by Broderick Wong
Anime was the theme and acrylics was the medium.
We had little knowledge of anime + zero experience with acrylics. Perfect.
Our first concept paid tribute to Howle’s Moving Castle and the Heritage Hall. We didn’t know how big of a job it would be. After the first 3 sessions, we became more familiar with how acrylic paint behaved, how drying time was a big factor, how the opacity of paint helped in creating the effect that we wanted but was so hard to achieve in so little time. In other words, Self-Taught Acrylics 101. I’m a watercolor artist and she’s a sketch artist. This was nothing like the paints we were accustomed to. It became clear right away that we were biting off more than we could chew.
It was a Wednesday night and our painting was not going according to plan. That was a sign to either get better quicker or change direction. Mentally and physically exhausted, we took a break and I started researching for ideas on the internet. While surfing aimlessly, thoughts of coming back from a trip to Spain doing the El Camino came to mind. It was an amazing experience and Spain was beautiful however, as soon as I stepped out of YVR, these very words came out of my mouth: “I LOVE VANCOUVER”. A friend of mine said that it was a reflection of how satisfied I was with the country I called home. I shared this with Davie and she too felt the same way.
We quickly brainstormed about Vancouver. Not about icons but the things that resonated with us. They turned out to be the little things, the simple joys that we can sometimes take for granted. We wanted to paint something real and relevant. Something that anyone can relate with, something that wasn’t Japanese and then ANIME-FY the heck out of it.
That same night, on my way home, I had the composition in my head and what the characters would more or less look like. I couldn’t wait for tomorrow to do it. Strike while the iron’s hot. It was 1130 pm and I detoured to a Wendy’s for a late dinner. I quickly sketched what was to be half of the piece. I got home, scanned it, created a color study in Photoshop and worked until 230am. I woke up at 730am to finish it off before heading out to work.
We started timing ourselves with a few caveats: 1) The style should be graphic 2) It must have smooth outlines 3) No stencils or templates. It’s got to be done old-skewl, free hand style. Each session shed new light to acrylics, refining our strategies and improving our coordination. It was no longer about the competition against the others, but a competition against ourselves, to see if we can finish the concept the way we wanted.
The concept went through a couple of more iterations. We simplified it further as we didn’t have enough time to finish off the details, like the cherry on the cup cake. We carefully selected what stayed and what had to go. There were many things to consider when working on a piece this big, with another person different in style, and a time constraint. Proportions and appealing shapes, drying time of paint, having a steady hand when inking the lines, coordination, time awareness, details that should be added in at the very end, crafting a description that was short and authentic. All this and so much more became lessons we picked up along the way during practice. We totalled 10 main characters to paint, each having a different color, personality and a face. The sky and clouds too are characters in themselves.
The piece turned out to be ambitious and technically challenging, but we made it work. During the competition, we had our references and strategy detailed on paper. Not once did we pull it out. We went on auto pilot. Everything we did, everything we practiced just flowed spontaneously.
And we didn’t forget the cherry this time.
Thank you to everyone who voted for Team 3 and for showing some love to these newbies in the art scene. Big thanks to Lea and Tyler
who won the bid. Rest assure we will come together for one more time to clean this up and make it home-worthy for you.
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