Fantasy Art

Monday, June 20, 2016


Oil Paint on Board 48" by 24"
I consider this painting to be the final turning point in my strange little journey from sign painter to fantasy fine art.  It contains everything from my past and future at that point.  The background is a faux finish like I've done in dozens of home murals.  There's an octopus which I had  painted a bunch of , but now he's carved in stone suggesting that it's ancient history now.  Her swirling tendril like hair (another style I've left behind) reflects the tentacles behind her. And the bright red lights are a reflection of my former career painting fluorescent window signs.
She's me, sword in hand, facing a new beginning as a fantasy painter.

From the time I was ten years old and picked up my first Conan book with a Frank Frazetta cover I knew I wanted to either grow up to be a barbarian super hero or a fantasy artist like Frazetta whichever came first.
One day I read that Frank Frazetta had done ghost work on the Lil' Abner comic strip for ten years and that this grueling schedule of banging out comics week after week had honed his skills and turned him into the fantastic illustrator he was.

So I decided I needed to become a comics artist for ten years to hone my own skills.
That was the dumbest idea anyone ever had.

Naturally my efforts to break into comic illustration, which I wasn't even interested in, completely failed and deserved to.
Frazetta's fantasy art style comes from comics, my fantasy art style comes from sign painting.  He didn't deliberately make his Conan look like Abner, it just does because he was drawing instinctively and that's how it came out after years of repetitious practice.
For my part, I don't intentionally make my art look like a sign guy did it, it just comes out that way instinctively and I've decided not to fight it because in a way it's what makes my paintings a little different from everyone else's.
I played my strength and used skills from one career path to bridge me into another one.
Ironically the second I let go of the notion of trying to paint like Frazetta, people started telling me my work reminds them of Frazetta.  You could give me no higher compliment.  

Here's four paintings that kind of illustrate my transition from sign painter to fantasy artist and hopefully explains why I still largely identify sign painting as my strongest artistic influence.
It's not where I am now, it's where I come from.
While very different in style these four paintings only represent about a year's time from the top one to the bottom.
All of these paintings have a number of things in common.
1.  They're all about 4 feet long and painted on plywood.
2.  They all have a background that creates a visual border and they all break out of that border which makes them seem larger than the panel they're painted on.
3.  They use bright colors in high contrast to make the subject pop forward.

My sign clients wanted the biggest impact possible.   They'd often asked me to paint letters three feet tall on a board that was only 18 inches tall.  Impossible to do, but not an impossible illusion to create.  Between the bright color, the contrast and the popping-out-of-the-box effect there's an "in your face" quality to all of these paintings that makes them feel bigger than they are. 

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