It's Friiiiiiiiiday! Not only it's time to switch engines into "weekend mode" (read: start being double the slacker than I am on weekdays), but definitely also time to post a new blog entry, (something I should have done yesterday).
Same as I did on my previous entry, I will talk a bit about my latest artwork piece, a pin-up called "Mañana de noche" (Morning at night). This new piece of artwork's theme is the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos in Spanish), the Mexican celebration where death and spirits are the center of piece. This is a theme that I'd been wanting to render for a long time now, but for miscellaneous reasons, I hadn't been able to. However, this year was the year when it finally happened, and I'm very happy with the result.
But, let's start from the beginning. The theme for the pin-up was already chosen from the very beginning, Day of the Dead, so, the next step would choosing a model for reference. My first and ultimately final choice was Lisa Del Toro, a model and tattoo artist with whom I have collaborated in many many occasions during the last few years. She is in fact my un-official model for my yearly pin-up of Mexican Independence Day. Well, this year she became the first model I feature in a Day of the Dead pin-up. I knew right away that Lisa would be a perfect fit for what I had in mind. After seeing the final result, I am glad to see that I wasn't wrong.
So, what did inspire me to do this image? We've all seen the artwork commemorating Day of the Dead, with beautiful women wearing skull make up, and I definitely wanted to make that part of my pin-up. However, I didn't want to cover Lisa's face entirely, I wanted her to be recognizable, even with the make up. That is why I added the make up to her face without the white base, that way her features wouldn't get lost. I also wanted to add little details, like the rosary beads hanging from her arms and a skull pattern on her lace, all this alluring to the Mexican culture and background.
Once Lisa's rendering was finished, it was time to do the sugar skull and the background. This phase goes by much quicker, because the level of detail is not the same as Lisa's. I do this so the definite main focus is her, nothing else. I decided to do a sugar skull only by name, because what I rendered relates more to a ceramic skull. Since this was my first attempt, I wanted to play with forms, with patterns and get more of a feel of the current trends of sugar skull styles. I also wanted something in the dark or even muddy colors (somehow it reminded me of chocolate), so it would go with the feel of the image. Not even the teeth are completely white... which gave me the idea of the gold teeth.
Working on the background was a lot simpler. I wanted something completely out of focus, something a bit of a sketch, even abstract. Also, from the very beginning I knew I wanted to display "papel picado" as part of the background, which is the perforated or "peckered" paper always present in the celebration of Day of the Dead (and other Mexican celebrations). So, I just combined both: a display of papel picado in a semi-sketch form, absent of details. The colors were of the background were dictated by the traditional celebration as well, where bright pinks, greens and other colors are abundant.
And there you have it, that is how I approached my first image of Day of the Dead. Again, I am very happy with the result, and I am already excited for the upcoming years, because there are so many aspects of this celebration that were not included in this illustration. However, if I learned something from my Mexican Independence Day images, where I try to highlight my Mexican roots, is not to try to put every single aspect of the holiday in just one illustration. There are so many beautiful details about Day of the Dead, and I'll just try to cover more and more of them in my artwork, little by little, year after year. And yes, I am excited to do that. :)
Thank you for reading this, and thank you for your support. Please consider becoming a patron of my artwork if you like my work. It's easy and every single contribution helps me enormously. No pledge is too small, even if it's only made once. So please don't feel like you have to give "the big bucks" in order to be a patron. To read more about it, just visit patreon.com/popeyewongart.
Time to go. Don't forget to visit my website popeyewong.com, where you can find everything about me, my social media, my online store, this blog, my newsletter, etc. Have a great weekend and see you next time!
Pin-up artist by day… and also by night. Well, mostly by night, because night time is my favorite time to paint.