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.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Painting on Aluminum Composite Panels

I have been trying out a new painting surface lately, aluminum composite panels.  Specifically, I have been using OmegaBond panels.  They also come under the name of DiBond from another manufacturer.  They are made for signs, constructed of two thin layers of aluminum sandwiched over a polyethylene core.  They are made to withstand heat and cold without breaking down and with minimal expansion or contraction.  I am starting to see them pop up more and more with artists.

Both the OmegaBond and the DiBond panels have a thin polyester layer on them that can be painted on directly (the DiBond is on one side, the OmegaBond is coated on both sides).  When sign companies use them, they will screen on paint over the polyester and it must bond quite well since it has to withstand all kinds of weather conditions.  You can also gesso them with oil or acrylic gesso, or adhere canvas or linen to them.

I brushed on some oil based gesso to add texture and test adhesion
I have been using them for my weekly portrait sittings for the last few months.  They are quite slick if you paint directly on the polyester, but the paint seems to bond well.  If painting directly on them, you want to use soft brushes, like Rosemary's Masters Choice line or a sable brush, at least for the first pass.

The Natural Pigments site says the following about preparing the panels.

Note: Use only the coated side of the panel for painting and mounting.
  • Remove the protective film from the coated side slowly and carefully to avoid static build-up.
  • Pre-clean the panel surface with ethyl or isopropyl alcohol, using non-colored cloth for best results. It is important not to use solvents, soaps or liquid cleaning materials as they may leave a film residue that can affect adhesion. Additionally, cleaners containing silicone can interfere with adhesion and are not recommended. A 70% solution of isopropyl alcohol is recommended as the only cleaning material.
  • Scuff the surface with abrasive paper, preferably using a grain size of 360 grit. Do not grind through the coating to the aluminum metal.
  • Remove dust with a lint-free cloth moistened with ethyl or isopropyl alcohol.
I have done some tests with them.  Not really all that scientific, or exhaustive, but my initial impression is that they work quite well as painting supports with no real preparation.  If you are concerned with the archival nature of them, you will want to test them with your materials to make sure they suit your needs.

Very smooth surface.  No preparation, just painting directly on to polyester surface.

I have scraped at a few paintings with a palette knife and the paint seems to grip the surface quite well.  It can be scraped off, but no easier than on masonite.  I have also taken packaging tape and duct tape to a couple dried paintings and ripped it off and no paint came off.  Not all that scientific and not a large test base, but it is encouraging so far.

Rebecca - 8"x10" oil on aluminum panel with oil based primer

 If you are looking for a perfectly smooth surface to work on that is archival and rigid, this might interest you.  If you can find a local sign supply company, you can get sheets up to 5' x 10'.  You can also find them at a few art supply stores online.

Stephanie - 11"x14" oil on aluminum panel
*** Full disclosure, my 16 year old son and entrepreneur is selling them on eBay after seeing how much I liked them.  I will include a link, but also include a link to Natural Pigments which sells plain panels as well as panels with linen.

Natural Pigments ACM panels 

Lyon Arts Supply

Lastly, here is a time lapse of the painting above for fun:

Thanks for giving this post a read!

Howard Lyon


Thursday, February 4, 2016

RESOURCES! Contracts, Copyrights, and Legal

By Lauren Panepinto

One of the hardest parts of the job for artists (and art directors) is dealing with legalities. Specifically Contracts & Copyrights. The "Getting You Paid" bootcamp Marc & I give as part of Drawn + Drafted has been one of the most popular (you can download the one-sheet and sample contract here) but there's no way we can cover every question and clause examples in one bootcamp.

So I was thrilled to stumble across (thank you, internet!) this fantastic resource maintained by Columbia Law School: Keep Your Copyrights

Look, I know contracts are scary, and registering your copyrights can seem overwhelming (it's not I swear). And when you have questions about contracts clients give you there needs to be someplace you can go and research.

So start here, and then also check out these other great resources:

Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts
—This is a link to the NYC chapter, but there's chapters in many cities/states that you can find by googling

Creative Commons
—Different levels of licenses you can add to your website, to signal to/remind people that they can't just use your art willy nilly.

—Sample contracts specifically for Illustrators

—A good site for educating yourself and to forward people to when they ask you to do spec work. Another good site is the AIGA Official Position on Spec Work

And last but not least, Drawn + Drafted is working on not only taking the Getting You Hired Bootcamp online next, but we're also getting our fantastic lawyers at Kushnirsky Gerber to work on a special Legal Bootcamp in the near future. Sign up for our mailing list at Drawn + Drafted to hear about those projects as they develop.

And if you need a lawyer that understands artists and visual/legal issues, then I could not recommend contacting Kushnirsky Gerber any more highly. Tell them I sent you. (I mean come on, how many lawyers have a cool illustration on their homepage, amirite?)