Fantasy Art

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Maux Faux 2

This is nothing more than a transparent wash of dark on the shaded side and a wash of white on the lighted side. But because of the base texture you get the illusion of depth.  90% of the work was done with the random splattering of paint that we did in this post

 Same thing here.  Let the colors and textures of your base painting show through most of the work. People will be very impressed with the exquisite detail you put into these skulls when it's actually just a thin wash of paint.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Maux Faux

Did you think we were done?  Did you think there was no mo faux to go?  Oh no there's maux faux than you know.
Here's two more panels with a similar concept to the last one we did and a third one going a little bit of a different direction.  Again sketching with vine charcoal which is easily erased.

And again with the dark gray washes of paint and thin white washes on the highlights much of the painting is easily established in just a few minutes.
See This Post for more about this technique.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Paint along with Gilead Step 16

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Goblins and Goblets...
That's it.
What'd ya think?

The Messenger
Acrylic on wood panel 12 inches by 7 feet by 2 inches. Sold.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Paint along with Gilead Step 15

The trick to painting white things is to make sure that almost none of it is white.  All the shaded areas should be a grayish blue...or is it a blueish gray?  The lighted areas are presumably lit by candlelight so they should be a pale yellowish gray.  Then you place some strategic spots of pure white to make the foremost objects pop forward
Here’s the difference between murals and other kinds of art. Most artists would paint a picture of an owl, hang it on the wall, people look across the room and say “Oh what a nice picture of an owl” and that’s the desired effect. 
A muralist wants people to look across the room and say “Holy crap there’s a freakin’ owl in here!” Even when you don’t actually fool people you still want to create the feeling of actually being transported to another place.   Like when you're in a restaurant with a beach scene on the wall, you know you’re still in Mesa Arizona, but it gives you a little sense of escape. So I’m hoping these paintings give people a little taste of that. Not just a picture of a thing, but an illusion of the thing actually being there in the room with them.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Paint along with Gilead Step 14

One of the touted advantages of acrylic paint is that if you make a mistake you can just cover it in white and repaint it. This is true if you are using an opaque method of painting, but we’re using a transparent method. So you want to stay very carefully within your drawing until you are close to the finish then you will switch to more opaque colors for the final touches.
I actually sketched this owl in considerably smaller than I thought he should be to allow myself room to paint him a little larger.  If I'd gotten him to large sure I could paint him out, but then all of the stone texture and everything is painted out as well and that would be hard to recreate at this stage.
The edges of the board are about 2 inches thick so I had to incorporate them into the design.

The dark night sky out the window was very easy to do glazing over the grimy blackish brown that was already there.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Paint along with Gilead Step 13

I’m going for the look of a bookshelf in Hogwarts or somewhere like that. Not a picture or an illustration of a bookshelf, but rather a mural, the illusion that there is actually a bookshelf over there on that wall.
This is part of an idea I had many years ago.
You see I used to do a lot of murals in people's home which always felt awkward both for me and the client.  Sometimes I'd be spending the entire day in some teenage girl's bedroom.  She wouldn't be there at the time of course, but after a while she or her parents would begin to feel uncomfortable having me there and start wanting to rush me along.  In short, I didn't like it much.  Public murals and restaurants were a much more relaxed work environment which might sound counter-intuitive.

So I came up with the concept of "Murals To Go".   Rather than work in people’s houses I could just create pieces that they could take and nail to wall themselves. I get to work at home and they don’t have to deal with a stranger in their house.
It's a great idea, it's brilliant!   ...I never did it, and more or less feel that the moment has passed.

This project we're doing here is sort of a compromise with that concept. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Paint along with Gilead Step 12

Notice that the books look like books and the glassware looks like glass even though they were done with the same painting techniques the same paints, colors and brushes.  Sometimes people expect and even seem to hope for a special material or formula for painting certain things.  They want to buy metallic paints for all the metals and glass paint for all the glass and flesh-tone for all the skin.    Fortunately it doesn't work like that.  I say "fortunately" because you can use the paint you have to paint anything at all.  It's more about drawing things correctly so they look like the object depicted and then good use of light and dark.  Get those two things down and you could do this whole painting in purple and blue and it would still be convincing.

Metallics and all of that are gimmicks and gimmicks are extremely limited.  It's not that I never use them, some people say that my use of recycled material is a gimmick and that may be true, but I've accepted the limitations of what I'm doing.  The odd size means this will never work as a book cover.  Metallics and pearlescents and flourescents look amazing in person but they print as a flat color so if you're selling prints or to a publisher it won't work well.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Paint along with Gilead Step 11

 A thin glaze of dull color, usually house paint, on the basic shapes. Let the background texture show through.  If you have to, water it down or mix in some clear acrylic medium.

Opaque highlights with artist quality paints.  The fact that we've maintained transparency up to this point makes these elements pop out off the the surface like they were real three dimensional objects.  Your eyes are trained to look for contrasts, if a wall is covered in a unified color it will, of course appear flat.  But if it is covered in bright colors of equal intensity it will also look flat.  But if the surface has variations in dull colors and bright, rough textures and smooth, cool colors and warm, then you begin to create an illusion of depth.

If you're running through the jungle and everything around you is bright green then you can't tell what's a solid mass and what's an opening between the bushes.  If you are slow to process this visual information then you run into a tree and tigers eat you, and then the only people who leave offspring behind are the ones who can discern the slight variations in color which tell you where to run and what to go around.

Our purpose here is less dramatic but based upon the same critical instinct.

The difference you see here in the intensity of color is the difference between house paint or cheap craft paint and artist grade paints. The acrylic polymer that the pigment is floating in is probably the same in all three, but there’s a LOT more actual pigment in art paints. Plus the pigments are probably different material like red cadmium instead of iron oxide etc.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Paint along with Gilead Step 10

 Now for the lighted side of each object, those raised areas that catch the light.  Same idea as the shadow areas only with a warm off white. In this case white, yellow-ocher, and some of the shadow mixture.  Still keeping it a little transparent so that the stone texture shows through.   This is harder to do with white but you can mix a little clear acrylic medium in it to make it transparent without being too watery and runny.    This will be the final layer on parts of the painting but for most of it it's just a guide.  It's a big piece, if you get in close painting small details you could forget where the angle of your light was supposed to be so it's good to get all of that clearly established early on.
I’m assuming (as I habitually do when I’m making things up) a light source from the upper right.

The nude study on the wall has nothing to do with this project she was just there.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Paint along with Gilead Step 9

 Having established the drawing and wiped away all of the loose charcoal, start filling in shadow areas with a warm brown glaze. This is made from a mix of burnt umber and purple and a tiny bit of black thinned out with water and clear acrylic medium.  You want to retain transparency for most of this painting so that the stone texture shows through.
 This won’t be my darkest color, but it sets the whole painting down stone as it were.

I’m mostly darkening the under sides of things and recessed areas that would be deep in shadow.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Paint along with Gilead Step 8

 I like to draw with vine charcoal. It’s very soft so it won’t scratch the surface of your board so you can scribble around until you like your drawing or you can erase it completely with a paper towel.

 Once happy with my sketch I go back over it with a soft charcoal pencil and then wipe it all off with a paper towel again. This leaves a very faint line to begin painting over.  

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Paint along with Gilead Step 7

So now you have a whole bunch of faux stone slabs, what the heck are ya gonna do with all of that?
Good question, I really don't know.

Notice how the colors shifted with each one depending on what random paint I was splattering, but because it all blended together there's no actual impression of the bright colors that we started with.

 If asked to go out and paint a big chunk of stone your instinct might have been to start with gray and try to make it look realistic from there.  This is much more effective.  If I wanted a piece to be darker such as a Halloween prop I would still use the same process but just finish with some darker gray blue, green or purple splatters and then wipe them all off together.  That would glaze the piece with a cold drab look, but still have the appearance of natural stone.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Paint along with Gilead Step 6

Now this may seem like a pretty freeform process but there are a couple cardinal rules. 

One: Under no circumstances do you clean your brush. You want to get those random, accidental color mixtures that occur in nature; you know that purplish shade of orange or crimson teal. Like a mixture of mermaid spit and jackalope venom. 

Two: Don’t clean up after yourself. The paint will dry pretty quickly and you want to be ready to move when it’s just right so drop that empty paint cup and keep moving forward.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Paint along with Gilead Step 5

Step 5: Be warned this could make your driveway look like…rocks. Also your arms, legs, shoes hair etc.

Looking back on all of the faux finishes I've done in my career and guesstimating the math I think I've painted about a square mile of this stuff. Not all of it was splatters like this, but sponging ragging, wood-graining etc.

Here’s a close-up of what I hope looks vaguely stone like. In the mural business this is called a “faux finish”. Faux is French for “fake” with a nuance of “more crap that Americans will pay good money for.”  The sort of circular shapes are droplets and puddles that dried around the edges but not in the middle.  When I wiped it with a rag it left a ring.

True story: I was once painted a faux finish for a lady, following her instructions to the letter as she hovered over me looking clearly dissatisfied. Finally after she'd changed the job a dozen times as I went along, I got a bit irritated and said “what is it you want?” She said “make it …more faux”. I stared at her a moment and said “Maux faux?” She gave me a blank look. So I said “faux means fake, so what are you asking for? fake what?” More blank look.
After a long and painful conversation it finally came out that she had only ever heard the word faux finish described to her on the phone and had never actually seen an example of it. She was just trying to bluff her way through the deal.
That story has nothing to do with anything.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Paint along with Gilead Step 4

Step 4: I tried and failed to photograph myself doing this so I’ll have to try to explain. Lay a board flat preferably on an old table. Dip a crappy old house painting brush into the sloppy paint and get it dripping wet. Then hold it above your board and bang it hard against a stick. It will splatter EVERYWHERE so do this outside and wear old clothes.
This will create random patterns of mess all over the board. Dip the brush in the next cup and do it some more until you like what you have. Don’t clean or dry the brush.

 let the paint dry just a little. You want the tiny splatters to be dry and the large drops to be starting to dry around the edges. Then you wipe the whole thing with a wet rag blending all the different colors of wet paint together into a grimy stain. Be sure to stain the whole surface. If you want to modify it some after it has dried go back with an opposing color and splatter some more. Dark over light, light over dark, blue over orange etc. Don’t clean or dry the rag.

Notice how much the background of this photo (the ground) resembles the foreground?  This is exactly what we're aiming for.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Paint along with Gilead Steps 2 & 3

Step 2: Eat Lots of yogurt so you can use the plastic tubs to mix paint for your projects.
Step 3: Do Lots of painting projects (not pictured) so you have a bunch of random leftover paint. Any color, all colors, the more the scarier. Seen here are varying shades of; black, white, blue, red, green, purple, yellow, orange, brown, you get the idea.
Add a slop of water to each tub so colors have a nice…watery consistency. Sorry for all the technical jargon.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Paint along with Gilead Step One

Hey Everybody! It’s time for Paint along with Gilead! Yaaaaay!!!! A fun series of posts where Gilead takes you step by step through his patented process of painting …well actually I don’t really know what I’m going to do, but hey, that’s half the fun right.

So are you ready here we go.

Step 1: Collect a bunch of old junk to clutter up your carport with (your wife will appreciate this much more than she pretends to do). In this case we have a bunch of old doors, closet doors, real estate signs and various bits of broken furniture. Patch holes with wood putty, sand and primer and you’re ready to move on to the next step. …just as soon as I figure out what the next step is going to be.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

#1 of 100

The first of my series of 100 paintings in 12 months.
There is a story behind this which I will share a little later.  Suffice to say that I have periods when a certain darkness and sadness takes me over.  It's not clinical depression it's almost more of a mild and only very occasional PTSD where a sound reminds me of another sound and I'm kind of pulled back in to the fear and pain of a past moment.  A moment when my world cracked to pieces and fell apart.  But I don't like paintings of fear and pain and darkness so I've found a way to let it all out by painting birds.  Birds are ephemeral, never really here, they appear and then they're gone before you can really get a look at them.  It turns out that life is much the same.

This is oil paint on a small recycled board.  The birds are life-sized.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

100 Paintings in 12 Months

As some of you might remember, a few years ago I pledged to do 1000 paintings in one year. It was an ambitious undertaking, perhaps a little too ambitious but then you never know until you try do you? Anyways I only did 530 paintings.

This year I'm making a different pledge, one that is both less ambitious and more.

I want to paint 100 paintings in the next 12 months from August to August.

Less ambitious because it is a much smaller number, but more ambitious because I counted my signs last time and that meant several hundred paintings were pretty much a given as that was my day job. They were also almost all acrylic paintings last time.
This time most of them will be oil paint which is a little harder and takes longer. And my style is more realistic than before which also takes longer.

I will include re-paints and finishing previously unfinished work as a new painting since I have a few of those.

None of these paintings have any certainty of selling. Signs, as with any commission, were guaranteed sales, but I don't have or want commissions right now. Instead right now I'm interested in experimentation with new materials, styles, colors, textures and subjects. There will be fantasy art, octopuses, nude figures, portraits, costumes, still lifes, landscapes, and wildlife art.
There's a bunch of crazy ideas that I want to try, but have no idea if they will work or if anyone would like them.

I intend to offer all of this work at a very low price. Many of them will be $50.00. There are several reasons for this, but the chief reason is that I'm hoping to be able to afford to do so because I will be sufficiently pre-funded by way of Patreon.

Patreon is a website where you can pledge to support an artist or project that you like on a monthly basis. You can, and I encourage you to, pledge as little as a dollar a month.

Unlike Kickstarter there is no time limit on Patreon. nor is there necessarily a product to offer at the end.

The reward that I want to offer is to sell my art at a very affordable price in the faith that I will get enough ongoing support to make it feasible to keep doing so.

In the beginning this will mean that I am all but giving my work away for free, but I'm offering my trust that it will come back to me in time.

If you would like to help me with this concept please visit

Whatever you decide, you have been supportive and encouraging to me and my work for years and you have my thanks now and always.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Caravan Guard

Here's a quick gesture sketch of a caravan guard idly waiting for departure time.  There's hardly any danger in town, but he stands with habitual vigilance even at his most relaxed moments

After rotating the paper to the left a bit to get him standing upright I rework the sketch from memory and from anatomy books to get the musculature more correct.  There simply wasn't any time for this in the field, I'd have been treated with suspicion if I lingered too long staring at any one person.  In theory they couldn't arrest me and they might understand the harmlessness of an artist out sketching the scenery, but they could probably rough me up with legal impunity if I seemed like trouble so I don't risk it.

Looking ready for anything.  I could place this guy anywhere; at the top of a cliff, on the prow of a ship, receiving orders from the king in his palace.

Thursday, June 22, 2017


Just thought I'd share a couple portraits I drew on a recent trip to the east coast of Koth.
The jewelry they wear there is very elaborately embossed gold plate which once covered wooden statues, boxes and furniture most of which has long since rotted away leaving only the gold behind.  The people happily cut, bend and shape it to whatever purpose they wish.  The workmanship of people thousands of years forgotten endures in some form or another.  I take a strange comfort in that.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Hold that Snake!

Ned to self:

"Oh no I'm not afraid of snakes" he says...

"Don't you worry you pretty head, little lady" he says...

"I'll be right over to save you from your little snake problem" he says...

...Dammit Ned!

I love my baby like a bull dog loves his bone
Last night she got crazy, called me up on the phone
Said, "Come on over, daddy
'Cause I hates drinkin' alone"

Said, "I had me a little and I had to have a little more
Try to get up, could not get out the door
And there's a big ole snake
That's crawlin' right across the floor"

My baby's not afraid to take a chance
Drinkin' whiskey starts her thinkin' about romance
That's when she wants what I keep in my pants

I know she's got a few tricks up her sleeve
When she gets hot it's not hard to believe
So I told my baby
Just what Adam said to Eve

Hold that snake 'til I make it
Hold on 'til your daddy gets there
Just grab his head and shake it

Tell him be ain't goin' nowhere
Take it easy but take it
But don't let go of that snake
'Til I make it

Ry Cooder

Friday, June 2, 2017

Ned the Barbarian vs Midlife Crisis

Usually when people accuse me of posing for my own art it's a flattering accusation, but I decided to go right ahead and pose for this one and not flatter myself at all.  The flat bottom, sagging gut and balding head is all me.  I call it "Ned the Barbarian vs. The Midlife Crisis."  Surprisingly it's been one of my least popular drawings.  

Monday, May 29, 2017

Trick or Treat?

   I first saw them on Halloween night. Couldn't a picked a better time. Somewhere they'd gotten hold of a couple trick-or-treat bags and had also gotten hold of the idea a what to do with 'em. After all there was lots of weird critters walking up to people's doors and getting treats.
   There they were on my front porch, three sets of big brown eyes staring up at me and I weren't never a big kid. "Shicky Shee?" the tallest one said almost in a whisper, hooves tapping nervously on the floor like they was ready to run on the instant.
   They'd been doing pretty well so far, their bags were nearly full, and why not, they had the best "costumes" of the night.
   I scooped out two big double handfuls of candy from the bowl and their eyes got even wider. "Hey Now!" says I as they started to walk away. "Say thank you." They gave me a nervous quizzical look. "Thank You" I repeated. "shen koo" the tall one whispered, and off they ran. 

   They were back the next day. I heard the neighbor lady yelling at them "It's not Halloween, you kids get off my porch!" This had probably been happening a lot they looked more nervous than before, in fact they were down right jittery. 
   "Oh lowrd, did you guys eat All that candy already?!" I ran inside and loaded a platter of fruits and nuts and brought it out to the porch then sat down on the floor and invited them to eat. They set to voraciously and the jitters subsided. Pretty soon the smallest one was in my lap pulling on my hair. 
   They'd lost their trust of everyone else which is probably for the best but continued to come see me from time to time. Of course they knew how to feed themselves in the wild, it was the candy they were coming back for but I kept that to a minimum. Still they always said "shen koo."

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Grabapple Trees

Somewheres there's a kind of mantis bug what looks like a pertty flower and then grabs bees what comes near it. The Venus Fly Trap lures critters with a scent and then snaps shut on 'em like a miniature bear trap.
In round my hometown there was the Grabapple tree. At night they crawl about like a 'noctopus on their root-like legs and plant 'emselves in the yard of some home what never had an apple tree before. It took a right sucker to fall for that one, but then the world's full a suckers aint it?
Little Timmy Wilkinson disappeared one day after telling his mom he was gonna go pick apples on Henderson's Corner. The neighborhood got all up in a hurly-burly and even called the police who went door to door and looked sternly at any strangers an' suspicious looking individuals.
No one would listen to me when I told 'em there weren't no apple trees on Henderson's Corner. There wasn't neither I checked, but it'd already slithered down the bank into Bosky Creek where I'd seen it before. So I took a gas can and a book of matches down to the creek and standing up on the bank I sloshed gasoline on the grabapple and said "Let 'im go!"
I never knew if it understood me or if the gas made it sick, but either way it gives me a resentful look and spits up ol' Timmy like a hairball all covered in sticky goo. Folks said later he was "found in a tree" which is true enough I suppose. Timmy grew up fine, but couldn't never stand the thought of apples after that.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Oh Deer!

I spent a goodly bit of my youth hiking in the woods and hills around Prescott where I grew up. Most times it was just peaceful if a bit lonesome. Some days you'd meet other folks or see some wildlife or other.
One day I heard flute music playing in the distance which was peculiar. I crept up to peek between the branches and see who was playing. And there she was, delicate as a flower, sitting alone in the tall grass naked as far as I could see.
I couldn't resist taking a step closer for a better look when a twig snapped beneath my boot.
Up she jumps on four hoofed feet an' bounds away among the pines. As I watched her hinde end bouncing among the boles I tell you I could not have been more shocked. You never see them this far south in the Spring.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

Whatever that looks like to you.
To me it looks like chocolate.

Here's a mural I once painted for a church.  My heathenism didn't trouble them at all so long as I could do the job.  It was based on photos of what some people believe to be "The Tomb".  It certainly is A tomb from the right time period so that makes it a good reference either way.

Some pen and ink work that I used for bookmarks.  I sold them very well at Comic Con to all the moms and sisters who had no interest in comics but were tagging along for the trip.

A few years ago I found myself in possession of a pile of scrap wood and some free time so I made some Easter yard art.  People said they were cute, but looking back I find them kind of creepy looking.  Which is a little funny considering all the other stuff I draw.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Queen of the Apes

I was inspired by some other fantasy painting of a barbarian queen on a throne with henchmen all around her so I based this picture on that.  It's charcoal on Bristol board which was an interesting departure and not entirely a good idea.   I did it because I was losing confidence in the job I was doing with pen and ink.  I hadn't really done professional illustration in years especially not inking.  It was hard to keep the darks looking really dark because the charcoal wouldn't sink in to the surface.  I think I also used some white paint to pull up the highlights in the end.  Ultimately I wish I'd just used some of my wooden panes and painted the whole project in black and white paint since I'm comfortable with paint and not with pen and ink.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

7th Sea Pirate Roleplaying Game Illustrations 4

The idea of silhouettes layered over each other to create a sense of visual depth was something Burne Hogarth wrote about in his book "Dynamic Light and Shade".  He used this principle extensively in his work on the Tarzan newspaper comic strip which of course was printed very small in stark black and white.  I used the idea much less effectively by using gray tones because I assumed the work would be printed larger and therefore more easily visible.  I may go back and re-work a lot of these to make them stronger. even thought they may not be used again.

The figure was posed by me and the costume was a hodgepodge of movie stills and Gilbert and Sullivan stage photos.

Order the Book here

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Monkey always Gets the Girl

From the Mongoni Island book.
There's a scene where a pirate is abducted by apes.  In the game it could be any member of the party male or female, but I couldn't resist the temptation to make her female since the image of a monster carrying a girl is such a classic trope of old science fiction and fantasy illustration.  We've seen it in King Kong, Robbie the Robot, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and many other classics.  Possibly a little sexist of me to perpetuate that, but I just love that kind of thing.