A Thing for Helmets

Gregory Manchess

Last weekend was the 50th anniversary of the Boskone SF&F convention in Boston. I usually try to hang several originals at the event as their art show draws out many good painters from near and far.

I wanted to paint pieces based specifically on my love of the genre. So, once again, it led me to painting helmets! The hardware of science and science fiction. But I couldn’t just paint one or two. I wanted to paint a whole slew of them, starting with astronauts, of course, then moving through the ages, all the way up to bubble helmets. The list was quite long.

I’ve started a series of helmets as larger paintings, but in order to get this all rolling, I painted them on 5x5” cradled panels. I’m starting to see them as explorations for future works.

Some presented more problems than others because of their complexity. I wanted them to be as loose as possible, but still give that feeling of reality with just the right amount of detail. I visualized my reference as if it was already painted.

I had to keep in mind that most of the details of the subject were unnecessary to give the feeling of reality. Picking the right details became the hard part. Several times I painted too much and had to wipe out or brush over a rendered area. But it added to the loose effect. Finding that balance was the focal point.

Most of them took about one and a half to two hours. Any more than that and they would’ve become much too fussed over.

Saturday afternoon at the con, I did a demo painting of a deep sea diving helmet, like the smaller one shown here. It was a fun shift from the small ones, but again I had to be discerning about too many details. This time, though, I could get more paint worked in! It was a two hour demo, and it’s in the studio now for a few more tweaks here and there.

Most of them are available now for $350 each. If you’re interested, shoot me an email.

What is it about helmets. They all imply a person on a mission. To explore, to achieve, to frighten, to conquer, to quest, or even to protect. It all started from years of watching NASA and countless movies about space exploration. Men and women of adventure...gotta love ‘em.