I did this as a drawing a while back for my free coloring pages I offered here, which is a coloring page not in my for-sale coloring book, and decided that I really wanted to do a color version myself… even though its fitting well into the series would even further-delay the release of my Airships and Tentacles art book, still in the works until the last two commissions are done.
The image is one of a little girl drawing out her surroundings with a magickal piece of chalk… floating fish, airships, men riding sharks, and geometric stars like snowflakes are some of the major scene elements, but like always: there are lots of things hidden within ice formations and other elements.
Though it is incredibly cartoony (from a cartoony sketch that is no surprise), and way more colorful than I tend to do things, I rather like it… enough so that I wish I could better communicate the look online, but you know how web graphics go: never nearly as much can be seen or felt as looking at the original painting, or at least the prints which look dead-on the original painting thanks to giclee printing technology.
This is one of my three final commissions for this year, meaning I have two more to go before this series is done and I can finally start lay-out for the “Airships and Tentacles” book.
These have been rather slow-coming – I’ve been chomping off bits of my work list, and well, between home repair, prepping for coming conventions, keeping food on the table (web/programming work), shipping, and *still* catching up on kickstarter stuff… it all feels like ‘nibbling’, though I haven’t slowed down or stopped in nearly a year.
Anyway, I painted this one at 18×12 inches on Oak panel… you can see a few details below, but certainly not all of them. As per usual… tiny, tiny brush strokes and figures about the size of a grain of rice…
I have it imaged at 600DPI, to ensure that these details show as well as the original in printed form, and those prints are now available HERE.
There are only 10 available, they are printed on canvas at the exact same size as the original painting. As an early buyer incentive, the first two to sell are available for only $190; They’ll go back up after those two have sold.
I started this, thinking I was going to take an 8×10 pencil sketch and make a neat water-colory looking piece of it, or maybe just smooth it out and make some edits.
I began by making it 16×20 at 400 DPI, and then took to smoothing out all of my pencil grainy-ness. I chose this size, because I like my works to be high resolution, and my prints to be perfect – I also always consider that I might finish a piece, and then wish I had made it available much bigger.
The downside to working digital for me, is that can I zoom in to where I can see the individual pixels when it comes to detail… I begin just doing this for one part, then realize that the entirety of the work now needs to be in this ultra-high resolution – and set off on a journey of exploring a miles-square map of pixels for.. as long as it takes… in this case, over 300 hours I really did not have to spare. I think I spent nearly two weeks planning on being done “tomorrow”.
It was certainly a way to indulge though – as an artist these days, I don’t always get the chance to put so much work into one piece – though I do put a tremendous amount of work into every one comparatively.
From pencil sketch, to over 2 gigs of file size, hundreds of layers of painted elements, plus all the modification layers for overlay, lightening, darkening, color, multiplication, saturation, etcetera…
About a day or two in, I decided it would be a great idea to actually log the process for this one… and I saved a lot of progress pics. Below, you can actually see the details of the finished piece. One thing with all of my paintings and other images: Web resolution will never let you see how packed with detail every inch is, or all of the interesting scenes, items, and mini-artworks semi-hidden throughout the painting.
Below that, I’ve added my progress pics – for people who are interested by such things.
A rather rough sketch… these were quickies done for $25 a pop for bus fare a year or so back. The paper type really did not allow for erasing, so they were one-shot deals. I liked the concept and base layout enough, I thought I would do some digital work on it to make it print-ready.
A lot of steps went by before I realized it was going to be a much bigger project than I planned. It was the point where I was fleshing out this airship where I decided some screen caps would be good. I had started on the girl, switched to the airship, cut my pencil work out to its own layer, and placed other airships where I wanted them, as placeholders for the sake of layout.
I blacked out the girl for this stage, I didn’t want its pencily quality drawing my focus from the background I was working on.
head/face. This part took all of my night – so not much else has changed.
boots and leggy things… I put a lot of base work into this, then decided I would need to enlarge the feet, and widen and lengthen the lower legs. I write notes to myself whenever there is something important I want to hit first thing the next day… you’ll see these notes in other screen caps below.
The very beginnings of the holster and belt… I would later go in further, and further, sharpening up these details, then making details within these details… and sharpening those up. Oh, you can also see the base/beginning brushings of her stripey-pants.
Think of a visual representation of a statements or concept, as a series or a single image.
Consider a style or media that would be striking, and imagine it taken to a level beyond your ability.
Research said media if it is new, and think on the concept or image for a while – but not so long that something new takes its place – because the longer this thought process, the more ambitious it should become.
Once the thought of even trying begins to fill you with an equal level of dread and excitement, begin.. even if it is after your bed time.
Don’t stop until it is looking as good you had hoped, because this is the *true* starting point. Now work to take it even further, as far as the piece demands, beyond whatever level of ability you thought you were limited by.
Walk away regularly with the image in your head, process it, think of the parts you like, the things you don’t, and things you would like to add.
Remove and go over anything you have doubts about without mercy.
Add in only what won’t crowd the piece
When you reach the point where any change will only make it “different”, but not “better”, you are done.
“Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things by breakfast”, is a good phrase to remember.
Most *Everyone* draws at some point in their life. Those who are intrigued by failure, inspired by the seemingly impossible, continue beyond the point of jagged teeth and crayoned stick fingers.
An artist should never seek to do what they already know they *can* do – and perhaps such is the evil in commissions, which are most often specified according to past works, and limited by scope. Not that all commissions are bad – an artist must accept only those that allow the artist a fair share of creative freedom, as well as room, opportunity, or even obligation to try something new.
An artist who finds himself or herself with extra money, tends to spend it exploring a new mode of art, a new mode of printing, or trying to break into some bigger and more time-involved media or project. It isn’t that we are without wisdom, we know what is wise, and choose to ignore it out of a strong and passionate love for art. Buy canvas, sell paintings, buy scanner, sell reproductions, buy printer, sell giclees, buy lithography press, sell lithographs, buy bigger canvas and better paints, sell paintings, fret over a choice between crowns or a big chunk of marble, sell sculpture, buy clove oil … some ramen noodles …and a better chisel.
When I first started the “Airships and Tentacles” series, in wow… 2006… I don’t even think that “Air Kraken” was a word yet, though I could very well be wrong. I can’t remember specifically, but given Final Fantasy’s tendency to make *some* version of every base creature for each and every environment, it would be insane if they never had some sort of airborne cephalopod in all those years.
Yes, It is foolish of anyone to believe they invented anything… logs and stones rolled down hills long before the wheel, and there is sure to be a comic book from the 60s or illustration from the 1800s with flying cephalopods *somewhere* – and a hundred movies and books in-between. I am only saying I hadn’t yet seen them in paintings, especially luminist and/or American arts-movement-styled paintings, and I thought it would be fun to add hints of in the first painting – and loved that touch enough to continue it through the series.
My airships, started with a commission for Robert of Abney Park, based on the existing designs by Eliza Gauger, which may or may not have been based somewhat on an equal interest in things such as Final Fantasy. The fun of imagination, came more in execution and styling, and moreso in the landscapes themselves. Over time, as the result of much research on bag sizes, gas content, altitude, temperature, etc… balloon sizes grew, ship sizes and engines shrank – I also started to lean more towards the stylings of DaVinci for wings and other parts – and mixed a bit of the aesthetic stylings from my favorites like Derek Riggs, Michael Whelan, Brom, Bethalynne Bajema, Gustave Dore, Pieter Breughel (E&Y), Zdzislaw Beksinski, and others wherever characters, creatures, scenery, or technology allowed.
Anyway, I wanted to do a series of what is essentially landscape art, explored by this fascinating mode of travel – as a means of adding a human element for the viewer to view through, without focusing on figures so much as to make it “character art”.
I sought to combine Lovecraftian elements and mythos with Vernian machines and aptly romanticized visions of exploration; in this, I also wanted to hide every bit of my usual dark and spooky art in such a way that it goes mostly to completely unnoticed.
The latter is most likely why this series was the first series I ever did that people *both* liked, *and* would hang on their walls (Criteria: Does not scare children, much; Does not creep in-laws and future in-laws out; Does not give the potential future girlfriend reason for pause; Does not get a cubicle-dweller fired).
I *thought* I was going to explore this into many, many other types of media – and planned to have a sculpture in wood and a sculpture in metal in the series of nothing else. But, I’ve done more paintings in this series than I intended to, and many, many engravings. The very last painting ships out tomorrow… technically that is not true, because there will be *some* of that in the Infernal device – but I am counting that as my sculpture piece to complete the series.
I’ve got one hell of a collection together in this – plenty enough for the book I committed myself to making works for. I’ll be releasing it in a time when dirigibles and flying Cephalopods have over these years become an odd sort of ‘norm’ (a subcultural standard that to most, comes out of *nowhere* for no apparent reason). The journey has been in interesting one, and I feel that alone merits the book’s release if nothing else… pending until all this Infernal Device stuff is under control.
Thank you everyone who supported the making of this series by buying prints, sharing links and such – and of course thank you everyone who continues to do so.
I really have no idea what I am going to do from here, because I have *many* ideas and will have to choose one, or combine a few – but whatever I am thinking, I am sure going to look forward to it the moment I allow myself to look forward to other things.
Right now I am looking forward to getting the first build of the Infernal Device done, and looking to make it better than anything I could ever possibly do.
In celebration of the closing of the series (okay… I really need money to get my butt to Maker Faire Detroit), I am making large giclees of the very first image from this series available online. They are 30 inches by 24 (printed area is slightly less), and they are printed on fine art rag paper. I will also sign and date these. These are not limited editions – the reason is that the metallics and canvas prints I sold as limited editions, must always remain more special than any version I put out afterward. These are prints I make available in small quantities at conventions, with no set number to be made – but they beautiful, high quality, and they are the biggest prints of this image you can get without buying one of the 4 remaining giclees on canvas.
If you would like one, these few prints are available HERE – and are only $100 until they are gone.
The HP 4670, rocks. 600 DPI, in seconds. Perfectly flat, no distance from the painting, means I can finally get good imaging of my paintings without the $300+ a pop imaging fee, which means savings to you.
I decided to take this one step further, because limited editions and all, though they appeal to some people – most just want a good wall hanging at a good price. And the added cost of having these shipped to me, so I can stretch them, sign them in paint, re-varnish them, print up certificates on hahnemuhle paper, stick holograms on them, etc… well… this is a bit of an experiment.
Not to say they *aren’t* somewhat limited, I mean, my life is finite… unless you both believe in quantum immortality and also believe that you and I will never part coils – in which case I guess you have forever.
But, whether you and I live forever, or otherwise – I anticipate I’ll probably sell about 20 to 50 of these, before I stop selling them, and you can be one of 20 to 50 owners – without all that cost and delay involved in limited editions.
I made this book a while back, out of hardwood, and spent a lot of time sanding, carving, and polishing it. I also put a lot of love into making the securing system – two fat-ended brass pins to give me lots of room to fill it.
– I will fill it with every print from the Airships and Tentacles series
– each printed on a fine rough-edged rag paper
– each page annotated as the coffee table book would be, but in my own handwriting
– each page signed discreetly and numbered “1 of 1”
– each of these prints will be an entirely unique size from any editions made
– The front page will have “to [Your Name]” and my signature.
– To make it even more rare, I will make one unique work or original art to complete the piece. Yes, one page will be an original work of art to complete the series.
The Book size is roughly 13 inches by 15 inches, and will be a hefty and beautiful tome for your tabletop or shelf. You can also remove each print if you wish, to hang them, and secure the book cover away someplace safe.
It isn’t cheap… It’ll cost me about 20 bucks to print each imaged page – which means you’re getting this at no actual profit…maybe even a loss – but I am hoping that this sale would push us over that tipping edge of 50% funding. And I’ll do anything to ensure the success of our project… including this.
Yes, it will be well worth it if it sells – so don’t feel bad about grabbing this great offer and helping us to make something even bigger.
So, if you would like to have this book, it is available for a donation of $1350, as are many other great things, at our Kickstarter: HERE
$20 through our kickstarter gets you a signed and personalized print of any of the below (you’ll need to go to my gallery page to get full views… it was hell just putting this compilation of thumbnails together):
In thinking of something really good, but inexpensive that I could put together as an added incentive to be a part of our kickstarter, and in staying up all night making a new engraving – it came to me…
This coloring book.
When I was a kid, Advanced Dungeons and Dragon’s Monster manual, and their Dieties and Demigods, had some rather awesome illustrations in them: All black and white. I loved those illustrations, but I loved them even more when I caught a Glimpse of my friend Brian’s book… which he had taken colored pencils to for each and every illustration. I thought it pretty amazing how with some simple color over the black and white of the pages, those illustrations really came to life. They were simple to color, because the shading was already there – which made for a basic coloring level, with lots of room for improvisation, and advanced looking results.
I thought to myself this AM, “Hey… all these engravings I’ve been doing would be perfect for this”,and so I set to gathering up pages for a coloring book… and with all the engraving that I do, I have a *lot* of them.
Here are the images that will be in this coloring book… which will for the time being, only be available through our kickstarter for an $11 donation (which includes Shipping and Handling). The coloring book is over 30 pages, and ready to color.
You’ll notice that some of the images below are colored, because I copied really quick from my gallery. These images will be uncolored in the coloring book version (see above).
If you would like to see a PDF of the actual book, CLICK HERE
If you would like to buy a copy of the book for $12, CLICK HERE
Not the greatest scan… alright, it is a shite scan. But, I killed the big scanner and the Lexmark scanner is never good for anything save for documents. So, the subtle clouds and color in the sky are somewhat washed out, and some detail is lost as well.
Regardless, being wallpaper and all, I figured it’d at least give you a chance to preview this image whilst I work to make what I need to get a good scan of some of these recent works.