Tuesday, May 31, 2011

2011 Chesley Award Finalists

The Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists annually gives out the Chesley Awards, which were established in 1985 as ASFA's peer awards to recognize individual works and achievements not otherwise recognized by the Hugo Awards, during a given year. The Chesleys were initially called the ASFA Awards, but were later renamed to honor famed astronomical artist Chesley Bonestell after his death in 1986. The awards are usually presented annually at the World Science Fiction Convention or at the North American Science Fiction Convention when the Worldcon is held outside of North America. This year’s ceremeony will take place at the Reno World Con, Renovation, August 17th — 21st.

There are a lot of new names on the list this year. Good luck to all!!!

This year's nominees are:

Paperback (Gallery)
Volkan Baga, for The Zombies of Oz by Christian Endres; Atlantis, November 2010
Jason Chan, for Geist by Phillipa Ballantine; Ace, November 2010
Jon Foster, for Dreadnought by Cherie Priest; Tor, September 2010
Todd Lockwood, for The Ragged Man by Tom Lloyd; Pyr, August 2010
Stephan Martiniere, for Ares Express by Ian McDonald; Pyr, August 2010
Anthony Palumbo, for Yarn by Jon Armstrong; Night Shade Books, 12/2010
John Picacio, for Elric: Swords and Roses by Michael Moorcock; Del Rey, December 2010
Dan Dos Santos, for Alien Tango by Gini Koch; DAW, December 2010

Hardcover (Gallery)
Kinuko Y. Craft, for Midsummer Night by Freda Warrington; Tor, November 2010
Don Maitz, for Blasphemy by Mike Resnick Golden Gryphon Press, 08/2010
Gregory Manchess, for Spectrum 17 edited by Cathy Fenner & Arnie Fenner;
Underwood Books, Nov. 2010
John Picacio, for The Waters Risingby Sheri S. Tepper; Harper Voyager, August 2010
Michael Whelan, for The Way of the Kings by Brandon Sanderson; Tor, August 2010

Magazine (Gallery)
Julie Dillon, for Clarkesworld #48; September 2010
Nick Greenwood, for Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show #17; June 2010
David A. Hardy, for Analog; April 2010
Andrey Lazarev, for Clarkesworld #50; November 2010
Sergio Rebolledo, for Clarkesworld #40; January 2010
James Ryman, for Heavy Metal; January 2010

Thomas S. Kuebler, Scream Queen; mixed media
David Meng, Amphibiana; mixed media
Mark Newman, Eel Walker; bronze
Michael Parkes, The Letter; bronze
Jordu Schell, Ixana; mixed media
Vincent Villafranca, The Dogs of War; bronze

Interior Illustration (Gallery)
Jason Chan, Vilcabamba by Harry Turtledove; Tor.com, 2010
Jon Foster, Four Horsemen, at Their Leisure by Richard Parks; Tor.com, April 2010
Donato Giancola, Middle Earth: Visions of a Modern Myth by Donato Giancola;
Underwood Books, 10/2010
John Picacio, Elric: Swords and Roses by Michael Moorcock; Del Rey, December 2010
Keith Thompson, Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld; Simon Pulse, October 2010

Unpublished Color (Gallery)
Daren Bader, Isis; oil
Julie Dillon, Planetary Alignment; digital
David A. Hardy, Portals to Infinity; acrylic
Omar Rayyan, The Favorite; oil
Matthew Stewart, Waterfall Dragons; oil
Raoul Vitale, Torin’s Quest; oil

Unpublished Monochrome (Gallery)
Eric Braddock, Highborne; graphite & white charcoal on toned paper
Anthony Francisco, Tikbalang; digital
Ed Ko, Drawing for Beautiful Grim; pencil
Petar Meseldžija, UNK!; pencil
Ian Miller, Triptych; ink
David Palumbo, Zombie Girl; acrylic

Product (Gallery)
Bob Eggleton, Dragon’s Domain: The Ultimate Dragon Painting Workshop; Impact, September 2010
Donato Giancola, St. George and the Dragon, promo art for Dragon*Con 2010
Lars Grant-West, Pact of the Blind, promo art for IlluXCon 3
David Palumbo, Transcend (aka Judgment), Heavy Metal tarot card; 2010
Sam Weber, Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan, promo art for Tor ebook; January 2010

Gaming (Gallery)
Daarken, Harbor Serpent (Magic card, Magic 2011 core set); WotC, July 2010
Lucas Graciano, Amorphous Drake (Legends of Norrath); Sony Online Entertainment, 2010
Kekai Kotaki, Gaea’s Revenge (Magic card, Magic 2011 core set); WotC, July 2010
Howard Lyon, Eel Umbra (Magic card, “Rise of the Eldrazi” set); WotC, April 2010
Matthew Stewart, Bloodshot Trainee (Magic card, “Scars of Mirrodin” set); WotC, October 2010
L. A. Williams, Maritime Guard (Magic card, Magic 2011 core set); WotC, July 2010

Art Director
Lou Anders — Pyr Books
Irene Gallo — Tor Books
William Schafer — Subterranean Press
Jon Schindehette — Wizards of the Coast
David Stevenson — Ballantine / Del Rey

Lifetime Artistic Achievement
Jeffrey / Catherine Jones
Ian Miller
Moebius/Jean Giraud
Darrell K. Sweet
Boris Vallejo

St. George Final

12 x 16
Watercolor on Bristol
Final Digital Work

Monday, May 30, 2011


-By Dan dos Santos

I went to Barnes & Nobles the other day with my family. As per our usual routine, I sat with my kids in the children's section while my Wife used the brief respite to look at some books in peace and quiet. While killing time in the play area, I spied a Scott Gustafson book on a nearby shelf that I had been meaning to pick up for a long time. I flipped through it, and was quickly reminded why Scott is at the top of my favorite artists list.

Scott Gustafson's 'Classic Fairy Tales' retells childhood classics such as Snow White, Goldilocks, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, and several more. The stories are obviously wonderful, but honestly, it's all about the pictures for me. The book boasts 75 original paintings, almost all of which appear to be done in oils, and man are they good! They are beautifully rendered, colorful, and have a wonderful sense of depth and ambience.

Scott's work is rendered realistically, but drawn with real whimsy... resulting in a painting that is expertly balanced between a playful and believable nature.

For instance, blending a realistic little girl, and a Pixar-esque wolf, into a single cohesive image is tough feat to pull off. Make the girl too cartoonish and the image loses it's sense of realism. Make the wolf too realistic, and you've got a girl who should be crapping her pants. It's Scott's obvious grasp of light and color that allow him to pull that balance off so beautifully.

That balance is something I have been struggling with in my own work of late, so I find this book to be particularly inspiring. I only regret not picking up eight years ago when it first came out. Better late than never, I guess!

Over the nearly twenty-five years that span Scott's career, he has had the opportunity to fulfill commissions for a number of varied clients and publishers, including: Celestial Seasonings, Playboy magazine, The Saturday Evening Post, The Bradford Exchange, Dreamworks and The Greenwich Workshop.

His illustrated books include The Night Before Christmas, Peter Pan, Nutcracker, as well as two original titles, Animal Orchestra and Alphabet Soup. His book of Classic Fairy Tales, released in the fall of 2003 by The Greenwich Workshop Press, was awarded a Chesley award for best interior book illustrations from the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists.

His latest release, Favorite Nursery Rhymes from Mother Goose, was released as a companion book to the fairy tale book in the fall of 2007 by The Greenwich Workshop Press,  and features over 45 color illustrations. This book recently won a Silver in the category of Best Children’s Picture Book by the 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards.

For those interested in the more technical aspects of Scott's work, check out his website where he has a pretty thorough step-by-step detailing his artistic process.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Pricing Your Work...Some things to consider

-By Eric Fortune
Prior to having my work on the walls I discussed pricing with the gallery owner. It was suggested that the work be under priced. That hurt. Now, as some may know it's fairly standard for the gallery to take 50% of any sold work. Double whammy. 'Starving artist' took on a whole new meaning. I had to keep in mind my long term goals; produce art that I like, and make a living by doing so. Now there is actually a good reason for what was suggested. Under pricing is a strategy used to move work. In the gallery scene there's nothing quite like a "SOLD OUT" show to peak interest and build momentum. It creates a vacuum or demand for the work as it becomes scarce.

Under pricing makes it easier for a collector to invest in a new person on the scene. Someone who has not yet shown they can consistently produce quality and engaging work. I knew that many of the artists I was looking at in the Low Brow/Pop Surreal scene were also former illustrators. I assumed that collectors were probably familiar with illustrators because of this. I also assumed that because I had been accepted into The Society of Illustrators and Spectrum and had started to make a name for myself there would be some cross over. This may be true for some artists. However, it seemed I really was the new kid on the block and the bottom rung is where I was starting.

Because prices were lowered it did help the work to sell. And thank goodness I've sold most of my work as I don't have time for much illustration on the side these days. Because it's my only source of income every time I have a show it's the most stressful, nerve wracking experience. A few works may sell prior to the opening but things rarely fly off the wall. As good as it looks to have a "sold out" sign it's obviously not a good thing to have unsold work or even worse to have priced work too high and have to back peddle the prices on your next show. My goal, other than to make good art, is to consistently sell work, and to slowly raise prices appropriate to the demand of my work. No one wants to be a flash in the pan. Yet, it happens. There are many pitfalls one must be aware of. Pricing too high too fast can be one of them. It helps me to think in the long term about the sacrifices I make today that will hopefully pay off tomorrow. This is the route I'm taking and it may evolve.

There are obviously different dynamics and other factors that may come into play. For example if you already make a really good living on the side, selling art at the gallery may not have the same urgency. And pricing the work closer to what you think it's worth vs. what someone is willing to pay for it may not be a major concern. Some would rather hold on to their work rather than sell it for lower than what they would consider it's worth. However, if you're in the business of selling original art for a living hording your own stuff and being your own biggest collector won't get you where you want to be. The truth is galleries like artists who are in demand and who can sell. Like anything else it's a business. I should also mention that not all galleries are worth your time and money and you should always research as much as possible prior to working with a gallery. The relationship between gallery and artist should be a mutually beneficial one.

For anyone interested, I'm currently reading a book that offers some more insight into the gallery scene. Check out "The $12 Million Stuffed Shark" The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art" by Don Thompson. I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but the less debt one has the easier it is to take a risky decision concerning your career. Things to consider.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

MicroVisions Success!!!

I just received the final numbers for this year's MicroVisions auction. In total, the auction raised $4464.85! Literally every penny of that amount will go into the pockets of well-deserving art students, via the Society of Illustrators Student Scholarship Competition.

Thank you again to all the artists who generously donated their time, and to all those who bid on art, making the whole thing possible. Every dollar matters. And though a single contribution may not seem overly substantial by itself, I can assure you it is. As a past recipient of an SoI Scholarship myself, I can personally attest that it made a major difference in launching my career.

Unlike other scholarship programs that simply reduce one's tuition, the Society of Illustrators grants cash awards. Meaning that an art student can spend the scholarship any way he sees fit; be it launching a website, printing postcards, traveling to NY or whatever.

A special congratulations to our own Jesper Ejsing, whose 5x7 inch painting was the highest selling item, raising $1046.00 by itself. Quite an achievement!

John Cuneo's contribution to the MicroVisions Auction.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Trap

-Jesper Ejsing

I was deeply honoured to be asked to do a painting for the MicroVisions expo. Fully conscious of the artists that has contributed in th past, I set out to do something difficult but close to my heart. I was going to do a little story in the picture and thus resisting the temptation to do a barbarian babe portrait ( which is always my first choice in doing an unbound assignment or when I am asked to: “hey can you do a fantasy-art drawing?”)

I wanted to do something evil and creepy but with more mood than core, and finally I decided on something that would allow me to still fit in a barbarian babe. I sketched a loose thumb of a nude girl reaching for jewels hanging out on a branch, maybe placed there in the sun as a bait. In the shadows underneath the rocks and half covered in water hid the zombie, that had placed the jewels. The nude would not only be because I could, but because the soft skin would show her as being more vulnerable and less protected.

I took it around at the studio and Christian Højgaard, a comic book artist, pointed out that the lack of involvement or gesture of the zombie might read wrong. It would simply look like there was just a dead guy lying in the water washed up against the rocks. Certainly not as frightening as the sorry I had planed. Also I abandoned the idea of necklace hanging in branches. It didn’t look placed enough. So I switch it out with a flat rock and made the jewels to be bracelets, thick and solid gold. ( the original was going the be very small so I needed something big and visible.

Next I did the real sketch. I placed things more correctly and tried out 2 different colour themes.

Once again I asked around at the studio and got 50-50 for both versions. Next step was doing some more precise sketches of the 2 figures. The zombie came right out in first try. The eagerness of him was very important. I wanted him to look hopeful, even if it is not a very common thought for zombies, I am guessing.

The female sketch was okay, but I was already anxious to get the face right. I asked on Facebook if anyone in the Copenhagen area wanted to pose in bikini for a zombie painting. Apart from a couple of guys volunteering I got one really good contact. Sabina came around the studio the day after and posed in a ring mail bikini I just happened to have lying around my work area. The photos proved to be both a help and a curse. I sketched 2 different versions of the photo but the pose seemed to die or look boring when I went too close to the photo. So in the end I just took some of the photographic elements as the face, hair line in the scalp, butt cheeks and foreshortening in the arm, and placed them within my initial sketch.

With the 2 figures sketch on separate papers I copy pasted them in to the thumb sketch in Photoshop. I think it is a good think to sketch the different figures separately after the thumb and after you know what and how they are supposed to look and pose. This way you can do sketch after sketch until you get it right, as opposed to doing the whole sketch on one paper. ( yes I did that years ago. Sketches all in one paper in 100% until someone pointed out that it was a waste of time, effort and paper. And I was introduced to Thumb-sketching ). It takes the pressure out if it and lets you aggressively power every single figure for what it is supposed to do. Only when every figure is fully sketched to its potential, I combined them digitally. In this case it is not that difficult, but had this instead been a battle scene of five figures you can see how much benefit it is to separate them. Also It cheats the mind to concentrate on small bites instead of the whole cake.

Next step. Ordinary I would transfer the sketch the hard way on to board or paper and thus drawing it a third or forth time. This time I tried a little trick taught to me by the honourable and talented Steve Prescott. My fellow fantasy artist friend and acrylic painter. He prints out the sketch onto Bristol paper. Sealing it down and closing the surface with matt medium. Well; I did not have a printer, so I used a copy machine to get it down to the Bristol. Problem is, when you do that with thick paper you can rub off the black and grey, so I let it go through another rtime into the machine for it to be warmed up again. The warm hardens the powder from the machine. You can also bake the paper for a couple of minutes to harden the powder. It is a trick we all used here at the studio years ago before everyone went digital and we used to joke around saying “Oh I just need to bake this illustration and it is done.” I did not use matt medium. I like the paint to soak into the paper.

Lastly I found the Wyeth painting that originally inspired me to this painting. I looked hard at it for 2 minutes and then removed it to avoid copying.

The final painting is really nice. And I was proud to deliver it to Dan and Irene.
Lastly, you can buy this painting on ebay today if you place a bid on the auction.

Eowyn and the Nazgul Challenge Judging

By - Jesper Ejsing
It is a great honor for me to announce the final judging of the Artorder challenge: Eowyn and the Nazgul.

Congratulations to Craig J. Spearing. A well deserved first place.

It is a very interesting to read how many images have been chosen by the same judges and which ones are chosen by only one or some. It proves that, while there is definitely something called personal taste and interest, you cannot argue against quality ( If only you could, I would set my painting pace to sloppy fast and be filthy rich ).
I am only now waiting in excitement for the next Artorder challenge.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"The Vanishing" Print now Available

The new limited edition print is available through Gallery Nucleus. It's a signed and numbered edition of 15. For more on the print go HERE

Microvisions Reminder!

Just one day left to bid on some sweet art. A few of the pieces are still priced below $100, so hurry up! Every dollar the auction earns goes to scholarships for art students, so you can guiltlessly spend with reckless abandon! Click HERE to see the art.

Tony DiTerlizzi's donation to the Microvisions auction.

Pretty in Pink

-By Dan dos Santos

Here's a new cover of mine that was just released for a book entitled 'A Beautiful Friendship', by David Weber.

Yeah, I know... I'm obsessed with pink lately. Something about it is just so satisfying. It may not be obvious to my audience (since they often see my paintings in a different order than what I paint them in), but I sometimes get fixated on a certain color or compositional element, and will re-use the theme in multiple paintings back to back. Usually this is because I felt I wasn't successful the first time, and so I take what I've learned and attempt to implement it better in the next painting. For instance, this painting came right after 'Switchblade Goddess', which came right after 'White Trash Zombie'. If you look at them together, you can see the repetition of pink, as well as the stylized blossom branches. Eventually, I will get what I am trying to achieve, and move onto something else.

Currently I'm a bit obsessed with the color red. Given the nature of RGB monitors, it always looks so vibrant on my screen when I'm doing sketches. Capturing that same vibrancy in paint though is a lot harder! I'm on painting #2 now attempting to achieve the results I want. We'll see how it goes. It's looking like it may take me 3 attempts to get it right!

Anyways, back the painting at hand.


Given the title of the book, and the fact that it is targeted to young-adults (most likely girls), my original concepts were a lot more playful and gentle. They all focused on the relationship of the two characters. After a few rounds of sketches, the AD let me know that I was barking up the wrong tree, and that she wanted the image to be a lot tougher, with some danger and mystery to it. It took a few tries, but I think I finally got what we were going for.

Here are a few detail shots for you.

Monday, May 23, 2011


by Arnie Fenner

The recent Eowyn Vs Nazgul challenge included entries of all levels of quality and ability; while some suffer in comparison to others, I couldn't help thinking optimistically, "Everyone starts somewhere." I was reminded again of that fact while going through some of Jeffrey Jones' early work following his death last Thursday.

It used to be that fanzines were the fertile training ground for young fantasy artists: Jones, Wrightson, Kaluta, and countless others honed their craft drawing monsters and superheroes for amateur magazines like Gosh Wow, Spa Fon, and Seraphim. Then there were the fan club pages for comics magazines like Creepy and Vampirella which included drawings young readers would send in. Fanzines and fan club pages are, for the most part, now things of the past and have been replaced by blogs and websites where pretty much any art can be posted without competition, vetting, or criteria. I think the value of activities like Jon Schindehette's challenges is that they not only excite young artists and make them want to get involved, but also encourages them, via exposure and feedback, to get better—to want to get better—at their craft.

So...everyone starts somewhere (and the "starts" don't always seem auspicious). I thought I'd show some examples of very early works by artists that have gone on to profoundly influence our field.
First up is one of Jeffrey Jones' very early Tarzan paintings,

Followed by his Spectrum Award-winning Tarzan painting 30-some years later:

Next is a drawing by a very young Baltimore fan named Bernie Wrightson that appeared in Creepy's Fan Club pages.

Followed by a masterful Frankenstein illustration by the mature Wrightson.

One of Phil Hale's teenage game card paintings:

Followed by Phil's classic Hellblazer cover for DC.

A Captain Marvel fanzine illo by Don Maitz,

Followed by Maitz's unparalleled cover for The Second Drowning:

One of Frank Frazetta's early sketchbook pages, showing his infatuation with the art of Milton Caniff,

Followed by his stunning "Egyptian Queen" painting:

A fan drawing of Vampirella by a 16-year-old Thomas Blackshear that appeared in the "Vampi's Flames" fan club pages,
Followed by his unforgettable "8th Wonder" painting: