Thursday, February 28, 2013

Visions of Oz Show

Gregory Manchess 

Just in time to get your Oz on, this Saturday, March 2nd, Creature Features invites you to a sneak preview of Visions of Oz-- A Celebration of Art From Over The Rainbow, in conjunction with Disney’s release of their new take on the Wizard’s life, Oz: The Great and Powerful, opening March 8th.

Come by for a wonderful afternoon at the Heritage Square Museum, 3800 Homer Street, Los Angeles, CA 90031, with food and refreshments from 12 noon to 4:30 pm. The reception kicks off a month-long celebration, from March 3rd to 31st.

The show is hosted and curated by Taylor White and Stephen Smith. A stellar crowd of artists (a gaggle of? a murder of?) will hang their personal visions of the adored story.

Deanna Rene Adona, Martin Astles, Rick Baker, William Basso, Louie Becker, Alexis Brandow, Michael Broom, Tim Bruckner, Felideus Bubastis, Andrea Coleman, Bruce Collins, Sandy Collora, Ricardo Delgado, Eric Diaz, Dienzo, Frank Dietz, Christopher Dombos, Dave Dorman, Archer Dougherty, Mike Dubisch, Jel Ena, Tess Fowler, Chris Gutierrez, Cutter Hays, Mike Hill, Brian Kesinger, Doug Klauba, Don Lanning, Tony Lombardo, Casey Love, Gregory Manchess, Nick Marra, James McPherson, Tony McVey, Christopher Miller, Kamila Mlynarczyk, Christopher Moeller, Ken Morgan, Nick Marra, Jezabel Nekranea, Bill Nelson, Mark A. Nelson, Gregory, Nemec, Eric October, Jeff Pittarelli, Mireya Romo-Bowen, Stephen Sandoval, Crab Scrambly, Mike Sosnowski, Javier Soto, William Stout, Drew Struzan, Kirk Thatcher, Pete Von Sholly, Paul Wee, Zombienose

I’ll have a couple of prints available of each of the two following images.

Weird Wizard of Oz

Wicked Weird of Oz

This original, “Deeelicately” will be for sale there as well.

I’ve loved this story since my whole family used to sit and watch it black and white. I wish I could go. I figure there’ll be flying monkeys everywhere.

Illustration Art - The Kelly Collection

by Donato

This past weekend found me in Los Angeles attending events hosted by a wonderful fan club,, related to the celebration of the Oscars and the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien.  Sad to say, The Hobbit; An Unexpected Journey did not land any awards, but that did not prevent me from coming home to Brooklyn - inspired, energized and reflective on my time there.

In between my time at an art show Friday night and a party on Sunday, my friend and ex-assistant  Eric Bouffard shuffled me around town in a whirlwind of voyeuristic delights (Eric was my first assistant over ten years ago and is now a Senior Digital Matte Painter at Dreamworks).  Our first stop Saturday morning was at the Los Angeles Public Library where murals of Dean Cornwell and two other artists numbed our eyes.  The complexity and color balances of the Cornwells were stunning, and appeared to be recently cleaned so much so that they looked to be painted yesterday.

Dean Cornwell Mural   Los Angeles Public Library
Dean Cornwell Mural   Los Angeles Public Library
 After absorbing the murals and a few bites, we were off to Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA for an amazing show of turn of the century illustration art, Illustrating Modern Life: The Golden Age of American Illustration from the Kelly Collection.  This show was a block buster, with paintings from Dean Cornwell, Harvey Dunn, N.C. Wyeth and Howard Pyle.  It was great to compare and contrast the early Dunns against one another as well as doing so with the Cornwells.  The show is a testament to the great eye Mr. Kelly has for picking the best of these artists.  Below are a few of my favorites from the exhibition.  If you are in the area, it is well worth the trip and price of admission (Free!) to see such craftsmanship laid out all under one roof!


Howard Pyle

Sarah Weber

Harvey Dunn

Dean Cornwell

NC Wyeth

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Better Things

Maria Cabardo's Indiegogo project seeking crowdfunding for the final stage of her documentary devoted to the late Jeffrey Catherine Jones (seen on the far right in the photo above with Berni Wrightson, Barry Windsor-Smith, and Micahel Wm. Kaluta)  is entering its final day. If you had the opportunity to see the premiere of Better Things at SFAL1 last May, you know that Maria has created a wonderful film which is both a fitting celebration of Jeff's life and an acknowledgement of Jones' importance to the field of fantastic art as a whole.

If you are unsure of who Jeffrey was or why the Jones legacy is worth preserving in a documentary, here are a few hints:

This last push is just to raise enough funds for her legal fees, music licensing costs, promotional expenses, and all of the other myriad bills that stack up when making an independent movie with more love than money. There are some great incentives Maria has put together for supporters (including an art book with contributions by an amazing cast of contributors in an edition of only around 100) so if you are interested, just click on the link.

Infernos The Immolator

-By Jesper Ejsing

This is a very new illustration I did for a fantastic game called Kaijudo from Wizards of the Coast.

The dragon "Infernos The Immolator" is the big Boss from the fire part of the game. It was one of my first digital paintings and it was a real bumpy ride to get there.

I first boldly started sketching in color right away. I was slinging strokes around like a gunslinger with endless ammo, Not thinking anything would be a problem and everything would be fixable. “That´s how it is with computers right?”bAfter an hour or so I realized the anatomy and the bas drawing was shit and it struck me that if it had been an acrylic painting I would have started all over a long time ago. So I started all over, this time in pencil. I sketched the whole dragon scanned it in and started adding colors very very slowly.

In the end it looks like my old paintings.

I regret the sky and the clouds. they are way too smooth and lacks “drawing” or strokes. the image come off as being a cutout figure pasted in on a background. It works very well in card size where you do not really see much background because of cropping. I really like the texture part of the wing it looks very much like how I used to do that same effect with a real brush going smudgy for creating textures.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

White Trash Zombie Apocalypse

-By Dan dos Santos

Well, if I wasn't in trouble before for painting sexist covers that objectify women, I am pretty sure I will be after this one.

A few years ago, I painted the cover to Diana Rowland's 'My Life as White Trash Zombie'. None of my usual models actually fit the description of the heroine, Angel. So, in order to achieve the kind of look I wanted, I actually used photographs of three different women. I took features from each of their faces, and homogenized them into a single face that I felt accurately portrayed the character in my imagination.

Little did I know, that the girl I made up actually existed. This past Summer, I met 'Comic Book Girl 19'. She came up to my table at Dragon Con, and proceeded to tell me how people have repeatedly brought to her attention the similarity between her appearance and that of my character. She stood in front of my painting, and sure enough, she was a dead ringer!

CGB19 and I stayed in touch after that. She is a talented artist herself, and the host of an absolutely brilliant show called 'The Comic Book Girl 19 Show', in which she reviews all things comic book and pop-culture. (If you're into comics, I highly recommend it!)

So when I got the call to do the third book in the White Trash Zombie series, guess who I immediately thought of using for a model?

That's right.

Just one problem... CBG lives in California, and I live in Connecticut. There is no way the book's budget is going to allot for a trip across the country. So I did something I've never asked someone to do before... I asked CBG to do a photoshoot on my behalf, and email the photos to me.

Now normally, I would never ask someone else to take my photo reference for me. Because I paint so realistically, I feel a lot of the picture making actually happens through the camera lens. Cropping, eye level, lighting, pose, costuming... there is a LOT to account for. And quite honestly... I am VERY picky.

There are two reasons I felt confident in asking CBG to help me. Firstly, I watch her show all the time. So I know she is an avid cosplayer, and I know she can definitely sass it up in front of the camera. Secondly, the show is REALLY well filmed! The videographer, Tyson Wheeler, does all the lighting, filming and editing himself. It'd be an understatement to say he knows a thing or two about taking nice photos.

So I emailed CBG and Tyson the approved sketch. I also sent along a few photographic examples of the kind of lighting I was looking for, and ultimately, left the rest in their capable hands.

What I was expecting was some simple snapshots in a leather jacket. What I got back, was amazing. CBG and Tyson did a full blown photoshoot, with complete costume and make up!  Suffice it to say, the two of them made my job VERY easy.

Once I had the photos in hand, I proceeded as usual with my piece. I used the photos to revise my sketch, and then project the image to the board.

I knew I was going to be painting quite thinly on this piece, so I actually spent a lot more time than usual on the drawing. With a highly rendered drawing like this, you can just glaze a bit of color, and the image starts to come together very quickly.

Initially I was going for a grey/black/pink color scheme in order to compliment the first cover in the series. But half-way through the painting, I decided the background would look better as a blueish-green instead of grey. Fortunately, I was able to just glaze that new color right over the already dry background. This ability to work very transparently is one of the great benefits of oil paint.

A few more coats on the figure, and the painting is pretty much done.

The image was originally supposed to have Angel standing in flood waters. But because of my indecisiveness about the background, I decided to leave the water out of the original. I didn't want to change my mind about something, and then have to completely redo all the water too. Instead, I added it digitally at the end, and let the client choose between the two versions.

And finally, here is the completed image with type treatment.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Answering Some Questions

by Eric Fortune

I'm often asked how I flatten my watercolor paper once it's become buckled and warped from all the washes.  I've explained this in writing plenty of times for people who've messaged me and figured it was probably time to make a video explaining how I do this.  I'm sure it makes a lot more sense actually seeing it as well.   At least I hope so.  Below I'll post two new videos.  One on flattening my art and another short demo on my painting technique.  The second demo also addresses how I adhere my painting to the gator board.  It's really simple but I get this question quite often.  Hope this clears some things up.

Here's a work in progress shot of my new piece "The Secret of Oz".  It's for an upcoming tribute to "The Wizard of Oz" group show at Gallery Nucleus.


by Arnie Fenner

Want to see what something around 6000 pieces of art looks like? Here you go.

All of the entries to Spectrum 20 have been logged in, divided into categories, and placed in tubs for transportation to the judging venue this weekend. The plane tickets for the jurors have been purchased, their hotel reservations confirmed, now it's all a matter of...waiting. Tim Bruckner, Irene Gallo, Tim Kirk, Mark Nelson, and Michael Whelan are the judges this year: how will they get along? How will they vote? Will they play hardball with their beans—er, votes—or will they be generous? And who and what will win the awards in the eight categories? 

I haven't a clue. After twenty years of working on the Spectrum competition, each year is a surprise. Each jury is different. The works that are selected—and those that win awards—are as unpredictable as those that aren't and don't.

Unlike some competitions, we don't pre-screen the art: everything that is entered is seen and voted on by the jury. Again, unlike some competitions, one single group of jurors determines the best works in all categories.

The judges vote independently without discussion about the art until the awards debates; the identity of the artist they're voting on is generally unknown until after they drop their bean. The quality of the art is what they're voting for, not who did it. (Yes, it's easy to recognize work by a popular artist, especially if they're friends—and then there are the clever folks who put their names in 30pt type on the front of their entry—but for the most part we try to keep everything anonymous and on a level playing field.)

Judges can not vote for their own work and are ineligible for awards.

Cathy and I do not get to vote (it's entirely on the shoulders of the jury) and we never know what the results will be until the dust settles. Which is part of the excitement.

So thank you to everyone that participated in Spectrum 20! Thanks to the judges willing to take time out of their busy schedules to spend a weekend in balmy KC! And thanks to Iain McCaig and designer Guy Giunta for doing such a bang-up job on this year's C4E poster! We'll be posting photos and videos (including a run-down of the top five award finalists in each category) at the Spectrum website this Saturday and Sunday. And if you want to join with your peers and see who wins what live in one of the country's grandest theaters, please make plans to join us in May at Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 2. It'll be fun. I promise.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Kiss: Part 1

-By Tim Bruckner

You could have cut the romantic tension between Superman and Wonder Woman with a piece of well honed Kryptonite. DC decided to let the two love birds explore that attraction as if they were being pulled together by a golden lasso. The design for the statue started with art by Jim Lee.

Almost from the start my friend and Art Director, Shawn Knapp, and I were faced with translation issues. Most problematic was Wonder Woman’s head position, Superman’s right hand placement, his cape and the kiss.

If they actually kissed, their heads would need to be a one piece casting, truncated at their necks. Polyester resin, even filled resin, is prone to distortion based on when, during the production run, its cast. Parts cast in the early part of the day, when the molds were cool, would be less subject to distortion than parts cast later in the day when the molds had a chance to heat up. Any distortion would make the fit, necks to bodies, inconsistent. There were also paint application concerns if heads were a single unit. So, it was decided they’d look as if they were just coming in for the kiss.

His right hand, wrapped in his cape, up against her neck, with her hand holding his, presented a whole host of assembly issues. The design of her hair and his cape would have created a visual dead zone from the back. So, bit by bit, Shawn and I indentified the production and aesthetic problems and solved them as I began work on the rough clay. I designed an armature that would let me work on each figure separately, as I worked on bringing them together.

One of problems when creating “flying” figures is support. How to get them to look as if they’re flying without resorting to an obvious point of support, like a post in the bottom of a foot or in a bent knee. I’d done a number of flying statues before so I was decided to support them both with a cloud trail that Wonder’ Woman’s leg would glove into. Casting the base in a translucent resin would help minimize its weight while compounding theirs. The base was constructed of two pieces to give me the flexibility I’d need to position both figures once I had them together.

Coming soon... The Kiss: Part 2

Friday, February 22, 2013

Death Dealer: Homage to Frazetta

                                                                     By Petar Meseldzija

Death Dealer: Homage to Frazetta, Oil on board, 211/2 X 281/4 inch, 2012/2013

My homage to Frazetta is finally finished and although it has often been said that a good painting does not need the explanation, I do feel compelled to say something about one particular aspect of this piece. My intention was not to make a copy of Frazetta’s character. My intention was to do a homage to the master by projecting his famous character onto my world and let it go through the prism of my own vision. The essence of my interpretation has been most correctly expressed by a good friend of mine and a fellow artist who, upon seeing the painting, commented:  “ Ah, you are on their side as well…!” Another spot-on remark I heard from another person was: “This is perhaps the lightest Death Dealer painting I have ever seen, but  still the darkest Death Dealer, for it appears to me that HE is the bad guy!”

The Death Dealer series, as it is the case with much of Frazetta’s art, reflect a typical black-and-white approach to the relationship between good and evil, and it is presented in a simplified and rather straightforward manner. Death Dealer’s foes are evil savages who are here to be slain (punished for whatever they stand for), while Death Dealer’s job is to make sure it is properly and thoroughly done. Generally speaking, I think this aspect of Frazetta’s art is not only connected to the certain archetypes and the stereotypes of his time, but it also reflects something of the preconceptions,  general aspirations, prevailing ideologies, the impact of major conflicts, etc. of the 20st century.
The times have changed, as we know . We don’t live anymore in a black-and-white world (we never did, by the way, this is one of many misconceptions man has to deal with). We now live in a Grey, more complex  world, a global village, where the division line between the good guys and the bad guys seem to be fairly blurred. In a way we have become more realistic (I still avoid to use the word “wise” because of the obvious reasons). It has been said that the most popular character from Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy The Lord of the Rings is not Frodo, or Sam, or Gandalf, or Aragorn but Gollum! I think this is a very interesting indication, although a tiny one, and I guess relatively insignificant, for there are much better and more relevant examples. Never the less, this testifies to the shift in the approach of the general public (popular culture) to the concept of good and bad, which apparently has become more flexible.
The underlying notion of my Death Dealer interpretation is supposed to reflect this “new” point of view. The rest of the elements, mostly technical in nature, are derived from this concept.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Monster Sketch

-By Mike Butkus

I put the thumbnail of the finished sketch in the corner so you can see how I got here. The first thing I did is block out the anatomy and the overall shape. I used a black prismacolor pencil on Duralene paper, making sure to have at least 20 sheets of the Duralene paper stacked beneath so I could get a nice smooth line.

Here you can see how I really focused on the skeletal structure, blocking out large shapes and redefining them, making sure nothing is too symmetrical. I used a 600 wet and dry sheet of sand paper on the side to get a nice chisel point on my Prismacolor pencil.

In this stage I start chiseling out the muscle structures and start thinking about my dark and light shapes and where I want my core shadows to further define the muscle structures.

Now I start designing my shapes to really capture the overall expression of the creature and this process is a transformative process where by I constantly reevaluate the look of the creature. Don’t be afraid to erase!

The last step demonstrates the final finishing touches using the airbrush to soften shadows, and gouache in the white highlights to make the details pop. If you look at the overall shape of the creature,…it’s one big letter C.