Fantasy Art

Friday, February 9, 2018

3 Dailies

These were more 30 minute daily paintings from 2005.
Grapes seem to be something every aspiring painter wants to paint, but they're really not easy.  They're a little translucent which is a hard thing to convey.  Plus anything that comes in a cluster has to be simultaneously painted both as one big object and as many small objects.

You can see the three hole punch at the bottom of the painting.  This and the other two were painted on some old card-stock I had kicking around,  I didn't want to bog down on the idea that this painting had to be  good enough to sell.  I was just practice, so I used disposable material.

More grapes, a little later in their life-cycle.

And an old tin coffee can.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Why Does My Monster Hate Me?

Cover art for the second Dr Eldritch compilation book "Why Does My Monster Hate Me?  The concept for this painting was that this mad scientist had built a Frankenstein-ian monster all from teenager parts and now instead of terrorizing the village like he's supposed to do, he just gives attitude and wants to hang out with his friends.

Even though I was a little old to pose as a teenager I can "What-Ever!" with the best of them so I photographed myself dishing out all the adolescent angst I could muster.  The white shirt and exaggerated light was intentional to give me pronounced Light Shadow and Reflected Light.  The holy trinity of why things look three dimensional.  My right elbow was up against a blue green panel for a sign I was painting, which gave me the blue reflections.

I also referenced some Frankenstein photos just for the general look.

All the rest of the image was made up which started giving me trouble part way through the project.  It was a simple whimsical project for low pay.  It should have been easy to knock out and yet I started thinking about it as a really unusual piece for me.  A portfolio piece, my break-out piece, the work that was going to put me on the map as an illustrator.  A seminal work.  The turning point of my Life!  I have to get it perfect, it has to be right, I have to hire models.  I can't afford models.  I don't have time! I can't make this in acrylics, it has to be oil paints.  Oh Gawd I don't Know Oil Paints!  I've got to take a class.  I don't have time!  Oh who am I kidding?  I can't do this, I'm not an illustrator I'm just a sign painter, just a lowly window-splasher, I'll never be anyone in the illustration world!

Why do we do these things to ourselves?
I'd spent weeks on it painting it over and wiping it out.  I scolded myself "If this was a six foot tall window you'd be done in an afternoon and it would look awesome.  You're only scared of it because it's an illustration project."  Then I realized, that's exactly what it is.  So I told myself, "It's just a window splash, you do this every day.  Relax and have fun and just do it.  I was done in half an hour.  Sometimes I consider it my most successful painting.

So in a way it was a turning point in my life because it has been my mantra a hundred times since then whenever a painting is kicking my butt.  "Dude it's a window splash, you do them all the time, just do it and hand have fun."

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Are Aliens Eating My Crackers?

Are Aliens Eating My Crackers? was the title to a book written by my longtime friend Evan Nichols.   Evan wrote an amusing web-comic a few years back plus a horoscope and an advice column all of which are very much worth reading.
This book was a compilation of some of that material and is available here:

Monday, January 22, 2018

Awkwardness again

Have I mentioned that these particular paintings aren't very good?  We'll mention it again just in case you missed it the first time round. 

So those are all acrylics from back in 2005.    They were  on cardboard or paper and most of them went to the recycler years ago.  There's a hundred more I could share with you, but probably won't.

Not to compare eggplants to oranges, but here's a couple from the last month or so.  These are oil paints on archival wooden panels and will be for sale.

What I mean by awkwardness is simply this: I don't know what I'm doing.
I don't mean that in terms of painting, I know how to paint, though I'm never satisfied with my abilities.  I'm very creative and I draw well and have lots of cool ideas.  But I mean in terms of blogging.  I'm awkward about presenting my ideas or having a coherent message.  I never know if anyone is really interested in my ideas or if there's something they'd prefer that I show or say or explain that I'm not doing or something I am doing that's annoying and people wish I'd stop.

And then I remember: a blog isn't a public service.  It can be, but it can also just be a diary that I leave out for other people to read, but very few people do, but that's OK.

It's also a window to show you the fantasy world that I travel back and forth to, and the people and creatures who inhabit it.

But soon it's going to have to also be a platform for sharing my recent paintings when they are dry and varnished and ready to sell, and a link to where you can buy them (probably ebay),  
So that's all going to be awkward.  it's going to be even less cohesive than the blog has been so far and so far it's been kind of all over the place.
On the other hand maybe people like that sort of thing.  Or maybe they don't, I can't tell.  There's very little traffic on this site possibly because it's not good, or it's confusing or possibly because it just lacks exposure.  No one has to answer these musings for me, I'm just scribbling awkwardly in my diary about what an awkward boy I am.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Awkwardness social and otherwise

Yep, that's a spoon.

We've all seen it and probably all done it to some extent or in some context.  The caring father is showing his kid how to throw a basketball.  So he instructs him on form, and stance and aim, and the kid throws and misses. So dad comes out and repeats his instructions and corrects the kid's stance.  Kid tries again and misses again and dad says "no no no you're not doing it right!"  Pretty soon we have a kid who hates basketball. 
There's a point where instruction is appropriate and immensely useful and then there's a point where it just gets in the way because no one is ever going to throw a basketball like a pro until they've missed the hoop about ten thousand times.
It's like a person walking from Phoenix to Tuscon.  I don't know why they're walking instead of driving, it's an analogy-work with me here-maybe it's a spiritual journey.  The point is there are many dubious stopping points on the road from Phoenix to Tuscon where you might encounter such a person.  Places like Casa Grande.  Now if you stop and berate this traveler for "doing it wrong" based on the magnitude of how much Casa Grande does not qualify as Tuscon, you're missing the point entirely.  He's making progress, he's going the right direction and he's doing fine.  He doesn't need you to help him, give him a ride, show him a map, or criticize his style, he just needs you to get out of the way and let him walk, because let's face it, the sooner out of Casa Grande the better.  Granted there are many low points and pitfalls in any journey and Casa grande is certainly one of them, but these things have to be worked through to get where you want to be.  You can view them as failures if you choose to, or you can see them as roadmarks on your journey and just move on.

Yep, that's an apple

If you pay attention to the dates which will be visible on some of these you'll notice they're not in chronological order.  That's cuz I'm lazy.  Also this whole blog is in no chronological order.  Each post just pertains to whatever I wanted to talk about at the moment.
Back to basketball.  Sometimes it's not the coach who's being a perfectionist it's the player.  Some guys want to study the history of the game, memorize stats, look for algorithms (whatever the hell those are) study the chemical composition of the ball, get a degree in aerodynamics so they can calculate weight vs. gravity, lift, friction, velocity and drag.  Buy the perfect shoes and lobby to have the floor waxed with the optimal material for bounce.
...Then they pick up a ball for the first time and discover they have not one single advantage over any other novice on the court.  For sure they have a unique appreciation for the physics of how and why the ball just rebounded into their face, but they have no advantage in keeping it from happening.

What's my point?

You can only blame your Dad, your coach or some crazy critic on the road to Tuscon for a very tiny percentage of the dialog going on inside your head.  The rest of it I'm afraid you put there yourself.

This blog is about painting.  You can take a class, and you should, you can read a book, and you should.  There are demos on YouTube that are very worth watching, but you're going to paint a lot of BAD paintings before you ever paint any good ones.  Bad paintings are like Casa Grande, there's no reason to beat yourself up about them and there's no reason to keep re-working them until they're perfect.  You'll spend the rest of your life in Casa Grande if you do that, just keep painting, keep walking.  That's what this daily painting exercise is all about.  I produced no great art when I did it and I'm making no attempt to impress you, I'm just letting you watch me practice and fumble and fail.

The date on the apple painting above is 2004, I've improved since then.  But someone in the big bad world of the internet is going to see this and want to tell me how I'm currently living my life wrong based on the merits of that painting.  Ninety percent of the time that someone is going to be me.

My artistic career could be read as a litany of failure and missed opportunities, and gawd knows I've wasted too much of my breath telling myself that story.
Or my career can be see as a fascinating and ultimately successful journey with a wealth of delightful, if inexplicably prolonged, side trips to quaint little locations like Casa Grande.  Did I do it wrong?  Depends on your definition of right. 

I'll grant you that if I could do it all over again knowing what I do now there's a lot of those side trips I would avoid.  Some of those little side adventures make us who we are while some of them are like "The Last Jedi" where people go on a pointless side trip to do an enormous amount of damage achieving absolutely nothing in pursuit of a plan that was no good to start with.

The title of this post was "awkwardness" and while I've rambled all over the galaxy from the basketball court to Casa grande, I haven't really addressed that topic dead on.
...See how awkward that was?

More tomorrow.

Danged if that ain't a banana.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Daily Paintings

Years ago I had an idea to do a small painting everyday before leaving for work.  I was still a full time sign painter and had places to be so the discipline was not to make myself do the job the discipline was to make myself Stop.  To this end I set a timer for 30 minutes and the painting was completely done when the timer beeped.  I did not allow myself that one final stroke or highlight to pull it all together.  The timer went beep and the brush went into the jar period.  (I was painting in acrylics.)

Recognizing my own predisposition to blow every idea enormously out of proportion I deliberately painted on materials that, for the most part, weren't archival.  This kept me from thinking I was going to sell this painting and therefore needed to take the extra time to make it worthy to sell.  If I was going to try to sell it at some point I'd obsess over them and try to perfect each one.  This would mean I'd keep going after the timer or return to the same piece day after day trying to get it right. 
To that end I painted on a big stack of leftover materials I had been keeping around the place.  I had all kinds of papers, cardboard, posterboard, illustration board, and wood.  I also chose unimportant subjects like common household objects.  (Somewhere in this set is a painting of a doorknob.) 

Some of them came out very nicely and many of them were just awful, but it was all terrific practice.
 It was beneficial not just in training myself to paint, and do it quickly, but also in training myself to let go.  To allow the job to be "good enough" and call it done so I could move on to the next one.   I learned not to become too enamored of a piece or of the time invested in it, when the exercise was over it was over.
In most cases the paper warped and buckled and the pieces were eventually thrown away.

These many years later I've decided to resume the practice of Daily Paintings.  There are societies of daily painters and some people making a descent living from it.  I'd like to be one of those people.  So lately I've been doing small still life paintings again.
This time they will be in oils and they will take more than 30 minutes, but hopefully not terribly long, and this time I will be trying to sell them so they'll be painted on better material.
I've wondered how to present all of this in a way that's not awkward and then I realized that everything I do is always awkward so why stop now?

More about awkwardness tomorrow.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

A Barbarian's Holiday

I did this years ago and looking back on it now I can see that his legs are way too long, and his left leg is impossibly long. 
It's a relaxed pose which you don't often see in barbarian fantasy art, which makes it unique at the very least.  There must be those occasional moments in Conan's life when he was just hanging out and nothing was trying to eat him.