Process: Chris Ryniak’s “The Harbinger”

by Chris RyniakPosted on

Guest blogger Chris Ryniak gives us an in-depth start to finish look at creating his wonderful piece “The Harbinger”:

Heya HI-Fructoads. I was graciously asked to write a blog about my painting for the upcoming Hi-Fructose show at Copro Nason on July 12th, so here goes.

I was messing around with some of the scrap paper that came off of one of our proofers at my day-job a few weeks back, and sweet potatoes is it nice to draw on! Who knew? And it’s totally free. I have a feeling that it’s coated with some awesome chemical that will make the pencil disappear in a few years though. That being said, I haven’t done a lot of drawing to figure out the painting in the past, but ever since this magical paper came into my life, I have all kinds of good ideas, thanks paper!

These things are humungous and have talons the size of bear claws…nature wins.

The next step is finding reference for the more realistic elements. I only follow these loosely for contour and values, I elaborate on the textures and skew things as I need to. I figured that since this WAS a painting of a Harpy, what better raptor to use as reference than our pal, the Harpy Eagle.

What self-respecting studio would be complete without a couple of human skulls laying about? These guys come in really handy, they vary in shape and tooth status ranging from “has all teeth” to “had all teeth until my son got a hold of it”, but it looks better that way anyway, thanks Ben!

On to the board. I almost always start on a Sienna(ish) primed board, because I heard that Michaelangelo did it, and homeboy knew what HE was doing. I mix my own special prime color that I’ve dubbed “Optimus primer” because I’m a super-nerd. Once the board is primed I do a line “drawing” with paint, which is usually pretty different from the initial sketch.

Everything here is pretty well roughed in, except the background. Logic would tell any educated person the do the background FIRST, but that’s not how we do here. Detroit area public school’s finest folks.

Here is the original eye. After a long conversation with the painting at this stage, which consisted of a lot of name calling and finger pointing, it was decided that the eye needed some “work”. There was no living with it this way. Usually I can talk the paintings into doing what I want, but this one was being stubborn and just wouldn’t listen.

Ultimately the Harpy lost an eye in the battle, only to be replaced by a newer, better eye.

aaaaaaannnnnd DONE. There is a lot of little nit-picky pushing and pulling of darks and tweaking that takes place in the final hours of a painting that ONLY the artist notices, but will result in loss of sleep if not addressed. My Mom said that this painting was a “little scary”, so I know that I did something right.

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