Dan Dos Santos: On the Importance of Being Stupid.

Welcome to day two of the 'Muddy Colors' blog!

I still don't know quite how I managed to do it, but I somehow convinced what I consider some of the best Artists in the industry to join me in creating this blog. A blog which guarantees to take their already packed work days and stuff them even fuller with deadlines, tech-savvy shortcomings, and even a little self-doubt. And in return for all their hard work... the risk of public humiliation. Yet despite all of that, everyone still generously said 'Yes.' Proving they are not just some of the most talented people I know, but some of the nicest as well. For this, I am truly grateful, and extremely proud to call them my friends. I don't know how long it will be until this experiment blows up in our faces, but until then, we promise to have something new for you guys every single weekday. So please, check back in regularly!

For what is technically my inaugural post, I'd like to briefly show off a new painting I just finished, and talk a little about what is quickly becoming one of coolest series I get to work on.

Daw books contacted me a little over a year ago to do the cover for a book called 'Touched by an Alien", by Gini Koch. The story revolves around a woman named Katherine (Kitty) Katt, who fights along side Armani-clad (and drop dead gorgeous) Alpha Centurions to defend the Earth from hostile alien invasion. The story is packed full of sex, violence, and surprisingly... humor.

Sex and violence? No problem! I've done a lot of that in my covers. But capturing humor was something that never came up, and quite honestly, scared me a little. This wasn't slapstick or something else that could be brashly depicted. It was a subtle campiness that pervaded the book, and really brought a lightheartedness to an otherwise intense story. Capturing this flavor was something I had little experience in, but I knew it was essential if this were to be a good cover.

After struggling for a while with the initial sketches, I ended up finding inspiration in movies like 'Army of Darkness' and 'Men in Black'. It occurred to me when watching these movies that I never actually feared for the safety of the heroes. I knew they would succeed, no matter how ludicrous and over-the-top their situation was. Why did I know that? Because they knew it. And therein lay the solution to my problem... stupidity. Nothing says 'campy' quite like an imbecilic lack of fear in the face of obvious danger. The more danger there is, the more fun it is.

This series of covers quickly became proverbial kitchen sinks; chock full of monsters, aliens, guns, exploding cars, clones, and even crocodiles?! I distinctly remember sitting at my easel in the early morning hours, really tired, painting this crocodile and asking myself "What the HELL am I doing right now?" Yet in retrospect, I wouldn't like the painting half as much if it weren't for that cute little guy. It seems the more I stuff in there, the better they get. Not only does this make the images more exciting to look at, but it makes for a really fun painting experience. The other nice thing is that it allows me to add a slew of narrative elements from the book. Elements, which I hope readers will pick up on as they come across them in the story.

The most recent addition to the series is "Alien in the Family". The book won't be out for sometime yet, so I can't mention the epic intergalactic bloodbath... But suffice it to say, it was super fun to paint, and promises to bring me yet another really cool painting to work on in 2011.

Oils on board, 20x30 inches.

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