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.
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.
An experiment in color, recently completed as a commission for Mike Skoog, wherein he asked if I could do something small enough for his music room, and more colorful than my standard muted palettes.
I went the more impressionistic route with this one, and instead of starting with the colors as I wanted them, I started with the nearest primary colors in their place, and worked downward in saturation and sideways in hue, until I reached this point.
Details are painted so incredibly thin, that I practically painted them with the very corner of a single hair, dropping molecules of paint in a line for stitches and ropes and other details. In this, I am reminded that working smaller is actually harder, not easier, because I still feel compelled to add my standard amount of detail…but in a smaller space (which means eye-strain and neck cramps in spades, and a more time-consuming work).
All the same, sometimes I like working small just for the opportunity to test my patience and practice my hand.
That was the second to last of all the commissions that remained on my plate before Artprize… one more to go, then I am my own man until I sell another…
Signed and dated giclees of this are available for only $25 here for a limited time, or $30 through Etsy
The original was painted on a wood panel cabinet I hand-made for the purpose of doing this painting. I’ll be finishing up the cabinet when I return home.. I can’t tell you what I’ll be filling the cabinet with – but when the construct is done, I will have had a lot of fun making things to fill it with.
Though the cabinet is not done, the painting part of it is, and it was lovingly, carefully scanned for truest color and detail, and printed as a giclee for the best, most highly-detailed and most brilliant reproduction quality.
These are printed 12×18 (the original size of the work) on Canvas (for the optimal standard framing size), in archival pigment inks on 200+ year archival quality heavyweight cotton canvas. Each is coated with a UV, moisture, and scratch-resistant coating for added longevity.
25 total will be printed. All giclees on Canvas are shipped stretched and mounted withing the US, or rolled everywhere else (but you can arrange to receive a stretche copy if you wish to work out additional shipping).
Each is hand-signed, hand-numbered, and dated by Myke Amend. Each also comes with a certificate of authenticity. Both the artwork and the certificate have matching serialized holograms affixed to them (front of certificate, back of canvas) for added assurance and to protect the value of your print.
I reached the point where I *wanted* to add “just a little bit more”, but typically, as one learns over thousands of years of banishment to Earth, this is the point where one more brush stroke equals “overworked”. I waited about fifteen minutes just staring at the thing, and was happy with my decision.
Taking photos of paintings in artificial light don’t tend to yield the most spectacular results – there is a slight color shift seen from one edge to another (especially visible on the full shot). I’ll be getting it professionally scanned while I am away, proofing it when I return on the 29th, and since my printers are local – I’ll be able to start shipping these around January 11th.
They are however available now, in large limied edition metallics, limited edition giclees on canvas, and medium-sized open edition metallics (18×12 inches).
A bit about the painting:
I wanted the sphynx to be foreboding forgotten monolith, but I also wanted it to look “alive”, so I decided to put the tentacles emanating from the portal in the sphynx, putting the one winding around the back in the position a cat’s tail would be in were it thinkiing about ‘pouncing’.
In the shadows of this painting, are a night sky – something to dress up the dark spots, and to fulfill the need I had to make a starry sky out of my cloudy lightning-filled sky.
These weird shell things- I wanted rocks, but did not want them to be boring old rocks, I also wanted the desert to look almost as if it were a dried out ocean… so these fossil-like shell-like patterns in the stone served to fill these needs.
The lightning field – The way I wanted everything to be lit, required that lighting was coming in varying levels from many angles. I also love lightning. The floaty cages are a throwback to back when I did purely surreal artwork… and I thought they would add a nice ‘living’ touch to the landscape without ruining my desolate scene with actual plants.
Lanterns everywhere – this one in the netting and reflecting off the portal window. A view of the coal bin, lightning field, floating cages, and propellers as well.
Oh… the nautilus. The nautilus-like submarine from “the Rescue”, now beached in the middle of the desert. Why??? … umm… Don’t tell me how to run my painting! It was a whim!
Gondola – and lots of netting. More fishnet than a goth club on a Summer night. It serves well as extra cargo space. Ladders and doors for a sense of scale.
The whole painting. Please forgive the obvious color shift from right to left, it is the result of uneven lighting on the painting when I took the shot.
New Steampunk Wallpaper: “The Antarctic Experiment” (Sepia antiqued variant of the original image), 1280 x 1024, from the series “Airships and Tentacles” – a Jules Verne and Hp Lovecraft Inspired series of explorers in dirigibles in precarious situations.
Click image below to download or view:
A color version of this, in 1280×1024 and in 1600×1200 is available at Ettadiem.com
New for summer is an extensive collection of engravings as limited edition giclees on Hahnemuhle fine-art rag paper format.
Each giclee has rough straight-torn edges and a border of 2.5 to 3 inches of this beautiful rag paper, making for an additional 5 to 6 inches in each direction – meaning more wall coverage.
Each these bold limited edition giclees are enlargements of the original highly detailed engravings, showcasing the fine linework and detail within each piece, and making for a wonderful block-print appearance.
To go straight to the prints from engravings, simply choose prints(engravings) in the catalogue listing (right), or click here.
*Also: for those who like to collect mini prints and small prints for scrapbooking purposes, those are next to come… an entire line of every artwork from this site (and some not yet here) will all be available in sizes of 5×7 or smaller.
There are many items now added to the now-better-organized store, and many more items to follow. Please continue to check in this next 7 days.