Fantasy Art

Fantasy Art
Gilead draws and paints on location in the realms of fantasy and myth. Usually after convincing the most beautiful women in all the worlds to take their clothes off for him. It's a tough gig.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Fantasy Costumes

Costumes, or as they were known in ancient times, "clothes" add a tremendous depth of character to your art.  I love drawing nudes and often hesitate to ruin a drawing with clothing which makes perfect sense, but elements of costumes, jewelry, weapons and armor tell a huge amount of the story.  If the character wears boots there must be something about the environment that isn't easy on the feet.  Like little crocogators nipping at your ankles all the time.
The inclusion of musical instruments suggests a culture with some leisure time and artistic expression.  The inclusion of finely crafted metal works could reveal a high degree of technical sophistication or (as is the case here) trade, loot and salvage.

The people in the world of Paracosm, (at least insofar as I've been able to explore it), are actually at a bronze age level of technology.   But you wouldn't know it to look at them.  The land is riddled with the ruins of ancient civilizations far more advanced than this one.  Artifacts lie buried beneath the sands of desert tombs or hidden palaces cloaked in hundreds of years of overgrowth. In Joskarra farmers plow fields between ancient colonnades and sleep in the ruined palaces of forgotten emperors. Little more than cave men barbarically resplendent in the trappings of another era.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Adding some Imagination to the mixture

There's some artists out there who paint exquisite depictions of "life drawing models posing for life drawing class."
Most Boringest Art Ever!
I can't imagine why anyone would pay money for that and hang it on their wall.
On the other hand some of these guys are very famous and make a lot more money than I do so feel free to sneer at my sneering.
At any rate I don't want to draw like that, I want my art to look like real people doing real things at a real moment in their life, so if the pose in class is stiff and dull I'm going to change it a lot.

For instance if I take this one to the painting stage it's quite possible that I'll change the angle of her head so she seems a bit more engaged.
I'm imagining her talking to someone, but who?  An ambassador , a servant, a soldier reporting on the war, a suitor or a prisoner?  In any case I think it would look better if her face was turned slightly towards us so that whoever she is addressing is seen from behind and is closer to us the viewer. Generally we're going to respond better to a composition that leads us into the painting rather than one that moves side to side.  So looking past an unimportant character and into the eyes of the girl on the throne makes for a more engaging composition.
Of course in life drawing class this is just how the model was sitting and that's where my chair was and I really had no choice.
In drawing class the model is going to space off quite a lot and look very distant, but you don't really want that feeling in your fantasy art so you have to compensate for it.  Whether you use models or photographs it's never the whole thing.  Your imagination and creativity has to play a role as well.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Breast Enhancements...sort of

Refined the sketch a little bit at home.  Possibly the most important alteration is her breasts.
In the first sketch she's so covered up as to appear androgynous.  she's actually a very pretty and feminine girl she's just small breasted.  I've used her a lot so you'll be seeing more of her.
But I wanted it to be clear in the drawing that she's a girl so I made enough of a change that you can see the curve of her breast past her arm.  I also added very slightly to her hips.  Small change, big difference.
Even if you manage to draw what you see very accurately the drawing still doesn't look like life.  Ironically sometimes you have to fake details to make the drawing appear more real.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Nude Models with Sticks

Did a reasonably nice drawing in class, but it's a little rough, especially the hands.
One friend of mine hates it when the model picks up the broomstick because she feels that there's just
 "nothing natural or organic that a person can do while holding a dang stick."
 I of course think it great when they pick up a stick because I turn it into a sword or a spear or something.  But if I ever start my own studio I'll have to remember that some people don't want to draw that kind of thing at all.  We all have different motives and needs.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Riverboat Guard

It's a long slow journey downriver from Ander Falls to Jespar and there are few safe harbors.  Usually guard duty on a river boat is an uneventful occupation.  The quiet drift of the barge and the rhythmic splash of the scull can lull a bored watcher into sleepiness.   But vigilance is a necessity.   Crocodiles  haunt the shore, monster fish (hazardous even to crocodiles) inhabit the depths, pirates and goblins lurk in the shadows of the great forest ready to spring from some hidden cove.

Posing for me was a good way for her to remain watchful while passing the time.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Reference Photos

    At the beginning of every life drawing session we do a few three minute gesture sketches which are usually the most dynamic poses, and therefore the most fun for me   But they're hard for the model to hold for a long time so we have to keep them short.  Once the drawing is at home you kind of feel inclined to toss it out because it's not a very good or detailed drawing.  But at the same time it does have great movement and feeling and so you'd kind of like to keep it.
   For this reason I take photos whenever the model allows it because I know I will use the photo as a reference and finish these drawings later.  In fact it's the long poses that I'm more likely to toss out because they are often stiff and uninteresting.
It's also a good idea to zoom in and get a close-up of problem areas which for me are hands and feet.     Not only do I struggle with getting them to look right, but I often can't see them that well at a distance, and my long shot photo doesn't pick up much detail.  I just use the camera on my cell phone.

   Many Life drawing groups, teachers and models consider it scandalously inappropriate to take photos or even to ask so whenever I go to other venues I have to tread pretty lightly on this subject.
I actually started to do it at the model's request, but I always ask, it's just not safe to assume.

3 minute sketch in the classroom.
This might look like an easy pose and for three minutes it probably was easy, but it would be awfully rough on the model's knees to do this for a couple hours.

Perhaps another 20 minutes at home looking at the photo. 

There's two things that an imaginative artist could do with this stick.  One is to imagine it as some kind of tool or weapon and tailor the rest of the drawing to fit that idea.
The other is to erase the stick or never draw it in the first place.  Now she could be combing her hair or talking on the phone.  It's your drawing make it do what you want it to do.

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.