Musician/Singer Series Pt. 2: Lajon Witherspoon & Florence Welch

Lajon Witherspoon Pencil Sketch

WIP pencil drawing of Lajon Witherspoon on watercolor paper

This pencil drawing from my Musician/Singer Series depicts Lajon Witherspoon, who is the vocalist for the alternative metal group Sevendust. The screaming in some metal bands can make my toes curl, but Lajon’s smooth and deep vocals are haunting to me. Plus, it helps that they have a strong melody in their music, and it isn’t just hardcore two note riffing the whole time. Lajon’s vocal range makes their music even more powerful to me.

WIP Inked Lajon Witherspoon

WIP inked version of Lajon Witherspoon

If you haven’t read my previous entry introducing the Musician/Singer Series, I had gone through various music videos from each band or artist to grab screenshots that I could use for reference. As a side note, I began to notice that music videos where the bands were all male seemed to have dramatic lighting creating high contrast and switched sometimes between B&W to color. Meanwhile, all of the women musicians were definitely more sexed up. The Pop and R&B genres had bright colors and less clothing. It’s sad that so many of our women musicians are encouraged to flaunt what they have, but most of the men never do. Not to say it never happens, but I found it an interesting observation while I was working on this project.

Final of Lajon Witherspoon

“Life is changing. I can’t go on without you. Rearranging. I will be strong. I’ll stand by you.”
-“Angel’s Son” by Sevendust

In the painting stage of each drawing in my series, I wanted to keep the colors unexpected for the viewer. I love painting in tones that are not the typical skin color. I chose colors by the feeling I had for each image. It’s hard to explain, but some of them just screamed at me what colors should be within the piece. Since I knew it was going to be a series, I did try to stick within about 5-6 different colors and usually painted with only 3 of the 5-6 colors in each piece.

The acrylic I like to use is by Liquitex. Their Professional Acrylic Artist Color Heavy Body in tubes has strong color and can go on thick or thin depending on how much water you have in your brush. They can be pretty expensive, but they do last a long time if you do not paint in very thick layers. Grumbacher’s Academy Acrylics are also another type of paint that I enjoy using. They are not heavy body like the Liquitex and will be more transparent when you paint with them (plus they are cheaper). I like to use the Academy Acrylics like Dioxazine Purple painted over top of a Liquitex Cobalt Blue to get a darker shade. Some artist’s may use the tube of black intentionally for shading or to make dark colors, but I do find it flattens the work. When you see someone with black hair, it can have a blue or purple cast depending on the lighting. It’s difficult to get that if you use straight up black, and that is why I will use other colors to create “black”. Also, I tend to not mix my colors on my palette ahead of time. I allow them to mix on the paper.

Final of Florence Welch

“And when we first came here, we were cold and we were clear.
With no colors in our skin, ‘Til we let the spectrum in”
-“Spectrum” by Florence and the Machine

Another piece from the series is of Florence Welch, who is the singer from the English indie rock band Florence and the Machine. I am not that familiar with the band and have only heard some of their music. Her voice was what caught my attention, and I couldn’t resist not including her in my series.

Musician/Singer Series Pt. 1: Myles Kennedy

I will be trying to get the blog caught up to my work posted on Instagram and Flickr. Months back, I was trying to save drafts and have them publish during certain times, but since WordPress was fighting me I let the time pass. It’s too easy to fall behind!

Back in May, I was honored to be chosen as one of the artists in a two day art show/festival called Dayton Sideshow. We had many talented local artists who either had video installations, sculptures, or paintings. There were no restrictions to what we could create, which was wonderful! Since there were going to be musical acts going on during the entire two days, I decided to continue my artist trading card theme: my favorite musicians/singers.

At the beginning, I decided I didn’t want to hang the work traditionally. Remembering that I had seen an image on Pinterest where someone used clipboards to hang up illustrations and ideas, I decided it would be something to catch people’s eyes as they walked through the building. Grabbing my Strathmore and Canson watercolor paper pads, I cut them up in various sizes that would fit on the three different sizes of clipboards I had purchased at OfficeSupply.com. They had very reasonable prices and I recommend them for clipboards 100%!

Instead of just getting studio/stage shots of the bands, I went through many music videos and took screenshots of moments that I felt would make a good drawing. My first choice was Myles Kennedy, the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist to the rock band Alter Bridge. I cannot get enough of his voice and so much of their music has such power or frailty behind it! My normal process lately has been to go directly to inking and work with my mistakes, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that successfully with portraits. I already had a clear idea of what I wanted in my mind, but penciled out Myles in the top right corner and leaving room for doodles on the rest of the paper later.

Myles Kennedy WIP

“On broken wings I’m falling, And it won’t be long,
The skin on me is burning, By the fires of the sun…”

-“Broken Wings” by Alter Bridge

The artist trading cards I created previously made me realize I wanted to ink these using my ballpoint pens instead of the Prismacolor Fine Liners. I did keep changing which ballpoint pen depending on what I thought worked better on the watercolor paper at the time. The one that stayed the most consistent for me was PaperMate’s InkJoy 700 RT 1.0 M. Once I inked Myles, I decided to look up what he had for tattoos. I found out he had an octopus on one arm and a Koi fish on the other. I love making connections in my work, so I doodled around Myles with a Koi fish swimming around the swirling waves and octopus tentacles.

When I started adding my acrylics, I thought I had ruined his face with the green on top of the yellow. It made him look sickly. Once I introduced some blue and pulled up a lot of the green with a paper towel, I kept going by adding more reds and purples to his hair and shirt to brighten things up. I chose to keep the upper left corner mostly white other than a few purposeful splatters of color that I dabbed with paper towel to keep the saturation down. It gives a nice weight to the right and bottom side of the composition. This piece turned out to be one of my favorites despite it being the first one penciled!

Final of Myles Kennedy