Ok, FINALLY. Every single day since DAY ONE, I've thought...what about Mike? And it's seemed obvious, or a little too fanboy, or something...I dunno. Today is my last day for a while in California, so I figured "What the heck?" When I started painting and drawing back in 2008, like most people, I picked up "Skillful Huntsman", and fell in love with Mike's work. That hasn't changed in 6 years. I feel very privileged that what has changed is now I call him a friend. His paintings and his philosophy have inspired me greatly, and I hope they do the same for you. (And yes, I am going to feature his amazing wife too...they work together enough that it was pretty hard to find work that was just him! Hopefully, I succeeded.)
Will Eisner was a comic book guy, true, but more than that, he had an uncanny ability to show and express human emotion. By the end of his life, the stories he was telling were AMAZING. Sure, "The Spirit" is ok, but dig deeper, check out all the other stuff he's done. Doesn't matter if you are a penciler or a painter, there are lessons to be learned here.
I'm really focusing my art attention on authenticity, emotion and storytelling - and today's artist has all those things in spades.He was a Disney animator for years, working on some of the best titles of the last 25 years. I heard him give a keynote speech at CTN Expo in 2012, and he is one of the most inspiring speakers I have ever heard.
OMG, a post about me and not some other artist! I'm sorry! (Or at least Canadian....)
Years ago, I picked up a camera and started taking pictures pretty seriously. This was back when I was a computer consultant, thoughts of painting and drawing were still 6 years in my future. I worked pretty hard at it, and focused on it like I tend to focus on everything, so you probably understand where I was coming from.
Anyway, for the first year, I really struggled to get "good" pictures...and by good, I mean "Well composed, in focus, exposed properly, good range of colours." Even with photography, that stuff takes some work, at least once you move beyond the point and shoot cameras. I shot A LOT, and made progress. Then came a turning point - It was April 2004 in NYC, and the weather was finally nice enough I wanted to wander around midtown taking pictures. I hit up the library, and did a whole bunch of shots of the stone lion statues by the stairs. You've seen them in Ghostbusters.
I got home, downloaded them all and started to go through them...and was completely bored. Basically, every shot was "good." They had all met the criteria I'd been holding myself to - composition, exposure, focus, colour....but there was NO POINT. I pointed at all of them and said to myself, "Great, another fucking stone lion." This has become something I say to myself A LOT since then...weird how your personal phrases come about...
They didn't say anything. There was no emotion. I had captured the physical aspects of those statues without exposing any part of myself. Every statue I ever took a picture of after that, I tried to image as a living model I was interacting with. Still got some more "stone lions", but my success rate went way, way up.
I wasn't shooting "badly" when I was focusing on technique. When you start out, I really believe you have to focus on that stuff. You must learn to talk before you can orate. We don't expect toddlers to talk like Dr. Martin Luther King. We also don't tell kids that their 3rd grade paper about their summer vacation is literary genius.
Your art is not going to be interesting for a LONG time. If you only focus on being interesting and not learning the fundamentals, I personally believe it's not going to be interesting FOREVER.
Two weeks ago, I talked with Pascal Campion at Wondercon. That man is entirely about the emotional content of his work. When you look at it, you FEEL what it is like to be swimming as a kid in the hot summer afternoon.
I have been painting stone lions this year. I've needed to, and, while I will always get more technically proficient, I can paint "correctly" now. It's time to say things. "Because it's freaking cool!" isn't a reason that calls to me. I am now completely inspired to go paint. Hopefully I will make you feel something.
I went to art school with this guy, and his work reminds me a lot of Simon Stalenhag from yesterday. Even when there is not a super amped-up moment, there is a sense that this *is* the world, and things are just going like they are supposed to. Phenomenal storytelling.
Today's artist really made the rounds on FB last Fall, so much so that I kinda felt weird posting him. But I've been thinking a LOT lately about how he combines his world outdoors with his world in his head, and in so doing, creates a Universe that has verisimilitude and depth...and that is something I would really like to start focusing on in my own art.
So, apologies if you are already sick of seeing Simon's stuff, but hey, enjoy it!
I was talking to a friend at a comic store yesterday, showing him Bernie Wrightson's "Frankenstein", and he mentioned he didn't know who today's artist was. Dore is the ultimate expression for me of OCD linework ;) There is so much to learn in his work about rendering and texturing. I know him best for his illustrations for the Bible and Dante's "Inferno", but he did lots more stuff as well, including a great series on London that every wannabe steampunk artist should look at.
Ok, I was a goth in the 90s...it was what you did when you were into the work of today's artist - I am of course referring to the "Sandman" comic series. I have since met Jill several times at comic conventions, and watched her paint - definitely good memories. Her other projects include "Beasts of Burden" and "Scary Godmother", both of which are worth a read :)
This one goes out to all my J-RPG peeps. Today's artist was the lead concept designer for FFIX and Bravely Default, among many others. He has recently left Square-Enix, I am curious to see where he winds up!
Another watercolourist/comic book artist! Juanjo Guarnido is probably best known for his work on Blacksad, which is an incredibly noir detective story...with anthropomorphic animals. It's good, trust me, and I don't lean towards furry art. He was also the lead animator for Sabor in Disney's Tarzan.
Delving back into animation and visual development with today's artist. I know her mostly from her Disney stint (Paperman, Wreck it Ralph) and her character work. Her art book "Spam" is fantastic on paper, and the iOS digital version (here for Android) has hours and hours of painting videos too.
The first time I ever saw Brian was doing a life drawing demo at DragonCon in 2008. I was really impressed with both his skill at drawing and his skill at explaining things. He has a gentleness you have to see to believe, combined with an incredibly obvious passion.
The second time was at Free Comic Book Day in Charlotte, NC in 2010. I asked him to draw me Alfred from Batman, he was completely into it, and it remains one of my favorite comic book sketches. He also gave some of the best advice to a kid I've ever heard about drawing, and I have since given it myself. "Your mistakes will wind up being your style. Make as many mistakes as you can, as often as you can, and the ones you like will become who you are as an artist."
The third time was when he came to my university for a 4 day workshop on painting comic books. It remains the best class I had at my school in the entire 4 years I was there.
In case you can't tell, I have a lot of respect for this man.
Back to painters! Chris is another painter that bridges the gap between comic books and illustration. On top of painted sequential art, he's done a lot of Magic: the Gathering cards - so many that he plays with a deck of only cards he's painted! He's also a great guy, and fun to talk to :)
ANOTHER European comic guy! After I watched the "Jodorowsky's Dune" movie, I wanted to read his Metabarons comic, since that's where many of his ideas ended up. Illustrated by Juan Gimenez. Man... This guy takes painted comics to a new level.