Friday, March 27, 2015

THE PROBLEM WITH AWARDS (A Confession)

by Greg Ruth

Miss America 1956

What triggered this post was Arnie Fenner's brilliant post on Monday about this selfsame subject, Do Awards Matter?, but this has been a big topic of conversation since earlier this January. Still, that doesn't mean I'm not happy to stand on the shoulders of my betters and make this week's post a kind of response to Arnie's if not a companion piece. It's a complicated subject and one that deserves more paper and words than I'll come close to here, but that never stopped me before.

Awards can bring previously unknown work to the fore, (though they really tend to celebrate the established), and can make a book's success, or a movie director's ability to make another. They are in essence and likely at their best, a marketing tool. And that's not a bad thing. None of my top favorite movies have won oscars, same for my top five books comics and records. Awards don't have to validate and they don't bestow value, but they have a place and they serve a purpose and I don't blame any of them for that. The problem I think hovers around how we respond received and then deal with being rejected by them. Most of it is our fault, though some of it is natural to the award. 


So... do awards matter?

Yes and No. But I don't think that's the right question necessarily. Everything matters if it matters to someone, the question remains... are they the right thing to be talking about? 



The one time Eisner Award loser, THE LOST BOY from 2013
Awards don't matter to the art. Or shouldn't. 
The work doesn't care about the awards. It doesn't care whether you're dressed or not either, but you know what I mean. The goal of art should be the art you make, the rest is just the after effect. I've always been an admirer of the abstract expressionist school of artmaking (if only for this one ethos), "that the action of making the work is where the art resides. The piece after is just evidence". It's a footprint of where art walked, a remnant like an old photo of a long passed loved one.  Awards don't generally account for big upticks in books sales overall, as they tend to reward books already selling well. They don't make the next piece of art better- in fact the opposite is usually true. Awards, when left to grow beyond their worth begin to demand from the recipient a measure of attention not worth bothering with. That is not to say i don't value the awards i've recieved, nor do i refuse to recieve them with homest appreciation and thanks. But what I don't do is put them under a spotlight and pray to them in the studio. I tend to do the opposite if only to remind me that as nice and honorable it is to receive an award, the work you do in the studio the next day is far more important and valuable. 

The hype around awards and award giving, the build up, the grandiose ceremony all comspire to inflate their importance to the outside world of the award more than the piece. Does anyone think about the Hollywood Foreign Press outside of the Golden Globes? The Academy of Arts and Sciences extant of the Oscars? No- of course not. It's a marketing Prom Night, and practically speaking there's really nothing wrong with that, as long as you don't mistake it for intrinsic value of the art. Personally, I hated the entire process of being nominated for the Eisner for THE LOST BOY. It made me feel uncomfortable when I was congratulated on the nom and made me look at my own work in a way I didn't enjoy and was glad when it was all over. I knew it would be rude to dismiss the honest affections other bestowed on me for it, but it felt like lying every time I said thanks you. I think winning it would have been nice for the book and for those who love it, but it would have been bad for me. This is not to say I am not grateful for the nomination and proud of the work and honored by the support, or even resentful of the books that won. It just put me into a mental place where I started looking at the book from an angle I didn't like, through a lens that changed the way I saw the thing I had made. Maybe as time passes I'll get less neurotic about it all, and probably will. But at the time it was pretty rough on the psyche. I made fumbles with this when it got made the New York Times Bestseller list, (another award with an even more arcane jury system), and continue to have a deeply uncomfortable relationship with it all. But it all greatly helped the book's success and I confess having worked in comics for this long and to receive these accolades finally and only with my own creator owned book felt and feels supremely great. Still... I wince to think about it a little. It's like having someone else's thoughts in my head insisting to be my own. 




Spectrum 12 Gold Awarded to FREAKS OF THE HEARTLAND's tpb cover in Comics
Awards in imperfect validators. 
Ideally we should appreciate a piece, a movie, an actor's performance or an artist's painting for what it is in and of itself. Period. But we don't live in that ideal world. The problem comes when awards are corrupted into being external validators or personal ones. Their favorites become ours by force of their personalities or the agreed upon power the award carries. It's a kind of value totalitarianism. If you as an artist work towards getting an award as a goal, and use your art to get there, you're doing it wrong. Terribly, horribly wrong. If you require such outside validation to feel good about your work, ditto. Awards are congratulatory, not validating. The moment they become the latter in lieu of the former, walk away from it. It's a bad road to go down and subjects you to feeding a thirsty beast whose appetite will never be slaked. I's hard enough to make good and valid work without poisoning your soul trying to justify yourself at the feet of some award. Seriously. They have a basic purpose and value but only while they remain within their limited sphere. Anything more than that is simple corruption.







Political cartoon for CNN during the 2014 election cycle
Awards are rarely a true meritocracy.
The dirty little secret about almost any award given to a group of nominees, is that it's less about the basic quality of the onject being rewarded than it is about the politics of the judges in the room giving it. Rounding down to the nomination procss is from my experience about inherent merit. That's why I generally prefer stopping there. Let the award go to all those nominated. What happens in these final rounds, whether its Spectrum, Society of Illustrators, the Oscars or the Eisners, is that it then comes down to the negotiations amongst the jurors as to who gets what, by way of horse-trading and bargaining. It's a negotiated settlement, not the cream rising to the top. And again, there's nothing inherently wrong with this- its a basic eventuality of having disparate people in the room being forced to agree on a single object, and I can't honestly claim to know a better way. That committee system you experience, is not terribly dissimilar to this process, and ultimately, and usually, the least offensive idea succeeds, not the most qualitative. This is not to say those getting the award don't deserve it, nor that they shouldn't be proud to receive it. You don't get that far down the line without bringing your quality. My point in bringing this up is to recognize honestly, that what wins is not necessarily what's best overall as much ad it is what's best in that room, at that time, given those jurors. You put the same pieces in a room with a different herd of judges, you will get an entirely different result. If it's that conditional or situational it doesn't hold the same level of value as you may think. It's not a law of physics or a final judgement, it's just what everyone managed to agree upon in that time and in that place. Making it through and getting that gold medal is great news and something to honor. Mistaking not getting that medal as a symbol of one's lack of quality is total bullshit. Don't fall into that trap. My beef is then really with the sort of passively hidden truth of this process- that it's ubiquitous to every award scenario I've known of or been a part of and yet no one outside of those rooms seems to know it.  There's something a touch dishonest about that, but again like making sausage, it's probably not something that makes sense knowing about. 






Isobel alone in the Kingdom from THE LOST BOY

Awards can force atrophy and doubt where none previously was.
As does not winning them. This comes from ascribing to the award some kind of godlike validation which is really what fuels the desire for an award in the first place. We grow up with Miss America Pageants and the Oscars and we see how beautiful beautiful people are when they win beautiful goldy things and crowns. We're conditioned early to see awards as validators, which to me is a terrible TERRIBLE way to see awards in genreal. They are affirminators, celebrators, but should never be seen as validators. That road leads to whole reams of confusion and self doubt that are basically stemming from the idea of the award rather than yourself or the work they are supposed to be rewarding. Is then the problem with awards how we misuse them? Yes. and this is probably the thing that makes this retort to any pro-award celebrant more toothless and less controversial, but that don't mean it ain't true. Really my problem with awards is, as Al Swearingen put so well, is that they are a Lie Agreed Upon. It's hard ot unlearn something so deeply rooted so my default has been to instead, is to do my best to pretend they don't exist. It's like any kind of addiction- if you can't have a drink without drinking ten or twenty, then stay away from the enterprise altogether. Don't give the desire for an award the fuel to turn it into a knife pointed inward or a cause to feel entitled to point it out towards others. If you give up because you never win any awards, you've been doing it for the wrong reasons all along. Only give them as much power as is healthy for you creatively to do so, anything else, is bad for everyone. 





The battle royale from EDENTOWN
Awards create a lie of competition. 
They do. They may not intend to and the organizers may disavow this and blame anyone thinking about this as being their fault, (and they may not be entirely wrong), but you line a select few up at a starting gate, fire a gun and make them chase a goal only one can win... that my friends is a competition. And I don't have anything against competitions overall- we are physiologically hunter based and competition is a healthy, natural course for making ourselves better. But having an outside body snatch up a bunch of creatives, who've made their work for their audience if not for themselves, now forced to look sideways at their peers as competitors... I call bullshit on that. While they don't call the losers, "losers" they do call the winners "winners", and really the reverse is applied. Taking say this the Oscars as an example... Putting five or six different creative projects next to each other, which have little or nothing to do with each other (Selma, Mr Turner, Boyhood, American Sniper for example) and choosing only one of them as being the best is in my opinion wholly insane. These films are all doing something completely different from each other, and aside from the broad stroke realities that they are all movies and all have actors in them acting, comparing them against each other as value is the worst form of an apples to oranges comparison. bestowing a prize and then cheerleading their thanking us for it strikes me as something dark to be honest. Even if it is perhaps essential marketing. I know for a fact more people saw BOYHOOD only after it began receiving a lot of awards and nominations. Rick Linkletter now has much more agency to do more experimental films because of this and the actors who participated have stronger career possibilities and agency than before because of this. There is a real and important benefit to this process, no doubt. But is there another way? 

I don't know, really... but I would be especially happy to have say, the nominees at the Oscars each get an Oscar and call it there. Of the 600 movies in a given year that are made, choosing just five is a seriously reduced enterprise already. No need to guild the lilly by then choosing again amongst the five, right? I don't want to look at books and have a childishly egotistic side of me look dubiously at other books I truly love but now must see as competition in me acquiring my prize. This problem comes from the act of giving a single award itself. The Highlander Quandry. I would even say this is true both of the Spectrum and Society of Illustrators I judged recently. It was almost painful to have to try ands pick medal winners from a swath of excellent work that at that stage I thought should already get awards. It was then that we had our most contentious conversations. It's where the judging became hardest and least pleasant. SOmething changed by the nature of the need to assign a single victor, which is fine in a football game but in art or literature or film or music.... not so much. Art is not a sport, and sports are not art. importing the victory or die ethos to art seems ill fitting at best and costs much more than it gives. yes, the winners can go on to reap real tangible benefits, the vast majority- meaning everyone else- get forgotten in that process. 





James Cameron, totally, hilariously getting it wrong on Oscar night. 

But you know, this is not going to change many minds or alter this system we seem all of us, to collectively desire. Winning an award is something you can and should legitimately be proud of. There's nothing wrong with that at all anymore than when any review or person congratulates you on doing your work. Losing an award is likewise wholly meaningless as it pertains to your sense of self, or as a legitimator of quality. Some truly astounding works of art- most of the very best in fact, have never won an award at all. And it doesn't make them any less powerful for it. It's a fine line between celebrating the honor of receiving an award and shoving it up people's noses as Jim Cameron did so famously. We want you to be proud but not too proud, humble but not too humble... thankful and obedient to the rules now encapsulating you as a creative person. None of these qualities would be celebrated in the process of making art, but we insist upon them when we award art. Why is that? What does this process change in our work? What does it change in us and how we see ourselves in making our work?  Art should never be a competition amongst peers, and should never be done in seeking an award or some kind of boosting of your ego or fame. Desiring awards is I think unhealthy, winning them doesn't have to be. And you know what? If it is there's always next year. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Three Questions


Beren and Luthien in the Court of Thingol and Melian     in progress     110" x 62"     Oil on linen

by Donato

Another couple of weeks have past since my last post and I am still in the middle of a large commissioned oil painting, my most complex ever.  Although it would be great to keep updates on every process development, I find that I am not taking many image shots as the work proceeds.  Not from any lack of interest in documenting the painting, but rather my desire and focus while involved with this work has different needs for me.

I entered illustration and a career in oil painting because of my love to bring forth images which swirl away in my mind.  It is thrilling to make them real, and even better to share them with a sympathetic audience.  But the heart of why I am an artist is that I love to work, to spend a day in the studio creating.  That is what is driving me now, the need to create - not to socialize, develop new concepts, prepare for a convention, nor think about what the future may bring in my art.  Right now I am focused on what is in front of me...and it makes me extremely happy.

This state of mind makes me reflect on words of wisdom from Leo Tolstoy, through Three Questions (by way of introduction through a beautifully illustrated Children's book  by Jon J. Muth)
It once occurred to a certain king, that if he always knew the right
time to begin everything; if he knew who were the right people to
listen to, and whom to avoid; and, above all, if he always knew what
was the most important thing to do, he would never fail in anything
he might undertake.
The rest of the tale is here.

Following the lesson of Tolstoy, I find my most important time is now in the studio.  The right people to be with is no one, but rather to be alone. And the most important thing to do is to paint, today and everyday for the next month until this work is finished.

My apologies for this if it makes for dull posting in the next weeks, but this is the path I see to avoiding failure...

I wish you the best in your pursuit of answers to these Three Questions.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Kissy kissy

By Jesper Ejsing



Recently I have been traveling to conventions and meeting people and spent way too little time in the studio with my butt in the chair and painting. One of my latest published pictures that I am very fond of is this lovely girl. She is a cover figure for Paizos Pathfinder adventure path #92.

I really love, That Sarah Robinson, the fantastic art director at Paizo, let me go with the very voluptuous anatomy instead of beeing affraid of it offending people. During the last couple of years there has been a lot of discussions on how we portrait women as half naked sex objects in fantasy. I am proud to have made a picture that pulls the average in another direction. In this specific drawing i wanted her to look smiling and selfconsious rather than yet another sexy looking female enemy.

In my sketch she had a bundle of dwarf heads on her shoulders, but they were switch for a shield/shoulder plate to better fit with the story.


I tried to give her head a different facial structure to make her not look like a human. when you have no background to show scale you have to use something else to potrait the Giant-ness. I pulled the eyes apart and gave her a large round and gnarled forehead. Somehow she becomes a little fish-like with the small eyes apart like that.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

1994 Marvel Masterpieces

-By Dan dos Santos


In the 1990's, comic books were enjoying an incredibly healthy revival, which spawned the creation of a ton of new comic book characters, several comic book companies, as well as a plethora of comic book themed trading card sets. One the best trading card sets was the Marvel Masterpieces Series. In particular, the 1994 set is a real favorite of mine.

The 1994 Marvel Masterpieces base set consists of more than 140 cards, all of which are hand painted by Greg and Tim Hildebrandt.

Any fan of fantasy art can appreciate what a staple the Brothers Hildebrandt are to the industry, as their Lord of the Rings work is still a mainstay of the genre. So to have a collection of 140 paintings, depicting some of my favorite fantasy characters of all time, is huge treat that I was anxious to revisit.

Comic trading cards were a real success for comic publishers. It was often a way to repackage pre-existing art and make it suitable for resale. The price per pack was decently high for such a small amount of cards, and the entire process of trying to acquire them all was the perfect business plan made to appeal to obsessive collectors. As a teenager, I would purchase sealed packs of the cards, hoping to acquire a complete set. But that required a lot of money, and a great deal of luck. Fortunately, you can now get these sets quite easily on Ebay for an incredibly reasonable price. Still, all of these cards illicited countless hours of enjoyment for me as a kid, as I reveled in the trivia on the back, and redrew the amazing images on the front.

Even today, seeing the sheer number of fresh, vibrant composition that the Hildebrandt's came up with for so many different characters is a serious treat for the illustrator in me.


I have a LOT of trading sets, all showcasing the work of some amazing artists, like Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell, Joe Jusko, Jim Lee, Luis Royo, San Julian, and even Moebius. And the best part is, these sets often contained artwork that wasn't published anywhere else. I will be showcasing a few more of these sets here on Muddy Colors very soon.

Until then, please enjoy a small sampling of some the Hildebrandt Brother's paintings for the 1994 Marvel Masterpieces set.











You can also see the complete set, including the backs of the cards, HERE.

While you're waiting...

…why not watch this time-lapse of Android Jones working his digital magic…

Monday, March 23, 2015

Do Awards Matter?


Above left to right: The Hugo, the World Fantasy, and the Chesley awards. The Hugo was based on the hood ornament of an Oldsmobile. The World Fantasy Award  (sometimes nicknamed the "Howard") is a bust of H.P. Lovecraft sculpted by Gahan Wilson. Using Lovecraft for the award has become somewhat controversial lately.


by Arnie Fenner

The quick answer is: Sure they do.

Which perhaps naturally leads to the question: Do I need to win an art award to make me successful?

And, just as naturally, the answer is: Nope.

There are all sorts of opinions when it comes to awards and art competitions and a little searching will quickly find those who will insist that all awards are meaningless and that artists shouldn't "compete," not no way, not no how. My response is always the same:

Baloney.

In ways both big and small, life is a competition, from the moment we draw our first breath to the day we exhale our last. We compete with others in either subtle or overt ways for mates, jobs, commissions, parking spots, concert tickets, in sports, for SDCCI hotel rooms, seats on a plane, living spaces; and we compete with ourselves to get better at what we do. Everyone competes with everyone for everything in some way every day, artists included.

When the list of entrants selected for inclusion in Spectrum 22 was posted there were, of course, those that were happy and those who were disappointed—and, certainly, some that were angry. There were plenty of expressions of shock, dismay, sarcasm, and dismissal floating around social media following the announcement; that's too be expected, really. What struck me was the failure—of some—to realize two simple realities:

1] The only thing public fussing accomplishes is to rain on the parade of those who did make it through the tough jury process. A little grace, after all, is part of being a pro. And…

2] If it wasn't difficult to get in—if everyone who entered was included in Spectrum—it wouldn't mean anything.

Honestly, I see most types of competition as healthy; it keeps us sharp and can motivate us to improve. "Winning" helps us learn to deal with success; "losing" helps us learn to deal with disappointment and, hopefully, pushes us to try harder. Yeah, there are always those who make "winning" or "losing" ugly, but that's part of life, too, and learning how to handle, if not overcome, society's buttheads is a form of competition, too.

But when it comes to art awards…well, they're not competitions.

No. They're not.

"Beating" another artist doesn't enter into it. That's not what art awards are about. I don't even like the term of "best" used to describe an award or recipient because, as I've said in the past elsewhere, there are a lot of simultaneous "bests" in the world. I prefer to see an award as recognition for an exemplary work, not as a generalized coronation.



Above left to right: The SoI Medal; the Caldecott Medal for best illustrated children's book. 

Certainly candidates are somehow chosen (depending on each awards' criteria) and just as certainly recipients are selected, but though there have been instances of electioneering in fannish circles I don't think an award is anything that an artist can deliberately pursue. Nor should awards really be a goal or reason for creating work: much like basing your financial future on a plan to buy a winning lottery ticket it's really little more than wishing and hoping because receiving any sort of accolade is never a guarantee.

A medal from the Society of Illustrators or a Caldecotte have long been the penultimate honors (other than, I guess maybe, a Pulitzer), but the highest-profile award for the field for many years was—no, not "the coveted Balrog," as George R.R. Martin liked to describe it—the Best Professional Artist Hugo, voted on by the members of the World Science Fiction Convention. A score-plus of noteworthy illustrators have won the Best Artist Hugo since they started presenting it in 1955, but it's also true that the names of worthy SFF creators that have never won (much less been nominated) are legion. And diversity? Hmmm. The World Fantasy Award (selected by a different jury each year, none of whom, to the best of my knowledge, have been illustrators) was established in 1975 and, like the Hugo, boasts an equal list of deserving honorees and of unfortunate oversights. The Chesley Awards, created in 1985, are presented by the members of the Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists and has worked hard to reflect the broad parameters of genre art.

Anyway, the art world isn't like peewee soccer where everyone gets a trophy for showing up: regardless of years in the trenches, regardless of skill, regardless of popularity or monetary success, receiving an award, as I said, is never a given. "For there are many called, but few are chosen." Whether it's a Caldecott, Hugo, Society of Illustrators Medal, Chesley, World Fantasy, or a Spectrum Award, there is significance in both being nominated and in winning; it's a recognition of achievement, a mark of distinction, made even more significant when it comes from a jury of your peers.

If there seems to be those who receive a number of awards over the years, it's not because of nepotism, cliques, favoritism, or pay-offs (the easy fall-back accusations by the disappointed): it's because of the quality of the work. Some artists hit their peek at just the right moment  in their careers and their peers—the juries—respond. Fan awards or monetary competition prizes (almost always picked from the pockets of other artists) are different beasts entirely and either habits or agendas (or electioneering) can enter into who gets what and how often, but when it comes to peer awards—artists to artists—there's a purity that adds meaning to the honor. The awards are encouragements; they're a form of respect, validation, belief, and support.

Awards aren't won, they're earned.

And, yes, a major award can help an artist's career; it can raise their profile and grab the attention of art directors, publishers, licensors, ad agencies, and collectors. The career benefits can be significant and long-lasting.


Above: The Spectrum Grand Master Award. The pyramid was sculpted by Joe DeVito and the grand master base was sculpted by Tim Bruckner. All of the awards have been entirely redesigned by Kristine and Colin Poole for Spectrum 22.  

All that said (and as touched on in my comment about the Hugos), there are many excellent artists with vibrant, viable careers that haven't won major awards and who may never do so. That's sort of one of life's quirks. But just as receiving an honor has meaning, not receiving an award…doesn't. Of course it's always nice to win…anything…but careers tend to perk along rather nicely with or without an award sitting on the shelf.

Still, there is something else to consider when it comes to awards: symbolism. Not for the one (as Spock might say), but for the many.

Beyond the recognition of individual achievement, the awards—the iconic trophy, the ceremonies, the traditions—are a celebration of us all, of the art community as a whole. The more attention that is attained for what we do the better it is for everyone and awards—and the electricity and excitement of presentation ceremonies—are invaluable ways to grow the public's awareness and (hopefully) appreciation of who we are. They're educational moments.




That was the motivation behind the Spectrum Awards ceremony as part of Spectrum Fantastic Art Live. It would have been infinitely easier—and cheaper—to give the awards out in a hotel ballroom or in the convention center, but…where's the fun in that? Artists and their works affect our lives every day in an infinite number of ways so it only seems right that for at least one night of the year there's a spotlight on the art community with a gala in a real theater with all the trappings.

I was watching a documentary about the history of the Oscars® and Helen Mirren joked that at the ceremony the losers in the audience outnumbered the winners and that they didn't even have a bar to make it better. Then she said seriously, "But it is an honor—it's true—to not only be nominated, but to be able to be together and share in the accomplishments of our fellows." I agree.

So, yes, awards matter.

And for the Spectrum 22 awards ceremony…we have a bar. We will happily comp Dame Helen's badge if she'd like to attend. 


Above: The Spectrum 22 awards will be presented May 23 at the historic Folly Theater in Kansas City during Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 4. You can see all of the award finalists in each category here.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Home


Just a reminder that Home, the DreamWorks film adaptation of our own Adam Rex's illustrated novel, The True Meaning of Smekday, opens in theaters March 27. May the Boov be with you!






Friday, March 20, 2015

Bits of Magic

Magic: the Gathering (MtG) is a really wonderful license for artists to work on.  The art directors are excellent, giving good feedback and creating a large playing field for the artists to run around on creatively.  Additionally, the fans of the property are consistently courteous and add enthusiasm to the work, expressing appreciation and support.  The Magic community also provides artists the chance to travel from time to time, attending events to sign cards and sell art.

I will be attending an upcoming Magic Grand Prix in Las Vegas, May 28th-31st.  It is lining up to be a pretty significant event in the Magic schedule.  I believe that the largest GP to date was the 2013 Las Vegas event with just under 4,500 players.  This year the organizers are anticipating 10,000 players.

I have attended a few GP events as an artist and with 1500 or so players, they have kept me busy with sales and drawing for a solid 3 days, so 10,000 players should make for an incredible event.

Even better is the great group of artists that will be attending.  Channel Fireball is hosting the event and it looks like they are looking to break a record with the number of artists at one GP as well.  Typically you might see 3-5 artists, but they have announced 19 so far!



I am looking forward to spending time with the other artists that will be in attendance.  It is like a mini, highly focused convention!

The good folks at Channel Fireball know how to put on a good event too.  If you are remotely interested, don't miss this.

Here is a link to the site with more information and registration: Grand Prix Las Vegas

Since this is a post about Magic, I thought I had better share some recent work done for the game.

Mystic Meditation

This was a great card to paint.  I wanted to create strong shapes and contrast with the huge dragon bell.  I put the two pillars in on either side to create a sense of strength and stability for this setting.  I also made the scene symmetrical to add to the sense of order.


I set the background in blue to give some strong color contrast with the bell and ribbons.  To aid in the visual cues describing the waves of sound coming from the bell I added a series of shockwaves and distortion coming from the bell chamber and dragon mouths, reflecting off the spell cast around the figure.


Lastly, I fixed the dragon heads (after some good direction from Jeremy Jarvis) to better reflect the dragons in the particular world setting and added a little color shift to the shockwaves.

I enjoy adding the small details to scenes like this.  The delicate pinks blossoms on the center column lay undisturbed inside the spherical shield around the figure in the center, as does the tea, set on the clean white table cloth.


Winds of Qal Sisma

I enjoy painting creatures.  It always takes me back to watching Adventure Theatre on Saturday afternoons as a kid.  It seems like there was always some Ray Harryhausen movie on.  When I paint monsters, in my head, they always move in stop motion.


This card was also art directed by Jeremy Jarvis.  This poor band of soldiers is caught in a blizzard, but that isn't the worst of it.  Their visibility reduced and their senses dulled, they don't notice the hungry beast tracking them through the snow.  Death is imminent.


Reality Shift

This card was directed by Dawn Murin, and was actually released in two versions.  One zoomed in on the figure in the sphere, and this view with the camera pulled back showing Ugin the dragon, pulling the strings.
One of the challenges of creating art for Magic, is the size of the final print.  You have to keep the big shapes in mind from the start, using either value or color contrast, or both to keep it reading on the trading card.



Thanks for having a look and read and if you are going to the Magic Grand Prix in Vegas I hope you will come stop by and say hello!

Howard Lyon

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