A second look at Stalenhag

I saw this painting and I figured, "Hey!  Let's see if we see anything different this time!"

The painting - By Warmachines 3

The painting - By Warmachines 3

Man, I love this guy's stuff.  It just feels soooo good.  Another of his trademark "dusk" images, in the rain.  Like always, an environment that feels like you could walk into it, but with something just a little 'off' about it.  I love the car - It feels like a photo until you get close to it.

The whole image is low-key in lighting, and there's not a lot of contrast. He's separated the foreground, midground and background with the colours of the lights - red, yellow and green.  The blue light above the car is interesting because it leads your eye up to the green "Buckhorn Hill" sign.

Another very common Stalenhag choice, the character has his back to us, so we identify with him instead of examining him as an 'other'.

2 values

2 values

Yeah, low-key for sure :)  It's neat, when you look at it this way, it is pretty obviously a 'triangle' style composition, similar to many of Frazetta's paintings.  Look how the lit sign is framed by darkness - that's the subject of the painting, not the guy at the car.

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3 values

...and then you look at this - Now the guy is popping a lot more!  I still think the sign is the subject, but the man is definitely a close second.  If he were facing us, he'd come to dominate the painting.  Look at how the grey areas point upwards and inward towards the top of the hill.  The light in the family market literally has an arrow pointing you in the direction you are supposed to look ;)

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4 values

Now the man and the car are *really* popping.  I dunno, what do you think is the subject?  Might be the interaction of the two, and your eye is supposed to bounce back and forth between the two.  

The guy

The guy

He looks so realistic zoomed out, and so abstract up-close!  As is normal from Simon's work, the brushes all seem hard edged and opaque.  You can some some transparency as he blends areas together, but it is very subtle.

Look how he simulates the rain by big, 'dry-brush' style swatches of grey, and by extending the lights and light catches in straight lines angled the same as the rain.  He's not using gradients at all for this, which is the typical go-to for digital artists.  I love how this looks on his treatment for the car. - Speaking of the car, check out the "blob dude" in the front seat!

The "Hill"

The "Hill"

Lots of buildup of strokes on this section to give texture.  Look how 'sloppy' those rim lights are...*swoon*  Also, check out the light bulbs in the sign.  Once again, the rain is shown with vertical strokes away from the light sources.  Areas where there is less light, the rain is much less visible.

Lone Star Family Market

Lone Star Family Market

Just amazing control of values and shapes.  The reflections in the water on the ground totally sell the idea with no actual detail at all.  Same goes for the rocks.  He hasn't given into the temptation to use a lot of texture brushes on the rocks at all, they are actually very solid blocks of colour.

Learnings:

  • This is a great way to show rain.  Remember you see things like rain and snow (and all particles) more near light sources.  Don't paint them in with an even hand.
  • You don't need texture in places you might think you do, and it looks pretty good in places you wouldn't think you'd need it.

Thanks for reading, I appreciate it :)