Capping off the “Heart Like A Wheel” Series… Sort of: Painting #12


At the beginning of Fall 2017, I was set to wrap up the Heart Like A Wheel series. I had finished eleven paintings, and wanted to make it an even dozen. Well, it ended up being a baker’s dozen, but I’ll get to that in another post.

So I started planning #12. One of the first things I thought about was how big I wanted to make this instalment. Should I go large, or add another small to the series? In the end, I opted for a medium-sized canvas, at 18×24. That size does two things for me: 1)it allows me to put in more detail than on a smaller canvas, and 2) it prices well, but not so much so as to put it out of the range of a collector.

I then started sketching. I had made both the decision as to what I was using for my reference and decided on the relative ratios of figure to ground. My inspiration came in the form of an Indian Motorcycle VTwin engine, with a touch of The Fifth Element, so I wanted to make those beautiful lines kind of central to the styling.

Once I was happy with the overall look, I lined it in black acrylic to give it a firm presence. I also used the same black to lay in some contrast, ambient occlusion, and general tone, while integrating the small details into a more cohesive design for the image.

I then began thinking about a more specific palette for the finished painting, with consideration to how the background color would play in the final image color balance. I was also considering it within the context of the rest of the series. I decided on a mixture of burnt orange and deep crimson, which ties it back to the first painting in the series, “Moto-lisque.” This also allowed me to do some underpainting for the ambient reflections on the figure, which was to be a very rugged looking cyclops droid.

I then needed to choose a material for the droid’s plating. I had played with some blue-white chromy surfaces elsewhere in the series, as well as some more industrial metallic surfaces. For this guy I really wanted a surface with slight shift to an amber-bronze, kind of a deep gunmetal, but with a lot of surface wear – ie, knicks, scratches and other minor damage. I thought this would compliment the ruby background well, and give it somewhat of a unique look within the series. I layered in the deep gunmetal over the black tonal shading and environmental reflections in crimson.

Drying time has always been a hard thing for me to wait through, but all of the main color needed to be dry before the special surfacing and wear could be attempted. One of the things I learned early in my exploration of effects painting, specifically from Star Wars, was the need to have a thing look “lived-in”, i.e., not brand new to the world, and not so slick and shiny as to be unrealistic in a real environment. Once drying was complete, I began “battering and aging” this Cyclopian engineer.

With weathering/aging at a good level for the figure, I edged the canvas in black and applied my signature, calling the “Cycle-Ops” done. Number 12: in the books! How did I make it a baker’s dozen? We’ll discuss that, and composing a series as whole, in future posts. See ya soon!


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