Wednesday, November 30, 2011

David Grove, An Illustrated Life

Gregory Manchess

The book I’ve been waiting to hold in my hand for so many years is finally available.

One of the most admired, respected, and imitated illustrators--though with very few notable results--who’s career has spanned contemporary classic American illustration, up to and competing with the current digital wave, David Grove has written about his quite unique and rather exciting life as an artist, filled to it’s beautifully designed brim with his finest pieces.

In his own words, David describes his early ambitious drive, from penniless apartments in Paris, to the top of the field in the States. This is a fascinating insightful plunge, not only into his particular thoughts about painting, but a viscous visual travel log along the inner workings of a successful illustrator’s life.

Like a character dreamt up by an author working as both travel-writer and espionage agent, David refuses to abide by the image of the typical struggling artist. Along the way we learn about his close friends and associates, his observations, his undying love of music, and an unconventional streak that runs counter to accepting any lifestyle that wasn’t completely unique.

I’ve known David’s work since I was a student, most fortunate to stumble into a five-week illustration course taught by him and offered at the California College of Arts and Crafts. Bright, humorous, and helpful, I’d never met a teacher so willing to share information that actually worked, that I could actually use to improve and understand my own paintings. The way he laid down paint, the way he thought about subjects that interested him, the way he designed the most subtle object in a composition, were the guiding idiosyncrasies that pushed my own efforts to succeed.

This book is a broad spectrum of David’s career, but it’s the killer artwork that pushes you along from page after full-color, exquisite page of near perfect reproductions of his work. (I know--I’ve studied the originals over the years.)

We get to watch him grow, evolve, succeed, and finally describe, in example after example, an eccentric desire to narrate a world in pictures.

The book is available online from Norfolk Press: David Grove, An Illustrated Life.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Society of Steam: Hearts of Smoke and Fire

By Justin

I don't often get a chance to share much of my client work since a lot of it is NDA. (My employers have made it clear that they can and will send robot bears from the future to kill me if I breathe a word of what I do for them on the blog here...)

Today's post is a happy exception.  It is on Book 2 of the Society of Steam Series: Hearts of Smoke and fire.  I did this cover for Lou Anders at Pyr Books. It is part of a series of books by Andrew Mayer and it has been a ton of fun to work on.


 Digital Comp

 Tight Drawing

Watercolor and Gouache on Bristol

 Digital (Photoshop) over Watercolor 

Final Design

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ask the AD

Illustrator Sam Weber hosts a radio show every Wednesday called 'Your Dreams, My Nightmares'
He was supposed to interview Art Director Irene Gallo last week, but had to postpone it due to unforeseen circumstances. The interview will instead take place this Wednesday, the 30th, 8pm EST.

Sam Weber's painting, commissioned by Irene Gallo
Not only is this a great chance to hear industry insights directly from the mouth of one of the top SFF ADs in the world, but it's also a chance to ask your own questions! Want to know how many pieces you should put in a portfolio? Or perhaps where the best place to meet an AD is? Just ask! Sam will be checking the comments section of this post, so leave your questions for Irene here.

Or, if you prefer, you can ask your questions directly. Sam take calls, so if you're interested in asking a question on the air the number is: 212.592.2345

You can listen live here, or via iTunes by downloading the WSVA internet audio stream.

If you like the show, consider subscribing via Itunes.
An archive of past episodes can be found here.
You can also reach them via twitter and facebook.

Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown

I've been a H.P. Lovecraft fan ever since I read "The Dunwich Horror" when I was twelve years old.  I know that I should have posted this around Halloween but maybe your turkey has grown tentacles after sitting in the refrigerator for too long! Here's a compelling documentary on Snag Films.

Snag Films link: Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown

Friday, November 25, 2011

200 Russian Painters

Here is a chance to get up close and personal with some of Russia's best art, both classical and modern. This website has a gallery of nearly a thousand works of art, by over 200 different Russian artists, all presented in high resolution.

I'm going to warn you, this site is a major time sink. You're sure to find some of your favorite works of art there, as well as a ton of new artists that will quickly become favorites too. It's a good thing most of you have the day off!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

By Jesper Ejsing

I was asked by the fine people at ImagineFX if I wanted to do a workshop article for the traditional part of the magazine. I was honnored and jumped right in.
Because of the nature of the article, I had to scan the painting during the process. Something I rarely do but often have wanted to. All the time I promissed myself to scan a painting I got carried away midway and forgot to scan for an hour or two, thus destroying any chance of progression steps. Well; today I have a step by step.

If you want to read the whole article please buy the magazine. But here is some of the snaps from the progress: All was done in about 10 hours.

The original is about 20 x 25 cm. on a home-made illustration board.

Irene Gallo on Your Dreams My Nightmares

-By Sam Weber

This Wednesday, November 23rd at 8pm EST, I'll be interviewing Irene Gallo. You can listen live here, or via iTunes by downloading the WSVA internet audio stream.

We take calls, so if you're interested in asking a question on the air the number is: 212.592.2345
If any readers want to leave questions or topics in the comments of this post, I'll be sure to check in tomorrow afternoon and discuss anything of interest on the air.

If you like the show, consider subscribing via Itunes.
An archive of past episodes can be found here.
You can also reach us via twitter and facebook.

Bandwidth is unfortunately limited, but I'll be sure to make the recording available as a download.
Your Dreams My Nightmares is an audio sided project hosted by Sam Weber, that airs live every Wednesday at 8pm on WSVA.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Da Vinci and Attention Deficits

Wendy MacNaughton for NPR

In the upcoming book, Da Vinci's Ghost: Genius, Obsession, and How Leonardo Created the World in His Own Image, Author and Historian, Toby Lester, reconstructs what Leonardo Da Vinci's daily life looked like by examining his journals. Lester claims Leonardo used to travel with a small notebook hanging from his belt, and "whenever something caught his eye," he would make a note, or begin "sketching furiously." Included in this notebook, a to-do list of things Leonardo wanted to accomplish throughout the week.

Artist's rendering by Wendy MacNaughton for NPR

The notebooks brings to light Leonardo's insatiable curiosity, as well as an immense lack of focus. Some experts, such as Jonah Lehrer, think that this lack of focus may actually have contributed to Da Vinci's creativity. In his upcoming book Imagine, How Creativity WorksJonah states: "We live in an age that worships attention. When we need to work, we force ourselves to concentrate. This approach can also inhibit the imagination. Sometimes, it helps to consider irrelevant information, to eavesdrop on all the stray associations unfolding in the far reaches of the brain."

Jonah sites a recent study by Dr. Holly White, then at the University of Memphis, and her colleague Priti Shah, of the University of Michigan.

They recruited 60 undergrads, half of whom were diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). So these kids had real difficulty focusing and sticking to any one activity. All the students were then given a variety of creativity tests (including the Creative Achievement Questionnaire, originally developed by Shelley Carson at Harvard) and, surprisingly, the ADHD students generally got higher scores. When White asked, "Who among you has won a big part in a play, an art prize, a science prize?" — who has been recognized for his or her achievements out there in the real world — again it was the ADHD students who had done better.

The study suggests that minds that break free, that are compelled to wander, can sometimes achieve more than those of us who are more inhibited, more orderly.

Article via NPR

Monday, November 21, 2011

Seen & Noted

-by Arnie Fenner

Just moseying around the stores (brick & mortar and virtual), looking to see what people have been up to, is always rewarding: you never know what you're going to stumble across, but whatever it is, you're almost guaranteed to find something wonderful. are a few items that caught my attention in the last few weeks.

Above: Travis Louie created this great cover for HPL's The Call of Cthulhu for Penguin.

Above: ArenaNet's maestro Daniel Dociu did the cover (and story interior illos) for the current issue of National Geographic.

Above: An appropriate-for-the-season homage to Leyendecker from Bill Stout's 2012 Zombie Calendar.

Above: Lee Moyer's pin-up tribute to "The Scarlet Letter" from his 2012 calendar, Check These Out.

Above: A very nice cover by Mark Maddox for the current issue of the long-running fanzine, Little Shoppe of Horrors.

Above: What's not to like? Hellboy cover and story by Mike Mignola with interior art by Richard Corben.

Above: With the Pixar John Carter of Mars movie coming in 2012, plenty of publishers have hopped on the ERB bandwagon. One of the most outstanding covers is this one by Kekai Kotaki.

Above: And finally, Tomer Hanuka's new art book is out. You know you gotta have one.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

IlluxCon Lecture, part 2

by Petar Meseldzija

Emotion in Art

This image is taken from Christopher Burdett’s blog

In order to explain properly these three stages of infusing an art piece with the emotional content, I will have to tell you something about the genesis of my book The Legend of Steel Bashaw, for as far as I am concerned, it perfectly reflects all the mentioned stages.

In 1991 the civil war broke out in Former Yugoslavia. Although the area where I lived was not directly hit by the war violence, just about 80 km / 50 miles away, the fierce fighting was going on. Because it was a bloody, dirty civil war, and because I thought that I was not born to hold the rifle in my hands and destroy (or be destroyed), but to hold the painting brush and to create instead, I decided to leave the country. So, I quickly packed some things, clothes, a few paintings and drawings, took some money that I previously earned by making comics, and left my parents’ home.  A few hours later I was sitting in the train that was heading towards Budapest, the capitol city of the nearby country of Hungary.
So, unexpectedly and just within a few hours, and with much pain and anxiety in my heart, I was forced to leave the first 26 years of my life; my parents, brother, girlfriend, friends and about everybody and everything else that defined and made up my life. Besides, I did not know whether I would ever be able to return and see them again.

A few days later I came out of the train at the Amsterdam Central Station in the Netherlands. I have never been in the Netherlands before, I did not speak the language, I did not have any relatives or friends there to help me, I did not have place to stay, and I had very little money in my pocket.

This was the beginning of my new life, and although I was afraid and extremely sad, I had to react quickly and make sure to find a place to stay, and to find the way to survive in this new surroundings, that were quite alien to me at that time.

However I struggled and fought for survival on a daily basis. The next 5 years were the hardest and the most dramatic years of my life. It was not only very hard to survive physically, but also I was going through an emotional hell.

Fortunately I was able to find some job relatively soon, and for the next two years I was doing commercial art. And although I did my best and worked very hard, everything in my life was uncertain. I somehow managed to earn enough money to buy some food and to pay my bills. During these years I have learned well what poverty, uncertainty and anxiety are.

There was only one thing in my life I could rely on; it was my work, my art. However, after two years of very commercial and badly paid work, I felt the urge to do something only for myself. I was also very homesick and was starting to have problems with my identity, as most of the emigrants, I guess.

You come to a strange land and bring with you the sense of yourself that was built upon the life experience and the things you have learned from your surroundings in your homeland. Eventually you find yourself in a completely new situation and you realize that your old identify is not compatible with these new and unknown circumstances. You wrestle with this emotional issue and eventually have to reconsider who you are, and to reinvent yourself and your identity in order to be able to function properly in your new life.

You who never have been in a similar situation, have to believe me that it is a big emotional struggle and a painful issue and problem that, I believe, many emigrants never manage to solve entirely and properly, and therefore never become whole again as a person. You stay kind of spilt for the rest of your life, for one part of you actually has never left the place you came from and has been stuck in the past, while another part does its best to integrate into the new life.

In order to help myself deal with this problem, and to find out what my true identity is, I decided to illustrate a very known and popular Serbian folktales called Bas Čelik (or Steel Bashaw).

By the way, Edmud Dulac, the famous French/English illustrator has illustrated this folktale in 1916, within his collection of fairytales from the allied nations.

   1 - So, we have here the first of three stages – my emotional involvement with the subject, and even more than that – a strong urge to dive deep into this subject and therefore help myself solve the problem of identity, which implied profound identification with the subject.

   2 – For a number of years I stayed in emotional contact with my subject by digging through the history, ethnology, literature, art, etc., of my people and my motherland. By doing so I strengthened and examined my relationship with my national identity. It was an important journey into my inner self, and it was elating, as well as painful. Traces of these emotions were brought into the paintings through the compositions, design patterns and the brushwork.

I do not remember when and how, but after a while the national aspect of this inner journey slowly shifted towards the more universal dimensions and although I stayed connected to that national part through a kind of invisible inner cord, I kind of drifted away towards the world of archetype and mythology. Strangely, I slowly realized that I was able to feel pretty comfortable and at home out there. My wounds started to heal.

   3 – Because I was working on Steel Bashaw book for number of years (in fact it took me 15 years to complete it, including many breaks of which the longest one took 7 years), my vision and my technique developed and changed together with the changes in my thinking and feeling. And as my technical skills grew, my ability to express my emotions through painting grew as well. Towards the end of the project I felt more and more liberated and self-confident, and that helped me express myself without (or with significantly less) strain in my paintings.

Now I will try to demonstrate how I use my painting technique to express emotions.


Here are some photos of the painting demo, including one short video, made by my wife Anita, Morgan Bantly and Mark Harchar.

I did the underpainting before my trip to the US.