Saturday, January 31, 2009

Jon Schindehette, Edward Binkley, and Dave Seeley

Playing catch-up here. A few posts that may be of interest:

An interview with Wizards of the Coasts' Dungeons & Dragons' art director, Jon Schindehette.

Interview with artist Edward Binkley.

Dave Seeley step-by-step of his digital Luke Skywalker painting.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Shaun Tan interview on Drawn

Yes, I am a completely devote Shaun Tan fangirl. I just picked up Tales from Outer Suburbia
the other night and am savoring it, one or two stories a night. It's fantastic.

Drawn just posted a lengthy interview with Shaun with a lot of great insight into the book and Shaun's creative process.

Stephan Martiniere and Greg Manchess wallpaper

Yes, this is our dastardly plot to get people to register, but that aint so bad, really. Free in various sizes on

Detail shown here to make it look infuriatingly easy. ;-)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Realms of Fantasy, closing up shop.

This is sad news. I've had a Realms of Fantasy subscription for years. They had a strong dedication to artists. Each issue featured an artist's gallery and all of their stories were accompanied by illustration. I always looked forward to getting the new edition and seeing a great mix of season pros and newer artists cutting their teeth.

54 Mind-blowing Digital Paintings

Thank you to Josh Jasper, for pointing out: 54 Mind-blowing Digital Paintings. Presented by Spoonfed Photoshop Tutorials -- large images, cleanly presented, and links back to the artists site. Very cool.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Massive Black/ Workshop Announced has announced their next workshop and I'm giddy as all heck to be on the monster instructor list. / Massive Black Workshop
March 28-31st
Dallas Texas

I went to their last US workshop, in Seattle, and it was a mindblower. 4 days, 500 students, I'm guessing 50 instructors, 2 warehouse-sized rooms -- 1 dedicated to digital work, the other to traditional -- 8 to 10 hours a day, 1 crazy-ass opening party, at least a dozen demos going on at any one time, live music throughout the day to paint by, 6+ live models at all times (some nude, some in costume,)...and one million sparks of inspiration.

The trick about the Massive Black workshops is:
1) Don't be shy - the loose structure rewards artists that step up and ask lost of questions. All the instructors are there to be nudged, poked, and prodded for any information they can share.
2) Settle down and absorb as much as possible without stressing about what you are missing. It takes a while but you do eventually realize there is enough time to get around to everything.

This year's workshop is in conjunction with the American Film Instituter's AFI Fest. I don't know what that'll mean, but it can only be good, right?

This video petty much wraps up the experience:

My write-ups from the Seattle workshop here, here, here, here, and here.
Flickr set here.

Saturday Animations

Two from the remarkable french animation school, Gobelins.

Le Processus: Orwellian and beautifully stylized.
Al Dente: Don't get eaten by the big ogre man.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mystery of Grace

I love the creative triad that is Charles de Lint, John Jude Palencar, and Peter Lutjen. For years now, these have often been among my favorite Tor covers.

New Coraline Tralier

So much Coraline marketing out there...Normally it would worry me (what are they trying to make up for?) but its all been so creative and well crafted. Still, this is closest anything has felt to the book. Can't wait.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Greg Manchess Demo Video, Part 2

Massive Black has released part 2 of the Greg Manchess demo. $15.00 for instant download. The video is an hour long.

The buzz here.
Preview here.
Order here.

Massive Black has a full series of these downloadables, covering almost every aspect of commercial art: character design, perspective, vehicle design, fine art, ...and on.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Coraline Arists Lecture, CA

Once again, wishing I was anywhere near the Gallery Nucleus:

Coraline Production Artists Panel Discussion and Q&A
February 7th / 2:00 - 4:00 / $10.00
Alhambra, CA
Meet some of the production artists that worked on the movie as we will host a panel to discuss their involvement, contribution to the film, and the production process. Free refreshments served.
Chris Appelhans
Jon Klassen

Shane Prigmore
Shannon Tindle

Stephan Martinere and Me in Boston

A bit of self pimpery.

February 13-15, 2009

Stephan Martiniere and I are two of the Guests of Honor at Boskone. Not only is it my first (maybe only) GoH stint, but it's for one of my favorite conventions. Boskone is like an intimate version of World Con: great guests and members but in manageable enough numbers that you can spend real time with people, New England has a very energetic art-fandom that often put on special exhibits beyond the usual art shows, it's the one time of year I'm sure to see Rick Berry, and...well, I'd like to say something nice about Boston itself, it's a great city but, holy crap, is it cold in February!


I'll be there talking about whatever anyone wants to. I'm also working with Mark Olson to put together a Tor cover art exhibit. I'll be sure to have some known favorites plus some artists not as well known to the con community.

And, so I can pretend to have "peeps", producer, Pablo Defendini, and blogger Bridget McGovern are coming up as well.

And best yet, Stephan! He rarely goes to conventions outside of San Diego Comic Con. It's a rare opportunity to hang out with Stephan without 100,000+ others competing for space and time. Because of that, lots of East coast artists are either exhibiting or coming in for a day trip. Donato, Greg Manchess, Dan Dos Santos threatened to show up for a day, Bob Eggleton, being local, is usually there, Dave Seeley as well....and a number of others.

Spectrum Exhibition 2 Judging

Curating the second Spectrum Exhibition has begun in earnest. The exhibit will be a selection of original paintings and sculptures from Spectrums 12-15 on display at the Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators September 1 -- October 17th.

So far, the process has been to go through each edition and tag anything we want a second look at....which was a lot of artwork, much more than we could fit in the galleries. Then we took a knife to the books (yes, horrifying, but a couple books had to make the ultimate sacrifice for the good of show) so we could stack each artist's work into piles. Then heartbreaking part began -- taking 1600 images and choosing just 15o(ish) out of them.

It's been a difficult process of constant reevaluation. In fact, judging this exhibit has been harder than the first, even though the first covered more than twice as many editions. The industry has become more varied and vibrant than ever before. The books have become longer (including adding a new section for concept art) and the quality-bar keeps getting raised. Nonetheless, we've got it down to just under 200 at this point...a few more tweaks and we'll have the exhibit down to a manageable level.

The schedule calls for our wish-list to be done by late February, which doesn't mean that that's what the show will be, exactly -- there will be paintings that have been sold off, artists we can't reach, some that are too fragile to ship, and in one case the painting was crushed (along with an entire east side building) by a large crane, but by and large, it should start to take shape over the next handful of months.

Here are a some shots from the first exhibit, including the first Art Out Loud.

We have marked two days throughout the run of the show for events: demos, panel discussions, whatever we can think f. If any one has suggestions, don't be shy.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Edgar Allan Poe's 200th Birthday

Whether you know it or not, you are familiar with Michael Deas' artwork...and have even licked it. Not only did he paint the Columbia Pictures logo, but he's done numerous portraits for the US Postal service -- James Dean, Cary Grant, Stephen Vincent Benete, and many others. And the odd Time cover, Tor cover!, and, and,...

Michael also happened to write the book on Edgar Allan Poe portraits, so I'm sure he was thrilled to be given the commission to paint Poe for today's big birthday. Congrats, Michael!

If you are ever in the same room with Michael, buy him a drink and ask him to tell you about the National Art's Club stolen Poe daguerreotype. It's a great story. The FBI was involved.

Other artsy Poe-ness:
Mark Summers on drawing Poe, and again. "He’s got one of those faces rich with distinct and fascinating features, but I’ve found that it all comes down to the eyes—the saddest, deepest eyes in literature."
Adam Rex making funny with the Poe and writer's block, here, here, and here.

The Heron

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Good Year for the Robots

The Art Department seems to be full of moving pictures lately. Apologies for that. It's a phase. But I ran into "A Good Year for the Robots" while poking around the internets and immediately wanted everybody to see it.

The faux documentary/music video of awkward Alex the Robot on a quest to respond more like his human co-workers says, in four minutes, what others have taken entire books and movies to say. Superbly acted and shot, you feel his isolation, resolve to adapt, small moments of opportunity, the obvious prejudice against him and the quiet discomfort some of his coworkers feel around him....

But more to the point, just watch it and see if you don't love Alex the "guyslashrobot."

UPDATE, SORTA: It just occurs to that I never mentioned that this is a video for a band called Coparck. Hurray on them for getting a movie made rather than a mere decoration for their song.

Saturday, January 17, 2009 Animation Saturdays

This week on Saturday Morning Cartoons:

Imago: An orphaned boy dreams of his father. If this doesn't make you both smile and get teary-eyed, then you have no heart. Equally beautiful for its storytelling and drawing, sentimental in the best possible way.

Leo's Song: “When a geometric visitor from another planet becomes your new roommate and shares with you the tragic state of its home world, you drop your guitar and see what you can do.”

Glory at Sea

A post Katrina fairy tale."A group of mourners and a man spat from the depths of Hades build a boat from the debris of New Orleans" Created by Benh Zeitlin.

About 25 minutes long, and beautiful at every turn.

[Via the most excellent Ticklebooth.]

Friday, January 16, 2009

Andrew Wyeth

I'm trying to think of something eloquent to say but all I want to do is take a walk through the frozen fields around my house. Andrew Wyeth spent his entire life painting his backyard in Chads Ford and Maine and seemed to constantly see familiar surroundings as strange and beautiful and deeply, deeply personal. I don't think anyone anyone outside of my personal life has effected me as much as Andrew Wyeth.

Out on Long Island I take the same walks over and over again. It's not a particularly large space, or rugged, but I find it fascinating every time. Each fallen tree or bend in the path takes on a meaning for me that is impossible to articulate. As these landmarks shift and decay and regrow, my thoughts and emotions associated with them deepen and become more and more abstract and harder to explain. Looking at Wyeth's work, I may not know what the associations with his surroundings are, but I understand them completely.

And it reminds me that to be alone in a frozen field can be an amazing thing.

Really, to die at home at 91 with truly the most amazing career of any contemporary artist shouldn't be such a sad thing...but he'll be missed.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Charles Vess and Neil Gaiman at Books of Wonder, mark your calendar

This is a can't-miss event. Charles Vess and Neil Gaiman will be doing a Blueberry Girl reading, signing, art show, slideshow, book launch party at Books of Wonder on March 7th.

From Charles' blog:

All of the original art will be on display and for sale, Neil will be there to read the text (and , one can only assume , other written delights) and I will be presenting a slide show discussing the visual evolution of his 18 line poem into a 32 page picture book."

I fortunate enough to
see a number of these paintings at ComicCon a few years ago and I'm very excited to see them again.

I started an event page on with some details -- I'll add more as they are announced.

Charles Vess Society of Illustrators lecture
Charles Vess and Michael Kaluta: 1001 Nights of Snowfall

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Spectrum Deadline,January 234rd

A friendly reminder, Spectrum deadline is January 23rd. Save the Fenners a few gray hairs and get your entries in on time, and make those judges work hard.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009 animation: "Jojo in the Stars" and "Adventures in Broccoli"

This week on's Saturday Morning Cartoons:

Jojo in the Stars: A tragic love story.

Adventures in Broccoli: Who says surrealism needs to be pretentious? You know that dream where you keep trying to wake yourself up but can’t? That’s this, only funnier. With broccoli. It's a student film -- very funny and inventive.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

James Jean "Kindling" Opening

James Jean's first solo exhibit, Kindling, opened tonight and it is fantastic. It was a larger collection of work than I had expected, mostly large scale mixed media paintings, with a number of small meticulously crafted sketches and drawings.

James describes his subjects as "gliding through the tableaux, tracing a narrative of thwarted desires." His work in general, and this show in particular, is often entirely populated by children. The fluidity and ease at which he draws and the atmospheric application of color creates a pleasant space to be in...until you actually look at what is going on: unflinching and without judgment, Jean shows children as adorable and sweet and all id.

His use of line work and limited value ranges are often compared to Asian scroll painting, although I image his years working on the Fables has also been an influence. The larger paintings create mythic worlds full of of symbols and topsy-turvy logic. Grimm and their dark acknowledgment of children never seem too far away.

Words like brilliant and genius are too often bandied about but in the case, James Jean is a remarkable artist who (it's hard to believe) at 30 has only just started his career. I can't imagine what will come out of him over the next 30 years.


All paintings are displayed on the Johnathan Levine Gallery website.

A number of photos from the opening on my flickr set.

I'm told Chronicle books will be publishing a catalog of the exhibit. In meantime, Fables Covers
is a stunning collection of paintings, sketches, and thoughts from Jean.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Joshua Middleton on City of Fire

Joshua Middleton talks about his cover for Tor's City of Fire. Includes some better detail shoots than I did.

Justin Gerard's The Hobbit

Justin Gerard is creating an impressive series of watercolor paintings on The Hobbit. His blog includes sketches, progress shoots, selected quotes and personal thoughts on the book. Completely self-motivated, these paintings have no destined book or other printed means.

Justin started the series as a means to recapture his own mental-images of the story and dive more deeply into traditional painting. Painting, he doesn't seem to have much trouble with, and I imagine he finds The Hobbit full of joy 'cause that's what these paintings are made of. If ever collected, it would be one of the most charming editions of the book.

"Like many people, when I read J.R.R. Tolkien's series I had all kinds of visual ideas in my own mind of what the characters, monsters and places looked like....And when the films were released I was jarred my first time seeing them. Things didn't look like they had in my head....Then something terrible happened.I found that I had lost my ideas. At first, they were only tainted by the films, but after a while I found that I had lost them altogether."

Lord of the Bots, Mattias Adolfsson
Another Hobbit

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Greg Manchess Demo Video

Massive Black has released part 1 of a Greg Manchess demo video. $15.00 for instant download. (Hurray for instant gratification.)

Order here.

The buzz here.

Preview here:

Show Off Day: Joshua Middleton and Raymond Swanland

This week's email has been good to me. First, this great image from Joushua Middleton for an upcoming Tor YA book, City of Fire, by Laurence Yep. And then this awesome Raymond Swanland painting for Tor's next Glen Cook Black Company omnibus. Both out in Fall 09.

James Jean Exhibit

Where all the cool kids will be Saturday night.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Fresh Paint: AG Ford

It's been a while since I've done a "Fresh Paint" interview, but it's still true that one of the most exciting parts of the job is watching artists just a few ears out of school turn-on.

I met AG Ford at the Society of Illustrators student exhibit. I recently ran across the above Dorothy painting in Spectrum and it prompted me to look him up. Clearly he is finding his way quite nicely.

AG Ford

Where did you go to school and how do you feel they prepared you for your career?
I attended the Columbus College of Art and Design (graduated May 2007) and studied heavily under C.F. Payne my Junior and Senior years of college as an illustration major. He was essential in guiding me on technique, craftsmanship, doing research, and gathering good reference materials. Also, he let me be my own artist and taught me about getting my name out there as far as promotions, making calls to art directors, and being aggressive once my art was to a level that it needed to be professionally.

What has been your biggest challenge post graduation?

My biggest challenge post graduation was just that, trying to get my art out and in front of people. It can be difficult being a new face because people are not sure what to expect from you not only from a visual stand point, but professionally. The little things like dependability to meet a dea
dline and your professionalism, just being easy to work with. But usually after working with some one once, you can remove those worries if you over achieve expectations.

Do you feel as though you've had your first break yet?

I actually have had my first break, I landed a full picture book deal with Harper Collins. It was a big sigh of relief when this happened. The book was written by Jonah Winter titled Barack
and actually hit the New York Times Bestseller list for children's books. This was a very exciting and an overwhelming experience.

Do you think you have a breakthrough painting in which you made a leap in your abilities?
I think my break though paintings were throughout my Dorothy series, it was something that I was passionate about and is when I really started to transfer into oils. But I think you get better with every painting if you are trying to better and challenge yourself in some way, maybe through under painting or texture experimentation.

Can you share with us a favorite painting that you have done in the last year?
Its hard to say which of my own paint
ings is my favorite, but if I had to say one, it would probably be my Dorothy and the Munchkins painting. I spent a lot of time with different models and costuming to achieve that piece, and was pretty happy with the end result. But I try not to look at my own paintings too much, its seems like that could make you stand still rather than getting better. I would rather look at the painters that blow me away, Phil Hale, Maxfield Parrish, Thomas Blackshear, those guys.

A favorite painting by another artist?

One of my favorite paintings by another artist would probably be...mmmmhhh dont make me choose, I am safe with saying Swansong by Thomas Blackshear, its definitely one of my favorite paintings, its very iconic, and stays in your memory.

What where some of your successful self-promotions?

My promotions were mainly through sending out packets and such, but I felt they were hit or miss, I had more success when meeting with people face to face.

Do you have a clear idea where you'd like to be in five years or are you taking each day as it comes?
In the next five years I hope to still be in children's publishing, projects are lengthy and I am comfortable with the projects that I have been chosen for. The subject matter fits my light personality. Publishers are keeping me very busy right now.

Any advice to younger artists still in school?

The best advice that I could give any student is to work five times harder than the people around you, and be aware of what is going on in the art world. Don't get so caught up in your own creative mind, and your own world. You want your artwork to be relevant enough for you to get work from clients. One last thing, at some point you have to focus your ideas visually so that art directors immediately know what they can use you for. From an artists perspective, its awesome to be versatile, but coming out of school and being new, editors and art directors want some consistency so that they can trust you, thats just from my experience, and my opinion.

Dorian Iten Step-by-Step

Dorian Iten, a student at last summer's Illustration Master Class, did one of my favorite paintings of the class. Of the five assignments, one choice was a plant-human hybrid. I shouldn't admit this but it was an assignment inspired by having the worst flu of my life while stuck in a hotel room at LunaCon...bad enough that I spent all night wathcing America's Next Top Model. (Hey, I was realy sick!) One of the photo shoots dressed the women up as flowers. Needless to say, the class did much more interesting things with the idea.

Dorian just posted an extensive step-by-step of his piece. If you check out hos website, you'll that he is a highly trained classical drawer, it was fun watching him take that disipline and paticence into the fantasy field.

REALTED: Illustration Master Class posts

Sunday, January 04, 2009

All the Art That's Fit to Print (and Some That Wasn't) Thirty years of New York Times Op-Ed Art

Looks like a trip to the bookstore is in order. All the Art That's Fit to Print (And Some That Wasn't) is a thirty year collection of New York Times Op-Ed drawings, including killed images and a forward by Ralph Steadman. Editor Jerelle Kraus has set up an extensive website for the book, including photographs, statements, and gallery. (Check-out this crazy artist list.)

"Unlike the gorgeous color illustrations that appeared in glossy magazines, our work was defined by short deadlines, low budgets and simple reproduction. This discipline taught us to whittle our imagery down to sharp points. We let authors dissect their subjects, stretching thought out in time. We tried to compress thought into space. The Op-Ed page was an experiment in form and content. Its success showed that if a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s worth more when an artist has something to say. "— Brad Holland