ARTerpretation is a name I created for a series of blog posts that will interpret my artwork. You can expect stories during the process, pictures, sketches, videos, and analysis of the subject. The entirety of this project also symbolizes a major transition in my life: I started this painting in my hometown, The Queen City, Buffalo, NY, and completed most of the second-half of it in Sarasota, FL, then added finishing touches when it was brought back up north to be mounted on the wall of its new home.
This article will be discussing more than just the piece at hand, but also questioning our will, drive, and motivation for what makes us become the people we are, from my perspective. I encourage discussion and comments, so please feel free to communicate any thoughts.
Watch the time-lapse video and read about the process of the painting below:
Anthony Biondo; the almighty wise and gracious one; the best at everything ever; maintaining supreme purity levels; sui laudem in the pinnacle of the meaning; and of course my brother, approached me with idea for a painting, so I painted it. The journey between start and finish is an exciting one! I had to relieve myself of blissfully painting multiple times from this project to complete numerous other exciting artwork. I’ll be able to discuss all of the projects in between; show pictures, sketches, and even the entire process of one of the most visually accurate and realistic paintings that I’ve ever created.
Well, who doesn’t love Olivia Munn? I mean, really! Before this painting – only a few years ago, when I would tell people I was working on a painting of her, they had to look her up, or I would have to explain it further. Now, forget it, everybody knows who she is. As an actress, starting with the legendary Broken Lizard gang in Slammin’ Salmon to working alongside Johnny Depp in Mortdecai, Kevin Hart & Ice Cube in Ride Along 2, and even making her way into the Marvel Universe as Psylocke in X-Men: Apocalypse. Before all of that, she was featured in Playboy. I referenced some of the unpublished pictures from the photoshoot in August 2009, and used different pieces to assemble an image to be displayed horizontally to achieve the appearance I wanted for this painting.
Since this canvas was to be sized at 5′ x 7′ while using a vertical reference image, I had to create more of the tile pattern to the entire left half of the painting. I really love the color red, and the warm colors would match the chocolate leather couch in my brother’s house. It would drive me insane – painting tens of thousands of little glossy bathroom tiles, but it was worth it for this piece. So even with a canvas this large (5’ x 7’), Olivia would be larger than life size, and the tiles would be large enough to paint individually – so, it works.
I always provide a mock-up for my clients that want murals or large paintings. For my brother, I had to be sure this was going to be perfect.
We selected two completely different final images of Olivia, which would have entirely changed the mood for the room. We chose this design because of the composition and color. Although the other composition is not visually displayed, the completed image was less about Olivia Munn, and more about fitting the room with the right color, mood, and style, while capturing an entertaining view of Olivia Munn. There was more value in this image that was necessary for the painting’s purpose, than the image we compared it to, which was completely different.
After testing different backgrounds of wallpaper, we decided that the original tiled background would be the best for this piece, even though either would have been a great challenge.
The canvas was built with 3″ thick pine wood, cotton canvas stretched over, and primed for to be prepared for oil painting.
The brushes ranged from a different variety of brands: Princeton, ArtistLoft, Royal & Langnickel. I prefer the long handle acrylic paint brushes for oil painting because the bristles are softer and are great for blending while the oil paint is in a tacky stage for the second coat, and they are much easier to clean. The sizes of these brushes, for this project, ranged from three different #0 Round for fine detail; #1 Short Flat for shadows and hair; multiple #2, #3, #4, and #8 Bright brushes for base application; two #6 and #8 Brights for blending, which must always stay clean and dry; and three #2 angled flat brushes for positioning.
You don’t necessarily need all of these brushes. I like to keep brushes in my non-painting hand, for quicker execution, with different colors on each of them to continuously paint without mixing colors on certain brushes.
I always use Winsor & Newton oil paints. I think they have superior color and great texture for mixing colors. For this particular painting, I wanted to remain true to a warm color scheme since the majority of the painting was going to be red. My favorite color to paint with is Scarlet Lake, so I based the entire painting from that pigment, which led me to using Cadmium Orange & Chrome Yellow for mixing tones; obviously Titanium White for mixing & highlighting; Ivory Black for cool shades on a warm pallete; Coeruleum for skin undertones, Burnt Sienna & Flesh Tone for the figure. Also, I used Chrome Orange, and Rose Madder for accent colors and Permanent Green Light for the eyes; Refined Linseed Oil for the paint, and Odorless Mineral Spirits to keep brushes clean.
It was time to get started! I grabbed two sharpened No. 2 pencils, a thick eraser, and a ruler to make measurements. I never used a grid for any of my projects, but drawing the tiles in the background helped greatly with proportions. It made it easy to be accurate drawing Olivia freehand as long as my lines were straight.
Now, it was time to set up the GoPro. I learned a few tricks about how to perform, record, and edit time-lapses from my good friend, previous co-worker, and pretty much a video genius, Kyle Toth, when we were working on capturing the painting of the Mainstreethost operations room mural. Shout out to my marketing crew at Mainstreethost (back then): Craig, Kyle, Pat, Dave, Brandon, Olivia, Courtney, Jess, Pete, and Sarie – I learned so much from you guys and everyone I worked with there.
After I drew the figure, from the reference above, I began thinking that something major needed to change. I was sure that I didn’t like the facial expression in this image. Ignoring this thought and moving forward led me to re-evaluate a decision to change the face to create more inviting and appealing imagery, which also had to represent Olivia Munn in a specific way.
Once that was set up, I started painting. The brush gave life to her lips and chin with simple strokes of light red, earthly flesh tones, and under-shades of blue; emerald green for her eyes, and Burnt Sienna for her hair surrounded by the Scarlet Lake red color for the background. This is where that major change began to grow from a bothersome thought into a reality. I needed to change her face!
This was going to be extremely difficult because I paused production to discuss this major change with my brother, the almighty wise one. I had never attempted a face change in an oil painting after already being successful in the first act. I would have to paint over something that was already executed accurately, but it was going to make or break the competition. I was already determined to make this one of the best painting;s I would ever create. I made the change and admit that the outcome surpasses excitement for my accomplishment.
As oil paint oxidizes during dry time without adding oil, the vibrance of the color becomes dull. So you may be wondering about how the color on the canvas appears so solid and vibrant? The answer is to paint in layers. In every one of my paintings, I paint an undertone which also helps me with painting more accurately during the second layer. This is where the painting develops its realistic appearance.
On the right side of the picture shown above, you can notice the difference between the vibrance of paint color in different coats. So yes, I had to paint the entire background twice. It might look complicated or stressful because of the high amount of little squares, but it was actually very calming and well worth the achievement.
Before I made my trip back up to Buffalo, I made sure the overlaying coat on the tiles was completely applied. This gave me some time for the oil paint to oxidize and dry. Once I reached my destination up north, it was time to paint the grout lines for these tiles, which you can see in the video above. I mixed a combination of Titanium White, Chrome Orange, and a touch of Scarlet Lake soaked heavily in linseed oil as a vehicle to drive the paint like a pen. This allowed me to eliminate a second coat for all the grout lines.
All throughout college, learning to paint, I was taught when and how to use the color Black: should you use either Mars Black, or Ivory Black. Well, one is warm and one is cool. Ivory is mixed with blue-ish hues (cold) and Mars is mixed with red-ish hues (warm). This will reflect slightly with which colors to use when mixing colors. Sometimes you find that mixing warm colors may appear better for your composition using Ivory Black instead of Mars Black to heighten contrast. So, if you would like your colors to be darker, do you just add black? No, you don’t. Sometimes a dark blue looks better, especially mixing with red. You may be thinking “But wait, doesn’t that make purple (violet)?” Depending on the mixture, sometimes it may appear Brown, but with a little bit of that Mars Black, you’ll have the perfect combination of color to create your own masterpiece.
I added Coeruleum (Blue) to the overtone to create shade, depth, and realism within the figure.
Why am I motivated to complete projects like this? What really makes me think, “You know what, Mikey? You need to paint this?” or “Oh, damn! Yo, you need to paint that! It would look so dope on that wall!”. I can only answer that by saying, “I don’t know”. There’s something that chemically concludes thought patterns to the result of my action of being creative, to the point of creating a piece of art from materials when it was only talked about with the oxygen breathed within me to exhale the words to describe my ideas. When there’s an opportunity to bring a thought or an idea which can be possible, I’ll go through every motion to make sure it’s an accomplished reality.
What type of events have occurred in my life to be driven towards this madness? What if creating art was a crime? I would be the biggest criminal in the world, and maybe even proud of it! Even with my hands tied behind my back, I couldn’t be contained from being creative. I know that I cannot stop or prevent this from happening. What if being an artist was society’s poison? I would have to be the poison of the world. There’s no way around it – I know that I will be this until the day of my passing and even after.
Could you only imagine if such a thing was possible? I would like to know if any readers out there have ever felt this way in their lives. About something so passionate that is made from the very blood of your body – something you just cannot help yourself from being: Even if you were the exact opposite of whatever you wanted to be in your life, you know you would still be this. Well, being an artist is it for me. Even if I was a musician, I would still paint. Even if I was an accountant, I would still draw; and even if I was a professional athlete, I would still design and sculpt.
Besides building a family with children in the beauty of life, what makes you who you are as an independant person? Find it, excel, dominate, and do not take time for granted. Enjoy every step and always move forward. Overall, what do we take away from material such as this? But even more interesting, what do you get from this story? Any substance at all? Or am I just typing and posting pretty pictures with cool videos of famous people?
I encourage you to engage! Thank you for reading.
Michael is a creative visual artist responsible for every piece of art presented on BiondoArt.com with every intention to inspire, encourage, and motivate people to enforce positivity on a daily basis. While his roots still grounded in Buffalo, NY, his branches are growing in Sarasota, FL.