Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Faerie Miscreant

A while back, over many consecutive years, I had a booth at GenCon's art show. As is often the case at such conventions, after hours was spent commiserating with my fellow artists at a bar. Though time and adult beverage have eroded the identities of the parties involved, I once had a conversation with one or two art buddies in which we pondered a single image that would resonate with the crowd at the con and draw the attention we so desired. I somehow latched onto the idea that doing a really kick-ass faerie painting would be the way to go. Kick-ass in both execution and spirit, this mythical faerie painting would bring the crowds and lead me to fortune and glory. 'Cause, you know, that's how that works.

Of course, all of that was said in jest and under the influence. I'm pretty sure I've never been stupid enough to believe any of that. Still, the idea of the kick-ass faerie painting has never completely gone away.

Weirdly, faeries are among the fantasy tropes I just haven't had much chance to dig into professionally. In fact, Knacksaw Clique is the only faerie painting I've ever done. But I'm not sure that there's a whole lot of deep interest within me, either. After all, I could have made the kick-ass faerie painting a reality a hundred times over by now. One never knows, however. My career isn't over yet. (Right? ... Anyone?... Hello?)

Cut to me getting an art order for a second faerie painting.
Color: Blue creature (unguilded)
Location: Interior of an Azorious lawmage's office
Action: Show a Ravnica faerie stealthily cutting a page from a book she is standing in. Perhaps she is only removing part of the page. In the background, we see the desk of an Azorius lawmage. It is crowded with scrolls and other books. Perhaps we can see the arm of the lawmage who sits at the desk, unaware of the faerie.
Fun stuff, really. In fact, quite whimsical—something that I don't often get a chance to do. Believe it or not, I relished this change of pace and got to it.

Typically, even if my sketch ends up being digital, there is some pencil mileage that goes on to flesh out composition and design choices. I don't recall whether it was because I was pressed for time or because all my pencils were broken, but this one had very little graphite actually dedicated to it. At least, I've been unable to find any sketch (but my studio is kind of a mess right now).

Point is, it was pretty much a fully digital sketch:

©Wizards of the Coast

Kind of a rough sketch, but it's clear what's going on. You've got your faerie and your lawmage in the background, some books and important papers. You know, the usual. As I recall, there were no requested changes so I took it straight to paint from there.

©Wizards of the Coast

The final painting is fourteen inches wide by eleven inches tall and is the usual oil on paper on hardboard.

There were probably some of you pondering whether or not there'd be any writing in the books and how I would address it. Well there is writing, and it was done very carefully. It's all oil, done by hand, and boy am I not in a hurry to do more of it! Don't get me wrong, it actually came together well, but I can't say it was the most fun I ever had painting.

By no means is this a perfect piece for me (if I had my druthers, I'd have pulled the camera back a good distance so that the faerie was less a focal point and part of a larger scene with a lot more books and scrolls and such, but card art demands certain clarity), nor is it the mythical kick-ass faerie painting. But I like it. The wings of the faerie in particular are something of which I'm quite proud. Unfortunately, I have been unable to do the wings any justice through photographic means, so they don't quite make as strong an impression on the screen, so you're just going to have to trust me there.

Plus, I had fun painting this thing, too. A lot of fun. Criminal amounts of fun. And I think to an extent that might come through.

I'm not going to lie, I kinda look forward to getting another faerie assignment at some point. Or maybe I just need to faerie up and make the mythical piece an actual one.