New server

January 24, 2012

OK, I just moved this to a new server so if you notice anything broken please let me know by leaving a comment ๐Ÿ™‚

– Airn

Memento Mori – work in progress

October 17, 2011

I just got back from a 3 week European vacation a week ago and I saw a ton of insane art over there that had me riled up to paint and draw and stuff. Then to top things off I spent a long time looking at which has SO many crazy works of art. The stained glass on the first page is one of the craziest things I have ever seen, especially given it’s age and the medium! Then after looking at a couple of Hans Memling’s pieces I instantly really wanted to do a skull in an alcove Memento Mori / Vanitas sort of thing. I’ve actually never painted a skull so that’s one reason I wanted to do it. I was also thinking it would be relatively easy and I think I could do a pretty good job on it, especially if I do it in monochrome. So I spent a few hours over a couple days planning and drawing directly onto an 11 x 14 inch wood panel and then started painting today. I spent about 2 1/2 hours today on this and am super excited about it.

I actually realized recently that it’s been about 6 months since I’ve painted! Yipes, that’s not how one gets better. I did do some drawing over the past months and I need more work on my drawing skills at this point anyway. In any case, I’m very excited about this project and have really been enjoying working on it, which wasn’t the case for a few recent projects ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh the cherub at the top is grey because the pencil didn’t get locked in very well with my base coat of acrylic which was supposed to wash away the pencil too and prevent it from muddying up the oil paint, oh well. Later it should get covered by the raw umber I am using so it fits with the rest of the painting. That cherub was inspired by something I saw in Venice…I wanted to give a little glimmer of hope to the painting.

A Country Girl near the Dream City

October 14, 2011

Update: I revised this painting later, new version is here.ย 

OK, I finished this a while ago but didn’t post it partly cuz I have been planning for a big Europe trip which I just came back from. I got to see lots of amazing art and scenery and stuff and am now fully inspired and ready to start on some new projects ๐Ÿ™‚

I wanted this one to be a fairly quick project and I succeeded in that respect, this took me only about 12 hours to paint – that’s very short for me. It’s 11 x 14 inches, oil on canvas. I call it “A Country girl near the Dream City”:

A Country Girl near the Dream City

A Country Girl near the Dream City

A main goal was to use some atmospheric perspective in the landscape background and to use canvas instead of wood panel to try to get a nice soft feel, especially in the background. I am really happy with the way the landscape turned out and also had fun with the hair, which I did a bit differently this time. Some influences on this one were Tamara de Lempicka, Albrecht Dรผrer, and Leonardo da Vinci.

I used cobalt blue in the sky, landscape, and clothing. The landscape is mostly yellow ochre and other yellows plus cobalt blue.

I’m not sure how long I spent on the drawing and planning but I started painting onย  March 2, 2011 and was done on April 3. I had a show I wanted this to be in so I didn’t putz around – it’s funny how much faster and smarter I work when I have a deadline. Looking back over my notes I had a good time painting this and it went very smoothly with minimal frustration – very nice after a couple recent projects that I kept changing over and over.

Here is the drawing:

Country Girl drawing

Country Girl drawing


After I completed the drawing I xeroxed it in order to preserve the original and rubbed graphite on the back of the copy. I then taped it to the canvas and went over it with a ballpoint pen to transfer the lines onto the canvas. I then went over those faint lines with a fine sepia sharpie and put a thin wash of transparent olive-green (black combined with yellow) acrylic to wash away the graphite and lock everything into place. I then painted everything directly with oils, no glazing or monochromatic underpainting on this one.


Transferring the drawing to canvas

Transferring the drawing to canvas



Duplicitous Dionara and Devious Diandra

March 31, 2011

This is my finished painting “Duplicitous Dionara and Devious Diandra”. It is 11 x 14 inches, oil on wood panel.

Duplicitous Dionara and Devious Diandra

Duplicitous Dionara and Devious Diandra

Duplicitous Dionara and Devious Diandra (detail)

Duplicitous Dionara and Devious Diandra (detail)

For this one I used a monochromatic underpainting / dead layer which I later glazed over in color. Here are the work-in-progress posts I did which include some photos of the dead layer: Duplicitous WIP posts

I spent about 30 hours painting this over about 8 months. I’m not sure how much time I spent doing studies and planning but I would guess 10-15 hours. That’s more than I usually spend planning…it helped me to avoid having to change stuff in the middle of the project.

Overall I spent the most time on the hair. When I first started this project it was supposed to be a quick one…I ended up making the hair complicated though and spent a rather long time on the faces too, so the project ended up being much longer and more complicated than I had expected.

Here are the main oil colors I used for this painting:

Underpainting of flesh areas: Raw umber and titanium white

Flesh tones – glazed and opaque color: Yellow ochre, cadmium red hue, titanium white, raw umber, burnt umber

Dress: Titanium white, phthalo blue, raw umber

Here are a some of the preparatory drawings I did for the hair and dress as well as a detail of the main drawing:

Hair studies for Duplicitous

Hair studies for Duplicitous

Dress studies for Duplicitous

Dress studies for Duplicitous

"Duplicitous" sketch

"Duplicitous" sketch

I don’t look on the studies as being just useful for this painting since they help me increase my drawing skills in general. On the hair I also wanted to learn how to do ringlets and curls better and I’m sure I will use that style in other works.

Art show opening in April at Jitters Coffee

March 28, 2011

Last year I approached Jitters Coffee here in Santa Barbara to see about having a group art show…they said yes and the time is finally nigh. I will have several of my paintings hanging there from April 7th to May 3rd:


~ Artistry in April ~

Featuring works by:

Airn LeBus
Alan Murray
Joshua Hedlund
Mac Oliver

Opening: April 7th, 6 – 9 PM

Jitters Coffee
728 State St, Santa Barbara
(805) 617-3313

Dream City Girl 2 – WIP 2

March 23, 2011

This painting is moving along quickly, which is good because I am trying to finish it by next week if possible…in time for my art show. I don’t want to rush it though, so I might decide it’s not gunna happen. Hmm….

Oil on canvas, 11×14 inches.


A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie

March 22, 2011

I worked on this painting for about a year and recently decided that it’s finally done. I’m calling it “A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie” and it’s 16 x 20 inches, oil on canvas:

A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie

A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie

Initially this painting was going to be for an erotic art show that a friend was having, but over time it ended up being more restrained in that regard and I decided to make it more arcane than profane and stress the psychotic over the erotic.

I spent about 65 hours painting and maybe another 10 to 20 hours on planning and drawing. I had to change the face and figure many times since my original planning had a bunch of issues. I basically painted them over to the point where I could have finished several other similarly-sized paintings in the time I spent on this one. It was worth it though, because I have learned a ton and my next paintings will go much smoother. I have learned a hard lesson about planning and using weird blurry photo figure references that are basically useless and cause more harm than help…next time I might hire a figure model instead.

I also had to radically alter the overall tone of the painting a bunch of times, especially the tombstones, in order to get closer to the overall look and feel I was going for. The sky was probably the only thing that was not painted over a bunch of times, although just like everything else I radically changed it halfway through. One reason I had all these problems is that I was excited to start the painting so I thought I would leave some things to figure out later – that didn’t work out so well this time.

These are the main colors I used:

Flesh tones: Titanium white, raw umber, yellow ochre, cadmium red hue

Landscape: Terre verte, yellow ochre, raw umber, titanium white

Sky / clouds: Mars black, titanium white, ultramarine blue, yellow ochre

In my newest painting I am using cobalt blue and cadmium yellow medium for the greens and am liking that better that the terre verte + raw umber which doesn’t provide much coverage and really sinks in a lot. By “sinks in” I mean it dries out and becomes very matte-looking, so I need to rub oil onto it later to get it to look more glossy like the rest of the painting. I normally need to do that in places anyway but it was more of an issue with this painting than usual.

Here are a couple detail views of the painting:

A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie (detail 1)

A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie (detail 1)

A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie (detail 2)

A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie (detail 2)

As is often the case, I love parts of this and am loathe to look at other parts…but I guess that is pretty common among artists. Time to start the next project, hopefully learning from this one! I took something like 19 pages of notes on this as I was working on it, so I have plenty of info to digest about what worked well and what I want to avoid next time.

Dream City Girl 2 – WIP

March 21, 2011

Here’s a detail of a new painting I am working on. Right now I am calling it “Dream City Girl 2” since it’s kinda like my Graveyard Girl from the Dream City painting.

It’s 11 x 14 inches, oil on canvas and I’m hoping to finish it within a couple weeks – a super-fast project for me, since most usually end up taking several months.

DCG2 WIP detail

Oh dear…another work in progress

February 8, 2011

Whoa, I haven’t posted anything in months? Oh dang, OK then look at this, it’s almost done.16×20 inches, oil on canvas…not sure what it’s called yet but I refer to it as “Graveyard Boody” in my notes, of which I have 19 8×11 inch pages now, since I have been working on this junk for a year and a month, off and on.I just painted over the face today and will be putting in a new face in a couple days, based on a sketch I did yesterday. I have painted over the face and body many, many times over the past months and have really learned a lot.

Work in prog, detail

Work in prog, detail

Portrait of Sarah

November 15, 2010

I finished this painting a while ago but apparently I forgot to post anything about it ๐Ÿ™‚

This is a friend of mine; I took some pictures in a makeshift studio AKA my living room and used one as a basis for this painting. It’s oil on panel, 8×10 inches and I finished it in a few hour-long sessions.

Portrait of Sarah by Airn LeBus

Portrait of Sarah by Airn LeBus