Daub du Jour

My name is Marianne Plumridge. I am an artist of mythic fantasy works and fine art images. More of which can be seen at my website, 'MariannePlumridge.com', and also my main Blog, 'Muse du Jour'. These sites are in the links section of this page. This site began life as a painting a day blog in 2007. However that project has now passed, but I still find myself painting in that way. So this site will now be the showcase my new paintings as inspired by those previous efforts.

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Location: New England, United States

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Figurative Goddess...

The Modern Athena
(24x30", Oil on Stretched Canvas)   Price: $ 4500.00

Welcome to my very first major figurative work in over a decade. I fell out of practice in painting people over the years. Animals and still life work took over in 2006 after I decided that the role of becoming a fantasy and science fiction book cover artist...a long coveted career that I'd cherished since childhood...was never going to eventuate. I went through a period of loss and a somewhat depressive time before completely ignoring those beloved genres and diving headlong into more mainstream art. My painting a day project grew from that: very small works of still lifes involving flowers, toys, and such. Eventually I branched out into specific themes that worked for me. My beloved series of robots and nature, BIRDS 'N' BOTS, arose from those experiments and continues to this day, as well as my cosmic whales and rocket doodles. However, through all of those years, and earlier, I never returned to painting the figure, save a the odd small painted sketch of a mermaid or portrait. Fast forward to the last three years. I decided that I wanted start painting figures again...but after being out of practice for so long, it was far easier than it sounds. I engaged our two best models and had a fabulous five hour model shoot with them and costumey type accoutrements and took over 350 photos. Filled with possibility and wonderful results, I somehow couldn't bring myself to engage in the actual inspirational process that would lead to the paintings I envisioned. Fear of failure after so long, lead to a fear of drawing the figure, and ultimately fear of picking up a pencil and just doodling them. New paintings happened, but they weren't the figurative ones I had dreamed of. I had a few other photo sessions with Sarah, our sylph-like ballerina model, whereupon we had fun dressing her in various lux' fabrics and lighting and taking copious photographs for my files. This last session, something clicked in my brain...and my inner muse piped up and said... "Okay, it's time to swallow the fear and get ON with this". Then my muse smacked me upside the head until I had an idea to work with. A simple composition, very simple symbolism, and a firm resolve not to 'overpaint' or 'over finish' the paint. There are levels of realism, and I've tried many of them, but I return to my favourite comfort zone of painterly, serendipitous brush strokes, and unapologetically old school style of 'not quite Impressionism'. And I am happy. As you'll see, it took me a while to augment my basic want to paint the figure of Athena with something storytelling. The 'Little Owl', the Helmet, and the 'shield' are all a part of the Athena canon of accoutrements/symbols. In my modern incarnation of the goddess, she wears a heavy silver cuff on her 'shield arm' that is inscribed with her owl, representing 'wisdom'. Wisdom is a shield in this image as she is about to walk off into an unknown future. In passing she considers her owl perched on a branch that almost looks like a spear behind the helmet. Does she still need the trappings of her past, in the future she's heading for. All of her symbols are represented in the crumbling bass relief portrait of her archaic self etched in stone in the background.

This is the composite final sketch, comprising the separate elements I drew. I put this together with photoshop because the old fear of drawing lead me to believe that I might screw it all up if I tried too hard. Also, it gave me the freedom to dither for an hour or so in getting the positioning of the elements 'just right'.
This is the portrait of Sarah that I drew in my sketchbook that kicked off the inspiration for painting Athena.

This is the main drawing I did to base all of the other elements on. Below, is the Little Owl, aka 'Athena's Owl' and the archaic Grecian helmet.

Below are some progress shots of the painting. I didn't keep them up during the final stages of the painting, unfortunately: too many interruptions and things that needed doing. 

Under-painting tint with a few highlights and darks. I don't like doing a full on monochromatic work up base painting. I prefer working with the colours and paint as I go. Burnt Sienna in main background, pale Terre Verte was the thin tint used in the skin areas.

Laying in the base coats of paint in the background with big brushes, one fine brush, and a scrubby fun with a small palette knife. I wanted levels of stone 'texture' in the bass relief sculpture to reflect wear and age and character. 

Starting to refine and add some darks into things.

Beginning work on the figure at last...and trying not to run screaming from the easel. Face the fear DOWN. Laid in the dress with big brushes and painterly highlights. It didn't vary much at all in the finished painting. Sculpting with light and shadow on the skin textures.

The face is coming along...although I took an artistic liberty to change the eye, nose, and lips just a little.
The face in early stages...

I was also starting to work on the hair here, as well...
And here, unfortunately is the last work in progress photo that I took. I was just beginning to work on noodling the foliage and block in the helmet and branch that the owl is sitting on. I ended up repainting the figure's hand three times in frustration...because it just wasn't working for me. We went to visit our model, Sarah, for tea one Sunday morning and my husband brought his iPad along. In a fast five minutes, he made me reshoot Sarah's hand in a slightly different pose. I wrapped a sheet of tinfoil around her wrist to represent the 'shield cuff' Athena is wearing...and took the photos. Phew. They made all of the difference. I finally was happy with the position of the fingers, and happily noodled the creation of the shield cuff and its adornment right on the canvas.

The palette used for Athena's skin tones consisted of: Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Titanium White, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, and French Ultramarine. Other local colours appearing in the surroundings also reflecting in the skin a bit, include: Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Lemon, Sap Green, Terre Verte, Chromium Oxide, a tiny touch of Alizirin Crimson, and also Cerulean Blue and Cobalt Blue in the figure's dress. Brushes: everything from Angled 1/2 inch Flats, 2 inch Flats and Filberts, to much smaller Size 6 Filberts, and very fine rounds. Big floofy blending brushes were used sparingly, but helped smooth the skin of the figure and softened rough edges on the leaves here and there, and the carving in the background.

It is finished, and I am very proud of the achievement. I feel now that I can move on to other figurative works in the future. If not confidently, then somewhat surer than I have been this past three years that it took me to get to this moment of completion. Thanks for sharing the journey.

Come back soon!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Branching out....another Rover odyssey.

Branch Line
(Approximately 8.75 x 21", Oil on Canvas)   Price: $850.00  SOLD

 This little painting was started as a demonstration in the art show painting space at Boskone science fiction convention in February of this year. I knew I had to paint SOMETHING as a demo, but this idea didn't come to fruition until just a couple of days before we left for the show. I quickly marshaled Rover and my props (a branch off the kindling pile near the studio fireplace) and headed down to the basement for a photo shoot. Rover performed his modeling duties with his usual panache and enthusiasm and I quickly got to sketching.

Then I needed some birds to ride around on Rover's branch. I wanted something colourful and cheeky and was naturally drawn to the Fairy Wrens native to my homeland, Australia. Quirky, cheeky, and full of personality, these little birds were ideal. The white and taupe coloured ones are the females and the iridescent blue ones are the males. Two of the lads are kind of 'circling the wagons' around their little huddle of 'wives' when an interloper, another male, lands nonchalantly on the end of the branch. It's a cute tableau amidst Rover's unflagging enthusiasm in giving his new friends a ride.

During the demo, I got the entire background painted, wet in wet, as I am wont to do for the robot paintings. Got the branch completed and all of Rover painted in except for the eyes, hook, and spots. It took me another several months to find time to paint the birds and finish Rover, but I finally got it done in time to go to Illuxcon in October and find a new home. I'm not sure everyone gets the intention of the title of this painting. A 'branch line' is the name for a subsidiary train line, usually leading to a village or other remote spot from the main train lines traversing England. One would travel on the local branch line train to get to the mainline and larger towns and/or cities. A lot of them have been closed down now in light of new transportation modes, but for many decades last century, they were the lifeline of the country. So, in remembrance of those times, and a bit of quirkiness in my own sense of humour, I named this painting after them.

All of the usual suspects were used on my palette for this painting. However, I did include a bit of Pthalo Turquoise, Cobalt Blue, and Cerulean when painting the lads.

Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, February 16, 2015

New Rocket Doodles...

Stormwatch Station
(10 x 17.5", Oils on canvas board)   Price: $350.00  SOLD

 I needed some extra small paintings to fill out my art panel at Boskone in Boston this month, but it was going to be a bit hard since I hadn't painted in four months and it is always difficult starting something cold. I tried working up one idea in paint, but the oil medium I use, Drying Linseed Oil had been compromised in the bottle and was difficult to manipulate with any of its regular fluidity. So I put aside that canvas and chucked that bottle of oil, then opened a new bottle and put up a fresh canvas on the easel. I had an odd sized black frame that had been lying around the studio for quite a while, and the two times I'd attempted to paint something to go in it, both paintings failed or just failed to inspire me to finish them. So I pulled out the frame again to look at...and had a sudden urge to paint an asteroid space station in stationary orbit near Jupiter's centuries-old storm. I even got a bit more interest with the inner moon and its shadow against the ever-changing gas bands. The dark shadow of the moon offsets and compliments the dark bulk of the asteroid station, giving the composition balance. I rather like this idea and resultant image. It harkens back to my childhood, and looking out into space and space stories, and wondering "what if...?"

Beacon Point
(10 x 10", Oils on Canvas Board)    Price: $200.00  SOLD
Strangely enough, this painting was started for use in the frame mentioned above. However, upon mooching paint around for some time and getting a bunch of detail in, the painting no longer felt right, so I put it aside a year ago. When I was rummaging around near my easel, looking for inspiration and my errant muse, I found this half painted board again. I also had pulled out a 10 x10" square frame. With a long pause for consideration and perfect positioning inside the new frame, I cut down the canvas to fit it. Suddenly, it seemed to work again. So, out came the paints to noodle some of the foreground clouds and paint in the rocket. Lots of happy accidents. But, I felt like the painted story needed some added definition and some visual 'weight', so I painted a cloud bound space station near the bottom. I finally liked it again. I wonder what life would be like on a station situated among the clouds of a gas giant or moon. Magnificent vistas and gut-wrenching storms, I expect. :-D

Anyway, thanks for stopping by. I started a new painting of my Rover space dog and a bunch of Fairy Wren birds (Australian native birds) as a live painting demo at Boskone last Saturday. Come back and visit in a week or two to see how that turned out.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Happy New Year!

Dancing Baby Groot
(11x14", Oils on Stretched Canvas)    
Price: $450.00  SOLD

So, the New Year is usually portrayed as an infant....I decided to paint Baby Groot from the movie 'Guardians of the Galaxy'. Groot as an adult is equally endearing as a badass adult tree person as he is a swiftly growing twiglet and baby tree. Many artists have depicted Groot since the movie came out, and I couldn't help but join the bandwagon. So here is my New Year infant: a rather impressionistic version of 'dancing baby Groot' who happens to have supplied his own disco lights, ie. glowing seed pods while he bops away to Peter's 'Awesome Mix No. 2' cassette...

The usual palette and brushes were involved...and no trees were hurt in the making of this painting, although Baby Groot got a little ticklish when I was painting his tummy... Ahem.

Hope your 2015 is bright with promise and prosperity, love and goodwill.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Rocket Doodle Evolution....

 My little painted pointy rocket ships originally began as tiny quick color sketches on small canvases, intending to use up leftover paint on my palette when I was painting larger works. They have evolved quite considerably since then. Observers may have noticed that my rockets are always in flight...traveling over great distances and to a variety of planets and nebula. They represent an ongoing journey of 'self'. One may have also noticed that I like painting the planet Saturn quite a lot, too. Blame the English legendary science fiction artist John Harris. He makes any planet look sexy, and his individual painting style adds a visual glamour that expresses exactly how I feel about 'space'. At least how the child I once was dreamed of it being. Lost edges, depth, application of colours that somehow depict space without ever using black. My husband, Bob Eggleton paints space with the same imaginative and colourful vibe, but with different technique. Both are a huge influence on the type of fluffy space opera that I paint. They paint science fiction as epic, realistic, imaginative magnificence: I paint emotionally with colour and angles and the 'what ifs' of whatever whimsy comes to mind at the time of painting. The eternally flying rockets represent the child that I was who wanted to go off into outer space, have adventures there, see what was behind the next planet, star gaze at nebulae, and generally do a grand tour of the glowing spectacle that is out there in the massive darknesses between worlds... these paintings represent the last six months of work and a part of that journey...

(14x18", Oils on canvas)
Price: $600.00  SOLD
"Inferno" was painted as a commission to become a poster for a science fiction film festival in San Francisco. The commissioner wanted to use one of my other rocket doodles for the poster, but they were too small to be enlarged for that kind of use. So he said 'just paint me a large rocket doodle and allow some space for type, etcetera...' Design was left up to me. I decided to lash out and have some fun with a more complicated composition. The idea of a devastated world and lonely passing rocket rather appealed to me. I always wanted to investigate ruins of old civilizations and such....even better if they were on other worlds.  Blame those visions on old 1950s and 60s science fiction movies and 'Golden Age SF' books where the imagination and visions of the future, any future, were boundless and epic. Unfortunately, the photo does not do this painting justice. Photographing reds in all of their glory has become something of a hit and miss these days.

"Blue Saturn Flyby"
(3x3", Oils on Stretched Canvas)
Price: $65.00  SOLD

"Red Saturn Flyby"
(3x3", Oils on Stretched Canvas)
Price: $65.00  SOLD

These two tiny epics are the smallest rocket doodles I have ever painted. They were created as entries for an art challenge called "Tiny Treasures" for The Art Order blog/website run by art director Jon Schindehette this year. Notice that they both borrow heavily from "Inferno" above. I had a little bit of fun with the repetition...and wondered how one of the efforts would look in lush blues and cyans. I was rather proud of them both, and they both quickly soared off to new homes.

Necessity dictated my next rocket doodle paintings. I had a very busy few months over this summer and quickly realised that I had a real dearth of finished artwork to display at the swiftly approaching art expo, Illuxcon 8...and little time to paint anything complicated. I had some frames in storage and a selection of canvases to play with, so I got out my sketchbook and started drawing up ideas to paint. Since I had been using Saturn a lot in recent paintings, I decided that I wanted to lash out and paint a destroyed moon and rocket scape in entirely different colours than I was used to. A type of personal art challenge to get out of my comfort zone. So I flicked through the art books of John Berkey, John Harris, among others, and my copy of the early groundbreaking science fiction art book, "Tomorrow and Beyond" by Ian Summers, trying to recapture the dreamy speculations of my childhood. I think I made the leap to the next painting rather well, as I'm quite proud of this unusual step...

"Damage Patrol"
(14x18", Oils on Stretched Canvas)
Price: $680.00  SOLD
This is also a variation on the "Inferno" composition. And I fell in love with the purple/magenta/orange combination so much that I used it again in a smaller pulpish painting to use up the rest of the paint on the palette. Hence a real, original 'rocket doodle' that became the next offering below.

"Purple Pulp Rocket"
(5x7", Oils on Stretched Canvas)
Price: $150.00  SOLD
This was kind of fun because we visited the home and totally magnificent art collection of friends in Chicago this summer, and their masses of brilliant pulp and science fiction artwork were inspiring beyond belief. I suppose that it is only right that this little painting has gone to sit humbly amongst that bright galaxy of eminent works.

(11x14", Oils on Stretched Canvas)
Price: $580.00  SOLD
Yeah, I know: Saturn and that angle again...another repetition from "Inferno". However, the reds are very textured with other colours, but those subtleties are lost in the photographic process. Which explains WHY art collectors buy original art: no facsimile, print or digital, will ever capture the true luminosity of an original painting. In this painting, the rocket is inbound to an asteroid space station....something I've ALWAYS wanted to paint. It seemed a likely time to try it out. I added the tiny receding 'space buoys' leading into the station as well. I was rather happy with the outcome of this painting and very proud of my first little asteroid space station. What you can't see here it the minutiae of brushed detail there is in it. Simple dash here and smudge there, and the whole thing looks detailed and complete when you step back from the painting.

(14x18", Oils on Stretched Canvas)
Price: $480.00  SOLD
This is currently the last of the current crop of 'rocket doodles' and is something of a departure from my normal colours and composition...which must be nice to look at after the previous repetitions. I was floundering a bit, trying to find one last inspiration for one more painting when I happened across a magazine with this view of Saturn on the cover. I looked at it for awhile and then something in the back of my mind stirred with interest. Green space...another asteroid space station.... egress of a pointy rocket ship...coloured bands and moons...a different aspect. Yes, that's what I was looking for in this latest painting... a different aspect. Or at least, a different perspective. The green has lost some of its luminosity in this photo, and again, the subtlety has been lost all over, but the overall effect is close to the original painting. This asteroid space station has a docking stalk below it. One rocket remains docked and in partial shadow, whilst its companion has used maneuvering rockets to push loose from the dock before igniting its main engines and soaring out of orbit across the face of Saturn. The storytelling of these 'rocket doodles' has become more intricate over time, to become a catalyst for the viewer to ask the age old questions.... why?...how?...what if? My husband walked behind me when I was painting this and paused to say, "That's a bit out of your regular colour range for these, isn't it? It looks wonderful, by the way..." before passing on to his own easel.

All of these paintings were painted in two stages...a rocket doodle is usually completed in a single sitting, painted wet in wet. MOST of each painting was put together in the space of two to four hours and allowed to dry overnight before finishing painting rockets, space stations, contrails, and being signed. The second sessions usually comprised one to two hours. I have enjoyed my usual techniques of wet in wet build up of paint and blending brushes, and smoothing and 'sculpting' of the paint beneath my brushes. My regular limited palette included the usual suspects and a couple of ringers that only come out when I'm painting something specific. These were: Titanium White, Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Red Light, Sap Green, Viridian, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine, Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Blue, Yellow Ochre, and Magenta. Not ALL of the colours were used in every painting. My brushes were the sames ones I always use.

Anyway, I hope you like where the 'rocket doodles' are heading, and don't mind that they are evolving from what they originally started out as several years ago. They are finding their own adventures...I just paint them.

Thanks for stopping by,


PS: Here are some of the thumbnail ideas and design drawings that became these paintings.... except for DAMAGE PATROL and INFERNO, both of which I drew freehand straight onto the canvas:

 The thumbnail design for the 3x3" Red Saturn Flyby....

Design drawing for Inbound ...

Sketchbook thumbnails for Damage Patrol and 
Blue Saturn Flyby

Design drawing for Outbound...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Feathered Kaiju....

Rainbow Mothra: Wave Hopping
(16x20", Oil on Stretched Canvas)  Price: $800.00

It's been nearly thirteen years since I last painted Mothra. Mothra is a Japanese 'monster' or kaiju from the original Godzilla canon. Since then, Mothra was given its own three-movie series during the late 90s/early 2000s, collectively called REBIRTH OF MOTHRA I, II, and III. During the multiple metamorphoses Mothra goes through, one of them is the gorgeously coloured 'Rainbow Mothra'. At the beginning of the third movie installment, Mothra is seen zooming across the oceans with dolphins in the water below. That image resonated with me and I painted 'Rainbow Mothra: Racing with the Dolphins' back in 2000. Since it's Godzilla's 60th anniversary/birthday this year, I thought I'd dip my creative toe back in the kaiju universe and paint Mothra once again.

This is the original design sketch. I had a lot of fun doodling Mothra, but it wasn't until I started painting it, did I notice that during the sketch process, I had made its upper wing fuller than the source photo, and the head is tucked in a little more.

Painting process has well and truly begun by the time I got around to taking process photos. The background went in in one sitting with lots of big brushes and noodling of paint. I tackled painting in all of the black bits during the second session and let them dry so that when I began laying in colour, they wouldn't get lost.  I started applying colour to the wings during the third session. And you can notice here how much fuller the wing is than the source photo. I kind of liked how it worked out.

Bottom wing is accomplished and the white bits have started to be brushed in. This Mothra was VERY furry and fluffy, with furry legs as well. Lots of nice smooshing work.

Here is my painting table during the process. 

This is the last easel photo....with the painting finally complete. The dolphins came out a little impressionistic, but they seem to suit their environment very well.

I'm rather pleased with the finished painting. My palette contained the usual suspects: Cobalt Blue, French Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Lemon, Viridian, Titanium White, Cadmium Orange Hue, and a tiny bit of Aliziran Crimson. Big brushes to begin with, then some smaller rounds: Size 2, 5, and 1.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Early Birds...of the New Year

"Second Story"
(6x8", Oil on Stretched Linen) 
Price:  $200.00     SOLD

Well, it's the beginning of a new year again and I'm caught short of new art work to display for a convention in Boston this weekend. So I spent the last two weeks painting little bird paintings to supplement my art show panel. These bird paintings got a little more involved than I was planning, but I'm pleased with how they turned out anyway. Since I didn't have time to paint full blown robot and bird paintings, I settled for rusty gears as perches for two tiny, chubby Boreal Chickadees. I used an entry from my sketchbook as the basis of the composition...

"Pit Stop"
(5x7", Oils on Stretched Canvas)
Price: $200.00

Since this one was going to be a very close focus image, I used the face of one of my previous robots as the perch for this little Red-Breasted Nuthatch. And I swiped a recent bird drawing from my sketchbook as the birdie subject. He's alighted on the eye-ledge of the robot for a quick pit stop amid his foraging for nuts and seeds.

The usual palette was used again: Titanium White, Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine, Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Lemon, Sap Green, Chromium Green, Cerulean Blue, and Yellow Ochre. Brushes included a few small Filberts, and a 1/2" Angle brush, and a #0 Fine Round, and a #4 Round.

Thanks for stopping by,