Dru Blair’s Art of Technology.

ticapainting_sm.jpg

This is not a photograph, but a digital painting recreating a photo of a model named Tica. Artist Dru Blair has a detailed explanation of how it was done, including larger images of the process. http://www.drublair.com/comersus/store/workshops/tica.htm -via Militant Platypus

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I was a professional airbrush artist for quite a number of years before I switched to painting in oils on canvas. I studied the same techniques as Dru uses and for an airbrush artist who is proficient and using quality equipment it's not hard to produce work like that. Airbrushers use many techniques to produce the overall photorealistic effect. It's not at all hard, you just need the patience. After a number of years painting photorealism I got bored of it, I just never felt I was creating anything worthwhile, you soon get fed up of people saying "it looks just like a photograph". I gave it up photorealism overnight and came up with my own unique style and now painting is a joy everyday of the week.
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I have been to 2 of his classes and have read most of the above and can hopefully shed some light on this.

It is a painting. When you see it in person, after you have had the class, you can see it is a painting, because you know where to look and what you're looking for. That said, it is still nothing less than amazing.

He used mostly opaque paint for this painting, matching up any two progress shots is pointless, because OPAQUE means it covers up, blocks out. This method of painting allows you to completely change anything you want any way you want at any point. So when (not if, when) you make a mistake you can fix it, and some mistakes aren't evident until other things are done in around them, like the white of the eye is off, but you don't see it when no of the eye is painted, after you paint some, you realize and move it.

Techniques he mentioned that you can't find online. I know I've looked also. Ect. principal, split frisket, "skeet"(look harder). They are not found online, because he coined the term for it, made up the name for it, created the method to do it, etc. He didn't just pull something from another web page, if that was the case you'd be arguing over someone elses painting not one of Dru's.

If you looked at this painting and thought, look at the detail, you have seen the ect. principal in action, or put it into action. If you looked at the hair and said no way, you've seen the beauty of opaque paint and the split frisket.

Some one said something about it looking terrible, then in one photo it is completed. Yes, that is generally how it goes and why it is a pain to paint like this until you're used to it. It looks bad, I mean really bad, like you want to fix it and you haven't even put down two colors bad, then all of a sudden you're on your 9th or 10th color, and it looks good, I mean good like you didn't know you could do. I have progress shots of my stuff, and I can't figure out how I got to the end of the painting, when I look at the mid steps and think, man this looks like a week old coffee stain, how did I see the end of it. But when you're painting it, you just do what he teaches, and it works. If that doesn't make sense, I can't still get my head wrapped around it that well, so that is why.

Someone said, it isn't art, he just copied a photograph. Well by that rule, neither is photography. We'd need another several pages to argue what art is, instead, read this. He said in his class "there is no artistic merit in copying a photograph, it is merely a test of skill." Point being, how could pollock measure if he was improving, he couldn't objectivly hold it up to anything and compair or have anyone else look at them. However if you have the skill to copy a photo, you can pretty much do anything, because a blue canvas or some paint smears don't take as much skill to fool the eye like his paintings.

Why isn't he famous? Well, he is, just depends on who you ask and odds are if you looked through all the photos he has painted on his site, for book covers, prints, etc. you have seen them before, you probably just didn't know they were paintings. I have magazines almost 20 years old that have his paintings, methods, articles in them. Sure he isn't as popular as thomas kincade, but only one man is, and paintings of houses and foggy streets have more of a mass appeal than airplanes.

People who paint orgainc subjects can't paint inorganic, or something like that. Almost always the case, it is kind of comical and sad to see an action star make a dramatic film. However, that doesn't mean it can't be done. Also in his class, he said he was very good at painting inorganic stuff, jets and things, people were his weak spot, so he worked on it because those were the jobs he was getting the most requests for. Funny how money motivates people to get better at things. Also the method he paints, the subject doesn't matter (yes really), it is better if you don't know what you're painting. Much like grading a paper of a friend, vs the paper of someone you don't like, if you can add your own subjectivity to it, you will.

Some additional info. He is the most humble, polite, respectful person around. If you look online, you'll find on many sites people calling him a fake, fraud, all sorts of impolite names from people suffering from keyboard courage. He actually posts several places online, and address people that call him a names and the questions and comments they have. I asked him how he keeps from wanting to kill people like that (I know if i had someone say some things like on here I would want too) he said something along the lines of "when people give you a compliment, you wonder if they're being honest or not, hey thats a good painting...gee thanks...but when people are really angry at you and calling you a fake and a fraud and you're lying, you know they're being honest because they're really believing what they say because of what they see." I thought wow...i'd still want to beat them with a rubber hose though.

As someone said, his paintings are not in glass frames in a vault 100 yards from the velvt ropes you stand behind. Odds are the prints he sells are in better environments than some of his originals. Tica for instance was on a shelf about 2 feet above where you clean out your airbrushes in his class room, not in a frame, or even a plastic bag, just on the shelf, some of his paintings were push pin held to the wall, not making holes in them but just sitting on the pins.

I have a pic of Dru and I and he is holding Tica, i asked if he would mind he said no problem and stood there holding the painting. I thought...I ain't touching it. But when you asked him questions about it, he would just grab it, hold in front of who ever, and explain away. I pulled out my camera and asked if i could take pictures of his paintings, he said please do. After walking around with a 7mp camera and using the zoom lens for all its worth. I thought wow is this rude to be getting as close detailed shots as I can? So I asked, he said no he has the originals out in front of people so they can see how he did them and look up close to get a good look at them to see that they are paintings.

If you really stop and look at a few of his paintings up close and know what you're looking for, you can see some things that make it evident they are paintings, even with Tica.

This does not make them any less impressive, the opposite is true, because you're so taken in and stunned you don't even notice until you look that close.

If you don't believe it is a painting, and you do any kind of artistic anything, painting, drawing, photoshopping, digital painting, charcoal, color pencil, anything. Take his class, you'll be glad you did and start noticing things you've never seen before in everything around you.
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I just came back from one of Dru Blair's airbrush workshops in North Carolina and had the chance to see th original painting in person. It's not very large (a little bit larger than 18"x24" perhaps) and it's painted on illustration board. I remember the illustration board was slightly warped from the amount of paint on it. The "Portrait of Tica" was the first thing I saw when I walked into his classroom even though it was kept in a corner of the room, unframed, held up only by pushpins. At first I believed the portrait could not be a real painting, but it was. I could see the telltale marks of slight airbrush spatter in the detailing of the dress and the characteristic softness of the freehand airbrush line in the rendering of the model's hair. During one his lectures about color theory and the possibilities of the airbrush he showed the students yet another nearly unbelievable example of what could be accomplished. On the walls of his classroom he had what appeared to be two pieces of regular white notebook paper taped to the wall with a pencil drawing of a stick figure on each of them. The only difference between the two was that one was real and the other was painted with an airbrush. It was very hard to tell the difference between the two from as little as a foot away. Almost every student in the class kept walking up to the painted "fake" piece of paper and touching it because every detail on it was so exact from the blue lines of the ruled notebook paper to the look of the graphite stick figure that was supposed to be drawn on it. All the while, Mr. Blair was cracking jokes, giving demonstrations, and acting like it was no big deal at all. His catchphrase throughout the entire time I was there was "It's so damn easy", which was said as a way of encouraging his students. But the truth was he was obviously a master at what he was doing.
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