Front to Back

Last week I finished my Octopus Bonsai Gardener mural at the Des Moines Social Club.  The project was an absolute joy to work on and I’m a little sad now that it’s completed.  Getting started I tossed around several different ideas before I landed on the octopus concept.  I’ll spare you those sketches, but I was dead set on using the size of the wall as a factor in the viewer experience whether for intimidation, a sense of awe or… I really wasn’t sure at that point. One afternoon while attempting to work on other projects the octopus popped into my head and I couldn’t get him out (tentacles…. suckers… you get it). I haven’t done a lot of strictly illustrative work… Especially not anything this whimsical, but they said,”Pick and wall and do anything you want”, so I figured why not have a little fun?

So here’s the process from the initial ballpoint pen doodles to the finished piece in order.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Stop by the DMSC sometime and see it in person. It’s a sight to behold.

Cheers,

R

Initial ballpoint pen doodle

Initial ballpoint pen doodle

Robert Reeves-Octobonsai sketch2

Initial ballpoint pen doodle

Initial ballpoint pen doodle

Initial ballpoint pen doodle

Charcoal pencil doodle

Charcoal pencil doodle

Quick value sketch with charcoal pencil and white conte on grey toned paper

Quick value sketch with charcoal pencil and white conte on grey toned paper. Playing with background ideas and tentacle placement.

Value sketch with charcoal pencil and white conte on brown toned paper

Value sketch with charcoal pencil and white conte on brown toned paper. Tightening up the tree design and more tentacle placement.

Combo Photochop for color testing.

Combo Photochop for color testing. Spliced together the previous charcoal/conte sketches and roughed in color.

Pastel Mockup of proposed image

Pastel Mockup of proposed image. Tentacles not yet holding Bonsai tools.

Quickly laying out the design in charcoal.

Quickly laying out the design in charcoal.

Progression with charcoal application

Progression with charcoal application. I’ve lowered the brow ridges and the eye to more closely match the pastel mock-up.

Charcoal application progress. Laying out the tentacles.

Charcoal application progress. Laying out the tentacles. I left myself some room to play around. The mock-up was not to scale so I make some adjustments on the fly.

More tentacle progress

More tentacle progress. Nearly done w/ the layout.

Laying out the background color with a roller brush.

Laying out the background color with a roller brush.

Finished with the rough application of the blue background.

Finished with the rough application of the blue background. The rest had to be finished with brushes of various sizes.

The initial application of red.

The initial application of red. Mistints are your friends. This red was perfect and only cost me $5 for a gallon. Decent paint too.

Nearly finished with the Red

Nearly finished with the Red.

Roughed-in red's finished.

Roughed-in red’s finished. The rest had to be finished with small brushes. Especially the ends of the tentacles. Found this great neon green for the eye in the mistint section.

Roughed in Red's finished (alternate angle)

Roughed-in red’s finished. The rest had to be finished with small brushes. Especially the ends of the tentacles.

Starting to tackle the tree.

Starting to tackle the tree. The highlight and mid-tones were from the can. The darker tones were all hand-mixed. Started making the gardener’s tools from images I found via Google on my phone.

Full wall progress.  Coming along nicely.

Full wall progress. Coming along nicely. The lovely people in the office behind that door were very patient with my constant presence. They always remembered to check and see if I was still on the ladder before they opened the door.

Closeup of the head in-progress

Closeup of the head in-progress

More detail work finished. Starting on the background

More detail work finished. Starting on the background

Adding highlights and shadows to the tentacles. Starting on the tree trunk.

Adding highlights and shadows to the tentacles. Starting on the tree trunk. The browns were all hand-mixed from what I had laying around.

More background progress

More background progress

The bonsai... nearly finished.

The bonsai… nearly finished. I was dissatisfied with the way it was going and redrew most of the trunk and changed the canopy a little.

Finished - Angle 1

Finished – Angle 1. The background was fished from another Google image search. Super handy having a smart phone around for this kind of thing. A slightly larger tablet would be pretty awesome for this.

Finished - Angle 2

Finished – Angle 2

Finished - closeup of the head

Finished – closeup of the head

~ by Robert L Reeves on February 27, 2014.

4 Responses to “Front to Back”

  1. Nice work Rob!! We live right next door to the Social Club, so I’m sure we will get to see your talent on a regular basis…..we have some walls that could use your help 🙂 Hope all is well!!! Kelley and Brad

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  2. Thanks, Kelley! Just let me know and we’ll get something started.

    Like

  3. Reblogged this on Robert Reeves: Oil & Dust and commented:

    Updated image descriptions laying out my process.

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  4. Very cool, Rob. Love it! I used to do murals in 3d relief sculptures. Good to you working on interesting stuff. The photo progression is a great addition, so thanks for sharing that.

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