Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ted Larson Digital Artist: An Interview, Part 2

In this second half of Ted Larson Digital Artist: An Interview, we learn a little about Ted the youth, who is inspired by his mother’s love of the classical renaissance art. We also learn of his other artistic influences as he gains mastery over the different art forms while traveling on his formal and informal road of education to his presence day mastery as a digital artist. He also shares with us some of his artistic techniques as well as some sound advice for artists just beginning their own artistic journey. Not unlike other of artists throughout the centuries, Ted Larson turns to the Bible for his inspiration and is currently working on a series of digital paintings inspired by the Four Gospels on the life and ministry of Jesus. 
Ted Larson Digital Artist: An Interview, Part 2
Hi Ted,
While updating my sites and surfing the web. I came up with a few more questions that I hope you will not mind answering?
What is your artistic background in terms of education and influences?
As a kid I drew a lot. My mother shared her love of classical art with me in my early teens. I think
Ezekiel 1:5-6 Cherubim
God put it on her heart to open my eyes to the beauty and passion of the great masters. This was a huge inspiration  for me. It set the standard of quality I still aspire to achieve. My formal education in the arts is somewhat sporadic. I would say I am mostly self taught. In 1979 After high school I worked and saved money for tuition to the Burnley School of Art in Seattle. It was a 3 year commercial design school, specializing in training graphic artists for real world jobs in the local community. Sadly they never emphasized traditional drawing skills. I took a summer off and I worked through the lessons on my own from a book called "The Natural Way to Draw' by Kimon Nicolaides. This was my Bible during my twenties. I also carried a sketch book and drew people on the bus, in parks, coffee shops and everywhere people paused long enough to be captured by my obsessive pen. Upon graduation, I worked for two years as a layout design artist for a local department store illustrating newspaper advertisements. In the evenings I continued developing my drawing skills working from life models at the University of Washington. They have excellent informal drawing groups run by students and are open to the public.  Eventually I branched out to landscapes during the 80's. When the first Power Macs came out in the 90's I embarked on my Christian art career.

My hero's were the great three renaissance masters- Leonardo, Michaelangelo and Raphael. I also loved the work of Vermeer, Velasquez, Rembrandt, Holbein, Poussin, Ingre and Degas. These are still my favorite masters. I hope and pray my art can someday stand alongside the great works of these wonderful artists.
 How do you create your illustrations?
The Beast with Ten Horns
I start out with pen and paper and sketch out ideas for my pictures from my head. Usually a flood of ideas happens during this process. I imagine colors, light, shadow, costumes, and poses of people I wish to portray. Early on I used to work on one picture at a time. Now I sketch out an entire series of pictures in one go. I like the idea of juggling a lot of artwork. It keeps things fresh and exciting. It's also practical if I get stuck or bogged down on one picture. I can move on to a different picture to stay busy and creative.

After the sketch and design phase I start thinking about models for my pictures. I sometimes ask friends or family members to suit up in costumes and pose for me. On occasion I hire a professional model to pose. During the modeling phase of my art I shoot digital photos in my home studio. I shop for costumes at local stores and sometimes order items like robes from places on the internet. I also improvise simple outfits with fabrics purchased from the local sewing supply shops. Using my sketches as a guide I shoot most of the figure poses in a couple of hours. The nice thing about digital is you can experiment a lot and see what things look like right away.

After the initial photography stage I move to the computer in Photoshop to start building my compositions. I create silhouettes from my figure photos and move them around on the screen like paper cutouts until I get a pleasing design. I work all in black and white at this stage. It helps me blend the people with the background tones for a realistic effect.

Next I build my scenery, the backgrounds and props for my pictures. I use several 3D programs to draw and sculpt objects like hand held tools, interiors, buildings, costume patterns and even jewelry. I
texture them with additional photos shot in my city of stone, metal or even paint drips and blend them with the figures.

Once the black and white illustration is finished I jump into color. I start with a wash of warm reddish
Ezekiel 37: 1-3 The Valley of Bones
or golden brown. This helps me to build my color scheme around the flesh tones. I paint in layers using Photoshop and Painter. I try to achieve rich color effects like different bits of stained glass stacked upon each other. I use digital airbrushes for the most part. Large brushes work best for skies and water. Smaller detailed brushes are really important for me to give a picture that sparkle of detail and realism. I often make masks to contain colors to certain areas. Other times I let colors bleed and overlap like watercolors. All of my color is imaginary but it's based on years of painting from the model and landscape.
What type of computers Ted Larson recommend for creating illustrations?
Any of the recent PC's or Macs on the market will work wonders. I have used both and they are nice tools. No paint fumes or toxic pigment chemicals! The main thing needed is lots of RAM. Digital art is a memory hog so a big external hard drive is nice for storing all ones work. I usually need at least one new external drive a year. My art fills them up fast. Mostly I would recommend getting a drawing tablet by Wacom. Next to a good digital camera, it's the most important piece of hardware for a digital artist. I use the portable small one mainly so I can carry it to and from work. It's also fairly inexpensive compared to the bigger ones. Most new digital cameras give excellent results. I like Canon SLR bodies because you can use their nice range of lenses for professional results.

What published books have you created the illustration cover for over the years?
The most consistent publisher of my work has been Peachpit Press. They have an ongoing series called Painter Wow! I usually have two pictures in each volume. I haven't done a cover for a while. I mostly focus on my Bible illustrations. Once those pictures are displayed on my web site I have different publishers contact me to negotiate a price or royalty fee for use. I've had work published as far away as Italy and South Africa and a near as your Television.
What do you think of Terragen as medium for creating very realistic landscapes?
I think it's very good for what it does. But what's important to remember is that the inner vision or ideas of the artist are what really make a picture unique. Individual style comes over time with lots of experimentation and practice.
Where do you get your ideas?
All my art is inspired from my daily Bible study. I have been reading through the entire Bible every year for the past 16 years. When I come across something that inspires me or challenges my imagination, I'm off and running with plans to paint my next series.
I have this idea warrior-angel on my mind. She’s been there for years now. If I were to give you a detailed description, could you bring her to life?
Yes definitely, I'm open to ideas like that. But I'm pretty busy with projects planned for the next few years. I take on a few commissions here and there as God leads me. Sometimes sadly, I have to turn work down because I'm swamped with projects and deadlines.
Gosh that’s a tough one. I think a recent painting I did of Jesus standing upon the river Tigris for my
Revelation 22:13 The Alpha and Omega
Daniel series is a favorite. I have two pictures with the Angel Gabriel and the Prophet Daniel that I like almost as well.

Finally, unless a young artist is financially set or extremely lucky, becoming an artist isn't the easiest of choices. Would advise a young artist to hold onto his/her day jobs and cultivate a second means of earning a living? If so, why?
Yes absolutely! Besides the income from my artwork, I have a night job within the criminal justice system. It pays well, and I don't have to worry about not having medical insurance and other benefits. I recommend finding something that feels easy and fun that leaves you with some extra energy and time to develop your art. If you are young and not married, use the time God has given you to develop that talent inside. I feel blessed that I can bring my laptop to work with me so I can do my art while the inmates are sleeping.
As with any interview there are always questions that the interviewer wished he/she would had asked the first time around. So with my ever presents and burning exciting for the arts and of my desire to learn how to create digital art, I have asked Ted these additional questions, and I thank him deeply for his earnest and open answers and of sharing some of his life as an artist as well as his beautiful artwork with me . . . with you.
Thanks you, Ted!

As always, in Christ and Mary,


P. S. Don't forget to visit Ted's site Digital Art by Ted Larson.

No comments: