Fantasy Art

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Posing Naked on a Crocodile and Phoenix Comic Con

OK so what to do?  Well the first and most obvious thing is to lose the cloth draped bar-stool that she's sitting on and replace it with a prehistoric dino-crocodile-beast.
You knew that of course, obviously.

This weekend you can find me live and in person at Phoenix Comic Con table #AA1614
We will have Gilead's Goblinz fantasy art Coloring books, Bookmarks, and prints of some of my older paintings including the "Goblin Queen".  Plus there will be some live painting demonstrations.
  I hope to see you there.

If you can't make it you can always e-mail me with requests of prints etc or get the coloring books on amazon. com.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Complaints and Boring Poses

Hang around me long enough and there's two things you'll learn.  One is that some models pick really boring poses, the other is that Gilead complains a lot.  But if I complain too much then hopefully I can redeem myself by sharing solutions as well as complaints.  After all how can you talk about solutions without talking about problems first?
What we have here is a not terrible pose except that almost all models do it and this model does it every time she models.  I'm referring to the hand on top of the head pose.  She does it sitting and standing.  If you were on the other side of the room her arm is not visible so her hand is just sitting on top of her head like a hat which looks very disturbing.

Many artists are after something entirely different in their art than I am and don't mind this sort of thing at all, but I want a natural looking movement and this is a very contrived movement to my eyes.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Are You Following Me?

This painting was done at least a year before the last one.  I'd learned a lot in between the two so I certainly feel like "Goblin Queen" is a better painting over all, but there's a lot I still like about this one.
The board that it's painted on is 4 feet tall and a little more than a foot wide.  It's something I had been saving to make a sign out of, but that work wasn't coming in so I decided to use my materials on my own projects.
Having freed myself of the notion of doing art for any particular purpose or market (it's not a sign or an illustration or fine art, it's just me doing my thing) I was able to just go with my instincts and make whatever came to mind.
First the background was done in a faux finish technique using splattering and sponging and ragging until it looked like old stone.  I then achieved the carved look with some dark and light glazes to create highlights and shadows.  This is very quick and easy, I've painted entire rooms like this in a single day back in my mural painting days.  It was all done with acrylic house paint.
Unfortunately I didn't take any step by step photos at the time, but I think I sketched the girl in vine charcoal and then used a razor-blade perpendicular to the surface to scrape the paint smooth from all the faux finish texture.
Then I did the rest in oil paint.
You can see the sign painter in me showing through in this entire painting.  Faux finishes, decorative borders, centered composition, orange against blue contrast, and skin tones that are more about luscious color than accuracy.
 In many ways it's more like a sign than an illustration, but I wasn't trying to do either, I was just having fun and rolling with my impulses.
Another nice thing is that the finished painting could have hanging wires screwed right into the back of the board so no frame is required.  In fact the wire and clips were practically my only cost making this painting.  That was important because I was broke at the time, but now it's just become an enjoyable quirk of my art to use whatever material I can find to paint on.  It's challenging and it keeps me from settling into any kind of standard such as book cover format or standard frame sizes.
People said she looked like someone was following her so she's getting defensive.  Hence the title: "Are You Following Me?

 I know that the end of my sign painting career had more to do with the economy and the sudden affordability of computer printed signs, but when you make a living at something for twenty years and then suddenly you can't make it work, it's easy to convince yourself that you've simply "lost it" and you're all washed up and not useful anymore.  At least that's how I felt.
Consequently the success and sale of this kind of painting was very instrumental in restoring the self confidence I'd lost.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Chaperon Part 2

The realms beyond the door are as treacherous as they are wondrous.  But as dangerous as the land may be, the young ladies there who ask me to draw them can be even more so.  Guarded as they often are by pet leopards or dragons,  such chaperons are the least of my worries.  It's the sudden homecoming of jealous husbands or protective fathers that I have to watch out for.
  Usually I only have time for a rough charcoal drawing and maybe a snapshot or two and then it's time for me to slip away back through the basement door sometimes with my skin barely intact.
I do feel like this one would make a nice little painting someday if I get around to it.

There are better artists in the world who's blogs you could be following and I'd certainly encourage you to do so.  This blog isn't about my being the best or having the best techniques, it's about sharing what little I do have and hoping you take away something of value from it.

Oh and it's also about selling my coloring books, please support your local artist by purchasing the occasional coloring book.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Chaperon Part One

Most of my drawings just go in the closet and never see the light of day again. 
A few get reworked and refined and then a tiny few of those become the basis of a painting.
I'll share as much as I can of everything with you.
I love this kind of pose, there's movement even though she's lying down.  And it feels natural, a young lady lounging around and putting her feet up against a pillar.  During the drawing session I want to spend as much time as possible on the girl so I ignored most of the props in the background.  I can put all that in later.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Goblin Queen Final

One other thing I like to do as I work is keep checking the image in grey-scale which you can easily do with your computer.
This makes sure that all the values are good, nothing is too dark or light or distracting or too blurred together.

And that's it.
The Goblin Queen Oil on Board 3 foot by 2 foot.  Sold.

I hope you enjoyed that.  Please feel free to contact me here or in my email with any questions even if you discover this blog years from now.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Dreaded Flesh Tones!

People often ask me "how do you mix accurate skin tones?" The best answer is "Take a painting class from JD Parrish."

 But if you insist on asking me the answer is "where are you and what time is it?"
The color of everything is affected by where it is and what kind of light it's under. For some reason people can accept that with regards to any object in the world except skin. They think there's got to be a formula for painting skin that will be the same anytime anywhere. Well there's not. She's in a green and lavender room so she gets green and lavender skin.
Simple as that.

It's not about blending colors on the pallet it's about laying different colors side by side on the figure and blending them together with a soft brush.  This is virtually impossible with acrylics but easy to do with oils.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Goblin Ethnicity

Some detailing on the goblins skin.

Only where the light hits him, the shadow areas stay rough and simple.

Goblins have different complexions just like people do so don't paint them all the same.

I'm sometimes asked why I don't draw more "ethnic people" which is a silly question we're all ethnic people.  I go to as many life drawing venues as I can afford and have the time for in addition to private sessions and I draw whoever is modeling that day.
  I've drawn beautiful women from Chandler Gilbert Community College and Mesa Community College.  From the Bander Heights to the jungles of Khomoria,  I've sketched centaurs on the Mogi plains (from a safe distance) and the knights of the Glowing Vale.  I've even been to the ruins of Casa Grande.
But if ethnic diversity is your thing then goblins are your subject.  There are more variations of goblin than of any other people.  From fairy winged peskys no more than a foot tall to the gigantic cyclopes of the north who can tower over 8 feet.  There are frog goblins and lizard goblins (who are probably not related at all, but that's what people call them) and there are any variety in between.
Treacherous thieves and dangerous at the best of times, but endlessly fun to draw.  However they rarely hold still long enough to cooperate with me so most of my sketches are a bit of a caricature which actually lends itself well to my coloring book project.

Please help support this website by buying Gilead's Goblinz Coloring Books available here:

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sign Painting

I often mention that my artistic style owes more to my background as a sign painter than to any other influence. Most people just give me a quizzical look when I say this sort of thing and probably figure I'm just some kind of crazy artist or something.

Hopefully this graphic will illustrate the point. Understand I didn't intentionally format the painting like a sign, I just realized that I'd done it after the fact.
When I was a sign painter I would crowd my letters into the space as big as I could and I'd place colored panels or circles behind them just to give them contrast or to separate one element from another and now I do the same kind of thing in my fantasy art instinctually.

Some people might consider this a failing, but I'm calling it a strength. Sign painting is something I did every day for over twenty years. I'm good at it and I'm confident with it, the design aesthetics are natural and instinctual. So while I don't intentionally try to make fantasy art like a sign, I don't fight it either. The art would come out more contrived had I resisted the inclination than to have rolled with it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Goblin Queen's Alabaster Flesh

Throwing some flesh tones on the queen and I also changed her upholstery to red.  There's too much green in this picture.  But it's not an intense red, I don't want to distract attention away from her majesty's face, she might resent that, and she's not the type of person you want on your bad side.

More of the queen in the flesh plus I resolved my lavender problem by arbitrarily tossing some lavender color on the floor back there. It doesn't have to make sense it has to create balance.
This solution probably comes from the sign painter side of my brain.

At this small size it may appear that every sliver of the underpainting is getting covered over and you might wonder what the point of it was.  But in reality there's a lot of the acrylic under painting showing through the final work.  The board is a little rough and it's nice to have some color down in all the little cracks so that there are no white spots to have to cover up later.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Living the Dream!

I gave the queen some clothes.  Not a lot of clothes that would make me sad, but a little clothes.  I've also gone and created a problem for myself; that lavender cloth seemed like a nice choice to offset all the yellow and green.
But it's all on the left of the painting and I can't see what would be that color on the right.
Oh well I'll deal with that later.

When I was ten years old I discovered the fantasy art of Frank Frazetta.  Not only was he the first living artist whose work I was conscious of but it was also the first time I really thought about illustration as a career or of doing any kind of art for a living.  It was also my introduction to the science fiction and fantasy genres which I have loved ever since.

  Of course I was only ten and from a small town.  I knew nothing about the publishing business and neither did any of the adults in world.
  So the way my childish mind imagined it happening was that this Frazetta guy just stood at his easel and dreamed up these wild fantastic images and painted them, and then guys like Robert E Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs and the boys from Molly Hatchet would come over to the house and pick out the ones they wanted to use and pay him for it.
  This was utterly wrong, of course, but it sounded like the perfect job to me and it still does.

  As time went by I came to have a better understanding of the business so I tried my best to be accepted as an illustrator while maintaining my day job in a factory.  A long time went by and that acceptance never came.   

When I finally broke out into the art world it was not as an illustrator but as a sign painter.  
  It was enjoyable, it paid the bills and people loved my work and appreciated me for it.  One could certainly do worse, but I never felt fulfilled, I kept trying to return to my life long dream of being an illustrator with only a little success.
 There was a lot of frustration and depression and spinning my wheels trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.

    One day for some reason it hit me; I don't really have a lifelong dream of being an illustrator.  I never have.  I'm no more interested in illustration than I am in sign painting, both are a compromise.  What I really want to do is what my ten year old self wanted to do; stand at my easel and paint wild fantastic art from my own inspiration and then sell it to whoever wants it.
  That's not commercial art at all that's gallery art, but everyone knows that galleries don't accept fantasy art.  Well that used to be true when I was young, but the world has changed a lot since then.  Now there is a generation of successful business people and home owners who grew up with Star Wars Labyrinth and Harry Potter.  Fantasy is part of their culture and they're happy to have it on their walls.

   As soon as I began painting with this attitude it all came together.  Galleries accepted my work and people are buying it.
   I'm finally following my real lifelong dream now that I understand what it is.  I finally have acceptance now that I'm seeking it from the right people.

All of my paintings on recycled materials such as scrap lumber, dresser tops and doors.  They incorporate techniques and aesthetics that I picked up as a sign painter and a muralist combined with the fantasy genre that I love.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Salamanders and Goblins

Here's a close up of the salamander.  I want him and the goblins detailed, but not super detailed.  They're sidekicks, they're not the star of the painting.
 We used to catch these little guys in the old farm pond in Bosky Dells near where I grew up.  It was a lovely and haunted seeming place that could only be reached through the door in the basement.  Old Farmer Stump would run us off if he caught us there, but there were far too many temptations to keep a young boy from coming back.  Wonderful childhood memories.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Oil Paint

The back wall, and the flagstones on the floor were done in one painting session.  I also changed my mind about the shape of her couch.
Oil  paint is heavy and dense and you can cover up previous marks very easily if you want to, or thin it down and make transparent glazes if you want to.
All of this went down quickly and naturally.   It's background and it doesn't need to be super detailed or pretty or brightly colored in fact it shouldn't be because it would detract from the characters.
There may be several points in the process of a painting where you begin to doubt yourself.  It doesn't look like you were hoping, it may seem to be falling apart.  This is normal.  One teacher calls it the "ugly phase" and he says that every painting has them.  All you you can do is work through it, and know that it will get better.
 It will.   ...or maybe it won't.
Another teacher was fond of saying:"You know how to do one good painting?  Do ninety nine bad ones." 
 Hyperbole one hopes, but there's a lot of truth in it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Slopping On The Paint!

A reader asked if I use a fixative before I start painting.  Workable fixative is nice when you intend to put more pencil or paint on top of the drawing and you want to ensure adhesion.  It will also keep the charcoal from lifting up too much and making the acrylic paint all muddy.  But honestly I kind of like muddy colors for the underpainting so I don't mind that.  So yes I use it, but not as much as some people do.  In a way my underpainting is my fixative.
At any rate only use a Workable fixative.  Anything else will make it so slick the paint won't stick to it.
For an underpainting I usually start with acrylics and house paint.  House paint is cheap and dries quickly and mixes well with art acrylics so you can easily use them together.  Just don't use glossy paint because it will be too slick to paint over, that's kind of the point of glossy paint you can wash things back off of it.  so use flat finish paint and you'll be fine.  Most of the time Your background will be in drab earth tones anyways which is what house paint usually is so why waste expensive oil paint to make muddy under paintings with?
This is brown and yellow house paint and a little matte varnish both from the hardware store.  The varnish thins the paint down and makes it transparent, but not watery.

I want the whole painting to have some color on it,  This already gives it a finished kind of look, but we're far from finished yet.  Go fast and sloppy, use choppy brushstrokes and dip into darker and lighter colors.  The paint is too thin at this point to have any actual texture, but it gets the appearance of texture which will be critical to the painting as you go along.

This is as far as I want to take it in acrylics.  By the next day the paint was dry enough to start applying oil paint on top of this.

Is house paint really good enough for this kind of work?
Are plywood panels and old doors good enough to make Art on?
Am I a good enough artist to do this painting?
Do I know enough?
Do I have enough skills?
Is my style unique enough?
Am I in the right place mentally, physically and emotionally to begin an art career?
Do I have a message that the world needs to hear?
Am I to old to start this?

These are among the many questions that people use as obstacles to block their own path.  Oh I'll start painting when I have time, money experience knowledge inspiration...You'll never start, there will always be some other obstacle to get over because you'll never stop throwing obstacles down in front of yourself.

The key to getting where you want to be is to start walking.

Four years ago I had a sign painting business that was out of work, a foreclosure on my house, and not a penny in the bank.  But what I did have was time, old boards, house paint, sign paint and sign painting skills.  So I did a couple hundred paintings with the materials on hand and the skills and techniques that I was familiar with.
Where they the best in the world?   No, but doing them saved my life.  It helped me financially and it restored my confidence in myself.

Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Drawing Fast and Loose

I draw pretty fast and loose up to this point.  I'm not entirely married to anything that I've done
and I'd rather work fast and make mistakes while the inspiration is strong than to go slow and
meticulous and risk getting bored with it.
So now I white out my mistakes with white primer paint.  Primer has a very matte finish and will accept any kind of paint, pen or pencil mark being layered on top of it, it's a lot like paper.
You'll notice I raised the queen's face so she's looking forward more aggressively.

I've also tossed in a wash of dark brown to establish my shadow areas.

Now I re-establish any lost lines with ink and I'm ready to start painting.


This question was asked of me once.
"Would you rather your child be less attractive and extremely intelligent or extremely attractive and less intelligent?"

This is one of those questions that feels like it has a "correct" answer that you should give that may be different from your instinctual answer. 

I've known smart people who weren't happy and beautiful people who weren't happy and for that matter rich people who weren't very happy.  I suppose it's all in your skill to leverage what you have. 

I don't have any children so I'm going to think of this question in terms of my art.  Would I rather it was smart or pretty?
You'd love to say it doesn't matter what other people think of you, but of course it matters a lot.  a great deal of our happiness derives from how other people treat us.  
...doesn't it?
I've seen a lot of art that was brilliantly intelligent which I know because the artist said so and was on hand to explain why.  But I would never hang that ugly piece of crap on my wall no matter how smart it was.  (The art either)
So I think I'll go with "Attractive."
I'd rather my art was a little shallow dumb and pretty than deep, insightful and ugly.

But I think the question misses the point.  It's not a question of what you HAVE, but rather what you DO with what you have.  Especially if you're using what you don't have as a reason not to go forward with what you want.  "I can't do that I'm not pretty enough or smart enough or talented enough."  But the big success stories are not the people who had all of the advantages or the best advantages, the success stories come from the people who went out and did everything they could with what they had no matter what it was.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

India Ink Outlines

I don't always do this but this time I decided to go over the gross outlines with India ink.
This makes it much easier to keep track of my drawing as I start to paint over it.
Both charcoal and India ink can be painted over nicely without bleeding through the paint.
Something like a marker will bleed through and ruin your art so don't do that.

I also didn't like the awkward space between the Queen and her prisoner.  So I made the only obvious
choice there was which was to put a giant multi-limbed salamander dragon thing in there.  His long
sinuous shape ties the whole image together and guides the eye towards the center of the drama.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tracing the Goblin Queen

Once I'm sure how I want the figures arranged I rub charcoal on the back of each one, tape it to a board and go over the sketch with a ballpoint pen.
This transfers the entire group of drawings to the board as one big drawing.  It's messy and crude and fun, I love it.

The board I'm painting on is and old sheet of wood paneling that someone threw away.  All my paintings are done on recycled materials like that.
The base coat of paint is regular acrylic house-paint primer from the hardware store.

After tracing the sketch I need to go over the whole drawing again with charcoal.

If I have an artistic agenda in the long term it's to make art accessible again.  I feel as though the average person feels somewhat alienated from art either because they can't afford it or don't understand it or don't feel welcome in the art world.  I want to fix that.
This goal is achieved in part by using recycled materials to make my paintings.  I never have to buy canvas because there is always somebody throwing away an old door, cabinet door, some lumber or an old sign.  These are my canvasses and they cost me nothing.  They frequently don't even need a frame and so far I've gotten away with using recycled frames when I do need one.
This makes my art a whole lot more affordable which gives people not just financial access, but emotional access as well.  Recycling old stuff is something people can relate to and feel good about. And just as importantly, I feel good about it too.

Let me know how you feel about it.  
Is it really Art if it's not on canvas?
Does the idea of recycled junk hanging on your wall bother you in any way?
Would you feel more pride in your art purchase if you spent more money on it?

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Prisoner

So getting back to the painting.
 While I posted images of the goblin minions on Facebook someone else suggested that she should be interrogating a prisoner, which also sounded like a good plan.
So I shuffled through my stack of old drawings to find one that was the right position and on the right scale to work.
 If the scale hadn't worked I would of course just re-draw it the size I wanted, but as it happens this one was perfect.

I really don't know what the model intended when she took this pose, but she looked handcuffed to me so I drew the chains on the spot.
 Our models think I'm a little weird, but they always run over after the session, to see if I did something crazy to their drawing.

Now I use my high tech photo imaging software to tape the sketches up in my window and arrange them where they need to be.  The light makes them all transparent so I can see exactly where this character will overlap another and how they will look together.


On a totally random side note.
 You see all those red and black marks on my blue painter's tape?  That's from masking off store windows that I used to paint signs on.  If you were careful you could re-use the tape a couple times which saved me a pile of money.

Actually this may prove more germane to our story than I thought because I painted signs like these every day for twenty years and it has certainly influenced my style as a fantasy artist.