Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Sacrifice

Over the years I have put old paintings to new use in a few ways. This may be the first time I have done it in this way.

Before / After

This painting began life in quite another form. Well, half of it did. It appeared as a 1.5 page spread in the Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook 3. In that illustration, there were three tightly described characters who were to be attacking the dragon, with a gutter running 1/3 from the left. There was a cleric casting a spell at it, a githzerai monk doing some karate chop (I just had him leaping with incredible acrobat powers), and a halfling rogue sneaking up on it in some way...!!!

The dragon and overall environment I was especially happy with. The publisher was too--they put it on the back cover of the book. When I got back, without gutter constraints, I wondered if there was something I could do differently with the painting which might appeal to my sensibilities in some greater way. I cast about for ideas for awhile, tossing out some of the more trite ones--battling dragons, for instance. At one point I'd done a digital sketch where I left but altered the cleric, removed the two others, and had a much larger army charging in.

I took the scan into Painter, and quickly painted out the figures, so I would have a "clean" canvas to imagine upon. While video-chatting with my friend Steven Belledin (two posts in a row he's been mentioned in--this can't be good for his reputation!), I sent him that study (he having not seen the published version) and asked what sorts of things he might imagine. We talked about what I wasn't going to do, and after awhile he offered up, "...I'm thinking maybe a child...." I was intrigued and within moments had begun to string out the idea in my head. Ends up we had very different ideas for what kind of portrayal that would result in, but it was a valuable brainstorming session.

In-progress: in this poor photo (the sky is totally washed out), you can see the wing portion blocked in for repainting, the old tail and extra perch still showing through the first layer of sky repaint, the new tail still penciled-in, and the ground fully-painted before figures are placed on it

Reworking it meant all sorts of changes. I approached it with the malleability of a digital painting. In digital art, you're free to wreck and repaint anything with impunity. I've sort of taken up that spirit in paint. I had to remove the cleric's spell and repaint everything underneath. I re-staged the environment, for instance, making the arch the cleric was standing on a very distant rock outcropping. I had to repaint the dragon's head since it was no longer being hit by a spell. All sorts of changes. It was almost as much work as starting over!

In-progress 2

In the end, it was a fun experiment, and I'm happy with the entirely new painting that resulted. There were lots of places where I could've failed along the way.

A zoomed-in view and purchase information can be found on the gallery page for this painting.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fall 2010 Appearances

After a quiet summer, event-wise, I am pleased to announce two places where you can catch my art this autumn. Unfortunately for many of you, they happen to be a commuter-flight from each other, leaving the bulk of the country under-served.

First up is the World Fantasy Convention, held this year in Columbus OH October 28-31. This show moves around year by year. I last exhibited work when it was in Saratoga Springs NY in 2007. What a debacle that was. I thought I might show at last year's WFC, which was held in my hometown of San Jose, CA. But that didn't happen. I have, however, worked up the guts to face the harsh memories of WFC and attempt it again. I have friends in Columbus, so it's looking brighter already. This convention also always falls the same weekend as my birthday, so I shall spend it in Columbus. Saratoga Springs put a bad taste in my mouth regarding my own birthday, added to a horrible birthday/convention experience in Lucca, Italy, just 2 years prior. It seems that pairing my birthday with a convention is just bad news. I'm not superstitious, really, but it's hard to get out from under the weight of bad memories, isn't it?

World Fantasy is a hanging show, which means I'll have work in the Art Show framed nicely for people to take home, but I won't be around my display. I'll be present for the reception, and here and there throughout the convention. I'll be showing the originals of The Balance of Power, Embryonic, The Unknown God, and a few other surprises. There'll also be prints available to pick up.

Next up is IlluxCon 3, November 11-14 in Altoona PA (!!). Last year, I showed up and hoped to be able to show my art somehow. I ended up finding myself splitting a table with Steven Belledin (we went together and he likewise went livin' on a prayer hoping to show) when there was extra space. IlluxCon is Mecca for fantasy art. A who's-who list of mind-boggling talent, in a small show, not competing with movie studios or large videogame company displays. Just one intimate showroom with display after display of amazing art, and access to the artists all weekend. A collector's dream. There's more to it than that, of benefit to students and aspiring professionals. But if you love yourself some fantasy art, this convention is incredible. Last year I was like,"Oh look, I get to stare at Brom all weekend as he sits across from me. And hey, World Fantasy Award winner John Picacio is asking me to watch his stuff one spot over while he gets a drink. Maybe I'll walk 100 feet and watch Boris Vallejo paint. That's if I don't stop to talk to Dan Dos Santos, Donato Giancola and Michael Whelan on the way....and wait, what the hell am I doing here again??"

Yeah, amazingly I was invited back for a full spot this year (Belledin was, too!). So now that I'm officially there I gotta stop being the fanboy and act the professional...which is impossible, since one of the amazing things about the show is watching all the artists involved become fanboys again. So yeah, come on down. I'll have my usual spread of items to purchase, and a selection of originals, which as of this moment I hope to be comrprised entirely of paintings you haven't seen yet, since I showed stuff there last year. 3 are done, and we'll see what I can accomplish in the next 2 months!

So yeah, stuff! I hope to see you this fall!

P.S.--did I mention that Steven Belledin also started a blog recently, which attempts to compete with mine for verbosity? *shakes fist*'s good, you should bookmark it.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Lest I Leave You Unattended

One advantage of the information age is the speed with which creators can share creations with the public. Dissemination can be almost instantaneous. So whereas this isn't instantaneous, it is a drawing that I did last Thursday, for a painting in-progress. I hope to have the painting up in a week or two. But with Labor Day and a busy week this week, this is as much as I can manage to blog for now. Still, it's nice to be able to get something up quick. I'll add further details when the painting is up.

I don't like missing weeks here, so if at all possible I'd rather give you something substantial, even just a little, rather than nothing.

Because of its tall format, this also means I have the option of filling this space with an excess of words....

...or leaving it blank and making you scroll down to the next post.

So I've chosen a middle way.

Talk to you next week!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Museum Studies, Pt.1

At the beginning of the year, I wrapped up a period of Figure Drawing, and moved on to the next flower, busy-bee like. Living in NYC, and having just a few months prior finally made it to the American Museum of Natural History, it struck me that it was a gold mine for any illustrator. Together with collections at the Met and a couple other smaller museums, there is such a variety of stuff for an artist to study that I could probably go once a week the rest of my life, draw 2-3 things, and never draw every artifact on display in this town.

One thing I've been wanting to work on is to increase my overall visual vocabulary. By that, I mean my facility to draw a wide range of things. In creating creatures, or designing characters, a fantasy artist has to draw from a wide pool of reference. Animal anatomy in the case of the former, and costume, decoration, jewelry, and etc., in the latter case. I could easily just focus on animals for awhile, or artifacts. But here with the AMNH, I have access to all of it. The animals on display are gorgeous, and they don't move--something I hate about drawings at zoos.

Grizzly Bear, 5.75x8" Pastel pencil on paper (purchase info)

And so, I bought a year membership, and have gone down from time to time this year to draw. A few times, it was seeking specific reference, the other times, just to draw interesting things. So, in this series, I'll be posting those drawings and maybe talking a little about them or the museum or whatever. Mainly, they will be from the AMNH, occasionally, the Met, which has a great collection of armor, among other things. It'll depend on what reference I needed that day, or what whim drove me to.

Whereas I kept my Figure Drawing series to one every 8 posts, so that only one would appear on the front page at once (so that people wouldn't think you were weird looking at a blog with all kinds of nekkid people on it), I'm going to be putting one of these up on the first of the month, every month. I have 6 months' worth of drawings ready to go already, and intend this series to last at least one year, probably two.

(L): Helmet, Iran 19c. 7.75x5.5" ink on paper(purchase info)

I've also kvetched about how or whether to sell my Figure Drawings, which were bound in a book. Not an issue this time, as I've learned my lesson. All of these drawings are done separately, and all of them will be made available for sale. You won't find them on my main galleries, since they aren't portfolio-related images, but they will be linked and you blog readers will get exclusive access to them.

And so, here we go! I hope you enjoy these, as I've certainly enjoyed doing them. There's also a tag for these, if you want to keep up with them in particular.