27 June 2017

New cards are a-coming!

Follow me on Instagram http://ift.tt/2thwnAz

24 June 2017

Inspiration: Piranesi

via Muddy Colors http://ift.tt/2t2jgD7

-By William O'Connor

At the end of the 18th century a revolution was in the air. Not only were the people of France and America beginning to strain against their tyrannical monarchs, this revolution had grown and evolved to consume the sciences, philosophy, religion and of course, the arts. New ideas of astronomy, biology and physics transformed the way that artists perceived the world around them. Discoveries in archeology unearthed long lost ruins and artifacts from the ancient world and with them, new and previously unimagined concepts that would lay the foundation of the Romantic Movement in art.

One of the most imaginative artists from this period is Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778)

Born, trained and working in Italy all his life Piranesi was surrounded and influenced by the unearthly ruins of ancient Rome as they were beginning to be studied academically for the first time.  As is evidenced by his etchings and engravings is the  lack of conservation that had been given to the Ruins.  For a thousand years Rome had been scavenged for stones, and large spaces like the Forum and the Colosseum had been used as sheep pastures.  Piranesi creates intricate landscapes documenting these monuments like a scientist, but also adds a sense of dramatic scale and regal power that seems to live in the ruins despite their neglect.

Late into his career Piranesi began his “Prison” series.  A fantastical journey into completely imagined fantasy dungeon-scapes.  These underworld environments of smoke and winding stairs, gates, and bridges, ropes and wheels always, for me, evoke a wonderful sense of drama and atmosphere.  The tiny figures could be monks or dwarves or orcs moving though the Mines of Moria or any epic Dungeon Crawl.  In the decades and centuries to come Piranesi’s magical labyrinths would inspire artists as diverse as Coleridge’s 1797 poem “Kubla Khan”, M.C. Escher, the Surrealists, and just about every fantasy game designer and artist.

Below is a wonderful lecture about Piranesi's work, particularly his Prison etchings, and both their cultural and artistic significance.

Next time you are designing a dungeon for an adventure, or writing a story, or concepting environments, look to the grandfather of fantasy concept world-building, Piranesi.


18 June 2017

Graduate Research & Creativity Symposium Cover Illustration


via Studio Bowes Art Blog at http://ift.tt/2rFsZzR

09 June 2017

07 June 2017

19 May 2017

14 May 2017

12 May 2017

Tenggren's Concept Art

via Gurney Journey http://ift.tt/2pZO06e

During the 1930s, Walt Disney evolved the look of animation from simple black and white cartoons to richly imagined worlds that seemed to leap from the pages of illustrated books.

Disney's interest in illustrated children's books intensified after a trip to Europe where he bought many books illustrated by artists such as Dulac and Rackham. 

Disney hired Gustaf Tenggren, often called the "Arthur Rackham of Sweden," to join the studio as a concept artist. Tenggren's dramatically lit concept paintings influenced the look of Snow White (above) and Pinocchio (below). 

Other artists at Disney remembered that Tenggren didn't really join the team; he remained aloof and didn't talk much.  

It was Disney's practice to hire a few artists whose sole job was to produce fully-realized production illustrations, as well as innumerable loose idea sketches, with the hope that their work would inspire artists down the pipeline in layout, color, story, and animation. 

Elaborate miniature design studies for the animated short The Old Mill
Some of Tenggren's watercolor studies are loose and small, yet brimming with mood and drama. His sketches, sometimes called "atmosphere sketches" also inspired the look of Sorcerer's Apprentice, and several shorts such as The Moth and the Flame and The Old Mill. 

Tenggren also worked on a planned adaptation of Wind in the Willows, (which later was absorbed into The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad), but those sketches have been lost. 
A new book called They Drew as They Pleased: The Hidden Art of Disney's Golden Age brings together rarely-seen work of Tenngren, as well as three other concept artists: Albert Hurter, Ferdinand Horvath, and Bianca Majolie. The book is over 200 pages long and with hundreds of color reproductions, mostly of work that doesn't appear in other Disney art books. There's a short bio of each of the featured artists written by Disney expert Didier Ghez. 

This is just the first volume covering the 1930s. Others in the series have come out or are on the way, including They Drew As they Pleased: The Hidden Art of Disney's Musical Years (The 1940s - Part One) and They Drew as They Pleased Vol. 3: The Hidden Art of Disney's Late Golden Age (The 1940s - Part Two). (Thanks, Matt)

I would recommend these books to anyone interested in animation art or movie concept art, or any artist who wants to use their sketchbooks as incubators of visual ideas. 
They Drew as They Pleased: The Hidden Art of Disney's Golden Age
The book is a companion volume to the earlier book on Disney's concept art: Before the Animation Begins: The Art and Lives of Disney Inspirational Sketch Artists

03 May 2017

Playing with Pastels!

Follow me on Instagram http://ift.tt/2paAkSI

Baron Von Münchhausen

Summary: A late night internet expedition leads to Doré, Terri Gilliam, absurd romanticism, and results in an illustration of Baron Von Münchhausen.   It was a dark and stormy night. Well, it was dark at least, and I was doing some late night internet ramblings into The Public Domain website which a friend had turned me on to. The […]

via Studio Bowes Art Blog at http://ift.tt/2qFEum7

27 April 2017

Plein Air Painting With Bill Robinson

via Muddy Colors http://ift.tt/2p2DnN1

by Cory Godbey

Plein air painting is one of those things I've been interested in but truthfully never really tried. 

The reality is, for me, painting is enough of a challenge without the whole natural world getting involved. I'm envious of those artists who can set up shop seemingly anywhere and pull together a painting!

Bill Robinson and I go way back (we first met in 2009 when I was curating a Maurice Sendak tribute art blog called Terrible Yellow Eyes). He has a decorated career in children's books and animation and currently works as a visual development artist at Sony.

I thought I'd invite Bill over to share a little of his experience and expertise with plein air painting.


How and when did you get started plein air painting?

A little over a year ago I moved to Los Angeles and was working at my first job in feature animation with some very talented painters. When I started nosing around and asking them how they got so good, they mentioned that they go plein air painting as often as possible. I had seen plein air and even done a couple of workshops years ago, but the practice never really cemented for me. Lucky for me, we formed a little group of people who would go painting every day at lunch, setting up on the streets of Santa Monica near our office. Being able to see the gear, subjects, handling of paint...and doing it every day finally got me over the feeling of, “I have no idea what I’m doing” and made the whole process much more enjoyable.

What makes a good location for plein air painting? Do you decide where to go and then choose a spot or is there something in a particular landscape or place that you set out to find first?

I find myself more attracted to nature than architecture or cityscapes, which for me comes down to where I like to paint and what I like to spend hours staring at. I would usually rather be out on a sunny trail or near a stream than in a busy industrial area, though there is plenty of beauty to be found in factories, train yards, etc. and I think it’s a good idea to mix it up every now and then. When I head to to my general location, the first thing I look for is the lighting. If there’s a really beautiful shadow pattern or the light catches my eye and holds it, I will stop and consider that place for a painting. Subject matter itself doesn’t matter all that much, I’ve found that a tree or a rock or a flower or a mountain can all be painted in beautiful ways. When I’ve been to an area enough times I start to keep a mental log of spots I want to paint, which makes it easy the next time I’m there.

What sort of materials do you take with you on locations?

I’ve found that everyone has a different plein air setup, but the main thing for me is finding stuff that is lightweight and very portable. Here’s a look at my current setup:


  1. Paper Towels, Spray Bottle, Artists Tape - These seems like add-ons, but they are essential! Paper towels especially, for getting the right consistency when mixing gouache. Too much water on your brush and you’ll be struggling. Spray bottle is good for keeping your palette wet.

  2. Brushes - I mostly use 2-3 brushes on a painting. Mainly a 1” flat and then maybe a ¼” flat for details. Once in awhile I use a round for smaller details. I love my cylindrical brush carrier, which keeps them from getting bent bristles in my backpack.

  3. Palette - I use a Sta-Wet palette for and it changed my life. I used to hate working with gouache because it dries out so quickly, especially in heat or direct sunlight. The Sta-Wet palette has a wet sponge and a special palette paper that keep your paints full of moisture, even days later. I also use a small spray bottle of water to refresh the paint if necessary.

  4. Paper/Pencils/Eraser - I work on a variety of surfaces, but mostly either cold press watercolor paper or hot press illustration board. I have started to prefer illustration board, mostly because you don’t have to worry about buckling or warping. I’ve always got a pencil and kneaded eraser in my kit for laying in quick sketches. The boards in the photo are from Cottonwood Arts.

  5. Water - I use an old pill bottle with a screw on cap to hold my water. It’s tiny, lightweight, and watertight.

  6. Masonite board - If you are using a small painting surface, it’s good to have a board to tape it down to.

  7. Pochade Box - I bit the bullet and bought a fancy STRADA easel. It’s lightweight, strong, super portable, and easy to use. No complaints. There are definitely cheaper options (including many homemade ones) for people just getting started.

  8. Tripod - I’m using a cheap old tripod I had lying around the house, but it would probably be a good idea to use something a little more sturdy. Just be careful of how heavy it might make your pack.

  9. Travel Toiletry Hanger/Paint - I had this old toiletry carrier and found that it is perfect for holding my supplies. It has a hanger hook up top, which I can hang on to my easel for easy access. I use gouache for my plein air paintings, mostly because it’s waterbased, opaque, and dries quickly. Also, the tubes are very small and easy to transport! I am fond of Holbein and Winsor & Newton, though there are other good brands out there.

  10. Backpack  - This Kelty Redwing bag is huge, with tons of zippers and pockets for all your supplies. It’s a serious backpacking kit, so you trade off a little more weight to use it. Sometimes I switch this out for a lightweight gym knapsack if I don’t need all the gear.

Current setup in action:

Walk us through your process.

Step 1: Once I’ve selected a subject/area to paint, I take a few minutes to think about composition. This will depend on the format of my painting surface (sometimes it’s square, or wide, or tall, etc) but I tend to work rather small. This particular painting is about 5" x 7”. Once I’ve got a composition in mind (considering the rule of thirds, focal point, etc) I will do a very quick sketch. This is going to get covered by paint in a moment, so I keep it rough. I just want the key things like the telephone pole, the house, and the wall at the bottom in their basic positions.

Step 2: Basic Block-In. I do this as quickly as possible, mostly working wet-in-wet. Don’t expect this phase to look good - if it does, you’re probably getting bogged down in detail. Sometimes I will work on white, other time I will ground my canvas with burnt sienna or something similar. In this case I kept it white for the sky. The thing about gouache (and watercolor) is that you will never get a paint as white as the original paper...so be careful with preserving it when you need to!

Step 3: Tightening Up - Here I’ve got my colors blocked in and am paying more attention to local color. I want the greens to have the right temperature and the browns and yellows to feel like they are in either light or shadow. It still looks very rough.

Step 4: Values: Now I’m starting to pay more attention to value. I lay in some of the darkest darks and try to get more key details locked down. I pay more attention to color variation, like adding in some purples to the dirt trail and some blues to the sides of the house.

Step 5: Finished! Here I’ve added the fine details, the lines on the bricks, the fence posts, the telephone wires, small leaves and flowers. It’s amazing how much these little details bring a painting to life, but they would not work if the rest of the foundation had not been laid down.

I'm curious, do you find that people want to see what you're up to or do they give you space?

I have gotten pretty mixed reactions, depending on where I am set up. Most people are very friendly and just excited to see what you’re working on. I’ve painted in big cities, where people have made jokes about how they wish they could spend their day painting instead of working. (Reconsider your life choices!) I’ve painted at Disneyland, where kids get super excited to see an artist doing something. Mostly I paint out on nature trails where I get to meet dogs and chat with their owners!

Thanks so much for sharing your expertise with us, Bill! Where can people find you online?

My pleasure! I share my plein air paintings and a lot of my process shots on my Instagram:

I’m also on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.

Also, I understand that you have a show coming up as well, where can people find that?

Yes! I am very excited to announce that I will be having my first solo show of my pleinair artwork at the Light Grey Art Lab in Minneapolis. It opens April 21 and goes through May 20. The artwork will also be available online after the show opens. 

Check out http://ift.tt/1m7FPeY for more info as it becomes available!

New Job!

via Blog - Alyssa Menold http://ift.tt/2prsBTs

I'm psyched to announce that I've joined the team at Wyrd Miniatures as an in-house artist :D! 

My boss's door XD

My boss's door XD

Yooo, Hot Topic is having a flash sale so you could get my...

via Jenny Parks Illustration http://ift.tt/2qktp9G

Yooo, Hot Topic is having a flash sale so you could get my Doctor Mew shirt for cheap! Today only! Five hours left!


Tools of the Trade and a Quick Tour

via Muddy Colors http://ift.tt/2pi1b2J

-By Paul Bonner

I'll have to base these writings on a couple of assumptions.

The first is that it's not very likely that in the near future -or ever - I am going to be conducting brisk and informative tours of my at-home studio.

The second assumption, and a possibly even more far fetched one, is that there are actually people out there who would willingly partake in such a bold enterprise.

So, throwing caution to the wind, and going along with the second assumption - I will try and give a little tour of the tools of my trade, the place where they gather and the part they play in my actually getting anything done.

This little jaunt is only available because not much else is. I am embarked on a couple of creative voyages that forbid me to show anything, and to speak of which, would spell some awful kind of doom. At least for me.

So, cup of tea in hand, I make my way down to the cellar where my world sits waiting. Trying to be a little bit chronological, it is my brain that kicks off the process. The same for most of us I suspect. Those flashes of inspiration and tantalising flashes of what might be. So - paper, before they fade. Assuming that I have filled pages of layout pad with scribbles, and progressed on to things that could be called sketches, and then managed to nail the sketches down as something that I would love to paint - it is over to my light table.

It is an ancient, metal monster that bares the brunt of my struggles to make sense of all the scribbles, squiggles and occasional sketches. Once the hard part of defining and drawing the characters is done, I enjoy physically juggling and jigsawing them into place. Suddenly I can see the relationship they have with each other and have a clear mental image of how they will relate to the background. Being the Creator, in my own world, I can toy with my subjects and play with their sizes. The pretty ordinary copy machine that I have is about as hi-tech as I get in my quest for beauty. When dealing with a gaggle of goblins, being quickly able to up and down their individual sizes a few percent to gently push the composition along is invaluable. Not so hi-tech are books. Pride and joy for many of us. And so necessary, for both sparking ideas and checking that a horses' back leg actually looks like you thought it did.

Risky, though, spending too long looking. Too many ideas, and you can visually short circuit, getting lost in a tar-pit of seductive images.Too much relaxed flicking of pages and it,s suddenly lunchtime (no bad thing). It,s best to do short raids. Know what you want. Get in there. And get out again.

The final jigsaw of characters is then drawn up onto my water colour paper using the light table again - and then it is left alone to dream of whatever it is that light tables dream of, until it,s services are required again.

Stretching the paper requires water from the tap next door - not the neighbours - the room next door. They have big cellars in Denmark. I know there are a lot of assumptions being thrown out here, but I feel relatively safe in assuming that you all know what a tap looks like, so no photo.

However - here is a photo of that little area where, I suspect, like many of us, we spend most of our time - in spite of persistent requests to pay attention to things that need dealing with in the other world outside these walls.

Again, like I suspect many of us, my walls and shelves are covered, some might say cluttered, with all sorts of visual stimulus and emotional supplements, to help oil the wheels, and occasionally push the creative juggernaut I,m trying to steer. It,s all stuff I love.Some things go back years, without having lost any of their appeal - visually or emotionally.

This huge Conan poster, I pleaded with the staff at Londons Forbidden Planet to give me. They had it folded up under the counter, and were happy to get rid of it - for free! More than 30 years ago. It,s seen a lot of things, in a lots of different places over the years, hanging on different walls!

The Siberian tiger is a more recent arrival. Helps remind me that a big part of my own artistic quest is simply trying to make something beautiful. His beauty helps put on hold depressing thoughts about all the crap going on in the world. The sheer aesthetic perfection of a full grown Siberian tiger very quickly puts mankind's stupid and arrogant fumblings on a back-burner - even though, sadly it is those consistent fumblings that threaten such beauty and conspires to make it even more poignant. Don,t get me started……..

 Unless you are one of theses digital folks, it's the same stuff  going on in my play area as there is in yours. Pots of brushes. Tubes of paint. And from that tap next door - water.

The paints just live communally in an old box - the warmer colours at one end - the colder ones at the other, though the front lines can get a bit muddled sometimes.

The brushes, of which I have far too many (because you never know - do you?), are sorted vaguely in sizes. They are on constant rotation, as it is quite a job targeting one that will behave and do exactly what I want it to do. At the moment I am stuck in a kind of vicious, hogs-hair no-mans land. The brushes, that through time and use, have evolved into the perfect partner, have recently reached a collective point where they have simply given up. Instead of a willing and eager tool, a rather alarming number of them have seemingly reached a point where they thought it would be better to turn into something that even a dwarf wouldn't use to clean his chimney. So, my entire A-Team of front rank brushes, have opted for career changes, and my all too new recruits are simply not up to the task.

Even the ones on the left had a perfect leaf shape once  - many paintings ago. But they are still more useful than the ones on the right!

So - a lot of time is spent picking upon brush after the other, trying to find one that can be bent to it's masters will. Brush-rage. You heard it here first. Not a nice state of mind when you were enjoying yourself and things were coasting along.

I make light of this, but it is a problem. New brushes, in spite of their seductive bodies and fine heads of hair - are rarely up to the job, and I,m not ruthless enough in retiring the old guard, convinced their loyalty will help me though just on more painting. Interestingly enough, the new recruits have forced me to work a lot more broadly in the early stages, getting stuff done quicker, and blocking in larger ares with more confidence. I will, however, be glad when they pass basic training and begin to justify their places in my paint pots.

Perched behind me, we can see some anatomic sculptures. Another invaluable aid to quickly checking that the nuts and bolts are understood in that consistently challenging subject of the human body. The skulls are a camel (I found it in the desert and brought all the way in a suitcase from Dubai when my parents lived there. Bet I couldn't do that these days!),and a female elk - or moose, to our American chums.

Music, of course, being another essential to the creative process - and of course, simply as something to be enjoyed in it,s own right. I won't bore you with what I have - but of course - it is an eclectic collection of breathtakingly good taste. Enough said.

The more observant amongst you (and I think I can safely assume that observance is a trait that all of us arty types are somewhat known for), may have spotted the big plastic container under the table. The last 25 litres of 75 litres of cider that is almost ready to bottle. Not strictly anything to do with my daily creative routine. Just needed the radiators warmth back in November when it was fermenting. Having said that, though, it,s very comforting hearing the gentle release of bubbles as the natural sugars turn to alcohol.

I find myself digressing.

"Recreational"creativity. Making things for orks to run around in. My excuse is father/son stuff……….

Not much more to see really. Got some drawers full of half baked ideas, finished works and things I should have thrown out years ago.

A big mirror is invaluable for quick poses. Folds in clothing. Taking quick photos for reference, especially hands - that,s why they all look the same in my paintings, and checking my hair. The goblin is optional.

Plants - you have to have plants. Of course you do - and not just for giving you fresh oxygen - though that,s a good reason, especially if you are a brave soul who dabbles in oil paints.

Lastly, moving down to floor level we come to my exercise machine. He's called Baldur, and is the latest, top of the range "get the artist off his bum and out of the door" model. And Baldur is the only one who can watch me paint, talk to myself, sing, play air guitar, and occasionally curse - with out getting bored (as far as I can tell). I guess we all lead very sedentary lives' perched on our gluteus maximus all day, so anything that causes us to move is a good thing - and a Baldur is about as good as it gets.

So, I reckon that,s it really. Just a quick little tour. Nothing earth-shattering. No secret techniques - I,ll try and rustle some up for next time. Hope you enjoyed the little tour. If you did, feel free to leave something in the tip-jar on the way out.