Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are stills

Io9 has posted a bunch of stills from Where the Wild Things Are. Holy freakin' cow this better be brilliant....and holy freakin' cow, it looks like it is.

Abbeys, Sargents, Jellies, and Apples


We had a perfect and artful New England weekend. On our way up to Robert Wiener's annual Apple Fest, we decided to take a day in Boston to visit Edwin Austin Abbey's “Grail Cycle” and John Singer Sargent's “Prophets” murals at the Boston Public Library. We had wandered into the Library on a whim a few years back and were blown away by these murals. This time we came prepared..and we were still blown away.

Here’s a shaky-cam 360 of the Abbey room.

And, of course, a quick stop at the aquarium. I love aquariums. And their jelly fish exhibit is, as all jelly fish exhibits are, a must-see.


The following day: Dave Seeley rounded us up, along with Jason Felix who was in for a Magic tournament. A quick stop to poke through Dave's studio. (A place no one with sensory overload issues should enter.) Then, over to pick-up Rick Berry. Rick had just finished packing up a crate of work to be shipped to the Lucca Festival where he'll be exhibiting and painting with Phil Hale. If you’re in Italy at the end of October, you should go so that we, who are far away, can be envious.

Finally, we were off to the main event: Robert Wiener's annual Apple Fest -- where we ran around Robert’s backyard picking, eating, and squeezing as many apples we could shake a strange, extra long, lacrosse-like stick at. Robert also has one of the most extraordinary collections of science fiction and fantasy art imaginable. It is overwhelming. After an hour or so you are left unable to absorb more and left realizing there are days, literary days, worth of viewing left. It was a fantastic time. A huge thanks to Robert! I wish it could be Apple Fest every weekend. 2010, we leave more time for the artwork and break out the apple cannon.

(Currently: Eating apples and peanut butter for dinner as I type....emmmmm.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ross McDonald on illustrating Last Son of Tomorrow, wood type, and movie propmaking

Ross MacDonald is an illustrator, designer, letterpress artist, prop maker, and every art director’s dream to work with. Whenever we have worked together, Ross has attacked the assignment with excitement, often sending sketches along with all kinds of interesting and amusing backstories about the historical context of the type and images he is playing with.

When Greg van Eekhout’s Tor.com story “Last Son of Tomorrow” came in, it was a bit of a mixed blessing for me. I loved the story. It is easily among my favorites on the site. While every story is an opportunity to create a great image, I can’t help to feel doubly pressured to “get it right” when I feel close to the source material. After thinking about various artists, I kept going back to Ross. I’m glad I did. The image is simple and perfect. It works well before you’ve read the story and gains more depth afterward, as a good collaboration between pictures and words should.

Over on Tor.com, I asked Ross a few questions about his unusually varied career.

You had the potentially problematic task of illustrating one of my very favorite tor.com stories (so far). The image you came up with was so simple and perfect. Did you play around with other images or did you come to this pretty quickly?
It wasn't the first thing I thought of, actually. I started off convinced that the perfect way to illustrate this story was to do some kind of comic—5 or 6 wordless panels showing different scenes from his life. But something kept nagging at me—somehow it felt flat or pat. I learned the hard way that you have to listen to that feeling.
Read the rest of the interview on Tor.com. You'll be glad you did -- Ross is thoughtful and charming.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Saturday and Sunday

If you are in NY, go visit the Met's borrowed Vermeer. It's astonishing. And then run upstairs and play with Roxy Paine's tangled up metallic tree roots and limbs.

Kadinsky at the Guggenhiem is interesting but I feel heretical in saying that I was happiest in the room full of his watercolor. As Peter Fiore pointed out (when I asked why on facebook,) the watercolors are much more radiant. I was also surprised to see two examples of very early, much more illustrative, works to fall in love with.

Animation on Tor.com: The Hungry Squid and The Girl Who Hated Books

This week on Tor.com's Saturday Morning Cartoons:

The Hungry Squid: This is very strange, both story and art. But a lot of fun. A bizarre take on “my dog ate my homework.” (14.30 minutes)

The Girl Who Hated Books: And the moral is: Books are cool. Not news to anyone here but it’s still a delight to watch. More for kids than the above story. (7.23 minutes)

To see all Saturday Morning Cartoons, click here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Terrible Yellow Eyes exhibit

Terribble Yellow Eyes Exhibit
September 19 - October 6, 2009
Reception: Sep 19, 7:00PM - 11:00PM
210 East Main St,
Alhambra CA 91801

I've mention Cory Godbey's Where the Wild Things Are tribute site, Terrible Yellow Eyes, before. Now, it's become an exhibit at Gallery Nucleus. If you are anywhere near LA, I am officially jealous.

The exhibit opens tomorrow. Good luck to Cory and all the participating artists. Anyone would be hard-pressed to find a collection of work with this much heart anywhere else.

Bernie Fuchs: 1932-2009

When I walk into my office every morning the first thing I see is a Bernie Fuchs painting. I won it at a Society of Illustrators auction and was offered double the money as I was walking out the door with it. Obviously I didn't take it. Wasn't even tempted.

Three, four, maybe it was five years ago already, I was at Illustration House and they had a Bernie Fuchs painting of a young woman at diner. I don't know who won that auction but I'll never forget the piece and it's pink, green, and silver textures. My hope is that it eventually ends up in a public collection. I'd go far to see that painting again.

Not too long ago the Society purchased a Fuchs painting of a dinning room table and chairs and by pure composition and texture it becomes a deeply psychological space. And one of my biggest regrets will be eating lunch at the Society about three feet away from Bernie Fuchs and being too timid to say hello. It turns out, that was my only opportunity to meet him. He passed away last night, drawing to the end.

He was giant in the field, up there with Norman Rockwell, N. C. Wyeth, and Howard Pyle. He influenced a generation...even two....likely more. I wish he could be around to see all of it to come.


For more information on Bernie Fuchs, follow this search on David Apatoff's Illustration Art. David always speaks eloquently about illustration but his love for Fuchs' work has always particularly shown through his writing.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Moon Landing Day & April Fools (not to be confused with each other)

One of my favorite things on Tor.com was celebrating our birthday (not coincidentally on moon landing day) by asking authors to write their remembrances of man's first walk on the moon. These are now collected in one easy click.

And...each and every April Fool's Day post cracked me up. Also newly available in one easy click.

Art Out Loud 6: James Gurney, Sam Weber, Charles Vess, Greg Mnachess, Donato Giancola


We decided to take advantage of having so many artists in town for the Spectrum reception by hosting the sixth installment of the Society of Illustrators painting demo series, Art Out Loud. We had James Gurney, Sam Weber, Donato Giancola, Greg Manchess, and Charles Vess painting simultaneously while spectators milled about, watched, and asked as many questions as they could think of.

It's an extraordinarily generous thing for the participating artists to do -- not only did they volunteer their weekend away, but painting in unfamiliar surroundings with a hundred brand new best friends watching cannot be easy. Art is not typically a spectator sport and artists are usually left to face "ugly stages" and failed experiments on their own. On top of that, add the fact that many of the people in the audience were equally accomplished illustrators themselves. And yet all five of these guys did a tremendous job.

The doors opened at 1:00 and the crowd broke into groups around each easel. After a quick introduction the artists started to address the group around them and encourage questions. Some viewers parked next to one artist for most of the four hours, absorbing everything they could, others took a more ala carte approach and skipped around, taking little bits of inspiration from all of them.

Greg Manchess worked on a continuation of his "arctic explorer" images. He also brought a stack of completed paintings for people to look at.

James Gurney had Walt and Roger Reed come in to sit for him while he painted their portraits and interviewed them. While he worked, he let people thumb through his sketch books -- every page is a watercolor masterpiece tracing his travels through Malta and France. He also had an early copy of his upcoming "how to" book, Imaginatve Realism. It looks so good, even I feel like I need a copy and I don't paint.

Donato gave me a great surprise. Back in June I put on a full suit of armor during a painting class. (Wouldn't you?) After it created a stir, Donato ran out and set up lights to take photos. He mentioned he wanted to do a Joan of Arc painting but I never thought he'd actually get around to doing so...until he showed up to Art Out Loud with a four foot long panel with Me-As-Joan drawn on it. I was humbled and tickled, to say the least.

Charles Vess continued a large scale Lady of the Lake painting that he began at the Illustration Master Class. He also had previews of his upcoming art book, Drawing Down the Moon, and his next children's book with Neil Gaiman, Instructions. (Me wants!)

Sam Weber started with an abstract mono-print and delicately turned it into a haunting portrait. It was interesting to see his board covered in reference shots, but used more for inspiration than literal translation. Eric Fortune watched him for quiet a while, they both have a similar style of slowly laying layer upon layer of near-impossibly thin pigment. At one point, I overheard Eric and Sam agree that the best part of painting is "the last 20 hours."

It was an inspiring day. If the demos weren't enough for anyone, then having people in the audience like Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell, John Cuneo, Terese Neilsen, Eric Fortune, Bruce Jensen, Daren Bader, and Craig Elliot should have kept anyone busy.

Once again, thanks to Greg, James, Donato, Sam, and Charles. And a huge thanks to the Society staff. They spoiled us and the audience endlessly -- from quiche in the morning, to gourmet lunch sandwiches, fresh fruit, and home baked cookies. It was an afternoon that couldn't be beat.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Spectrum Exhbition

Spectrum Exhibition
September 1st -- October 17th
128 East 63rd Street, NY, NY

More photos from the reception here.

Last Friday night was the opening reception for the second Spectrum Exhibition at the Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators. The Spectrum annuals have arguably become the standard of science fiction and fantasy art over the past decade and a half. Over a hundred works of art selected from the last four editions of Spectrum are on display through October 17th.

The fun part of curating the exhibit is pouring over each volume and debating the merits of each and every image. The heartbreak is not be able to include everything we felt worthy -- space limitations meant having to exclude excellent work, much of it by dear friends. What we hope to have on display is a small taste of the breadth and of richness of genre art, including John Howe, John Jude Palencar, Phil Hale, Kinuko Craft, Andrew Jones, Yuko Shimizu, Rebecca Guay, Tony DiTerlizzi, Donato Giancola, Michael Whelan, Jon Foster, Rick Berry...and a hundred others.

The reception was, in a word, a blast! Artists and industry peoples came in from all over the states and across the pond. (Special props to California -- the Golden State must have weighed more than a few pounds lighter last weekend.) The party started at 6:00 and was going strong till midnight. It was a great opportunity to meet new contacts and to connect with old friends I normally only see within the chaos of ComicCon. A huge thanks to all the participating artists. Our lives would be a touch duller without their visions and to see them in the original is an immeasurable treat.

Greg Manchess, Cathy and Arnie Fenner, Arkady Roytman and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Society of Illustrators staff. Not only for opening their doors to the us, but for doing all of the un-fun parts while we sat back and handed wish-lists over (rarely on-time, at that) and constantly raising the bar on all aspects of the exhibit.

The doors are open Tuesday through Saturday, after work hours on Tuesdays. And it's free! Stop in, take a look at the show and see all the other events the Society has to offer: life drawing sessions, lectures, networking, workshops, and a permanent collection of 2,000 paintings from the likes of Rockwell, Schaeffer, Cornwell, Wyeth, Fuchs, Pyle.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Animation on Tor.com: Disney's Mars and Beyond

Disney’s “Mars and Beyond”
I’ve been shy about posting movies that have cut into parts but I stumbled into this 1957 Disney animation “Mars and Beyond” and, holy smokes, is it the coolest thing I’ve seen in ages. It's a great mix of fact and supposition with an amazing, and seemingly endlessly creative, design. It covers historical astronomical beliefs, the beginnings of science fiction literature, “current” science, and a fantastical array of what-if Martians. It’s both delightful and scientific without ever being silly or dry.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cathy and Arnie Fenner preview the Spectrum Exhibition

Cathy and Arnie Fenner, the creators and editors of the Spectrum Annual, came into town last night to get a preview of the Spectrum Exhibition. We had a great dinner with the Society of Illustrators' director, Anelle Miller, exhibition coordinator, Kate Fiertag, and president, Dennis Dittrich. (Thanks guys, it was an awesome night.)

Artists are flying in from all corners. Excitement is building...can't wait for the opening reception tonight. Pictures to come. (Lots and lots of pictures, I'm sure.)

Friday, September 04, 2009

Gathering Storm, Chapter One

For thems that are fans: Chapter one of The Gathering Storm is up on Tor.com. (Written and audio.)

The Wheel of Time eBook repackaging. (Or, Wo0t!)

Tor's biggest selling fantasy series is Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time. If you don't know already, it's hard to overestimate just how popular this series is. Beginning October 27th we will start to release ebook editions.

The most exciting part, for me at least, is that they will have new covers -- each book by a different artist. We have a great mix fantasy heavy-hitters and artists not typically associated with the genre. Each will bring their own style to the project, creating fourteen new visions of Jordan's world.

Commissioned so far:

The Eye of the World
David Grove

The Great Hunt
Kekai Kotaki

The Dragon Reborn
Donato Giancola

The Shadow Rising
Sam Weber

I have a loose wish-list for the rest of the series and have been working closely with the WoT editor, Harriet McDougal, and have started an excellent dialogue with Tor.com's Leigh Butler, and Dragonmount's Jason Denzel on these. I'll release images as I can. From teh couple sketches we have in so far, this should be a fun ride!

Please note: Images above are samples of past work from the artists, not paintings for this project.

Kurt and Zelda's King of an Endless Sky

Just a quick note to say:
a) part four of Kurt and Zelda's King of an Endless Sky is up. Yay! (New installments every Thursday.)
b) Now available in one easy to navigate, and ever expanding, file. Bookmark it and enjoy.

James Gurney to paint and interview Walt and Roger Reed at Art Out Loud

Attention Illustration nerds!

Walt and Roger Reed will be sitting for a portrait by James Gurney during Art Out Loud, while Jim also conducts an informal interview with them.

Walt Reed wrote the book on American illustration.He is it's foremost historian, and owner, with Roger Reed, of Illustration House. I've only had a few encounters with Walt but his love for storytelling is clear and infectious. Anytime I have been in the Illustration House gallery he has been eager to talk to me (a stranger to him) about both the history of the painting and the history being depicting. He is a treasure in the field.

"The sincerity and the purity of [Walt Reed's] love for the art form is an aesthetic experience all by itself." -- David Apatoff

Unfortunately (or, I suppose, fortunately) Art Out Loud sold out a few days after it was announced, but we will document and post as much of it as possible.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Art of Guild Wars 2

I may not know anything about video games but I know I always look forward to seeing ArenaNet's concept art for Guild Wars in each year in Spectrum. Now, it seems, there is an Art of Guild Wars 2 book due out tantalizingly-vague "soon." Seriously, some of my favorite fantasy work has come from these guys over the past few years. Must. Get. This. Book. But there is no order info. Maddening.

In the meantime, check out this ConceptArt.org thread about the book. All of it is great, but seeing so much Daniel Dociu imagery is enough to make your heart stop. And Richard Anderson's use of negative shapes is so wonderfuly atypical of the genre, you have to love it.

Seen here:
Jaime Jones, Daniel Dociu
Kekai Kotaki, Daniel Dociu (twice)
Richard Anderson