Thursday, September 19, 2013


As promised yesterday, today I present you with the second of my quick study paintings done just before IlluxCon.

 While I could have dug back into my catalog of model photos, I decided I needed to do something different. Really different. I wanted the second piece to clearly be a fantasy image, but that's about all. I pondered this for a while and began to list off things that I hoped the piece might accomplish thinking that placing these restrictions on myself might result in an idea. What it resulted in, however, was my thinking of this second piece as being very precious and important. So I threw that all out the window and looked at it another way.

One of the things I am often asked to do at events and conventions is to do drawings on the back of my artist proofs.  For those not in the know, artist proofs are essentially Magic cards printed with a plain, white back instead of the Magic logo. Long ago, artist proofs of various products had a very real purpose. They existed so that the artist could see their work printed in hopes to control quality. As time passed, artist proofs became less necessary as the printing process continued to improve and the margin of error continued to narrow. The artist proofs Magic artists get nowadays, for example, are issued to us long after the print runs have been completed. Indeed they seem to exist for only one reason: they're highly collectible as there are only 50 in existence of any given card.

Now that I've gotten that explanation out of the way, I can tell you that one of the side effects of the artist proofs existing is that Magic artists are often asked to draw on the blank, white back of them. Sometimes specific images are requested. More often than not, however, I've been asked to draw whatever I want.

While I do try and treat each drawing as a unique piece of art rather than an opportunity to knock out a stock image I could do with my eyes closed, themes have inevitably developed within my drawings over the years. One of the themes I've revisited most often involves the juxtaposition of fantasy/horror tropes with small birds. The origin of this theme is hard to explain but suffice it to say that I've always had a fascination with little birds throughout my life. Sure, the larger avian species are cool and all, but the little guys who nonchalantly flit about have always been the most interesting to me. Especially those cloaked in browns and grays, eschewing bright plumage like that of their flashier cousins. Appearing unremarkable, such birds are nevertheless ever-present, always watching.

And so, I decided to treat this second painting as I would the blank back of an artist proof and visit this theme not in pen or marker, but in oil paint.

©Steven Belledin

The first session took about an hour and consisted of me blocking everything in using colors I had left over from another painting I was doing at the time. Initially, it had some interesting qualities that evoked the idea of a monotype, but not really. Essentially, it was just really scrubby and loose, but I am kind of kicking myself for not photographing the thing at this stage.

The second session consisted of me finishing the painting over about two hours.

Like the first study, this is oil on primed harboard and measures 5" x 7". As I see it, this piece is not about the zombie, and so I titled it accordingly. Or maybe I was just trying to be cute. Whatever the case, I call it Chickadee.

The takeaway from these pieces is that I should do more. I enjoyed painting them immensely, they involved very little risk, and they got a pretty decent response. Above all else, they're a fast means of getting ideas out in a very tangible way and in a more fleshed-out manner than my lackluster sketches allow for. How often I'll get to do them and how many I'll be doing in the future is something I can't rightly answer, but I suspect that you'll be seeing me talk about more of these as they come into existence. I'll be sure to include the failures, as well.

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to seeing more of these!

    I also cracked up at "ever-present, always watching..."


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