Decoding Daily Deviations: Field of Thorns - Offer

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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!"

DD DATE: 2016-05-19
TOOLS/PROGRAMME: Adobe Photoshop CC & Wacom Intuos 3


A glance at your gallery reveals the predominance of illustrations relating to a project entitled “Field of Thorns.” What can you share about this story, the inspiration for the world-building involved in it, and how “Field of Thorns - Offer” relates to the wider narrative?

Thank you for an awesome question. "Field of Thorns" is something I've been laboring on for more than a year. I work full time as a Concept artist at a game company, but I've found that producing personal stuff helps me to keep balanced and compensates for the stress and pressure of studio work. I used to do random stuff, like a few character designs here, an occasional illustration there. But at some point I realized that it would be even better to do something more considered and unified. Something that will keep it all together, something that's gonna mean more.

I usually have a hard time coming up with stuff when I'm in front of my computer, ready to paint. It's impossible for me to force myself and come out with ideas. I found that ideas, the best ones, the clearest, start to appear when you're actually not drawing. It happens when you're bored on a subway, or on the walk outside, doing something completely unrelated. Then the brain starts to entertain itself, coming out with stories, pictures -- stuff that you find cool and entertaining.

The idea to do "Field of Thorns" came to me under really weird circumstances; it happened the day when I had to attend a funeral. To make a long story short, I had to spend around 2 hours driving to the countryside, through a sea of plains. It was raining all day, and when I got there, it got even worse because of the wind. The town was really tiny, more like a village, with an old chapel on the hill, dwarfing it even more. It's weird but I felt like the whole town had gathered for the funeral. Wearing their best clothes, people were arriving to join the procession in small groups. It's strange how tight communities treat their deceased, and how important the act of parting is for them. I think that the ceremony took almost a whole day, and at some point I caught myself gazing in the rainy distance, imagining that eerie world. The next day when I got home I started working on the first illustration that launched the whole project. It was called "Funeral".


My inspiration for the project is everything I love and hold dear: music, books, movies, games,  and of course the world in its perfect design. The only specific source of inspiration I could spotlight was a game called Pathologic, developed by a small indie studio in Russia called Ice-Pick Lodge.

There is no written story at this point, for now I just keep it in my head. I imagine "Field of Thorns" more as a situation, a dreamworld where any of us can end up in. It is a surreal nightmare with disturbing surroundings, insane people, ghost towns and vistas of endless plains. There probably won't be any story at all, as I'm not a writer myself and I hardly doubt that I would manage to pull out something decent. I was thinking about creating hints of lore, short narrations about different characters and their experiences inside the world. So the one who dives deeper into it can speculate and add their own, building more on top, adding something of their own. I believe it will make the experience more personal and enjoyable that way. As for now it's hard to find any time for writing, because after work I want to just relax and paint, so the project goes slowly.

It's hard to tell how the "Offer" painting relates to the story in general, although I did try to portray an act of covenant. The scenario where a person faces a tough decision, the pact that will answer the questions and aid in an upcoming struggle, but the price at the end will be ultimate.

The painting achieves powerful impact via your use of perspective and colour. Take us inside your creative process and discuss the elements that were important to you in keeping with the stylistic look of the project on the whole. 

For the "Offer" my main goal was to create a feeling of something disturbing, bringing a heavy atmosphere and forcing a sense of making an uneasy choice. I've tried to create a strong contrast between a female figure and the red moon. As for the stylistic look, I believe it was established long ago. I use a limited color pallet, with desaturated muted hues, and I want the world to look fuzzy in some way, so that it's unclear, like a dream. I'm trying to achieve a surreal dark fantasy look, placing emphasis on mood and atmosphere, rather than details and realistic lighting. 

I usually approach painting starting with quick black and white thumbnails. I normally do have an established idea of what I want to do, but as you may know the image in your head is most of time blurred. It lacks clarity. I find that it's really healthy to give your vision at least a few shots. Because most of the time the first take is the most dry and unconscious. And the more you research and communicate with the media, taking your chances, the more clear it becomes. And then you realize that you can tell even more, or showcase stuff the better way.

2 (5) by lovelessdevotions

When I'm fine with the thumbnail, I bring in colors to create a palette -- most of the time the whole painting predominantly consists of one main color and few complementary colors for accents. I would say I use more analogous color harmonies rather than complementary. It helps to create a sense of calmness in the work. However, for this painting I decided to pick a strong color contrast of red versus dark brown, to build up tension.

3 (3) by lovelessdevotions

When the palette and everything else is established, the boring part comes in, where you have to take your time to refine the image: indicate materials, showcase details, put the bells and whistles. It takes time, but I personally enjoy the process. I don't use photo bashing techniques and I rarely use references in my personal work. I just never get the same feel of accomplishment and satisfaction unless I did stuff on my own. It's not that I'm an art purist or anything, don't get me wrong. I'm certain that photo-bashing is a powerful tool, and I regularly use it at work. But when I'm at home, working on my own stuff, i just want to relax and enjoy the process. I would rather paint stuff than look for photos on Google.

4 (4) by lovelessdevotions

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?

Sure, I guess I've struggled the most with the composition and I jumped into color and details too early. It's always harder to tweak a composition and cropping when you're already half way through the work. But we learn from our mistakes, right? Tackling things like that is not too hard, you just have to do it. There is golden advice I took from Richard Schmid's Alla Prima book: "Never knowingly leave anything wrong on your canvas". If you don't know what's wrong, ask your friend, or let it rest for a few days, do something else, and the next time you go back to it, the issues may become obvious. 

Now, looking back at the process above, I see a lot of stupid decisions I've made. I honestly like the color pass more than the final version. There are a lot of things that could be done in a smarter way.

Shapes could be more confident, with fewer details heavy and noisy. Her proportions are messy, the neck is too long, and her right arm seems to be growing out of nowhere. It's hard to read her anatomy, she looks creased and uncomfortable. Overall the picture could be more unified. And now I believe that cropping a head in this way was a quite stupid idea, it's awkward, and creates a bad tangent with the top of the frame. I don't think I will ever go back to fix it. Time to move on...

What’s one piece of advice that you would share with other artists hoping to reach this standard of work in the future? 

I would say don't think about reaching standards. It will put you in the same galley with others, rowing oars, chasing trends. Create a standard of your own, try to stand out. Of course you have to compete, but try not to compare your work to other artists. You don't want to be a second grade version of somebody else, be the best version of yourself. Find a group of like-minded individuals that will support one another through this journey -- it's the hardest thing to do on your own. Don't worry if you're not good enough, it's just a matter of time, and as long as you're moving forward you're getting better. Work on your fundamentals, and don't hesitate to try new tools like 3D and photo-bash. Take time and think about what brought you to art, and things that inspired you to do art. Remind yourself why you love doing this. Find the spot where you feel good about what you do, rather than chase trends. It may "sell" less, but it's gonna mean more.

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? 

While I'm sincerely thankful to those who are responsible for it, I can't say that it means much. I never aimed to get DDs, and I don't really think that it defines whether or not your work is good enough or ready for the industry. People's responses and their interest in what I'm doing is most important to me. What I treasure the most is when people start asking questions, and they did for this particular illustration. People ask for more things, what it's all about, what's the story, who is that guy. I believe that if you do stuff, that initiates the dialogue, and people are eager to sacrifice time to learn more. Time is the ultimate currency: that's the biggest appreciation I could ask for.

Bonus Question: Can you cite a memorable reaction to this piece in the comments at DA?

:iconartishdavid: "Hey! I love the dark mood on this piece and the previous ones of the series. Where can I read more info about Field of Thorns?"

:iconsalyssong: "What does the pocket watch represent?"

Thanks to Caisne for kindly consenting to this interview!

Make sure to see more of his spectacular works: 


Previous Decoding DDs:

Malavestros: Muse of Madness
Jet Futura
The Northern Administration
Prisoned Singer
Don Kichote
On The Hunt
The Platform
I know a bank
Love and war
Chase, The Dreamer
Until the End of the World..
Crow Temple
Dragon's Breath

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tomasoleksak's avatar
this guy is badass, looking forward to next pieces :)