Heritage Craft Acrylic Paint

There’s a viking at the end of my paintbrush…

For almost two years, I felt too afraid to paint for myself – putting it down to artist block – and focused entirely on commissions. It’s much easier for someone else to tell me what they want and then follow instructions (and my internal response is: Why didn’t I think of that??). The last commission I did before moving house was this one, for an avid Vikings fan who had a very specific brief, yet was open to the interpretation of that brief.

No pressure.

Commissions are essentially artist tightrope walking… one wrong stroke and it could all go to muddy shit. It was my first time painting waves and… oh, nevermind the disclaimer – this is what came out:

Vikings 1024 x 516
Acrylic on 40″ x 20″ canvas

I like it – as in, really like it, and it was bittersweet to have to hand it over.

Vikings B
In spite of my perfectionist tendencies, I really had to let go and leave the fairly rough details alone.

In the process of planning this painting, I searched through hundreds of ocean photos and paintings, looking for something with movement and interest, considering it had to fill up a good amount of space on the canvas, and still look realistic. This was the reference photo I stuck with – very dramatic and high contrast, and it taught me a few good lessons about the colour(s) of water:

Ocean

This was the ship photo:

Viking ship

In the planning stages, the ship moved around so much on the canvas that I wondered if I shouldn’t just do a fleet of them and be done with it 😉

And of course, a Vikings poster for Ragnar.

Vikings

The internet has changed the game for artists. I used to find all of my reference images in magazines and fashion illustration books, but now Google Images, Pinterest, Instagram… there’s no end to the inspiration (and reference images) to be found online. At least the art is still happening in a traditional medium.

To the other artists out there: Where do you find your inspiration and references? Feel free to post links of examples and of your art in the comments.

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