Expanded Elements

July 10, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

My Elements piece is thus far my most popular piece of writing and has proven valuable to myself and others so I would like to expand on more recent painting breakthroughs. In mid-2013, I painted a piece called “Glorianna” for the new Starstruck volume (which I am currently hard at work painting). Here are some of the lessons I realized in this painting:

No Expectations:
I’d started with no expectation of making a finished piece right away (see the video on Creativity by John Cleese). In my insanely busy work life (yes, I once did 1000 pieces one year and this year I’ve completed one Small God a day for 365 pieces in the past 365 days), that is itself shocking.

Don’t Jump at the First “Success”:


I’d done a quick sketch of Verloona first (the obvious bad [and vain] girl pin-up of the Starstruck characters), but rather than finish it, I thought I’d try another subject – the character I am the most simpatico with: Glorianna. I thought to set her up as a tall/thin Nouveau Mucha piece, with nods to John R. Neill.

Go With It:
But when the piece started to come together as a Pre-Raphaelite instead, I did the smart thing (for a change). I let it.

CrystalBallWaterhouse1902 Reference

Send Roughs/ Get Input:
I sent a rough (I historically hate rough work and try never to show it) to Starstruck’s author Elaine Lee for her thoughts about moving it to finish. She found it agreeable, and I asked her for information so the background could become something other than a generic clearing in generic trees.


Do More Roughs:
Originally she was standing on the same plane as the background. Through the process of fixing her back arm, and making a working background I made many permutations until I could choose the very best versions.

Don’t Get Attached:
Historically it’s not the reference that I’ve found hardest to shake- rather it’s fidelity to the details of the character, milieu or environment. In this case, it wasn’t so hard for me to riff on Michael Kaluta’s wonderful character design. In part because, unlike most comic characters (and animated characters), she’s a real person who wears more than a single set of jammies. And having discussed the background with Elaine, I knew I was drawing something outside the extant range of the comic. So a sigh of relief there.

Don’t Overwork:
I’ve been doing this professionally for more than 30 years, and until this month, I’ve never felt secure in my work. Ever. But after a lot of introspection, I’ve stripped down my paintbrushes and gotten serious about not being a control freak. Yes, there are still some small details to hone (her Krystal necklace is important), but leave well enough alone! This piece took less than 2 full workdays – and that alone could be cause for my next point:

Be Happy with Happy:
This sounds a bit ridiculous, but I find artists too seldom spend time enjoying their successes.
But I am delighted with this piece and what it means to me. So there. :p



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