Thursday, April 14, 2011

Surgical Extraction Art

So finally I get to reveal the piece I've teased a couple times.  I'm going to give it to you in card form first for you to check out:

©Wizards of the Coast

There's more to the piece, however, and I give it to you now in full:

©Wizards of the Coast

The piece is oil on paper on hardboard and is 16"x 20".  Admittedly, there's not a whole lot going on above the figure, but hopefully it adds quite a bit to the piece.  It was my first attempt at pushing a piece beyond the borders of the card art, and trying to make it something more.

The early reviews are pretty mixed, but I'm totally cool with that (though until this point they've been based on the card version).  There are folks who demand action all the time.  This piece is not for them.  Some find it a bit boring.  A fair criticism, perhaps.  Bilaterally symmetrical compositions aren't for everyone.  Some folks dislike the concept.  I invite them to direct their attention to something they do like, instead.  Still other folks take issue with the fact that there's no surgery in something called "Surgical Extraction," and they're welcome to take that up with the fine folks at Wizards of the Coast.  While that may be the title of the card, it is not the title of the piece.

The fact of the matter is that the piece in general is completely in line with my own aesthetic goals.  Simple, iconic, and immediately legible.  While I generally try and avoid full profiles, this piece seemed to call for the graphic nature of such a choice.  The strong shape in contrast to the bleakness of the landscape was an attempt to hammer home the direness of it all.  It is a piece about mood and atmosphere, and I think that I came pretty close to squeezing everything I wanted out of it.  But, of course, that isn't enough for some.

Like it, loath it, or lack interest in it, I'm pretty proud of this one.  It's a handsome painting, if I do say so myself, and I didn't make it for the fans.  Sure, it was a job.  I got paid.  And there are plenty of folks who really dig it.  But this one was really for me.

©Wizards of the Coast

©Wizards of the Coast

©Wizards of the Coast

©Wizards of the Coast

25 comments:

  1. When I grow up, I want to be Steve Belledin. Stunning.

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  2. Quiet bold and powerful. Really striking image, Steve. Bravo.

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  3. This is one of your best man, in my humble opinion. I think it's much more powerful than showing some kind of Phyrexian operating room. The sky above with the crescent moon gives it such a ominous mood. It goes beyond the initial purpose of the illustration.

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  4. I love everything about this. The rendering, concept, composition... and it really speaks to me, because it so perfectly illustrates how I feel right now.

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  5. Thanks, guys. I really appreciate the kind words.

    @Matt - in all fairness, the concept was WotC's. I did try to push things well beyond the brief, though.

    sb

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  6. On a technical point, where did the idea of curving the horizon upwards come from? It's very nice.

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  7. @Ryan - It was a happy accident. A misplaced brushstroke made the whole thing uneven and then I decided I kind of liked it. So then I evened it out. I almost got rid of it about 3/4 of the way through, but my desire to include another arch in the piece, and my love of the subtle tension it added won the day.

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  8. put me into the "folks who really dig it" corner.

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  9. I concur... great image!!! You'll have to squeeze paintings into your schedule of your own that play up similar aesthetics so you can retain the rights.

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  10. That is especially awesome. And creepy. And awesome.

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  11. Thanks, James. I really appreciate it.

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  12. This is one of those Magic paintings that is not only a brilliant piece of artistry but very moving, even if it's creepy. The total-defeat pose, low-key colours, uneven plates in the landscape, vibrating curves... wow, this has already shot right up there to my favourites. Thanks for sharing the full version, the weight of that sky that was cropped out makes a huge difference.

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  13. wow, that's sublimely scary

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  14. After staring at this for a while I have to comment again, this is amazing. I've been following your blog for a while and of all art that's been flowing into my pupils recently this is the most moving piece I've seen. I'm also not normally into horror stuff, but this is just superb. Thank you for posting the complete image, the sky and the moon definitely add a lot to the piece. Thank you in general for your posts, artworks and the inspiration they provide.
    sincerely

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  15. Hi Steven. I must say, at first I wasn't sure that i enjoyed this piece, but after getting a couple copies of the card I love it. Like you said, some people like action. I am one of them, but when i really looked close i thought, "I like the stillnes of this one because, let's face it: This guy is toast." I now show it to everyone that i feel would like pictures of death by spine loss :)

    Excellent work my friend, and i would love to see a Textless verion of this with that entire full art with the moon.

    Your Fan,

    ~Andy

    andrew.bungert@mnsu.edu
    (p.s. if i sent you my S.E.s would you sign and or doodle on one for me? let me know. thanks :D )

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  16. Spectrum winner!
    Congrats Steven.

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  17. it is the very nasty picture like the card ! :D
    one of my favorite
    when u see the picture u dont even need to read the card u already know that the card is evil ! :D

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  18. a facebook link brought me here, man this is amazing , i see this piece and i imagine everything , a creepy music style playing while the metal crushes and the spine showing slowly with the skull , its amazing !!!! really love the pice man :) btw merry christmas haha

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  19. For what it's worth, this is my all-time favourite MtG artwork.

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  20. Now that artists can make playmats based on their card art (http://www.gatheringmagic.com/mikelinnemann-022416-mtg-artists-gain-playmats/) can we get this gorgeous piece on a play mat?

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    1. I'm afraid it's pretty unlikely. The dimensions of a playmat are quite different from the card art and cropping of the card art is necessary to fit artwork on a playmat properly. Unfortunately, this would result in important parts of the artwork being cropped either partially or completely, resulting in a much lesser version of the art.

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    2. Bummer. It's better to not do it if the final playmat isn't a good representation of your piece, but it's still a bummer.

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  21. Thank you for this masterpiece. Love it so so much

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