Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Eos Taking Flight

-By Dan dos Santos

Here's a private commission I recently finished up titled 'Eos Taking Flight'. It is a depiction of Eos, the Greek goddess of Dawn, as she prepares to take to the sky, bringing dawn in behind her.

It's not often I get to paint something that's not a cover. Trying to squeeze in private commissions between publishing deadlines is really tough, and it seemed like this piece just kept taking a back seat to more pressing matters (which never seem to end). As a result, I had been working on this piece off and on for an embarrassingly long time. The client was remarkably understanding of this though, and let me take as long as I wanted until I was happy with it. It was really great not having to rush a piece for a change.

This commission started off like most others, with lots of thumb-nailing, sketching, and color studies.  I gave the client several options to choose from, about four in all. And although some did not suit his tastes, I quite like some of the rejected ideas and may very well go back and paint them someday.

Unused concept for Eos I still hope to explore.

The original painting is oils on illustration board, and is 24 x 36 inches, which is quite a bit smaller than I would have liked to paint this particular image. But as with many collectors, wall space is a real commodity, so we had to bring the size down some. The slightly smaller size meant that the painting had to be extremely detailed. In fact, the head of the Eos is actually just 1 inch tall.

I had an unusually hard time with the face on this one. I probably repainted it about 6 times or so. Every time I tried, I seemed to miss the desired look by just a tiny bit. Due to the small scale, even minute changes altered her face dramatically, making it difficult to capture the personality I saw so clearly in my head. I do think I eventually got what I was going for though.

Below are a few additional details showing some of the passages I enjoyed painting.

Like any job, I always do some research and shoot a ton of reference. I hired a few models for this one, but probably the funnest part of the reference process was building 'Mt. Olympus' which was to appear in the background.

I used some of my children's old building blocks for the main structure, some cheap wedding cake toppers served as Greek columns, and wrinkled craft paper made for some mighty convincing mountain reference.

For anyone interested in reproductions of this piece, I should have this painting available as large canvas prints very soon. It will likely be a very limited run, so feel free to email me if you are interested in being placed on an early reservation list. My contact info can be found at: http://www.dandossantos.com/


  1. GORGEOUS! The painting is delightful, but doooooood, your mock-up Olympus blows me away. The amount of 'homework' you do prior to every piece is, at once, daunting and inspiring. Amazing job. (As usual!)

    1. What you call 'homework', I call 'procrastination'. Building models is super fun, and easily my favorite part of the process. You get to experiment a lot and just get inspired. The piece almost always comes out better for it.

  2. Wow Dan! This turned out amazing. So great to see the behind the scenes shots. The tableau you built is inspiring. Also, your sketches are so fully fleshed out as ideas. Amazing. You definitely need to paint that alternate concept.

  3. Holy Olympus Dan! This is just incredible, both the painting and seeing the process. The light and the mood you have created is just magical, love love love it! You're such a fantastic artist.

  4. Looking damn nice, Dan. That sketch for the other direction is too good to not take to final, by the way...

  5. Awesome Dan! Your work never fails to delight and inspire!

  6. You really did outstanding and prepared well. I'm well aware of the all the steps in creating a finished piece; while I don't do realism like you, I make sure to do sketches, color studies and research.

    Super job!

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  8. Seeing this post was timely. I'm going out today to get a set of wooden blocks for basic forms. I figure I can build onto them with other materials, if need be. If you don't mind me asking, what have you found to be the most useful reference-making material? I know it all changes depending on the project. I save old kneaded erasers and use them for quick forms. That has been really useful for me in a pinch.

    I'm looking for materials I can use over and over again to cut construction time a bit. I love building maquettes, but sometimes I find I need the same shapes over and over and a reusable material, like the blocks, seems like a sound investment.

    Thanks for this great post. The painting is really inspiring. I learned a lot from those detail shots.


    1. Justin,
      The most useful item really depends on the things you paint most. I tend to paint a lot of people, so my 12" inch poseable figures get the most useage. I make clothing for them with shop rags and tape quite easily. But in general, tape and cardboard are amazingly versatile at any scale.

    2. I keep a supply of cardboard and tape around for just the same reason. It is a lifesaver. I think I may need to invest in some basic wooden shapes (not quite as inexpensive as I had initially imagined, they would be; but worth the expense, I think). Thanks for getting back to me. This was a timely and much enjoyed post.

      Take it easy.

  9. I would not have wanted to paint those golden gates! Great work.

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  11. amazing painting i love the lighting and colour on this piece,

    i have a quick question concerning saturated backgrounds, im not sure how you approached the BG but when your painting such a light saturated light source like that on top of a dark background how do you keep the orange vibrancy?

    i recently took up acrylics painting and made the mistake of under painting the background to dark when i needed it really light and now i cant achieve the light again without adding white, which just's desaturates and cools the light.


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