Exit Within: the Gallegos Blog

Bi-weekly musings, artwork, art-talk, and randomness.

Monday, January 26, 2015


"Parthenope: A Papa Sam Story"
Written by Bruce Heckman
Illustrated by Yours Truly

This softcover children's book is available now, featuring 10 original illustrations in full-color.

10 numbered books will be signed by me, and include a pencil drawing remarque on the title page.

Limited remarque edition is $60 (+s/h) and available right here.

Regular edition is $12.95 and available on Amazon with Prime Shipping

Last year, I was contacted by a gentleman named Bruce Heckman. It was one like many such requests I get, wherein they are seeking an illustrator for some project they'd like to realize. I'm always willing to work with creative individuals to help realize their projects if we can work out the details. In Bruce's case, we were able to--that he lived fairly close by meant we could also enjoy a nice dinner as we talked about the project in greater detail.

Bruce's book is a children's retelling of the Greek myth of Parthenope, based upon the imagined history of the Neapoletan pie called pastiera. The book even comes with a recipe! The scope of the project was ambitious, and I was commissioned to create 10 illustrations for the book, told by the narrator Papa Sam.

Now, anyone with the funds can commission me to paint ten paintings. But, that would be very expensive. We talked a bit about this and arrived at a solution wherein I would produce one scene as a painting, which could be used as a cover as well, and then create the other interior illustrations in a sort of faux-watercolor style. These would be fairly tight pencil drawings, scanned and then colored digitally to look something like watercolors. It would speed up the project considerably, and allow him to get his fully-illustrated book. It was an idea that worked well, and we proceeded.

"Parthenope" 18x24" Oils on panel
(larger view / purchase information)

While projects by indies (as I call them) don't usually get the widespread distribution or "fame" of commercial clients, they often have fewer restrictions and can be more fun as a result. This is part of why I've allowed myself to work with indies when possible. And it was a pleasure to work with Bruce on this project.

Detail view of painting in-progress

I don't recall exactly when I switched my methods back to using tracedowns. For awhile I had been doing detailed drawings, printing them out on paper and then gluing the paper to board to paint on. That worked well, but eventually I've come back around to this tried-and-true method. One advantage is that I can trace down in stages. When you print out a drawing and then start slinging paint around, you can start to be too precious about retaining the lines. With a tracedown, you can put down a part of the drawing, paint, and then flap the drawing back over and trace down the next part. Or, if you lose the drawing you can get it back by tracing the missing bits down again since the drawing is hinged behind. It doesn't take much to align it properly again. I like that flexibility even if I don't always use it.

So I keep the print out of the drawing taped and flapped to the back of the board the entire painting, or as long as I might need it. This photo above shows me early on in the process. I started the painting right there, on the figure of Parthenope, and worked my way out from there. That's not how I always work, either, but well...process is fine but as you can tell there's always room to change things up!

(R:) Parthenope sketch
8x10" pencil on paper
(larger view / purchase information)

Over the next month or so I'll be highlighting images from the book's interior illustrations.

Up top I've linked up the purchase options, which include ten books which I'll sign and number, in which I'll do a unique sketch of Parthenope.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Vero's Fire

For three years running now, I've had the pleasure of having my December/January period include work on Laurice Molinari's The Ether series. As I write I am wading into the third book's illustration, and the second book, Pillars of Fire will be released later this month.

With the first book, I was able to read the manuscript and so come up with concepts. As an illustrator I live for that. Unfortunately with the second book, I was not able to do this, and so was given a concept that the publishing team wanted to see portrayed. While it certainly limited the possibilities, it's not always possible to read the manuscript one illustrates. Fortunately the image that was requested was compelling enough. That isn't always the case.

When working in series, I sometimes like to find ways to visually tie one image to the next. That's not always possible either, nor necessary, but I've always found that the most cohesive book series have some sort of visual guidelines that are established and followed through a series. That signaling can come from anything: palette, value range, cropping of figures, perspective, figure arrangement, and so on. If a series is not going to have any obvious visual ties, it's best if the second book does something significantly different right off the bat, to keep from establishing a pattern that might be expected in subsequent illustrations.

When being asked to portray Vero sort of holding this ball of flame, it provided an opportunity to tie the cover to the first book. With the first cover, I sort of thought I'd painted myself into a corner with regards to opportunities to create visual threads in future covers. It's a very specific sort of composition, unusual even within my own body of work. Since I was being asked to portray Vero again, quite prominently, I used the opportunity to expand the first image a bit.

"Vero's Fire" 9x12" Charcoal on paper
(larger view / purchase information)

Whereas you only see Vero's face in the reflection of his sword in the first illustration, I sought now to portray him more fully, but keeping his eyes in the same region of the illustration as the first book, and also sort of head-on. The background was a bit dim, and I kept it dim here as well. On the one hand you can see the protagonist more fully, on the other he's still a bit obscured, being lit only by this magical ball of flame.

I did get to read a sample chapter from Book 2, but it wasn't directly relevant to the scene here, so it was of limited use. Much as I enjoyed working on this image, my illustrator's heart always longs to know what else I might have come up with had I the opportunity to read the story! The world of The Ether, at least in Book 1, was visually rich: I came up with many cover concepts for it, all quite different from one another. I have no doubt I would have found more gems to illustrate here. As for Book 3, well you'll have to tune in some months from now....

"Vero's Fire" 12x16" Oils over acrylic on treated watercolor paper

Monday, December 29, 2014

Newsletters and More

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The Randy Gallegos Newsletter

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For some time now, I've had an email Newsletter list that I've used very infrequently. Mainly, when bigger news items come out, I'll send an email to that list. And there's been a fairly unassuming sign-up box to the left there for a long time, too.

For 2015 though, I've decided to increase my engagement with people receiving my newsletter. Your inbox is a pretty intimate place, so if you've decided you'd like to hear from me in there, I'd like to make it more worth your while.

On top of news and appearances and things you'll normally find on my blog here, I'm going to start offering the following to newsletter members:
  • First-dibs: blog posts often feature new paintings and sketches. A couple of days before those posts go up, I'll make available some of the work to newsletter members first.
  • Exclusive dibs: Sketches, paintings, and whatnot: I will occasionally offer newsletter members exclusive access to certain artworks, which won't be made generally available on my site any time in the near future.
I may decide on some other goodies, and would welcome your thoughts: what else would you like to see from a newsletter?

Next week, I'll be showing and discussing the new Ether novel, Pillars of Fire. I'll be giving first-dibs to my list later this week. I'll also be giving exclusive dibs to this sketch from the first novel, Vero Rising:

"Vero Rising" 6x9" pencil on paper
Available for newsletter members

That email will go out towards the end of the week, so you've got a few days to sign up and get access to these. You can do so above. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Making Good on Randomness

Up top there is the mention of this blog containing, "Randomness." But there hasn't been much in awhile. So here is a collection of random thoughts and news. In the past I might have made some of these (like new product details) their own posts. Going bi-weekly, that's not fair to do. I'll start there:

Printed things:

Great Northern Games just published its successfully Kickstarted game, "Noble Treachery," which features a number of my illustrations in the game, licensed for use. I often get people looking to commission work who maybe don't have a budget to commission portfolio-quality works from me, but would like some. Licensing is a great way to do that, and GNG was able to get some nice art for their game by going that route. Learn more about Licensing via this free pamphlet I wrote. The game is a 4-6 player, standalone game.

(L:)"Bluebeads" and other artworks are included

As it happens, I took Noble Treachery with me for my Thanksgiving family visit. I played it with my nephews and niece. The game has a bit of a steep learning curve. I sat for a bit and just read over the rules so I could internalize them before attempting to teach them to these younger players, the oldest of whom was 15, the youngest of whom was a bit under the 12+ age recommendation. 2 had played Magic in the past, 2 had no experience with those types of games. Those latter two took a bit longer to acclimate, and the youngest player struggled a bit to grasp hold of all the intricacies, while occasionally scoring a great play still.

The first game we played was a bit of a mess as we all learned together what the heck was going on. There are a number of upkeep-related items that need to be done each turn, and we ended up forgetting to do some of them, which affected the game. Nevertheless, everyone got familiar and enjoyed it. The next day, they were all asking to play again, and that night we did and played two much more fun rounds. I don't often get to enjoy the products I work on, but in this case I was able to. I gave my copy of the game to 2 of my nephews (brothers), who the next day then roped their parents into playing. Needless to say, it was a hit. Grab a copy if you'd like!

Magic stuff: I missed a couple of reprints that came out over the past few months. "Soul Warden" appeared in the Modern Event Deck. "Hypnotic Specter" was reprinted for the Duel Decks: Jace vs. Vraska product.

My painting, "Alieis," was likewise licensed by Asimov's Science Fiction magazine for its Jan.2015 issue, which went on sale 11/25/2014. Back in High School and through Art School in the early 90s, I used to read Asimov's magazine regularly. That it often reprinted fantastic art by some of my favorite artists was no small reason why. I endeavored that eventually I'd see my art on the cover of Asimov's. Then life took its own turns and magazines began shrinking in importance, and I got involved in many other things and it kind of fell of my radar. But then it happened. The image was, unfortunately, quite, um...adjusted. Didn't see that coming. I might've made adjustments myself, if needed. Well, you know the real deal.

Art things:
I signed my signature to 7 paintings in the past month before Thanksgiving break, some of which were in progress for a long time and I just finished up, others very much new. It's an odd feeling to know there hasn't been a lot of new art here lately, since there's plenty sitting around my studio that you haven't seen yet. I look forward to sharing some or all of this work with you in 2015.

That said, I also snuck in this 3x3 white back artist proof sketch, my biggest yet. It was done by purchasing 9 of the same card, each with its sketch option. So, a little pricey but take a look. You can order your own single-card or some other configuration drawing here.

Other things:

I am now a first-time member of the Oil Painters of America, after being juried in on my first attempt. Apart from supporting a movement of traditional painting rooted in realism in general, it also opens up opportunities to show my work in new venues, and I look forward to learning from other artists in the association and bringing a dose of Imaginative Realism to it, perhaps.