Thursday, January 27, 2011

New Work: Fuel For the Cause

©Wizards of the Coast

Fuel For the Cause, oil on paper on masonite, 12"x9".

The piece is supposed to show a phyrexianized vedalken spellcaster absorbing a spell from another, unseen spellcaster.  Admittedly that's a pretty big mouthful of made-up words there.  Suffice it to say that the vedalkens are a race of blue-skinned humanoids who, on the plane of Mirrodin, have four arms.  In Magic's current storyline, Mirrodin is being besieged by a phyrexian plague, which I guess is some sort of biotic/metallic mutation that permanently changes the nature and appearance of its hosts, the landscape, and the entire world.  This particular vedalken has been affected by the phyrexian plague, hence his current appearance.  They usually look like this.

Anyway, showing a guy absorbing a spell rather than casting one can be hard to pull off.  It's all about gesture.  I tried to go for something that felt like our little vedalken friend was open and receiving.  The open palms were a big part of that.  I tried to back the gesture up by having the pink of the spell invading the little glowing nodules all over the vedalken's body that normally glow blue.  Still, without seeing the other spellcaster, it's difficult to get the full story.

Another big challenge for me on this piece was the vedalken's design.  The original designs were done by Wayne Reynolds, who I love to pieces but hate having to emulate.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good challenge, but for some reason every time I have to base things off of Wayne's designs, things go horribly awry and sketches take far longer than they typically might.  This was no different.  I wish I could tell you what it is about Wayne's sensibilities and shapes that I have such a hard time translating, but I have no idea.  Either way, it's become a consistent hurdle for me that I'm determined to one day get past.

Overall, I'm fairly happy with how this painting turned out.  The ambiguity of whether the spell is being cast or absorbed outside of the context of the card isn't a major problem to me.  It allows for the viewer to read into it a bit more than they otherwise might, which I always think is a good thing.  I want people to be engaged or invested in some level or another.  Not sure if they will bother, but I gave it a shot on this one.

Anyway, off to shovel some more!


  1. Nice one Steve! I think the implied force field gives us a good idea that he is clearly absorbing. I really like your colors in this.

  2. Thanks, Scott. The colors were definitely a bit different for me. At least they were different from the run of work I'd done leading up to this piece, and certainly not in my "go to" palette.


  3. Hey! I just looked at some spoilers from Mirrodin Besieged and found your name and googled it, and here I am. I love many of your magic cards, and I found your blog to be really interesting and giving. Keep up the great work, I'll be following it from now!

  4. Thanks, Daniel. I figure honesty is the best way to go. I benefited a great deal from others' honesty and giving attitude and as I will never be able to give back what they gave me, it seems that the only thing I can really do is be as honest and open as they were. Hopefully someone else benefits as I once did.

    As an aside, I've really liked what you've been up to for Magic, as well!



I welcome all comments, questions, and discussion so long as you keep it civil.