Today we have the impressive Loki art of Belinda Bo Couch, Blueridge Bohemian Art. She creates astonishing Loki canvas images. Let’s discover her!
Khaleesi: Where are you from?
Belinda Bo Couch: I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains in north Georgia, United States. I grew up in Atlanta, but left there some 15 years ago to be near the woods and hiking trails. It’s where the trees are.
K: How did you meet Loki?
BBC: Man, I wish I could!! He would be a beer buddy for the history books! I first saw him in Thor, but was knocked clear off my ass by his performance in The Avengers. His whole attitude and personality had evolved and just become incredible. I had seldom seen such stunning acting. And his battle costume just made me want to PAINT!!!
K: Why did you start to create fan art?
BBC: I’ve been drawing men I adore pretty much all my life. I started drawing when I was 4, and my father was my teacher. He is a painter in his own right, and teaches painting and is published all around the world. He was a strong force in my life, so I relate mostly to men as subjects. As a child I drew Buck Rogers. In high school I drew portraits of David Gilmour of Pink Floyd and Robert Plant. In college it was Peter Davidson and numerous rugby players. I’ve been a Con brat for 20 years, working on staff at Dragon Con and numerous other cons around the country, so fan art and cosplay have been a lifestyle for me for as long as I can remember.
K: From where do you drag inspiration?
BBC: Men. 90% of the time it’s men. I LOVE them. One of God’s finer creations, if you ask me. My main muses are some fine gentlemen known as The Jousters. They are dear friends who strap on armor, take up the lance and shield, jump on a horse, and try to knock each other in the dirt. In addition to being a painter, I am a photographer. I have been photographing The Jousters for 10 years, and then using them in my paintings. I was a competitive show jumper for many years, as well as a carriage driver, so painting horses comes easily to me. And I find nothing more inspiring than a beautiful man on a beautiful horse. Or just a beautiful man. I paint women and landscapes, too. In fact, my highest selling work is oddly landscapes. But I feel truly happy when painting a gorgeous man. Preferably in armor, and on a horse. Loki fulfills this addiction nicely.
K: Why do you think fan art is so popular?
BBC: Well, because people connect with it on a creative level. They really do. We all have creativity inside of us somewhere. We all express it in different ways. Some sing and dance and paint, others write or design huge skyscrapers or solve world humanitarian problems in ways no one has ever thought of. Fan art is a way for fans to dive into their own creativity. It’s an outlet for emotion and enthusiasm. It’s the result of inspiration gained from seeing something that touches us so deeply that we need for that profound feeling to continue far beyond a movie, or a song, or a book. It’s a way to let our minds wander and create, thereby expanding the universe. In general, the energy expended by fans feeling these emotions is very positive, and it makes the world a more positive place. Fans LOVE something. They love how it distracts them, and how they can talk about it and share it with others. Sharing love in the world is a very great and much needed force. In the production of fan art, people are generating an atmosphere of beauty and fantasy that can enrich lives in ways we never imagined.
K: Which is your favorite Loki quote and why?
BBC: “Are you ever NOT going to fall for that?” I split my sides laughing every time I hear it, because it reminds me of my daytime career. I work as an investigator in the insurance industry when I’m not painting and shooting cameras. Many of my cases throughout my career have required me to see files through the legal phase. I’ve stood in a lot of courtrooms and watched my attorneys do the intellectual and verbal dance with opposing attorneys. And when we trip up the opposition with a relatively routine tactic, I giggle and think of Loki taunting his brother. I’ve had many a pleasure fooling lawyers into glass cages where they suddenly realize they can’t get out and don the “Oh shit!” facial expression a moment too late.
K: What is your goal?
BBC: To be the next Leonardo Da Vinci. To blend realism with abstract imagery and color. To create paintings that are as real looking as photographs. But overall, to keep the rich tradition of art in the world. In an age where computers are taking over everything, seldom does one see real drawing and painting anymore. One day children will not know what a hand-drawn 2D animated movie was. I was a cartoon animator for years, and then I was laid off with the rest of my team because computers were taking over, and we were no longer in demand. That is when I first realized that there could come a day when no one will remember Degas or Picasso. If we let traditional art fade from this world, we are cheating ourselves out of an incredibly beautiful gift that brings color and fantasy to an otherwise often bleak existence.
K: Which is the piece you’ve created that you like the most so far?
BBC: I’m rather falling in love with the painting I am currently working on, which is yet untitled. I’m bridging some gaps that have plagued me in the past, and defeating some very real fears that held me back in my last painting, “Loki of Jotunheim.” That particular painting was the most difficult work I have ever produced. I took on a lot of challenges I never knew I could conquer. But it was also a bittersweet experience for me. In one regard it was a huge achievement on so many levels. I really pushed myself through the nightmare of trying to make it look like Tom Hiddleston, and nearly gave up many times. But in the end I finally won after months of fighting and pushing and pulling to create his likeness. However, the painting is a reminder of the biggest tragedy in my life, the loss of my baby brother to cancer. He was my ally, my advocate and staunchest supporter. He was my best friend. I started the painting on the day of his diagnosis, telling myself I could create magic through art, and by the time the painting was finished he would be miraculously healed. I put the signature on the finished painting the day he died. I stamped and signed the rear wood frame on the day he was buried. “Loki of Jotunheim” hangs in my house today, but there are times when I wish I knew how to just ship it off to Mr. Hiddleston and never look at it again. Because it reminds me of the pain of losing my brother, and it always will.
K: Have you ever Loki’d someone? How?
BBC: Myself. And an entire hotel. On spring break my senior year at the university, I went to the beach with a bunch of my friends. I started drinking in the car on the way down there, and I don’t think I stopped until my buddies dumped me back on my doorstep when the trip was over. I ran out of ice, and wanted more in my rum, so I strode off down the outdoor corridor to the ice machine to fill the bucket. My friends followed me and screamed for me to return to the room. I told them, “We are going to get kicked out of this hotel because you are making too much noise.” They shouted back, “Bo, we are going to get kicked out of this hotel because YOU’RE NAKED!!!” I had been in the shower when I realized I wanted more ice for my booze, so I set off to get some. And completely forgot my clothes. Alcohol will do that. There was a whole hallway of surfers whose eyes were bulging out of their heads. My friends told me I scoffed at them and barked, “What the hell are YOU looking at?!” I barely remember the incident. Crap, I barely remember the entire vacation. That was some OUTSTANDING quality rum.
K: Which are your favorite art materials (paper / acrylics)?
BBC: I work in many different mediums, but grew up with certain things that I just can’t do without. Grumbacher watercolors and Arches heavyweight paper are must-haves. Arches paper is awesome for sketching as well as painting. Prismacolor pencils are my favorite sketching tools. I use Windor acrylics and oils. They have awesome color and opaque spreading quality. My canvases are built and sealed with gesso by my friend Mike. I prefer his canvases to store-bought ones because his have thicker, sturdier frames and stretched tight as a drum. And he applies the gesso with a knife, which seals beautifully while leaving the tooth of the cloth bled through for a wonderful, textured surface. My primary tool for shooting reference material for paintings is a Canon 6D with a 70-200mm f2.8L zoom lens (yes, even for portraits). Good paintings come from good reference material, and Canon is excellent equipment and makes excellent quality photos. Though, I have also shot Nikon and been very pleased. I was not real enthralled with the Sony A77 camera. Produced really grainy photos and had too many technical glitches in the operation.
K: How long does it take you to finish a piece of artwork more or less?
BBC: It varies based on medium, size of the work, and the amount of research and sketching practice needed to get the piece right. I generally do not work small. I was born legally blind, so I had to always draw BIG to be able to see what I was doing. Over the years I have been fortunate to come across surgeons who have been able to correct the problem, and now I have perfect vision. It is a real gift. But the habit of working BIG has stayed with me. My average painting is about 3’ x 5’ though I have gone as small as movie poster size. Bigger paintings take more time and more paint, of course. Oil paintings take a LONG time to dry. For me, Tom Hiddleston is not an easy man to draw. His face has so many plane changes, and his features are truly unique. Get his nose or the jawline wrong, and it doesn’t look a thing like him. So I spend a LOT of time sketching to feel my way through his appearance before I even have a canvas built. The Loki of Jotunheim painting took a total of 8 months to complete. A lot of that was due to struggling both emotionally and artistically. My current Loki painting is moving along much more quickly, despite the fact that I work sometimes a 60 hour week in the insurance industry. I started the painting last week, and I am hoping to have it finished by the end of this weekend, because it will need time to dry before it goes up for the charity auction at Dragon Con in 45 days.
K: Which advice would you give to people who would like to create art like you?
BBC: Renowned science fiction author Frank Herbert wrote a magnificent book titled “Dune” in which Paul Atreides often recited the Litany Against Fear: “I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that. Because fear is also a creativity and genius killer. Don’t shy away from the challenges. Charge head-on into them. Hands and feet are the hardest things to draw. So MAKE yourself draw them. Tackle the problem. Don’t avoid it. Tackle it and make yourself stronger as an artist for the effort.
I also strongly advise artists to be bold and create images themselves. The best way to draw is from a live model. But we don’t always have that luxury. My Jousters move too fast on their horses for me to sketch their exact likenesses. So I have to photograph them and draw from the photos. But for each painting, I draw from a series of about 50 to 60 photos from all different angles. I study the images, study the faces and expressions, and form my own pose and image by making original sketches. I don’t copy one photograph. I use the photos as reference to familiarize myself with the subject.
I see a lot of incredible Loki fan art out there. But much of it is just copies of one or another photograph / image that already exists. While copying a photo will give you some drawing practice, it will not make you a stronger artist. It will do little to develop your skills.
Now, obviously it is pretty much impossible to think we can have Tom Hiddleston as a live model. Hell if we did, how much drawing would we actually get done, eh? I know drawing would be the last thing on MY mind if I met him in person. But when producing Hiddleston art, know what? There are DVDs out there! And that’s what I used for both of my Loki paintings. I used photographs in order to nail down the details in Loki’s very intricate armor, because it’s hard to catch that in live action. The carvings are very detailed. But for Tom Hiddleston’s likeness, I studied all kinds DVDs and sketched right off the television. I hashed out several drawings from many angles, learned his facial features, and then composed poses and facial expressions of my own. If necessary, I use my boyfriend as a model for body positions and hands so that everything is drawn in correct proportion. But DVDs are a great way to learn Loki’s face and mannerisms to capture on canvas. There are a lot of great tools out there to help make you a better artist. Use them! Study books, take classes, sit in parks and restaurants with a sketch pad and just draw till you drop. Study people and life and draw them until it is second nature. Then you have no fear. Then you advance to higher levels.
K: Do you keep an art journal? If so, do you draw Loki there?
BBC: I don’t keep a journal, so to speak. But I have sketch pads all over the place. They are stashed in my car, my brief case, at my parents’ house, and all over my house. I always have one or more with me, even at joust photo shoots. I scribble down drawings of things I see, ideas that come into my head, I get drawing practice in whenever and wherever I can. My boyfriend rolls his eyes when I just suddenly grab a sketch pad and whip out a gesture drawing at the dinner table in a restaurant. I’m trying to improve my manners in that department. I don’t scribble Loki down in those books, though. When I get it into my head that I must do a Loki painting, it’s usually because the idea has been bouncing around in there for a while. So I start studying DVDs and collecting research. My sketches are done on the sofa right in front of the television. I let the DVD run, and I just flip through pages, whipping out fast gesture drawings until I find a scene with an appealing attitude or body posture. Then I start canvasing other DVDs for the same thing. Because you may have noticed, hints of Loki show up in many of Tom’s other characters. A flip of the hand. A wild-eyed grin. And especially the amazing ability to cry at the drop of a hat. It can be found in most every production he is in. So I run through the scenes and sketch over and over again, until it starts to look like him. Then I nail down the idea and tighten up the drawing. I will then sketch that drawing over and over until I feel confident enough to just sketch it onto canvas and go with it.
K: Have you ever drawn Tom Hiddleson as well?
BBC: MANY times. In fact, both Loki paintings did not start off as Loki. They were just going to be Tom paintings. But then the horns just started to emerge. The desire to make that hair longer, turn black and sweep up in a flip at the ends just permeated my mood. And both paintings turned into Loki paintings. The painting I am currently working on was supposed to be a Coriolanus painting, with blood on him and tears running down his face. And then he just…turned into Loki. And I was going to make Loki fearful looking with tears in his eyes, like when The Other was threatening him. But as the painting progressed, he turned pensive, and even intense and somewhat menacing in facial expression. It happens. Sometimes art just takes on a life of its own. And that’s okay. It’s meant to be that way. I love how sometimes I’m not always in control, and the artistic vibe just takes its own flow path and paints its own image. It’s all good.