Fantasy Art

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Desert Scene 4

So now we go ahead and splatter and sponge the panel pretty much the same way we did Here.
The reason I did this backwards was simply because I hadn't made the decision to do the splattering at all until this point.  There's going to be a lot of rocks and other landscape features and I thought it would be a quick and easy way to get the look and feel of stone.
In the photograph you can barely see my drawing anymore, but in person it was a little more clear.

Just about to begin painting a subject that I don't have lots of experience with so I taped a bunch of magazine pages with desert photos and paintings to my board.  We're not by any means copying a picture, just getting the idea of color choices, shading etc.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Desert Scene 3

With a splash of Brown, Red and Orange paints I take a wet rag and mop the colors around being careful not to scrub out the drawing.  Some artists hate that the charcoal mixes with the paint at this stage, but I like it, it contributes to the tone of the under-painting.

Now that the entire surface is covered in color I'm free to make lose expressive brushstrokes without fear that I'll "miss a spot" and there will be little white spaces showing through.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Desert Scene 2

This is about a 3' X 6" board salvaged from the college theater department.  They'd made a bunch of backdrop pieces that they then cut up and threw in the dumpster.  As you readily see this time I'm doing it backwards from my usual method.  This time I'm sketching my  design on the board first and then I'll do the faux finish on top of that.  The danger of course is that your drawing could completely disappear and you'll have to do it over.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Desert Scene

There's been some delay in finishing my set of monster paintings that I showed you earlier.  So rather than suspend the blog until they're done I thought we'd go back to the"Maux Faux" series.

A friend of mine had just moved into a big house and wanted a big desert scene painting with bright colors.  He sent me a couple very different looking examples that he'd found on the web just to get a range of ideas and styles.  So I painted this on a small sheet of cardboard to make sure we were both thinking on the same track.  Sometimes you can think you know what a client wants and you're way off, but this time he loved it and gave the go ahead.
18" X 24" house-paint on cardboard.

Friday, November 3, 2017

How to Paint a Werewolf

I'm not currently on any sort of timeline or schedule.  I'm not working for anyone, don't have any assignments or deadlines which means I get a lot more work done.  For many people it would have the opposite effect, they get serious about production when the pressure is on.  For some reason I've turned into a guy who pushes back against pressure.  I work at my greatest efficiency when there's nothing to do.
So as Halloween was approaching I was struck by the mood to do some more classic movie monster art like those in the previous post.  This idea occurred far to late to capitalize on the season.  I couldn't finish them and sell them for Halloween, but I didn't care because that really isn't the idea.  Halloween simply put me in the mood.
So the project I'm working on currently (There's more faux finish stories to tell later) is my "How to Paint a Werewolf" video series which I'm showing on Facebook Live.
Here's Video #1
Here's Video #2
Bear in mind that these are currently terrible videos because I have no equipment or skills in that area, but I'm learning fairly quickly.

Here are a few sketches in charcoal on some old boards which were pre-painted with house-paint.

Next make a sloppy mess with brown house-paint over the whole drawing.

Before that gets much of a chance to dry wipe it off with a paper towel.

Now paint the background black including the edges of the wood. 

I use a lot of black on these to give the effect of the creature emerging out of the darkness, so most of him wants to be in total shadow. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween!

In honor of Halloween I thought I'd share some monster art I did last year or the year before...or 3 years ago?  It's all a blur.
Acrylics on recycled wooden planks.  All sold.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Steampunk Octopus part 8

Somewhere in between the previous two sketches and the previous three paintings was Phoenix Comic Con.  While we were there I had my big sketchpad and a wonderful lady named Dee Astell asked me to draw a picture of an octopus and a penguin wearing fez's and having a beer.  Dee and her husband Hal Astell are very active, hard working, selfless contributors to the local science fiction and fantasy scene so I was happy to make this for them.  I think they intended to pay me for it, but there's no way I could let them do that.

Here's me talking to Hal at the end of Comic Con.  I don't know if I was saying something amusing, but I look amusing saying it.  That's Paul Tanton in the back and my wife Stellar to the right.

Years ago I painted in-house advertising for the grocery store business.  We called it POS which stands for Point of Sale, except when it stood for the other thing.  I started as a sign painter for Albertson's but soon became the go to guy for point of sale advertising art for all the grocery chains in the Southwest division which was mostly Arizona and adjacent parts of New Mexico, California and Nevada.  It was an odd sort of business, but it was kind of fun.
Every year in March I painted hundreds of penguins for National Frozen Food Month.  They had an annual awards ceremony where they awarded the Golden Penguin Awards for the best Frozen food displays.  My artwork was in more winning displays than anyone else in history. 
Sound silly?  It was.  It was also a very big deal.  The grocery store business could buy Hollywood and the global gaming market out of petty cash.  Multi-million dollar agreements happened largely on the strength of a company's commitment to projects like these displays.   I got paid diddly, but it was fun.

Anyways I told you all of that to tell you this: Painting penguins has been a major element of my life, painting octopuses has also been a major element of my life, and painting signs on windows, particularly pizza shop windows, has been a major element of my life.  So I decided to put them all together in one painting of a penguin and an octopus having pizza inside a shop with one of my signs painted on the window. 
The painting was done on an old white-board.  I sanded it down to the raw Masonite, primered it and painted the frame and background black.  The rest of it was very much like painting a window splash.

"The Best Things In Life"
36" X 24"
Oil paint on board

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Steampunk Octopus part 7

So when the convention was over and all of my paintings were sold a gentleman approached me and asked if I could paint him one just like the last one I showed you.  I was not very keen to do that since I don't like repeating a painting nor do I want commissions at the moment, but there are some exceptions I'm willing to make.  Sometimes it's nice to stand back and look at a painting, decide what you wish you'd done different and then have another go at it.  I really do like this one a lot better.  For one thing the Steampunk aspect was a little less important to this guy, he just likes octopuses and being British he's very fond of tea so those were the requirements.    It's a small thing but I like that the teapot is lifted up and that the cup sits at an angle, it gives so much more motion and life to the story.  I also had a great time with the random swirls of color on his skin, that made the whole project for me.
I don't know what it says about this Fantasy Artist that I enjoyed painting the teapot possibly more than all the rest of it.

"A Spot of Tea"
24" X 24"
Oil paint on a recycled cabinet door.

Here are some close-ups of the random colors.  What I'd done is painted the purple and blue nicely blended a few days before so it was completely dry.  Then I laid it flat on a table and in certain spots around the painting ( such as along the length of a tentacle) I made a little puddle of paint thinner and linseed oil.  Then I got some teal and white onto a brush and just kind of let it fall into the puddle.  I did nothing to control where it went or what shape it took just stood back and let it ooze and flow.  Left it lying flat until it was dry.
 Wonderful weird unpredictable stuff, I absolutely love it and will do it a lot more in the future.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Steampunk Octopus part 6

Later that same weekend that I'd drawn the other sketch I went to a Tea Duel.  Tea Dueling is a viciously competitive steampunk sport where duelists dunk a cookie into a cup of tea and then hold it upright trying to avoid the cookie turning to mush and falling over.  It takes skill, wit, and cunning.  While there I was looking over the rule book by Kurt Kave.  When I asked how much it cost he started to answer but his lady friend jumped in and said "A sketch, it costs a sketch!"  So I happily sketched this one in exchange for the book.
Incidentally the designer of the book is Johnna Buttrick who won the sketch in the previous post.  It's like it's all tied together in some twisted, tangled, tentacled mass of destiny and suction cups.

Here we are manfully engaging in a tea duel where I was dreadfully out of my element.  That's Kurt leaning across the table.

And here I am in my element, gleefully sketching away.

There are many element of the sketch that I like better than the painting.  In the sketch the frame shape is drawn in and therefore easy to draw over.  There's a lot that is compositionally satisfying about the teapot and cup being outside the frame and also the tentacle on the left and pressure gauge on the right extending outside the frame creates a balance.  In the painting I was bound by the physical three dimensional properties of an actual frame.  I felt that the tentacles could wrap around the frame fairly nicely, but for a hard object like the teapot to bend over the frame's edge would break the illusion too much.

"Tea Dueling"
24" X 24" Oil paint on a recycled cabinet door.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Steampunk Octopus part 5

Let's take a short break from the Maux Faux series of posts and follow the steampunk octopus concept for a while. 

 A couple years ago I was at a convention where there was an action to raise money for some charity or other.
One of the items up for auction was "Gilead will make you a sketch of whatever."  Someone bid for that and asked me to draw a Steampunk Octopus so this is what I did.

Last spring our local science fiction convention called LepreCon was coming up.  I hadn't been invited to be a participant so I wasn't planning to go.  I love them, but money was tight as usual and if we had to pay full price as attendees instead of being comped as participants well I just couldn't afford it.  Then with about a month to go they contacted me in something of a panic and said that not inviting me was an oversight and it wouldn't be the same without me, could I please come?  I was very flattered and am easily swayed with appeals to my vanity so of course I went.  But I had no artwork ready to put in the art show.  So I put my head down and made ten pieces of art in one month to take to the show.  Among them were the next three pieces that I'll share here.  Sadly I had no time to take any step by step photos so all we have is the finished product.

Painted on an old cabinet door like much of my art, I used metallic gold paint on the frame which I rarely do, but in this case I think it made for a very cool look.  In person it really pops, which is a statement you never make to an art director who's looking at your portfolio.  Whatever impression your art is supposed to make it had better do it in your portfolio otherwise it's not worth mentioning.  But this is different.  This piece was meant to be appreciated in person and not in print so I can make all the self aggrandizing claims I want to.

"In The Gears"
24" square.  Oil paint on a recycled cabinet door.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Steampunk Octopus part 4

And here it is the Steampunk Octopus final painting.
4 foot by 4 foot, oil paint on a recycled sheet-metal real-estate sign.
Our original faux finish shows through a little bit in the skin of the octopus, but for the most part it's gone entirely.  This painting sold on the first night of the show.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Steampunk Octopus part 3

More browns and yellows blended to make the brass.  It looks very dull here, but that's the key to making things look shiny, make most of it dull so that the bright spots look bright by contrast.  The background is painted blue, the square frame is straight out of my sign painting playbook.   Create a margin and then exceed the margin.  It creates the illusion that the octopus is even bigger than he really is and there's a layer of depth.  The blue is far distance, the frame is middle distance and the Steampunk Octopus is close up.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Steampunk Octopus part 2

Using opaque white paint I block out confusing lines from the previous painting and keep them from showing through.  Then using yellow ocher and burnt sienna I start to create the look of brass on some objects.  You may be starting to think that the original faux finish is completely lost in this painting and you'd be right it's all gone, but it served it's purpose  and now the board can serve another purpose so nothing is lost.
I've painted more than a hundred octopuses in my time and there's no doubt that I'll paint more.  Why is that a thing for me?  I really don't know.  It has more to do with design than oceanography.  I like all those graceful curves and curlicues.

So the burning question is this: "What is the plural form of octopus?  Is it octopuses or octopai?"
Allow me to clarify. 
1.  "Octopus" is a Greek word and so the correct plural in Greek would be "Octopode."
2.  "Octopai" is pseudo-Latin, 'look at me I'm edjurcated', fake-science speak.  It means nothing at all.
3.   Since the word "Octopus" has been adopted into English the proper usage is the English usage which would be "Octopuses." 
 And now you know.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Steampunk Octopus part 1

After the party when we no longer needed this big castle wall painting, what do you do then?  Well there's really only one logical place you can go with this and that is to paint a steampunk octopus drinking a beer so obviously that's what we're gonna do!
I'd been invited to show my work and sell coloring books at an art event in an ale brewery in downtown Phoenix which was called...wait for it...Phoenix Ale Brewery.  Their one requirement was that the art that we were leaving on display for a month had to feature beer.  Otherwise it could be absolutely anything so obviously I drew an octopus.

About the only thing I know on the topic of breweries is that they really look kind of steampunk.  There's copper tanks with rivets, pressure gauges and valves, it's perfect.  So I draw the design in charcoal right over the last design.  The last painting was all thin glazes and never used any thick layers of paint so there's no worry of anything showing through. 
If there was I'd have had to sand it down.
Then with a very thin wash of black and burnt umber I block in the shadow areas of the new painting and it's practically done already.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Gilead's Goblins Part Two

Or Maux Faux Part Nine.

Yesterday we talked about the launch party for Gilead's Goblins coloring books.  One of the cool things at the party was a photography set up by my friend Stephen Cullum.  We had a green screen for taking photos of the folks at the party.  Incidentally we also had a costume contest which is not to say that my friends don't dress like this all of the time because they pretty much do, but here we are in front of the green screen.

Which finally brings us back around to the faux finish panels.  This is one of the panels you saw me painting in This Post.  I had two panels like this, (we'll track the eventual fate of the other one later) they were 4-foot square real-estate signs made of sheet metal wrapped around a wooden frame.
Here I'm drawing on it with a piece of vine charcoal just like I did in the others.

Light wash for the highlights and dark wash for the shadows and we've pretty well done a whole painting.  Just a little color wash to suggest the ground and the wooden door.  I knew I didn't need much detail because most of it would be covered up.
 And here's the green screen image photoshopped onto my painting.

That's me with my wife Stellar on the left and Stephen with his wife Nikka on the right.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Gilead's Goblins Coloring Books

Or Maux Faux 8
We're still on the theme of faux finished boards but that won't be obvious for a little while.

As we discussed all the way back in April of 2016 I once made a series of coloring books called Gilead's Goblinz.
 There are six of them including
  They are all at this point still available from

I did a Kickstarter to raise money for the printing and was interviewed by the local paper about that so I was a little bit famous for a couple minutes.
During the interview I mentioned that we were having a book launching party at Gangplank in downtown Chandler and that everyone was invited, so we actually got a few people to come out as a result of that.

A friend of ours is a cake decorator and has the airbrush and stuff so we bought some cakes for the party and she let me decorate them myself.  I can honestly say this is the best cake decorating I've ever done.  Fortunately for me I had fun and got to eat lots of frosting.

Gangplank is a collaborative workspace run by a wonderful group of people.  They provided the space plus they had a musical group that meets there provide the entertainment.   Here I set up a table with the books so that if you supported my kickstarter I could fulfill your order on the spot or if you wanted to buy a book you could.

For both of my readers here's some free samples to print and color.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Maux Faux 7

OK so after a long and horrible week of being an adult in the "real" world of airline travel, cancer, death, and heartbreak, I'm profoundly relieved to return to the safe haven of my little fantasy existence.  I like to hope that I'll never have to step outside again, but that might require that I be the next one in my family to die so do I really want that?  Yeah I think maybe I do.

This is one of the smaller wood panels that I painted along with all the panels shown in the previous series of posts.  It's only 5 feet long and 2 feet tall.  The whole panel was painted the same way with splattering and staining and then the trees were depicted simply by shading one side and highlighting the other just like we did in This Post.  Notice that all it took to change the texture from looking like stone to looking like tree bark was to create a tree shape.  It's the drawing not the painting that creates the illusion.
next I mixed my shadow color with some burgundy and did the second layer of trees, followed by some darker blue for the last layer of trees and finally the sky blue to "cut-out" the background.

In this close-up you can see that beyond the initial faux finishing there is almost no detail at all in this painting.  Also while the sky blue has quite a lot of white in it you can still see some of the original texture even there.  This gives it a continuity that's restful and pleasing. 

This kind of painting is almost abstract.  More of a pattern than a scene.  It's more of a decoration than an illustration.  It has no story, no action and no central focus.  The colors are pleasing, but not shocking or arousing or stimulating in any way.
There's a market for that.  In fact I'd venture that there's more of a market for that than there is for the opposite. Doctors offices, public buildings, murals in homes and restaurants often just want to create a mood or an atmosphere without evoking any particular emotion, ideology or story.
One of the most lucrative applications for this (not that I personally have experience with anything lucrative) is the movie and television industry.  Large and kind of bland paintings are often rented as set decoration.  They have to be interesting but not so interesting that they distract the audience from the show.  And they need to be large because photography always shrinks things in the distance.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Maux Faux 6

Sadly at this point in my process lots of life events broke in and this project was interrupted.  The boards were eventually put back in the woodshed where they got a little banged up over time and many other projects have come and gone in between this stage and now.
So I'm going to suspend the story of the 4 closet doors and share a handful of other projects that have happened in the meantime.
As I've mentioned, I'm doing 100 paintings in 12 months and that will hopefully include finishing every unfinished project in my shed of which there are quite a few.
So I'll be working on these again soon and I'll take lots of pictures and we'll get back to them in a while.
If you'd like to support the work I'm doing here please go to my patreon page and contribute a dollar.  It will make all the difference in the world.