Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Bad Guys of Oz

-Greg Manchess

It’s been a fun but strange process to develop my own particular twist on the Wizard of Oz. Starting from an assignment used at the Illustration Master Class to visualize the story with a steampunk slant, I painted a semi-accurate twist on the original theme.

The result became a cover for Spectrum 17, and led to much curious interest in the tale from my perspective. I followed up with a design of the Bad Guys of Oz: the Wicked Witch, her henchmen, nasty trees with bad apples, and of course, flying monkeys.

Here are a variety of the sketches I used to fit the characters together, much like the good guys from the first painting. I gathered plenty of reference for the costumes, trees, and monkeys, and then redrew them all to fit my needs.

The painting was sold at Galerie Daniel Maghen last year during the opening for "The Book Show." From that sale, I landed a private commission to redo the first painting, but with a slightly different approach. Playing with that sketch, I explored more of my visualization of the witch, which led to the following thumbnail sketches.

As the vague ideas grew into more concrete imagery, I followed one of them and produced a rather large piece for this year's show about favorite movies. This new original debued at Spectrum LIVE 2 in May. I’d gone beyond the original movie’s look, but still held on to its influences from my childhood.

With the universal interest in All Things Oz, I feel that I can explore Oz with my own take on it and still stimulate the fun of the original. I have a couple more pieces planned, and at some point, I may do a string of paintings that all relate to somewhere over the rainbow.

Wicked Witch of the West, oil on linen, 24 x 36


  1. Looks awesome!

    Do you know if there is a place where i can buy the video you did for a few years back? Been searching around but i can't find anything.
    Would be sad if it wasn't available anymore, the preview seems so interresting.

  2. I'm checking into being able to supply the videos myself, Kevin. But there are some problems. At the moment, it is not available. Do let me know if you find a place. They've been pirated all over the planet. : )

  3. Cool, thanks. I've asked around but nothing yet.
    I know a few others that are interested too, so let us know.

  4. Great work Greg! Your technique of creating is the most thought out process I've ever seen anyone work! I'll never forget your response to my happy accidents question during your paint demo at IMC. "Happy accidents? There's no such thing as an accident in painting. An accident is the LAST thing you want while painting!" Great to meet you at this year's IMC!

  5. I think they used to have Greg's DVD for sale at the Society of Illustrators. I don't know if they are still there. The website currently has Donato's DVD available, at least.

    I think it's interesting how IMC seems to inspire the instructors as much as the students. Seems like everyone does their best work at IMC.

  6. Brilliant as always Greg, I always get a creative boost seeing your process. I love the shapes in your thumbnails, they read so well. I'll also put my hand up and say I'd love your DVD too if it becomes available again. A video on one of these Oz pieces would be great too, wink, wink :)

  7. i'll put the bee in your bonnet about putting a video out on how to properly project/trace. and watching you paint after the drawing is always awesome!

  8. It's great to see your working process from thumbnails to final.
    It really helps to know that ideas and imagination have to be exercised to have fruition.

    Thank you for posting yout thoughts and sketch flow.

  9. I love these, The Wizard of Oz is one of my favourite stories and your interpretations are gorgeous.

  10. Your thumbnails are so effective! I really enjoy your sketches for their energy and simplicity. Thanks for showing your process.


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