Fantasy Art

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Wearers of Articacts

People often ask me if I model for my own art.  Sometimes I do, but I have a flabby pale body unsullied by muscles of any kind so my heroic figures are modeled off off other people, but they are real people.  The whole idea of the art that I'm doing is that it's based on life drawings of real people not magazine photos or website photos.  I've done lots of that in the past as well, but I like this better. 

Most of the weapons and armor used in this culture are found not made.  Artifacts lying among the ruins for untold centuries the leather is usually rotted away entirely or unusable but intact enough to be brought to a smith who can make a new set from the old pieces.  The metals are often remarkably well preserved.  Strangely there never seems to be any lower leg armor among most ruins which reinforces the suspicion that it was originally made for centaurs rather than men.
Some believe that centaurs may have built the cities that now lie in ruins scattered across the land.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Santa Claus

I had intended to post this on Christmas day, but I was someplace with no internet connection so I'm posting it today.
These are a few of the thousands of Christmas themed window splashes That I painted over the years.
Painting sale signs and pizza signs paid the bills, but Christmas was my favorite time of year because Christmas art is fantasy art.  It was practically the only fantasy art I was ever paid to do and I cherished doing it.

You know what happens when you stop believing in Santa Claus don't you?  You start getting underwear for Christmas.  So believe fabulous fantasy art fans Believe!  And Merry Christmas to you all.  Thank you for being with me in this magical place.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Bathing Pool

This was possibly a ten minute pose or less.  My model is a friend of mine who usually draws at our sessions, but occasionally fills in when the scheduled model doesn't show up.  In her fifties I think she's a lovely lady even if she is perhaps a little less...perky than the twenty-something models we usually get.

Drawing mostly from habit I guess I perked her up a bit as I re-worked the sketch.

The original function of these bathing pools, or if they even were bathing pools, is unclear.  But in Jeskarrah, where the swamp-lands have been drained, the water is clean and clear, and bathing pools are popular. Only a fool would swim in the rivers if they could help it.  Larger crocodiles are rarely seen around here these days, but it's never safe to swim in water you can't see through.  That being said we all did it when we were kids and most of us survived.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Turning Your Art into a Business

Sign painting is an art and it also has a very clearly defined business model i.e. I'll paint you this if you pay me that.  All commercial art works on the same business model; illustration, murals, logo design, package design.  I've done all of them a little and sign painting a lot.  
What I'm doing now is a lot more fun and creative, but far more difficult to monetize.
Art Galleries once provided the traditional business model for oil painters, but all of the galleries were going under right about the time I was looking for representation.  My art is risky and in a traditional business like galleries no one is taking risks right now.
Well that leads us to the brave new world of the internet which is certainly where the future is for now, but there's limitations here as well.
1.  People without money or wall space can see and enjoy your work for free on-line.
But then again they were always able to browse a gallery without buying anything it just required more effort.

2.  If I do sell a painting it goes from my wall to your wall and that's where it ends compared to a  sign or public mural which always generated more work.   When thousands of people saw it some of them became new clients who hired me to make something similar.  
On the other hand a mural at someone's home made money at the time, but never got enough exposure to generate more work.

A little aside about "exposure".  As artists we are constantly approached by people who want us to work for free or very cheap because the work will "bring us lots of exposure."  Here's the thing, your Work gives you exposure, your Client never does.  If your art results in future sales it's thanks to the hard work and talent you put into the art not to any extra effort on the part of your client.
Some architect designs a great new building which may get media coverage and national awards, but he still charged a lot of money for it and so should you.

3.  My on-line viewers never get anything tangible to take away from the experience.
But I'd like to change that and that's where Patreon comes in.

Patreon falls into the new category of "microfunding".  If you enjoy what I do and want to see me keep doing it you can drop a dollar a month into my Patreon account sort of like a tip jar on the sidewalk and cumulatively I'll make enough to get by while no one is out any significant amount of cash.
I've been doing it for a couple months and am really quite happy so far.  My first couple goal levels have been met which were just to help me pay for my life drawing sessions and buy a small amount of supplies a month.  If I get enough support I'll be able to start making prints of my art some of which will be free to my patrons plus the original painting will be available to patrons only at a deep discount.  Additional prints and original artwork will also be made available to the general public using this money.
So if you like the paintings you see me post here and would like to buy a print of them I'm glad...but I can't afford the print run right now.  But if you and your friends support my Patreon page for a dollar I may soon have funds to do a lot of printing.  And patrons will get a discount on purchases so you could immediately save more money than you put in.
All of this will also fund me to keep doing all the things I'm already doing such as this blog, facebook and Instagram. 

Plus you get to see some more cool pictures and videos like you get to see here.
Here's a sample.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Conan the Barbarian ate my Grapes!

Do you want to learn how to draw and paint fantasy art?  Do you want to create exotic scenes of magic and wonder?  Do you want to amaze and astonish us with alien vistas, terrifying creature designs, mind blowing visual effects and futuristic technology?
 Do you want to know how to start learning to do all of those things?  Easy, take a drawing class, then a life drawing class and then a painting class, or all three at once.  You'll paint people, landscapes and still lifes by the dozens.
Why would you want to sketch some naked fat dude or old woman in life drawing class?  Because if you can't do that then you can't draw heroes either.   If you can't paint the skin of an apple you probably can't successfully render the skin of some barbarian babe's butt.  If you can't draw and paint common objects like bowls and vases you'll really trip up on robots, spaceships and armor.
Nor could you draw all the other people who inhabit this fantasy world where heroes can be a hero.  There has to be fat old people in a fantasy world, otherwise everyone could solve their own problems, no heroes needed.
And fantasy worlds know...a world.  You have to be able to paint landscapes, trees grass flowers and rocks so the hero has ground to stand on.  One of the easiest special effects to paint (and it's by no means easy) is clouds.  If you can't do clouds you'l never handle smoke, lightening or fire.
Besides all of that there's bowls of fruit in fantasy worlds, where do you think I painted this one?  In fact I had a very difficult time painting this scene because Conan the Barbarian kept walking by and eating all of my grapes.

Hyborean Still Life
or Conan ate my grapes!
16" X 12" Oil paint on Recycled Board
For Sale
$150.00 unframed

Thursday, December 8, 2016

El Tango de Muerte part 4

Here's a few process shots as we go through the painting.
First knocking in the darkest colors, not outlines just shaded areas these would not get much more detail than  what you see.  Also a thin wash in less shaded spots and in the background to separate the figures from the faux finish under-painting.

Now some mid tones and highlights mostly on the girl and her clothes.  The skeleton is virtually done except for some highlights at the end.

Dark greenish brown in the lower background and the shaded parts of her clothing.  This provides the bright colors with a tremendous amount of contrast so they really pop.

If I look unhappy here it's mostly because the sun was in my eyes, but also because my painting sold for a very low price.  However the couple who bought it liked it so well that they came over to me afterwards and gave me more money.  I was touched, but it was a little awkward.

This is the final.  Conditions for photography were less than ideal because of the bright sunlight and the wind and the hurry.  Obviously if I'd had more time I'd have done a lot more, but that's possibly not a good thing.  What do you think?  The roughness is appealing to me in a way.
Another layer to this painting is the fact that there is an entire genre of Tango Art out there and I did my best to adhere to the colors and styles of that tradition.

This is not a Through-the-Basement-Door kind of image, but it is autobiographical.  The older we get the more we seem to be flirting with death.  Leaning close and then stepping away, but never out of reach.  He can afford to be patient.

On another occasion entirely I painted this mural in the same Tango genre.  They all adhere to the same formula, guy in a suit woman in a red dress vague smoky background with undefined musicians, fiery orange and reds symbolizing passion I assume.  I think you can find this kind of image on velvet paintings if you look.
This one was painted frame and all on the cinder block wall of a dance school.  It's about 11 feet long.  Almost entirely done with latex house paints.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

El Tango de Muerte part 3

Here I am setting up for the Quick Draw competition.  It's a mean trick that cameras always play on me that makes it look like there's no one else around.  Main Street is actually barely two cars wide so all those folks who appear to be a thousand yards away are actually close enough to talk to.  By the time the event was underway there were a couple thousand people there.  

Once they said go I slapped the sketch up to the canvas and started tracing.

If it works this is a video of me tracing.  I like technology, but it doesn't always like me, sometimes it beats me up and calls me dirty names.  But hopefully We have a couple short video clips to share.

Pressure from the ballpoint pen makes a very fine line and doesn't give you much to work with especially on such a dark under-painting, but it does the job.

The wind kicked up and I had to hold onto the painting while I worked.

That's my lovely wife Stellar who's voice you hear and who's holding the camera.  She  couldn't film as much as we wanted because she had to hang on to the canvas so the wind didn't blow it away.  You could make sails out of that stuff!  Oh yeah, they've thought of that already haven't they?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

El Tango de Muerte part 2

Years ago I did a lot of faux finishes. Using sponges and rags I'd splatter and dab and make a big sloppy mess all over a wall and then when it was partially dried I'd take a damp rag and wipe it off.  This would stain the wall with a random texture that resembles stone or aged stucco or some such thing.
I used that technique on this canvas with I'd found discarded in the alley nearby.   The canvas deserved to be discarded, it looked like the kind of wall art you can get at any department store; big ugly vase and flowers made from thick blobs of cheap paint.  I sanded the blobs down, coated the whole thing with primer, frame and all, and faux finished it.

Later I glazed the frame a dark brown allowing some of the glaze to stain into the edges of the canvas.  I had no idea at the time what I'd use the canvas for I just knew I could do something cool with it.
As it happens I was invited to participate in Downtown Scottsdale's first Quick Draw competition.  They closed off Main Street where all of the galleries are and all of us invited artists set up in the middle of the street with our easels and canvas and had 3 hours to execute a painting which would then be auctioned off for charity.
I took a photo of my original sketch, put it on a jump drive and took it to Staples who made a bigger print for me.  This copy is about 3 foot by 3 and a half foot.  I rubbed charcoal on the back of that and had it ready to trace onto the canvas when they said "Ready Set Go!"  I cleared all of that with the organization so no one said it was cheating.  Other guys did similar things.  I think I have video of the event to share tomorrow.

Monday, December 5, 2016

El Tango de Muerte

Once in a great while we have a model who brings a costume or is otherwise willing to do something other than just sit there.  I drew this scene from a couple different angles, but this one was the most appealing in that one figure overlaps the other creating visual depth.  A composition where one figure is standing to one side of another figure is very static.  Even if they're fighting or dancing they still just look like two gate posts.  One figure partially in front of the other gives the image depth of field.  A sense of distance and motion.

Using the steps to simulate a dancing movement while actually sitting down was just brilliant.  The costume, the tango pose and the skeleton were all the model's idea.  She's a hard working imaginative and dedicated actress model and dancer.  I've drawn her doing more conventional nude life drawing sessions, but her poses are always far more challenging than average.  She even tied the skeleton's hand to her earring to keep him in position.

You don't have to draw what you see, you can use what you see to set up the drawing and then make whatever adjustments you want until you like it better.  The skeleton's leg position wasn't working for me so I reversed it.  I raised her left arm to a more active posture and gave her hair and earrings a flip to capture the sense of motion.

Then like so many of my sketches this one went into the closet with a promise to myself that someday I'd do a really cool painting with that.  This time though it actually happened.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Figure Studies

We're going to take a little side trip now and then so that I can work on my figure paintings with which I just don't have the confidence I'd like to have.  I'm very confident and spontaneous with sign painting and with charcoal drawings.  I can draw monsters and costumes, weapons armor, and buildings all from the imagination if need be, but figure painting in oil still gives me a lot of trouble.  In the end I produce a nice painting, but I often go in circles and pull my hair out during the process so I want to get a little more experience behind me and feel like this is the way to go about it.

I will share some, but not all of these studies here, and I will sell them for $50.00 each to patrons on my Patreon site.
More to follow.
Here's a link

Friday, November 25, 2016

Two Tries at the Same Pose part 3

As I said before this was a fairly long pose so after rushing in and slapping down the rough sketch in Part 1, I got out a fresh sheet of paper and did a slower more careful drawing.  This is not a terribly challenging pose but just try doing this for 20 minutes or more and not drifting or adjusting your hip once it gets uncomfortable.  Models work Very hard.  He was a lean muscular dude, but I exaggerated his muscles here a little bit.  I can't remember at this point how much of this sketch I did in the classroom and how much I did later at home using reference photos and anatomy books.  I don't like grossly exaggerated muscles in fantasy art any more than I like the crazy huge swords and armor.

Again working at home on both versions of this sketch one right after the other I was able to learn from the first one and do a nicer job on the second.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Two Tries at the Same Pose part 2

There are a number of things about modern fantasy art that don't impress me very much.  I admire the skill an awful lot, but I rarely like the actual art.  In particular I don't like the gigantic weapons, gigantic armor, gigantic monsters, gigantic everything.  That's not what fantasy is about, it's about the stories and the people in those stories.  If I had encountered that art when I was a young boy instead of Frazetta's art I probably would never have become as interested in the genre as I am.
Having worn real armor and fought with medieval weapons myself I have an appreciation for the devastating destructive power of sturdy lightweight blades.  I would far prefer to face an opponent wielding the heavy oversize ax in yesterday's sketch than the deadly efficient blade this guy has.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Two Tries at the Same Pose part 1

There are rare occasions when we have a male model and he actually has muscles.  This was one such time and this pose with a broomstick over his shoulder like some kind of weapon was so much like the kind of thing I want to draw that I got in a big hurry to finish it.  As a result I drew this figure kind of sloppily and too large for the paper.  So I slowed down, got out a fresh sheet of paper and started over.  Now I have two completely different renditions of the same pose, both of which I worked on later at home.  Looking at things like muscle charts and body builder photos I exaggerated his muscles before creating a costume etc.

So this is the same drawing as above, but I shortened his legs so he's no so freakishly tall and using anatomy books I detailed his muscles.  This is actually reasonably close to what the model really looked like.  In the second version I beefed him up a bit more.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Less Bad Drawing

Many times as you add clothing to the figure you start to lose a lot of the person's form.  They start to become the shape of folds and belts and seams.  Most of the time this makes me want to leave them naked, but in this case it was a good thing because I know I'd drawn his torso poorly so he looks better covered up.  I liked the sword I made before, but this one matches his hulking barbarian personality better.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Partially Bad Drawing

Wow I really don't draw men often enough, especially not muscular men.  Let's see what all is wrong with this drawing?  His right knee is awful and his right hand was originally resting on his thigh.  I didn't like it at all, but wish I'd photographed it before changing it.  I took a photo of my own hand on a sword as reference for this one, but the shoulder looks all wrong and the compression of his gut as he leans forward.  He was probably really sucking in his gut the whole time which contributes to the awkward appearance of it all.  He did have muscles and long hair though so that part was cool.  I like a lot of individual parts, but they seem to be assembled wrong.
I would draw male models more often given the choice, but I don't run the life drawing class I'm just a long time regular.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Murder of Lord Nestor

Using the photograph that I took as a reference I was able to finish the figure, but the stick she was holding didn't make any sense to me so I left it out.  This leaves us with these two hand postures to interpret in any way our imagination wishes to.  I considered having her holding an overhanging tree branch to steady herself as she wades into a pond on a sunny day for a little skinny dip.  With a slight change to her hands she could be dancing or holding a serving tray like a waitress at the diner.  We could have given her rollerskates.  The point is it's your drawing and your story and your imagination.  Take it where you want to go.

No one really knows who killed Lord Nestor, some say his wife, some say his mistress (as if there was only one) some say he stabbed himself, but where's the knife?  His enemies?  Too many to mention.  No one loved him but many feared him.  After a lifetime manipulating and being manipulated, all that is certain is there will be no tears at his funeral.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Props Tell a Story

This model is very fond of using sticks for props, but she doesn't seem to be acting out anything in particular.  The broomstick doesn't become a spear or paddle or garden rake, she just kind of leans on it or holds it awkwardly.  Still it makes for some variety from the models who avoid props altogether.  Sometimes the best thing you can do is draw the model, but not the stick and then the empty handed posture might remind you of something and suggest an entirely different action.  That's what I eventually did here
Fortunately I had a photo reference for this one.  I'm not allowed to share it with you, but I can use it to finish my drawing.

Monday, November 7, 2016

In the Moonlight

I came back and did the costume and background years after the initial sketch and no longer owned a sanguine colored pencil so I just used regular charcoal.  I could have Photoshopped it to where you can't tell the difference, but that's not the point.  One thing I like about these colors is the illusion of antiquity, like you're looking at one of da Vinci's sketches or something.
This is one of my favorites and will certainly be made into a painting.  I think I'll retain the color scheme when I do it.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Lovely Pose

I love this pose, it's beautiful and natural, sensuous and curvy.  Even though it's a fairly restful pose for the model it still has the appearance of movement like we've walked into the middle of a story.  The girl isn't staring fixedly into space, she's in mid-motion, turning to look at something, ready to stand up.  To do what?  To embrace a lover?  To fight with an enemy?  To run for her life?  To witness a spectacle?  We don't know, that's the beauty of it, but we get the sense that something is taking place even if the image itself is undramatic.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Moon Made

This girl was actually not on the moon when I drew her, she was in Gilbert, which is a lot different.  But I was recently invited to dinner at the house of Bickman Shaw who has an extensive art collection.  In the dining room was an oil painting of a moon maiden wearing an outfit somewhat like this.
He let me make some sketches because he fancies himself a patron of the arts even though he's never bought anything of mine.
At any rate I feel a little more confident in the accuracy of the gun and holster arrangement in this sketch than I do in the previous sketch which I completely made up.
Of course it's possible this artist made it up as well.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Productive Disillusionment

This is one of those drawings that I was very impressed with myself about back when I did it.  Especially the feet, feet are hard to do and I was all proud of those feet.
 Then I dug it out of the closet years later and said oh man that's terrible!  OK it's really not terrible it just isn't half as great as I thought it was.  Sometimes I've imagined that I'll just put this sketch away until I'm really good at oil painting and then I'll resurrect this one and rock the art world off of its foundations.
Yeah that's not happening.
One thing I do like about this sketch is the pose itself.   I like that a lot it has a soft mysterious feeling, but I really don't like the drawing anymore and because of that I can hardly mess it up.  So I feel comfortable going ahead and trying things that I'd have hesitated about if I was still enamored with it.  Sometimes it's liberating and healthy to get a little disillusioned.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Amazon Women on the Moon

Well this is as far as I've gotten on this drawing.  I kind of like it, but there are a few things I've done terribly wrong.  The saber just looks like any old rapier and the gun is all wrong.  Of course she wasn't wearing either of them at the time so I'm making it up from my memory of a different visit.  Also the architecture is very distinctive on Kath.  I'll have to do some studies the next time I go, I'm just always caught up in my excitement for drawing people that sometimes the location gets forgotten.  If it wasn't for the moon goblin there would be nothing to tell you where this was.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Moon Model

It"s funny that having changed this drawing so much it's actually looking more like the model than it did before.  not that that's very important to me.  By the time I'm completely finished with a detailed drawing or painting I've changed the face and hair entirely.
I've decided to give her one of the straight-bladed moon sabers that they use even though she didn't actually have one in this pose.  I've never actually seen one up close so this drawing is somewhat inaccurate. I'm told they glow like lightening and can cut through solid stone and that the blade can kill you just by touching you.  I kind of doubt all that, but I do get the impression that if I pressed the question I might find out first hand.  Moon folk are secretive about their technology.

Then I gave her some nicer hair.  Starting to like this drawing now, I'd been prepared to throw it out at first because it just looked so unflattering.  It's always worth the effort to see if you can salvage a piece.