Fantasy Art

Friday, September 30, 2016

Outside the City

Knowing my predisposition for putting backgrounds and other characters into the images you'd think I'd learn to draw a little smaller to leave room for that.  But I'm comfortable drawing large.  It comes from years of mural painting I suppose.  So I tend to fill the page when doing a life drawing sketch which leaves very little space for anything else.
On the other hand if I decide to do a painting I usually feel that the original drawing is, too small and wish I could enlarge it.  Sometimes I do enlarge it by taking a photo, putting it on a jump drive and taking that to Staples who has a large xerox machine that has a 36 inch wide roll of paper feeding into it.  So you can make copies 3 feet by however long you want.  Usually a 3 foot by 3 foot print costs me around $5.00.  I take that paper and rub charcoal on the back, lay it on the canvas and trace the drawing with a ballpoint pen which has the effect of transferring the drawing to the canvas.  Of course this process would also work if you want the image smaller or to combine two drawings into one image by photoshopping them together.  This would be a more high tech way of doing what you saw me do in "The Goblin Queen."  If I don't feel any need to change the size then I generally just use the the original sketch and trace on that which ruins it of course, but it's the image I want to preserve not the sheet of paper it's on.

None of which I've actually done with this drawing it's just on my mind because of the weird crowding of the figure onto the paper.  I was left with an odd empty space in the lower portion that I just have to put something in.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The In-Between-Places

When I was a small child there were In-Between-Places, like the street between this street and the next one over.  Not an alleyway, but a neighborhood.  You could never find it unless you walked just right, turned just the right way or slipped quickly through the little gate in the wall that has no gate.  Then suddenly there you were on a street that looked like it belonged to a much more ancient city.  There were castles and cathedrals, giant stone houses with vast lawns and massive oak trees.
Sometimes on road trips with my parents we'd turn off of the highway and follow some half forgotten dirt road that wandered between hills of desert scrub and then suddenly spilled out into a tiny rustic town lost in the past, nestled into a lush green valley with a small river or creek running through the middle of it.  There were old cars and antique gas pumps at the station an you could get an ice cream cone from a corner store that was also the post office.  One place had a fish hatchery.
No such places exist in Arizona, everyone says I was dreaming or lost in my imagination. But just a year or so before my Mom died I went on a road trip with my parents and we visited a couple of those places.  There they were, 1950's gas pumps rusting away in front of the corner store, ice cream cones and a fish hatchery.  It was as if they'd been keeping it a secret all of this time waiting for the right moment to pass the torch.  Or maybe not.  Maybe it just never occurred to them that we'd gone there when I was too young to remember the way or to be sure I wasn't dreaming.  They were never given to flights of fancy and certainly had no use for magic and monsters, but they traveled a lot and discovered many real places.  Many more than I will ever know.

I still can't remember how to find the hidden streets and when I ask about them the old people just shake their heads and smile.  Do they think I'm crazy or are they just keeping a secret?  But I have secrets of my own.  I still have the basement door, no one else knows about that so they can't hide it from me.

Sometimes though, I feel like I should just let it go.  Throw all these sketches in the recycler, get a 9 to 5 job and live out my days free of this constant yearning for something outside my reach.  Sometimes it feels like all the most important things are only visible from the corner of my eye and if I turn my head they're gone.  Don't take me wrong, I enjoy my life, it's good and pleasant, but it's not as easy as some would assume.

Still I can never stay away for very long it always pulls me back.  There are vistas unseen by man for over a thousand years.
Ancient ruins half buried under the encroaching forest floor, but not uninhabited.  Monsters unimaginable guard forgotten halls of magnificent splendor where lies treasure enough to buy a kingdom if you have the courage to try and steal it.
But you don't have to wander out into the wilds to find adventure, the City of Jespar is as wild and dangerous as the jungle that encroaches on it.
Jespar itself is built upon the ruins of a much more ancient city.  There are rumors of halls beneath the city where dark things do their business, an underground city within the city with its own people and customs.  Someday perhaps we will find out.
This is possibly my favorite model as they all are.  She's a pretty talented artist herself and seems aware of what her poses look like and whether it is one that she'd like to draw.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It's a Shame I Can't Write

I really liked this model, she was good at pantomiming actions.
5 minute pose.

When I first began doing this I figured "Well I'm just going to throw the old drawings away anyhow, who cares if I mess them up with costumes and stuff?"  Now I see these drawings as my most valuable possessions, if the house was on fire this is what I'd save.  
I've done a pile of accidental world building since this started.  As time goes by I began to see in my mind where these various people came from and what the countryside is like where they live.  It's a shame I can't write, there are a thousand stories to be told here.  
Who knows where all of this is going?  It is surely going somewhere.
Perhaps authors could write stories in this world as a sort of shared universe similar to the "Thieves World" books.
Perhaps someone could make a role playing game in this world?
A toy line?
A costume shop based on my drawings.  (oh how I'd love to see that)
I'm already making coloring books plus the original art, prints and bookmarks, but there's potential for so much more and I know that eventually much more will happen.
I hope you'll keep joining me for the journey.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Warrior Women

Images from the worlds of  Robert E Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs often depict male heroes with weapons and helpless scantily clad females without weapons.  I love scantily clad women, but they should never be helpless and should definitely be carrying their own weapons.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Why do Models Model?

If you're wondering whether she could possibly be proportioned like that the answer is no, I scaled her breasts down quite a bit, they just looked unbelievable if you drew them right.
I have great admiration for her, she had lost something like two hundred pounds and was modeling
as a sort of reward to herself for her accomplishment.

It's fascinating how many reasons a person can have for doing what they do.  Some models just need the money others refuse payment.  Some are conquering a fear while others have no fear so it's an easy job for them.  Some are artists who want to experience both sides of the process, others are failed artists who still want to make an artistic contribution.  Some are exhibitionists, one that I know of went on to make porno movies.  Some did it in secret and their family never knew.  Others have had mothers, sisters or boyfriends who also posed for us after being told about it. Some only model once and scratch it off of the bucket list, others make a career out of it.
Modeling, like painting, serves a different need for every person who takes it up.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

My apologies for the unexplained absence.  I had computer problems for a few days, but they seem to be mostly resolved now.

My goodness this is an old one!  No reference photos back in those days, but one can still either use photos from magazines or websites or anatomy books to guide you in refining a sketch.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

How to Use Photo References in Fantasy Art

Somebody sent me this photo of a horse (I'd be happy to credit the source if you know it) and suggested that I could make a cool fantasy piece from it.  Normally I politely sidestep suggestions like that, I have entirely too many ideas of my own and not enough time to do them all.  But on this occasion I was inspired.  It's a wonderful photo full of energy and power.

So then I took a very classy photo of myself running at the camera in my back yard.  I cropped it of course, the original full frontal photographery is not for the faint-hearted.

Then I fused the two into one seamless image of a raging centaur.  You'll notice that I endowed the centaur with more muscle and less fat than the model posses.  Bright sunlight makes for strong shadows which highlight muscle structure.  I like to shoot my reference photos outdoors whenever possible but that has its risks so be careful if you follow my example.  Also it was important to make sure that the angle of the sun was the same in both photos.  I had to keep moving my tripod until the shadows were in the right spot.
Centaurs rage a lot which makes them very poor models.  This method is probably the safest approach to drawing them.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


In the fantasy worlds of Conan the Barbarian or John Carter of Mars women are constantly being abducted by wicked men and horrible monsters, molested, held prisoner, sacrificed to evil gods, helplessly waiting to be rescued by our intrepid hero.
In my fantasy world sometimes a girl gets to have a quiet moment alone with her thoughts before being absconded by concupiscent centaurs.

oil on recycled wooden panel
12" X 36"

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Function of Clothing

I love clothes I think clothes are wonderful, they bring such a sense of individual character and culture to  a just makes me sad when they go covering up a girl's naked bits.  We need clothes that don't do that.

I may be a little bothersome for a while about Patreon.
 I'm incredibly grateful for the support I've had so far, I crossed a couple milestones already which was completely unexpected.  But I really do need the help to make this thing I'm doing continue to work.  As a sign painter I had a lot of clients who were regular customers and kept me busy nearly all of the time.   Plus the work I did brought in new customers so it was kind of self perpetuating.   What I'm doing now has none of that yet.
 I don't really want clients per se now because they'd want to hire me to do some other kind of art rather than what I'm doing.  I'm working on a specific project that takes all of my time and should take all of my time.  Now and then I produce a finished painting which sells, but it's a slow thing to get rolling especially since what I'm doing is so undefined at the moment.  It's more clearly defined in my mind, but I'm sure it's a little hazy to anyone else.
I'll need a volume of finished work to show before people can see exactly what's going on here.

Friday, September 9, 2016


So do you like what I'm doing on this blog?  Do you want to see me continue?
Well I'm having fun and will do as much as I can, but you can help.
Yesterday I was ready to forget the whole idea of Patreon, but some friends talked me into launching a scaled back version of my original plan.
Basically I will still choose a sketch like the ones I've shared here and I will carry that sketch through to a completed oil painting every month.  Patrons will be able to see the step by steps and videos as we go and will have the option to buy the painting when it's done.  No one else will see this content.

I will continue to share my regular material here and on Facebook, but will hopefully be able to afford art supplies, hire models and not have to go get a day job to stay alive.  So the more patrons I get the more reliable my blog posts will be.

So have a look HERE if you like.

No pressure, I appreciate your being here either way.

This model allowed photographs so I was able to work on this one a little bit at home.  Unfortunately my little camera is not the best nor are my photography skills, so I often find that my photos are too blurry to be that much good. 
I'm actually a somewhat clumsy person, my hands shake and I'm not very precise with fine detail. That's why I like to work so big it's easier for me to see and to hit my target.
Still I'm starting to like this drawing very much.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Short Sketch

This was probably a ten minute sketch.  you see the broad blurry lines made by my vine charcoal sticks.  They are very soft and the lines can easily be reinforced with a harder pencil or wiped away as you go along.  If you do that it just adds to the toning of the paper which is desirable as well because you can now draw with an eraser for lighter details.  There was a lot of drawing , wiping off and re-drawing even with such a short time limit.

I thought I had finally come to an agreement with myself about running a Patreon site.

I wanted to run mine as a sort of print of the month club. Each month I'd make a painting for patrons only and make prints of that painting to give out as pledge levels. Postcards, small prints larger prints and t-shirts plus a shot at buying the original. All of these items could be added to a sort of catalog and each pledge level would come with a percentage discount on anything in the catalog. In this way everyone gets something of real value, no charity involved.

It's Brilliant!

It won't work.

There are minimum amounts that one can have printed at a time so at first my costs will almost certainly exceed my pledges. When you're starting at zero that's not feasible.
And if I have even one contributor I'm committed to keep doing it.

In theory it will grow over time, but I can't afford the start-up. Ironically you need to already have starting capitol to pay for trying to raise starting capitol.

So for now Patreon is off the table. 

Color me depressed.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Explorer

I have plenty of photos of myself and other people to guide me in working out the small details later.

This is still a very quick rough sketch, just an impression, but it's enough.  It gives us a sense of adventure and intrigue.  Something is being discovered here and we'd all love to know what happens next.

What do you imagine is happening next?

An interviewer once asked me, "What scares you?"
Everything I’m doing scares the hell out of me.  People don’t understand this when they see you out there doing your thing, they just assume you’re in your comfort zone, but that’s not so.  I’d be in my comfort zone working in a factory or something. 
 Structure is much more comfortable than chaos and a 9 to 5 job is very structured.  The life of an artist is so completely unpredictable.
 I was raised to think I’d burn in hell for enjoying life.   Even though I don’t believe that stuff anymore it’s still deeply ingrained in my psyche that I’m possibly going to be punished for everything I’m doing or that every choice may be unworthy somehow.  It makes you second guess everything you do.

I've been wanting to launch a Patreon site for some time now to fund me as I explore this fantasy life, but just can't bring myself to do it because it feels like begging or getting something for nothing. But I think I may have finally come to an agreement with myself about it.
More soon.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Why Field Sketches Are Still Better Than Photos

When drawing in the field things are often moving very quickly and you just don't have a lot of time to do a great drawing, or even a very accurate drawing.  sometimes all you have time for is a quick impression while a person pauses in the middle of their activities.  Sketching in the field can still be better than photography in some cases because there might be too much foliage or other objects and people to get a clear shot of the critical action.  As a sketcher you can eliminate unnecessary things from the image and focus on what's important to the story.
This is not a great drawing, just a quick impression, but it puts all of the parts in the right places which makes my job a lot easier when I go to work on it later.  I use quick shortcuts that make this kind of thing go faster.  First I used a charcoal stick instead of a pencil.  It's a square stick like a chalk sharpened to a point on one end.  You can draw comparatively fine lines with the point or lay it on edge for a broad stroke.  This blocks in shadows and large dark masses quickly so you don't fuss over details.  Secondly I took a large charcoal stick and lightly toned the whole paper just enough to allow me to take an eraser and lighten the lighter areas.  This gets the whole figure blocked in in just a moment which is important because no one was really holding still.

As long as a palm branch looks like a palm branch and a stone step looks like as stone step no ones going to get mad at you for making them the wrong size or shape or for putting them in the wrong place.  But if human proportions are drawn just slightly wrong it's deeply disturbing.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Feeling Like a Horse's Ass

I once posted this sketch on Facebook.  It's from a photo of a real guy shooting a bow.
I was chastised by all my archery buff fans who said his form was completely wrong and he'd never hit anything like that.
Actually I've seen him shoot and he's fairly good.  Perhaps he'd be better if he corrected his form, but he hit his target reasonably well.   Probably self taught.  It occurred to me that in medieval times most people would not be trained to perfect Olympic form, they'd just learn on their own or from some other non-expert and do their best.
It might be interesting to read stories about characters who were not expert swordsmen or expert marksmen people who missed as often as not and have to deal with the consequences of that.
You know; real people.

Nevertheless this kind of criticism can make me feel like a horse's ass.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Hey What's That Sign Painter Doing In Here?

I said yesterday that it was as if another person had taken control of the drawing and finished it for me and this is actually pretty much the case.
I've mentioned several times on this blog that my art owes more to sign painting than to any other influence.  People often give me an odd look when I say things like this and put it down to one of those crazy things that crazy artists say.  But it really is as if I have two artists in my brain; the fantasy artist and the sign painter.  And my fantasy art suffers whenever I fail to allow the sign painter to take the lead.
I spent over 20 years of my life painting these things.  Colorful lettering on a window with a panel behind the main lettering in a contrasting color and smaller text in separate panels shaped like circles, ovals or banners.
 (Squares are generally too static unless you have an irregular shape breaking out of the square.)
  I may have done as many as ten thousand of these in my twenty year career, and most of them had a similar layout.  After a while it becomes instinctual which was an asset because you never find yourself standing there wondering what to do, you just start painting.   It was a formula which you could use on most jobs.  Which is the only way to get along in that business because it didn't pay a lot so you had to make your money in volume which means you have to move very fast.

I had gotten hung up on this drawing because the fantasy artist wasn't sure what to do.
Then I suddenly surged forward with it because the sign painter shoved the fantasy artist out of the way and finished the sketch out of sheer instinct and habit.  I wasn't even aware of what was happening until it was over.

For another example of this see Goblin Queen

Thursday, September 1, 2016

A Composition Problem

I drew this one at my house one day when we had a model come over.  She just lounged on the sofa and I got several very pretty drawings from that session.  But there is a composition problem that comes with a horizontal pose across the center of the page. What do you do with all of that blank canvas above and below the figure?

 I remember hanging up on this for a while as I entertained and rejected a series of ideas.
Then all of a sudden I started drawing rapidly almost as if someone else had grabbed my drawing hand and had taken over.
Well as a matter of fact someone had.
Can you see it?  I didn't see it myself until I was done and then I had to laugh at myself.

I'll tell you tomorrow.