Decoding Daily Deviations is the series that aims to unlock the secrets of what it took to create these magnificent artworks and motivate others to work towards similar recognition. Each week we will present an interview with one artist who has recently received a DD and have them share the details on that specific piece, relating to their creative process, techniques, and narrative inspirations. If you've ever wanted to know more about a beloved artwork and the talented skills applied to it, this is the series to keep track of!"
FEATURED ART: Despoiled by SamC-Art
DD DATE: 2016-06-27
TIME SPENT: 5 months on and off
Share with readers the details of how this piece came into being. Did you have a clear story idea/inspiration from the beginning?
I started working on 'Despoiled' just after I finished studying at a classical art school, and I hadn't had time to make any art for myself in quite a long time. I had a lot of pent up creative frustration, and I also had a clean slate. I hadn't posted artwork online in a while and I had no freelance work, so there were no expectations from other people. I could paint whatever I wanted. The process of this piece was essentially me figuring out what kind of an artist I wanted to be.
I've had a real love for mythology since I was a child and I really wanted to create something that felt as important as an old myth. I had a vague idea of a piece portraying a symbolic loss of innocence. I wanted to paint something that was simple, but felt important and evocative. I ended up scribbling a very messy thumbnail surrounded by cryptic notes of what I wanted the image to convey. I feel like an idea is never more pure than when it's just been imagined, and I wanted to record it as honestly as I could without worrying about making it pretty. The challenge from this point was keeping the idea alive while realizing the painting."
“Despoiled” has the look of a classic traditional painting – a quality that characterises your style. Please, take us inside your creative process and discuss how you went about working on key hallmarks of the illustration such as lighting and colour.
This was my first time using something called a colour gamut after reading about it in a James Gurney book. You basically cut away a section of the colour wheel and only use the colours from that section. This helped me get interesting colour harmonies that I would never have otherwise used, and also allowed me to focus on the black and white values while the colours were already decided.
I took the image as far as I could using my imagination, but eventually I felt that I wasn't going to achieve the complexity that the piece required without photographic reference. As I said before, I'd just finished studying at a classical art school, and wanted to use my observation drawing skills to aid the image. My partner worked at a flower warehouse and was able to grab some cuttings that we made the wreath out of. I had her model with the wreath around her neck (surprisingly uncomfortable) and had to set the self-timer on the camera so I could dash behind her to position my hands on her head. It wasn't the most professional set-up, but the most important part was seeing how the lighting would look on a real person. My girlfriend doesn't have the facial structure of a little girl, so I had to choose carefully which parts to reference without losing sight of the big picture. The reference was the most helpful for painting the wreath, I'd really have never done that well without it.
From this point on, it was really just about putting in the work hours. With this type of painting, the more time you put in, the better it is going to be. The process of this spanned over 5 months working on and off, with a lot of doubts along the way."
Did you encounter any creative challenges when working on the piece? If so, how did you tackle them? Is there anything you would do differently now if you could?
My journey with this painting was rife with creative blocks. My whole mantra was to be calm and go slow. We live in a world now where, to some artists, finishing a piece is synonymous with posting it on social media. I definitely used to do this, and you can build a weird dependence of approval from others. I wanted to call this one finished when I was happy with it, not when it was good enough to be 'liked' by others. My reasoning was that I'll only do this painting once, and I'll look back on anything left unfixed with regret.
Of course, as the months pass by it can begin to feel like you're not getting anywhere. As things progressed, the changes I would make in a painting session became less and less noticeable, and I began to feel like maybe it wasn't worth it. So much time had passed since the ideation of the piece that I'd sort of forgotten what it was about. I tried some variations, at one point there was headpiece, at another there was a stone archway above her head. I'm glad that in the end I kept with the core simplicity of the image rather than just adding random things to grab people's attention. I think it paid off and the original emotion of the piece seems to speak to people.
If I were doing this painting now, I'd probably have a bit more confidence in my abilities to pull something like this off. It felt very ambitious at the time and I had no proof that I could paint something like this. I'd probably also try to give myself clearer deadlines during the creative slumps, I think it would have helped me out a lot."
What’s one piece of advice that you would share with other artists hoping to reach this standard of work in the future?
Be patient and don't call it done until you're really happy with it. I still look back on this painting and feel good about it, which I can't say about much of my work. When people look back on your work in the future, they won't see how much time you put in, only the end product. When you look at it like that, it's really nothing to put another week or two into a painting to really finish it."
What does this DD feature represent or mean to you at this stage of your artistic development? What can your watchers look forward to next?
I felt really honoured by the DD, and it is really nice to see people discovering this painting over a year later. It is very encouraging for me to see that people enjoy work that I put more of myself into, and it makes it easier to do it more in the future. 'Despoiled' sparked the idea for a whole mythical world that I've been exploring in every painting since. I hope in the future that I'll be able to tie them together into something greater."
Bonus question: Can you cite a memorable reaction to this piece in the comments at DA?
'Just want to say I am a huge fan of this painting. I keep returning to it.'
'That is deeply disturbing. At once, it is extremely beautiful. Well done. It’s not often one finds a piece like this…'"
See more of Sam's amazing works at his gallery:
Previous Decoding DDs:
Forest of Bunnies
FIELD OF THORNS: OFFER
Malavestros: Muse of Madness
The Northern Administration
On The Hunt
I know a bank
Love and war
Chase, The Dreamer
Until the End of the World..
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