Saturday, February 13, 2016

Doin' Lines - PART 1: The Gateway Information for Achieving Better Line Work

                                              Oh come on now, get your mind out of that gutter...:)

Good day to you all and welcome back.  There is a trend currently in many of the art schools I work with with a growing number of students who are eager to get involved with animation, or more specifically with character development.  Because this line of work is so popular, there is also a trend in line work and a lot of the inspired animation styles that are all over the internet.

I am responding to this surge in the desire for line with a few concepts and tips on how to work with line.  This first part is a collection of technical concepts to help clarify and to improve your line work, inspired by some of my students who are having difficulty grasping the concept of line and how to use it clearly.

It will be especially important to those few who are aspiring to get involved with comics and sequential art to grasp the concept of line and what it can represent and how it can make someone feel, as well, how it can confuse and confound the audience if done naively.

In Part 2 we will look at some concepts and processes with the more mechanical render and Part 3 will cover more organic rendering ideas and techniques.

And after uploading these to the blog I realized that my scanner bed sucks really really badly and I apologize for the scans that um, my friend next door made for me...yeah, blame my friend.

Friday, February 12, 2016


-By Greg Ruth


Today we turn our spotlight toward the mighty work of golden era comic book master, Alex Raymond. Now apologies in advance- I came to comics ignorant of its history and as such find what to me are secret hidden gems that are iconic staples to just about everyone else. Just this shy of asking if anyone has heard of R. Crumb, or how good putting chocolate and peanut butter together is. Epic level ignorance. The upside, (for me at least), is that I get to discover them now when I can really appreciate them and see them cold, for the first time. Right now the fellow that's had my attention these last few months as if my head were being vice-held by gorilla hands, is he who is Alex Raymond.

You may know Alex Raymond from his Flash Gordon comics from the mid-1930's, turns out I did and didn't even know it. I randomly tripped over this below image a month ago and the name struck a chord... but took me a few weeks to make the connection. With stuff like Raymond's "Flash Gordon", or Toth's "Zorro" comics might seem goofy today... and admittedly they kind of are what they are: bubblegum pulps for kids. Still while the stories may remain shallow, the art told through them is unparalleled, even today. Their value as art for me more about how the story is told rather than the tale itself. Honestly it could be a bouncing ball for thirty pages and it'd still be hard to find anything as good ever.

But to my surprise, it led me to discover tons of Raymond's non-Flash work, and they all make want to redraw every comic I have ever drawn, and/or make me want to make ten more so I might come a whisper closer to the sheer elegance of what Raymond does with the controlled effortless movement of the eye across the image, panel and page. I mean seriously, the confidence level at work here is baffling enough: there's not a single stray or unessential line anywhere to be found. His character's are people, rather than flat stick headed types, and his gestural anatomies, sweeping compositions are beyond belief.

 But then even beyond his comics, his illustrative work does it all over again bringing a kind of Robert McClosky/Rockwell effort to their forms and compositions. Fun, stunning and more than worthy of study if you have any interest at all in ink, pen and brush work.


I may be over-gushing a bit- I don't think I am. I suspect Raymond absolutely deserves it and more for his work. For me the work that grabs hold and makes you want to make better work is for any artist the complete and total point. So thanks Alex Raymond, wherever you are now, for all of this and all the rest I haven't even seen yet.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Epic painting - The Fellowship of the RIng in Moria

by Donato

This past month has brought closure to another large scale private commission project, The Fellowship of the Ring in Moria.  The painting is now framed and will be shipped of to my client in the next few days. I am always filled with mixed emotions at the completion of a work of art in which I have invested months of my time, energies, and labors.  Is it good enough?  Will my client enjoy what they see? Would I do it again? Many of these immediate feelings are that of doubt, which for me tends to be par for the course when completing nearly any assignment, but they tend to weigh rather heavily after such a investment in one piece.

As this is not my first venture into large scale works, I know that these questionings will eventually pass, and I will be able to look with greater clarity at the work and better assess its value in my body of work and career.  One reassuring value that I do recognize as a positive is that I passed through a feat few tend to undertake.

Raft of the Medusa    Gericault

While walking through the museums of the world, I have always been impressed by the shear bravado of what many artists from history have accomplished, from the Raft of the Medusa by Gericault to the Coronation of Napoleon by Jacques Louis David, to even our contemporary world of the illustrated Frankenstein undertaken by Bernie Wrightson, all of these works exhibit a tremendous passion the artist had for their subject matter.  They exhibited deep dedication to their artistic voice and to the process of clarifying their message through the medium.  Seeing it begun, executed, and completed even at great personal expense.

Without these other great works beckoning me from museum walls, I do not think I could have ever built up my confidence to a level that allows me now to enter into these projects without hesitation.  They have provided an inspirational and technical road map to follow, for which I am extremely grateful!  The knowledge I have gained from observing these works first hand has been a key aspect of developing my ability to plan and manage the stages required for assembling these works.

Lander's Peak   Albert Bierstadt
While none of my compositions, nor even specific approaches to paint style is like these masterpieces, seeing a system evident in their construction proved to me that the road to creation of large scale works is just that, a road, albeit a long one.  Once committed to the journey, the greatest difficult was not so much in the technical, aesthetic decisions but rather in having enough patience in the process to see it through.  Once I became aware of this, the barriers in undertaking similar level engagements dissolved away.  But I would like to state, that my skills are far, far below what I see accomplished in these masterpieces.  I am constantly humbled by their beauty and sublime nature.

One of the great thrills for me from this work is to know that there will now exist a beautiful addition to the growing body of art which pays tribute to J.R.R. Tolkien's world of Middle-earth and the inspiration he provided through his writings (and illustrations!).  I am humbled to be a part of another generation which recognizes his ongoing contribution to our world and the messages he brings.

 It is always a joy to bring closure to an epic work, not so much for the relief that I have finished a commission but for the excitement that the next opportunity will present!

The Fellowship of the Ring in Moria    Donato Giancola    44" x 78"  Oil on Panel   2016

These past few years have seen the creation of four epic large scale works of Middle-earth from my studio.  What is interesting is that all of these works were undertaken for private clients, none for commercial commissions. Below are the other three works.  I look forward to seeing what the fifth will bring!

For those interested in expanding their skill set, both artistically and professionally, with me as your Mentor, I have just TWO slots left for my upcoming SmArt School semester. More info here:

Huor and Hurin Approaching Gondolin    Donato Giancola   110" x 72"  Oil on Linen

The Fellowship of the Ring - Descent from Caradhras    Donato Giancola   114" x 73"  Oil on Linen

Beren and Luthien in the Court of Thingol and Melian    Donato Giancola   120" x 60"  Oil on Linen

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Forbidden Orchard

-By Jesper Ejsing

Acrylics 16 x 12 inches on watercolor board

This is my landscape illustration for Magic´s Oath of the gatewatch Expeditions Lands.
The task giving by Sam Burley, my art director was pretty simple, but as always, I can easily make things more complicated. I was supposed to do a forest scene involving the tall structures of Zendikar called Hedrons. Also the mood should be gloomish. I tried different approaches but they all seemed to be too focused around the structure rather than the forest.

In the end I zoomed out at created a hanging forest-like scene, with hovering Hedrons. I came up with the idea that the forest, over the years had shaped itself around the hovering stone structures, as if the aura from the stones prevented growing too near them. Suddenly I knew where the illustration was going and I right away decided to let the glow from inside of the stones cast a light onto the nearby trunks, enhancing the small and little story.

I know perfectly well, that these thoughts not necessarily is something anyone would notice, if I hadn't told it, but it really doesn't, matter much. that I have them makes it interesting for me to paint something, and it creates a string for me to follow in the illustration.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Murray Tinkelman 1933-2016

-By Arnie Fenner

“I first met Murray when he came to my school in Great Neck, Long Island. His slide presentation opened up the whole world of illustration. He was so passionate that his enthusiasm gave me the alibi I needed to pursue a career in the field. Murray was the fiercest proponent of illustration I’ve ever met. He made it clear to me that I was in a noble profession.” 
- Peter de Sève.

Murray Tinkleman, a legend of the illustration field and an influential educator, died January 30, just several weeks after the passing of his wife and studio partner, Carol. Inquisitive, kind, and giving, Murray was a mentor to many and an advocate for artists everywhere. He was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 2013 and the video I've attached at the end of this post marked the occasion.

Vincent Di Fate's celebration of his friend's multi-faceted career is far more knowledgeable and eloquent than anything I might say, so after you read it, you can enjoy some of Murray's art below. It's a good way to remember one of the greats.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

SFAL : Date & Location Change

Announcing the Spectrum 23 Awards Ceremony & “Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 5” Date Change
Santa Cruz, CA, February 4, 2016 

With the goal of continuing the tradition of a spring awards ceremony, Director John Fleskes has announced that the honors for Spectrum 23 will be presented at a gala to be held at the historic Society of Illustrators in New York City on May 7, 2016. “For the previous four years, we were able to hold the awards ceremony in conjunction with the ‘Spectrum Fantastic Art Live’ convention,” says Fleskes, “but the plans to move the show to San Francisco prevented our doing that in 2016. Celebrating the achievements of the artists and providing an opportunity for the community to gather have always been our top priorities, and there is no better place to accomplish both than at the Society of Illustrators.”
The ceremony will be held on Saturday evening from 6 to 10 p.m. A complimentary small-plates buffet will be offered to attendees, and a cash bar will be available. Along with the presentation of Gold and Silver Awards in Spectrum’s eight categories, a memorial video will be shown, and the 2016 Rising Star and Grand Master honorees will be announced. Seating will be limited, and attendees will be asked to RSVP at a site to be announced the first week in April. The Spectrum awards are once again being sculpted and cast in bronze by Colin and Kristine Poole.
 The second announcement, after much deliberation with the Spectrum Advisory Board, is that we’re moving the dates for ‘Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 5’ to May 2017,” adds Fleskes. The event was originally planned for October 2016 in association with The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. A number of logistical issues could not be resolved, however, and the school will no longer be involved with the show in an official capacity. “We have a wonderful relationship with the university and instructors, and we look forward to continuing our collaborations with them in the future,” explains Fleskes. “A May date is preferable for many of our exhibitors and attendees, and the school’s schedule is full in the spring. We also want to hold SFAL5 in a space that is more convenient and inviting for everyone. Accessibility and amenities were both limited at the facility we had originally intended to use, which necessitated reconsidering our plans.”
Several exciting venues in San Francisco are currently under review. The intention is to announce the location and dates and to start taking booth reservations in early May. Spectrum co-founder Arnie Fenner says, “Anyone who attended any of the first four shows in Kansas City knows that, first and foremost, we care about the details of the event and the experiences of exhibitors and attendees alike. In order to do SFAL5 properly—in order to grow the opportunities for the artists and the community as a whole—it is taking us a little extra time to ensure that we get off on the right foot in a new city. Trust me when I say that SFAL5 will only be better with the few additional months we’ll be able to devote to its planning. Cathy, John and I will all be in New York for the awards ceremony on May 7 and look forward to answering any and all questions about the big show—as well as other activities we have planned in the future.
-John Fleskes

Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art is the award-winning and internationally renowned art-book annual established in 1993 by Cathy and Arnie Fenner. The contents of each book is determined by a competition that is open to all artists. A jury of peers—different each year—selects the best works from those entered for inclusion in the book and presents awards in eight categories.

The prestigious Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators in New York City has hosted three exhibitions dedicated to Spectrum, shattering its special-event attendance records. It is a sponsor of “Spectrum Fantastic Art Live,” a yearly convention devoted to creators of all disciplines and sensibilities. Spectrum is published annually by the Santa Cruz-based Flesk Publications and is distributed globally by Publishers Group West.

To learn more about Spectrum, visit

Inspiration: Android Jones

It's always fascinating to watch Android Jones's immersive art presentations and learn about some of the thoughts behind them. Enjoy.