Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Fantasy Art Bible

The Fantasy Art Bible by Chartwell Books is a nifty Spiral-bound reference for those just getting their feet under them in exploring fantasy art, or for younger students wondering how all this stuff gets made, with an entry-level techniques and materials approach that is accessible and illustrated with tons of examples. It's been out for months, but as I just received my contributor's copy and hadn't seen it before, I figured it's as good a time as ever to mention it.

3 of my images are reproduced, including "Golden" and "Silver" in the Gallery section in the back.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Studios I Have Known

Over on my Facebook Fan Page, I recently added a photo set which details studios I've worked in from 2004-present. One of the good things about the Fan Page is the ability to add photo albums like this, which would be impossible to do in one blog post here. Each photo has additional commentary and is tagged with little details here and there.

Perhaps of chief importance, you don't need a Facebook account or to be subscribed to my Page to see it.

If you're a long-time blog reader, you've seen as I moved from place to place, from San Jose on through Europe and back to the East Coast now. What I have pulled together are photos of the apartments we lived in and pictures of my mini-studios in each location. I've gotten quite used to working with a minimal setup, though I always pine for a nice separate bedroom which I could stuff with books, supplies, and such--perhaps a nice sturdy easel or drafting table. Even the bulk of my actual paintings and drawings are still being stored back in CA because I have no room for them here.

I promised I wouldn't leave you out of the loop of what's going on over there so, travel back and enjoy!


Monday, February 15, 2010

Book Review: Herbert Draper 1863-1920

In 1998, my wife and I honeymooned in England. One of the things we set out to do was to tour museums, my wife sharing my tastes in art (thank God). When one thinks museums in Europe, the mind wanders over to Paris, Italy in general, and maybe the Amsterdam or Madrid. This is because those have very famous central museums, all of which are quite good; any art history course you might take covers art found in venues in those places, including old churches and the like.

England is often left out, and that is largely because of the era in which I believe British art (and painting in general) thrived. The fin de sicle wind-down of the 1800s, which I've discussed before, is the era just as Impressionism and the modernist movement was getting started, coinciding with one of the most accomplished periods of academic painting, ever. As a result, England has a ton of fantastic art to see, but most of it is still relatively unknown, and only slowly shaking off over a century of subsequent critical ridicule. That change seemed to accelerate dramatically in the 90s, as Phaidon Books began publishing new editions of art by many of the finest artists of this period. As that coincided with my time in Art School, it was an awakening of sorts. By '98, I was bursting with the desire to see some of these paintings in person (I didn't know that the nearby Haggin Museum existed, and that it had a pretty good sampling of some of this era's French work). So off to England we went.

The Tate Museum was an early first stop, in London. I knew some images I wanted to see there already, chief among them Waterhouse's "Lady of Shallot," a stunning work much larger than I'd imagined it, and gorgeous. On our second trip to the Tate, 8 years later, I went to go see her again, and as we made our way (marvelling at Millais' Ophelia and many other pieces), we entered the hall it was in. I saw it out of the corner of my eye, but my gaze was torn away by this painting:

"The Lament for Icarus" was an equally large and hugely impressive painting, by an artist whose name I read but didn't at all remember after taking in so much art. Back during our honeymoon, we drove past Liverpool and out to Port Sunlight, to the Lady Lever Gallery, home to the Lever collection of art (as in the Lever family, of the soap). I knew that Lord Leighton has some monumental works hung there. On our way out, hung kinda high but large enough to see, was this painting:

I bought a postcard, but as there are so many of these good artists who don't have art books available yet, never committed the name to memory. Then, a few years ago while at San Diego Comic-Con, I was at Bud Plant's checking out art books and my eye fell upon this book, a collection of the work of Herbert Draper--a name I was no longer to forget. To my surprise, both the paintings mentioned were by this same guy. It was only recently that I received the book (thanks!), and though a little pricey, it's worth the price of admission.

This is a first foray into uncovering the career of this brilliant painter, one from the last generation of this worthy tradition. He himself studied under Leighton, and under Lefebvre in Paris at Academie Julian. Even the great Bouguereau would visit for weekly critiques. Sigh. He knew these other heroes of mine, and there is even evidence that the elder Waterhouse may have occasionally taken inspiration from him. While many of his works are as yet undiscovered and only mentioned, and a couple were destroyed in WW2, this is a great book for familiarizing yourself with the artist. At his best, he was every bit the equal of his contemporaries. Unfortunately, he wasn't anywhere as prolific as Alma-Tadema, for instance, and his penchant for lovely sirens and the like could sometimes stray into kitsch, for which he was called out on even in his day. But through a generous collection of color plates and a wealth of drawing reproductions, you do get a great snapshot of his life and work, and fantastic history and insight into the art world he lived in, and how quickly it was changing under his feet.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Beautiful Grim

Many of you who know my work may also know the work of Mike "Daarken" Lim. I always laugh at his nom de pinceau, but he's a good illustrator who's been all around the industry now for awhile, kicking butt and taking names. I only just had the opportunity to meet him, briefly, a few months back even though we both lived in the San Francisco Bay Area at the same time for awhile.

Well, Mike reached out to many of his fellow illustrators a couple months back in an effort to put together both an art event, as well as some support for the terrible ordeal his wife and he have gone through recently in dealing with her breast cancer, with remaining proceeds to be donated to a breast cancer charity to be determined. The result was a project called "Beautiful Grim," the wide-open theme upon which illustrators from across the broader industry were to create small works which would result hopefully in a live as well as online auction, and with the intention of also turning the collected works into a book, as well. People jumped all over it, whether or not they paid much attention to the theme. More info can be found here.

My own angle with it was simply that I've now had breast cancer strike on both sides of my household--my mother is a breast cancer survivor of 25+ years (go, mom!), and it very recently struck on my wife's side, too. I've known so many folks who've had breast cancer go off like a bomb in their lives.One thing that always seems so vicious about breast cancer is how the operations can mangle a woman's outer appearance. The range of operations has changed and improved over time, but the dreaded bilateral mastectomy is still common, and can be an assault on a woman's identity.

And yet, hopefully through their ordeal many women will come to learn about the deeper beauty that is revealed in those who fight this disease--whether they make it or succumb. The strength, the fight, the courage that pours out even in the most frightened of patients is an inspiration.

Most of the art that rolled in ran all over the place with the theme, as was expected. I didn't think many artists would address the underlying issue we were all creating art for, but I knew mine would have to. So I produced a small, 6x8" painting which I've titled, simply, "An Inner Strength." For this one, I actually started first in Acrylic.

It was all pretty spontaneous at this point.

Once I got that far in, I switched to oils and finished it off. It was a nice change of pace to do something non-genre related.

For those of you who know a strong and beautiful woman who has fought this disease (ie, any woman who has fought this disease), or you just like the art, I'll let you know as the project progresses so you can have an opportunity to bid. I'll keep none of the proceeds, and am glad to be participating.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Figure Drawing, Pt. 17

~7x9" Brush pen, 5 min. each

These were done the following week after pt. 16. I started attending figure drawing at the Society 11/08, and intended to have filled up my sketchbook by now. As it was finally close to filling, I endeavored to sprint the last pages and go more often. I finished it just before '09 ended, and will spread those last drawings out over a couple more posts in this series.

(R)~4x7" Pencil, 20 min.

Some models are better than others. Some of it is the model's look and shape, but a large part of it is how they choose to pose. It's quite subtle, but the difference between a model who poses well and one who doesn't can make a big difference in drawings. Among a lot of generally attractive models the Society hires, 2-3 stand out as models it's difficult to make a bad drawing of. We had two models on this session, but I ended up drawing this one all night.

Basically, each joint is an opportunity for expression. Good models use as many opportunities as possible, even if only slightly. Instead of standing straight, one can shift their weight to one or the other leg, rotate slightly at their waist, arc their spine convex or concave, and so on.

For these reasons, I'm happy the Society always brings in two models. For any given timeframe you have two choices, and that makes a big difference in what you're going to get out of the evening. Add in what is usually fantastic jazz or blues live acts, and it's always an enjoyable evening.

~3.5x7" Pencil, 20 min.