A recent trip to the Raminfard School of Arts inspired me to get back into oil painting, and when I found out that jujitsu legend Wally Jay died on Sunday, I knew I had my subject. Wally Jay studied the same style of jujitsu that I do, Dan Zan Ryu, under it's founder H. Seishiro Okazaki. Afterward he went on to pioneer small circle jujitsu, and work with many martial arts masters, including the ever-popular Bruce lee. Wally Jay will undoubtedly live on in his teachings and stories of his upstanding character. As Professor Okazaki put it in a message to all the students of Dan Zan Ryu: "when the lotus flower falls, it rises to the surface".
So I begin my painting with photo reference, using a very dry brush with very little paint to lay in the light shapes, and make sure my proportions aren't too off. You may notice that even though I'm painting in color, the reference is in black and white, but this is because a) tone is way more important than color, and b) my printer is low on ink:
Next, I begin blocking in some light color and mid-tones, making sure they don't get too extreme so I can slowly build up. I also stick to large brushes so I can get through this stage more quickly, and so there is more variety in brush strokes by the time I get to later stages:
At this next stage, things are getting very close to where I want them, and I wind up doing a lot of adjusting to make sure the likeness reads true and the brighter highlights, vibrant colors, and deeper shadows work in harmony:
And by now, I'm pretty much done. There may be a few minor things here or there to adjust; edges to sharpen, features to change, highlights to pop. But everything, for the most part, is where it needs to be:
And of course, it doesn't hurt to throw a couple of adjustment layers in photoshop to get rid of the way cameras see differently than human eyes:
So there we have it, my tribute to a martial arts bad ass, and six hours well spent.
4 hours ago