Saturday, November 27, 2010

line dependency

Hi, my name is Micah, and I am line dependent. When I stood with Jon Schindehette outside of the Heritage Center in Altoona, the setting sun painted the cathedral with a dusky glow, and the frosted cinnamon bun I had for breakfast was wearing off, he gave me some great insight into producing more painterly pieces, pieces that I could shop around to more publishers of fantasy and science fiction art, pieces that are closer to the works I imagine myself creating.
The techniques of color and light, contrast and texture, are techniques I remember from school, and from my own work before comics. But the assembly line nature, and tight deadlines, of comics led me into line dependency, where I could quickly map out shapes, environments, and characters and keep them all on model throughout the book, then add texture and color later. So I created some good comic work, but lost the craft of using texture and light to my advantage. I needed an intervention, and I got one in PA.
In order to move away from the line and back into the realm of realism I'm going to take Jon's instructions to heart. Warm and cool colors can not only move the eye forward and backward through an image but invoke real atmospheric distance in settings on Earth (or any fantastic place like earth). As fall becomes winter I find myself looking wistfully at the bare trees that make the forests and wind-breaks in this part of the world. The trunks must be made of browns, greys, and whites. But in the distance I'll be damned if I don't see blues, purples, and yeah, green (but just a smidge). Lots of atmosphere make the world blue. Rayleigh Scattering. I taught it to my toddler, but failed to absorb the lesson myself. But that's not all a pressurized blanket of N2, CO2 , O2, and Ar can do to a landscape.
Not only do the lines of real and unreal, symbol and literal, blur in a successful fantasy piece, but so should the ends and beginnings of the objects and environments illustrated. We view the world with a dynamic field of vision, focusing on some things, letting others stray out of focus. I'm going to let a little of that infect my art from now on too if I can manage it.
A couple more bits of wisdom feature warm colors making highlights pop, cooler color as diffused light brings other things to light, and keep the shadows cool to make the highlights really sell. I hope I remembered that right.
But when in doubt, I can study light in the world around me, with some new benchmarks to help my brain wrap its sticky grey lumps around what my vision orbs are picking up.
Thanks again Jon. I'll be back when I have made some finished arts. Until then, take 'er easy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


This year I attended Illuxcon in Altoona, PA. What a fantastic show. I was four days amongst the best fantasy artists in the world. I was able to meet in person, Jon Schindehette, who has recently taken me on as a mentee to help me become the fantasy artist that I want to be. I met and had dinner with several of my favorite artists, Mark Nelson, Todd Lockwood, Lars Grant-West, Jeff Easley (sorry for the lack of link, Jeff. I think I must have the wrong web address for your site), and Cyril Van Der Haegen, whose work I was only familiar with in passing and has since elbowed it's way into a 9 inch space among my favorites.

I met John Jude Palencar (holy moly!), bought a drawing of his and we talked about Ireland. Later, while telling a horror story about an 8 track player left on overnight, he sang a few verses in the voice of Tom Waits. I was able to watch Todd paint, and hear him speak about composition. Donato Giancola gave an excellent talk on abstraction in realism. Mark also gave a couple talks about critter design, and inking over pencils. I learned a tremendous amount from all these goings on, and absorbed so much more from the other artists on the scene, Steve Prescott, Mark Poole, Justin Gerard, Ralph Horsley, Jeff Laubenstein, Tyler Walpole, Steve Ellis, Jordu Schell, Kara and Tom Kuebler, Pat Jones, and Lauren Cannon. It was utterly amazing.

I mentioned Jon's mentoring, and I'll get back to that in the next post, he had some excellent insight for me about becoming less line dependent in my pieces. And he had some praise for my work in Trickster, which really made my week. Cheers, Jon! But yeah, more on that later.

So I come home from Altoona, with a little more steel in my blood, and a hopper full of theories, insight, and the dampened sawdust that is usually up there keeping my hairs rooted in place. I got way more out of Illuxcon than I ever expected. I'll be going back next year. Take it to the bank.

Thanks for show Pat and Jeannie, you really know how to make it happen.