Surrealism is the new Real

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Father Christmas

One of the many things I've been doing is making greeting cards to sell at the day job. Having an illustrator on staff has made my boss so very happy. I did a bunch of funny, clever, and "nice & normal" cards, saying both "Merry Christmas" and "Season's Greetings" but I wanted to depart from the norm for at least one of the cards, and have a little fun.

Father Christmas

Anyone who knows me knows that I love surrealism, and MC Esher is one of my original heroes. The concept of "Father Christmas" has always been my preferred representation of the spirit of Christmas, since it has less involvement of Coke products and colours. I decided to merge the two into something interesting, and while the photo isn't the best, the original turned out very well. There will also be something incredibly geeky coming down the pipeline, but I won't be showing it off until after the holiday, so those folks who get my usual custom Christmas cards will actually be able to see it first. 

Until then, Merry Christmas, Happy Yule, and Happy New Year! I'll see you in 2015. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

And now for something a little different...

I don’t often post the “hobby” art that I do, since it’s somewhat esoteric, and unless you’re into the same hobby, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. In this case I’m making an exception since the piece in question is one I’m extremely proud of, and has a significant amount of story behind it.
            The SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) is hard to describe to anyone not already involved. It’s a society that celebrates the Medieval Ages as they should have been, and hosts events for Armoured Combat, Arts, Sciences, and yet embraces a few things that didn’t exist in those times (sanitation being my favourite modern addition.) The society, being run purely by volunteers and the efforts of its members has a series of awards to give to those who have earned specific honours. In the Kingdom of Ealdormere (Ontario, Canada) the vast majority of the awards that are given out are accompanied by hand illuminated documents or scrolls, decorated by the very talented artists and calligraphers among the membership.
 The top service award is the “Order of the Pelican” which sounds silly until you know the details behind the name. The myth surrounding the creature is that if in hard times and no food can be found, the parent Pelican will pierce its own breast and bleed, to feed its starving chicks. The service award is based off the myth, to illustrate the sacrifice and work that someone deserving of the honour has put into the Society to make it a better game for all. (Ie, the badge of the award:) 

It just so happens that a very good friend of mine has been active in the SCA for years, and was elevated to the Order of the Pelican this past Saturday. (For the record, she is an incredible lady, and the honour was very well deserved.) While she knew she was getting a scroll from me, she was not allowed to see it before I had finished it and it was presented in the ceremony.

The scroll was done with gouache and a tempera gold, the calligraphy in Speedball gold ink, on black Canson parchment. It is based on a piece from the Canterbury collection, the Ten Virgins. 
One of the things I enjoy doing for scrolls like this is personalizing them, to make them specific to the recipient. 

 Jocea had me do a tattoo for her about a year ago, a commemoration of sorts, of a simple daffodil. I decided to add one, despite the yellow clashing slightly with the yellows in the rest of the piece. I wanted it to stand out a little. 

Households in the SCA are mainly groups of people that like to hang out. Jocea's is the "Rozakii" and their heraldry is the dragon wrapped around an axe. The lamp seemed like the logical and subtle choice, where it would appear but not dominate the piece. 

The Trillium is also part of the Kingdom Heraldry, and since this award is given by the Royalty, so they appear here. The original reference piece had five petaled white lilies, which were lovely, but not specific enough for this piece.
Overall I was quite proud of how it turned out, and while I know the calligraphy is rough, it's probably the best I've done. (My hand-writing is atrocious, and as my art gets better, the opposite happens to my writing. The fact I can pull of any calligraphy is a frakking miracle.) 
I've been meaning to post more, but most of the projects I have going on at the moment are for Christmas (and it's too early to be showing those off), or book covers for books that won't be released until later in the year. Authors Lesley Donaldson and Ellie Di Julio have been writing fiends, and have kindly asked me to do the covers for their books. They should both be making appearances in October, but don't quote me on that. It's hard to pin down production schedules at times.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ad Astra and Art Deco Insanity

            2014 has been an incredible year for art so far. I'm rather astounded by the projects I've been privileged to be part of, as well as the projects I know are upcoming.            
            The Transmigration of Cora Riley has been out for a while now, and it's encouraging to see how well it has been doing. Author Ellie Di Julio has been working hard on the second book, and we're talking about what the next year and campaign will bring. I'm very excited to see how it goes.
            The Cover for Echoes of Memories Past by MarkHolborn has been presented, and the book is due out any day. I read part of the book in an effort to create the cover, and I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of it.
            Ad Astra's Art Show had a spectacular turnout, and I'm both humbled and awed by receiving the People's Choice Award for my Cherry Blossom Dragon drawing. It's been a long time since I've won a major award, and I was thrilled beyond measure to receive it. (The pencil version of the Mecha-Pegasus also received an Honourable Mention from the juried portion of the convention, which was an additional bonus.)

            My dear friend and collaborator/competitor/comrade in art Eric Ray* also had a personal triumph as Donato Ginacola and the Convention Chairs tagged his air-brushed hoodie portrait of Nikola Tesla with Best in Show. It's always nice to see someone whose work I adore get the recognition his work deserves. I've been encouraging him to show his work more, and all but begged him to show them in Ad Astra's gallery show. There is a certain insane level of irony of inviting one of my biggest competitors (when we're working separately) to a show, only to have him win Best in Show while I win People's Choice. There was a lot of "In your FACE/CONGRATZ!" between us when we both got the news.

            The other Honourable Mention went to my Photographer friend Tom, who's Dryad Grooming Her Tree photo stole a lot of hearts during the show. Congratz to Tom as well!

            Most recently, I had the opportunity to do a bit of mural work for a friend of mine. He's designed and created his own vintage style "Theatre Room" in his rec room, and brought me in to do the gold painting on the sides of the stairwell, and under the light sconces. the room even includes a hot dog roaster, a cotton candy maker, a popcorn popper and gumball machine with a brighter than can be believed without seeing snacks sign, a bar with a ridiculously large beer stein, and assorted movie posters and vintage decor gathered together.

            What I love about the room (besides the theme) is the fact that it's comfortable. You can go in, sit down, and relax in a social atmosphere without the feeling of "don't touch! Museum!" He's created a space that feels welcoming and inviting, and includes many of his favourite things. If I had someplace to put it, I would plan a daring heist, gut the whole thing and put it where I could have it. Since I do not have the space, I'll just have to go hang out from time to time and enjoy it with him and his friends. And Harry, "The Googs" Feline, who insisted not only on "helping" (which involved mainly chewing on paint brushes and cuddling me when my hands were full) but on affectionate cuddles before and after the painting was done. 
            The unfortunate thing is the angle of the stairs and the lighting make it very difficult to effectively photograph the final paint and design, and I'm afraid the photos just don't do it justice. They're the best I have until I can go back with a camera and tripod and fight for a better angle and better photos. I was just too excited to wait to post. It'll be another week before I can return to add a few finishing touches and take better photos.

*Eric has appeared in this Blog before, as a collaborator with the last Sylvermoon Chronicles cover, my partner in crime at DragonCon 2008, The Graveyard Shift comic, and several up and coming projects. They'll be announced when they're ready to be produced. :)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Book Cover Reveal

As many of you already know, I've been working with Ellie Di Julio, doing the book cover for her newest book, The Transmigration of Cora Riley. 

The Big Reveal has been done, after several months of impatiently waiting to show it off. You can view Ellie's original post HERE. Otherwise, presenting the cover!

Funnily enough, when Ellie and I first talked about the cover, we had the exact same idea in mind. The door, the valley, and the space between light and dark. I had done 4 initial sketches, but this was the one that I liked best, and she agreed, as it already tracked with the ideas she had been keeping in mind.

The background was deliberately kept vague to make way for finer detail in the foreground, and to keep the eye on the doorway, Cora, and what might lay beyond.


On a personal note, the last few months have seen a lot of change and have been somewhat stressful. Nothing like a near complete overhaul of one's life to send you spiraling into crazy working days, and watching the days go by in a blur. There are more book covers around the corner, not to mention children's books, my own writing, and a variety of events once the winter passes. It's going to be a big year, and I'm looking forward to it.