campin: (link opens in a new window)

I have a nice hi-resolution picture of the original painting, which I cropped so I can just focus on the face. I especially love the way he did the eyes.

I’m painting this on 8×10 wood panel in oils and will use a monochromatic “dead layer” underpainting to start. I will then glaze color over it and do additional work on the shadows and highlights at that point too.

This is after 1 hour of painting and a few hours of drawing:


Robert Campin study WIP 05-20-2012

Robert Campin study WIP 05-20-2012

I sketched this freehand on the panel but divided the panel into 4 sections, then did the same to my photo to give me a little assistance in making it more accurate to the original.

This underpainting is all in raw umber and titanium white…I did my usual method before that of going over the drawing in sepia Sharpie pen then putting an imprimatura wash of yellow and black mixed acrylic over the drawing. This time I also used an eraser to get rid of most of the pencil before putting the acrylic on.

Here’s what it looked like drawn on the panel and then inked with the imprimatura, almost ready to start painting:

Robert Campin study drawing and imprimatura

Robert Campin study drawing and imprimatura


Rattus Magnus

May 17, 2012

I painted this for a Halloween thing in 2011. I think I did it in 1 day. It’s 11×14 inches, oil on canvas.


Rattus Magnus

Rattus Magnus

Sketch after Ridolfo Ghirlandaio

May 10, 2012

I’ve really been drawing a lot but most of the stuff is pretty quick or for whatever reason I haven’t been posting the stuff here. Here’s one I did last night though, I spent about an hour doing this sketch from a photo of a really amazing painting by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio. This is about 3×4 inches and it’s Col-Erase pencils on a greyish paper. I really like being able to add highlights onto a drawing…my primary medium is oil paint and it’s so flexible! I usually feel pretty limited when I am drawing instead of painting…

Anyway, here’s the sketch:

After Ridolfo Ghirlandaio

After Ridolfo Ghirlandaio

Digital art – Barnabas Collins from Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows film

April 26, 2012

So I don’t normally do digital art but I decided to enter a contest and I thought digital was the only way to go based on the time I had to complete it and the nature of that site.

I submitted two versions to the contest. I included one of them below.

This took me a lot longer than I expected! Probably about 25 hours or so, over 5 days.

Hardly anyone viewed it, so I was a bit bummed out by the whole thing since I did work really hard on it. I’ve found that site to be like that though and won’t be spending much energy on it in the future…lots of art of dubious quality (in my opinion) gets thousands or tens of thousands of views but other stuff is almost totally unseen. Not too surprising I guess given the viral nature of the internet…and the audience on that site in particular seems partial to anime / cartoony art, retouched fantasy-style photos, etc.

In any case, here’s my digital “painting”:

Barnabas Collins digital painting by Airn LeBus

Barnabas Collins digital painting by Airn LeBus


I’ve unplugged my digital drawing tablet now though and have picked up a real brush to finish the oil painting I have been working on 🙂


Memento Mori (update 3)

April 15, 2012

One of the books I bought recently is “Imaginative Realism” by James Gurney and he has some stuff in there about making clay maquettes (scale models) to help with painting. On this Memento Mori project I wasn’t sure how the alcove should look so initially I just painted it based on my understandings of light and shadow. It didn’t look very realistic to me though so I decided to make a tiny clay model of the alcove and skull and light it in a similar fashion to the painting. It really didn’t take that long and it made a big difference…below you can see the earlier version and what it looks like now. The skull is the same but look at the alcove it is resting in:


Alcove changes from maquette

Alcove changes from maquette

Really this is something that I have been working up to – taking more time and effort to figure the piece out properly. Earlier I’ve copped out and just guessed but often it’s not that time-consuming to do a little research and experimentation…it can really have a dramatic effect on the art.

On this painting, I had also “oiled it out” too much and the surface was really glossy and weird to paint on. I wanted to radically alter the alcove’s shadows and lighting but the paint was acting weird since the surface was too oily (FYI this is on smooth wood panel). It’s also normally tough anyway to lighten parts that are too dark – it ends up chalky, even without the surface being too oily. I ended up breaking out some really fine-grain sandpaper and sanding away much of the alcove, then repainting it…that did the trick.

Here’s where this painting is at now (below). I just did the bottom row of text today which I painted in freehand by painting backwards, upside down etc to ensure all the spacing was correct. The background was dry, so every time I messed up (which was often) I could just wipe it off and redo it. I’ll be adding to the text later to make it look etched into the stone. I watched (or rather listened to) the film “Die Monster Die” while I worked on it. The title of that film doesn’t give any suggestion that it’s actually based on “The Colour Out of Space” by HP Lovecraft, an author who is a favorite and who has influenced me greatly. I usually “watch” something or listen to music that fits with the art I am making…much of the time I have been painting this piece I have been listening to the Cadfael score for its medieval feel.

OK, back to talking about the painting…when I first planned this I had two rows of text that were as large as the top row but since just the MEMENTO*MORI took me a really long time with tons of repainting I decided to simplify the lower line of text. I think a lot about about digital versus traditional art when I paint text…this takes a digital artist 2 seconds with minimal effort if they just type out a pre-made font but when you really need to do it from scratch it takes quite a lot of doing! I saw an Albrecht Durer masterpiece in Germany and felt a little better when I could see a faint haze around part of his lettering that made me realize that even genius masters like him were human and fallible when doing text on their paintings.


Memento Mori WIP 04-15-2012

Memento Mori WIP 04-15-2012



Memento Mori (update 2)

February 26, 2012

Although I haven’t been posting on here much lately, I have been doing a lot of art, especially sketching figures and learning stuff from a bunch of books that I’ve purchased over the past couple years. I’ll probably write about my favorite books later, but for now I just wanted to post an update for my memento mori painting. It’s looking like I’m going to have a bunch of pieces coming up with this theme, actually.

So here’s where I am at with this one:

Memento Mori work in progress Feb 25, 2012

Memento Mori work in progress Feb 25, 2012

I wasn’t happy with the diagrams of skulls I could find and so I ended up ordering a fairly realistic skull model. It’s made of plastic and is surprisingly heavy. I did a charcoal drawing of it and altered my painting a bit based on that. I’ll probably do another large skull study later and make it more accurate and realistic-looking.

Here’s the model skull I bought: