Starting February 2014 this blog will be out of action.

But DO NOT DESPAIR. We've just moved, and you can still find the same riveting and informative posts that you have come to expect on our new blog:

Monday, June 29, 2009


For those of you who have been wondering about the specifics about my method of working, (and I know there are at least 2 of you) this month my work has been featured in an ImagineFX workshop

Friday, June 26, 2009

IMC 2009: Steam Punk Wizard of Oz

For the Illustration Master Class we had some homework to do before we arrived. 

Our assignment was to choose one of several stories that the faculty had provided and bring a tight sketch to show the faculty on our first day. This image would be critiqued and then we would spend the rest of the time during the week executing the piece.  One of the choices was to do a steam punk version of the Wizard of Oz, which is the coolest homework assignment ever. 



The Cowardly Lion


Final Sketch for monday.  Off to IMC...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Illustration Master Class 2009

Last week I attended the 2009 Illustration Master Class in Amherst Massachusetts.  The faculty included the amazing talent of Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell, Greg Manchess, Charles Vess, Donato Giancola, Rebecca Guay, Irene Gallo, Scott Fischer and Dan DosSantos along with guest appearances from Michael Whelan and Jon Foster, among others.  

Donato Giancola elaborating on the finer points of galaxies

Dan Dos Santos showing some mad skillz.

Michael Whelan about to go to work

Charles Vess showing us how to do magic tricks with paint

It was a very intense week of lectures, demonstrations and projects with the faculty working very closely with each student to give very personalized guidance. It was a highly rewarding week and I cannot thank the faculty enough for so generously giving their time and efforts to the students. I learned a great deal from the course and I will be posting some of the work I did there in the coming days. It felt like going to Hogwarts where all the professors are literally teaching the students how to do magic.  

And in case you were not yet convinced. FLYING MONKEYS.  

For more images Irene Gallo's Flickr pages for a look at the mayhem. They have a great overview of the whole week as well as images of Greg Manchess being awesome, Fantastic art in progress and myself in a fight to the death with Allen Williams.
And for the run-down of the event she has also posted a number of entries on her blog.  If you are interested at all in possibly signing up for the event in 2010 you should check it out.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Dark Horror from the Last Age

I show you just this portion of the piece because the rest is too horrifying to show.  

What could possibly make it horrifying? After all, its 2 friends wandering in a sparkling tunnel with bright lights. It should be a recipe for the warm, happy feelings one might associate with Tolkien's literature. 

You should sit down for this, and you should be prepared to run from your computer the minute you see the images below. (I have already run from my computer 3 times just trying to post this.)

Here is the sketch:

Nothing unsustainable yet, right?  So far, so good. I drew this while in a dank subway car in the bowels of France. 
It seems harmless enough right?  A simple, straightforward composition with medium figures in a dark environment.
And so I thought, this will be a great first piece to do for an illustration based on material from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.  I have wanted to paint some illustrations based on this awesome story for a while. For the first piece I wanted to attack what for me, has always been the most terrifying and gripping in the story: Shelob's Lair.  

Page 3 of my collection of nightmares. 

My thumbnail seemed solid enough, and seemed to have the right amount of tension in it.  So I started doing my developmental sketches for this. One of the first things I did was to draw several hundred gestures of spiders.  This is a mistake.   

At about number 36 I realized just what soulless terrors spiders can be when seen close enough to make out distinguishable features.  

Unholy Terror # 36

(BTW Thank you Uglyoverload.com for the excellent reference and for the regular updates on hideous creatures that I was perfectly fine before I found out existed.)

In spite of the general horror of these sketches, I persevered.  I thought, "well, these are terrifying and I now have the shakes and won't be able to sleep for weeks, but hey, I'll bet I'll feel a lot better after I knock up a more finished sketch."  
(Now is a good time to stop looking at your computer screen)

I do not feel better. 

After I did this I took several large steps away from my desk and looked for an adult.  Finding none but me in the house, I took 3 showers, then ran back in like batman and smashed the painting with my giant book of mythology.  It has sat there, crushed, until just now when I worked up the courage to see if I had killed it or not. 

Not convinced that this isn't the most terrifying thing you have ever seen? 


Maybe I'm overreacting.  In general I like spiders, of all the creatures with chitinous shells and more than 2 eyes in the world, they are among the most interesting.  But what did me in was the way she was holding her legs up.  In my mind I had seen it as the spider shielding her eyes from the light and trying to blend in with her surroundings until the Hobbits past her so she could sneak up on them from behind.  But after I drew it out, I realized that what was really in my head, was her playing a weird and altogether horrifying peek-a-boo game with the Hobbits. As soon as I got that far my brain exploded and I had to put the drawing down.  A 12 foot spider playing peek-a-boo with its prey was just too much. I could not bring myself to finish this painting.

There has always been something terrifying to me about a predatory creature that is sneaking up on you as if you don't see it.  Like a lion creeping through the grass towards you, its eyes fixed, about to pounce, but acting casual. You know its about to kill you.  Seeing it in stalking mode, and knowing that it is stalking you freaks me out.

I know this is a strange thing to freak a person out, but well, there it is.  This drawing freaked me out.  The spider hiding her eyes behind her limbs, and peaking out had some deep, primordial sinister perversion to it that crossed whatever internal threshold I have for, is going to wreck your brain if you go through the process of staring at the piece for the 25 hours it will take you to paint it.   
But you are probably saying, "Well, what were you expecting Gerard? You are drawing a 12 foot spider in a dark tunnel that eats PEOPLE. Last spawn of Ungoliant, the terror of the pass of Cirith Ungol in Morder, where the freaking shadows lie. What did you think it was going to look like? A Watercolor of ducklings in a quiet pond? Adorable puppies frolicking at the beach?"
All that being said, I am not sure what I am going to do next.  I will have to think about it. 


Next Week: Adorable Puppies Frolicking at the Beach.   

Friday, June 12, 2009

Terrible Yellow Eyes: Final

There has been a lot of really great work showing up on the Terrible Yellow Eyes site.
One of my particular favorites is Peter DeSeve's contribution. It is perfect.


After finishing this piece, I went back and began working again on some more Tolkien-related work. This time from The Two Towers. I had planned to do a piece in oil.
But the sketch I came up with was terrifying. In fact, it was so terrifying, so utterly horrifying, that I actually had to put it down. And now I don't know if I will finish it. It's still there, under the stack of books by the pencils, recluse and staring at me with beady eyes.
It's been a very long time since I did anything that genuinely freaked me out to the point that I had to stop.

Tune in next week.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Terrible Yellow Eyes

Recently, Cory Godbey put together a collection of paintings inspired by Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. It showcases the works of a number of really brilliant artists and is a great tribute to Sendak. 
It is one of the most outstanding stories that I can remember from my childhood. It is a great pleasure to be able to contribute to this collection.

Preliminary Sketches

I've always loved the characters of the Wild Things. With simple, clear design they manage to communicate the perfect balance of emotion for what you would imagine giant wild animals on a far-off island might look like.  
I love that Sendak doesn't fill in all the details, he leaves it just vague enough so that it is a pleasure to wander around in the world, and to imagine the possibilities for yourself. I respect him for this restraint. 

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

European Tour

I recently did some traveling abroad to visit friends and see some of the galleries in France and the Netherlands. I have always wanted to see Paris, to see the galleries, and to see the city itself and experience the culture. But most of all to see if everything that everyone said about the place was true; that the food is spectacular, the art is legendary, the city is the most beautiful on earth, and that the people are all very rude.

We found that the food lived up its reputation, that the city was indeed beautiful, and the people were only rude if we ran around like drunken apes. 

In general people in Paris were wonderful, and really helpful. And using my astounding knowledge of the french language, I was able to successfully negotiate my way through at least three meals, two subway rides, and get myself completely lost everywhere I went.  

Here I am on the phone, lost.

If it weren't for the kindness of our friends Olivier, Loren and Annebelle over at the Daniel Maghen Gallery we would have spent most of the trip lost in the subways with the drunken apes.  

Aside from the stunning palatial quality of the city, (touring Paris from the Senne river one would think that it was built of nothing but palaces,) it was the statuary that was the most strikingly impressive for me. I would love to spend several months drawing and doing studies from these. There is so much knowledge to be gleaned from these works. They are some of the finest examples of the human form in art that I have ever seen.  

The Hunt For Petar Meseldzija

After leaving the wonders of Paris, we journeyed to the Netherlands to seek the counsel of the mythical guru, Petar Meseldzija

We saw him in the distance, biking over the fields and canals and windmills in the far north. We tried to catch him, but after days of unflagging pursuit, our legs gave out and our bikes fell apart. As we lay exhausted in the marshy fields night came. It had been a wasted trip. The next day we would return to france, defeated.  
But as the moon began to rise we heard the creaking of an old bike drawing nearer and nearer. A shadowy figure came through the tall grass. Petar Meseldzija. He stopped in front of us and laid down his bike, which was magical and had only one pedal. He told us that we could not have caught him, had we ten thousand horses, or dragon's wings, or even canondales. He had a magical bike. Then he sat down with us and explained the mysteries of time and space and served us flaming hot Serbian coffee.
The next morning we ate belgian waffles and toured the Rijksmuseum with him to veiw the Rembrandt paintings. 

It was a privilege to see these paintings with Petar. Along with being a mythical guru, and owning a magical bike, he is also a phenomenal oil painter and hearing him explain the methodology of Rembrandt's work was worth a decade of college education.

This is Rembrandt's, Jeremiah Lamenting the Burning of Jerusalem. We sat in front of this painting for hours. There is the wealth of a thousands of years of artistic knowledge wrapped up in this single little gem. I hope if you ever have a chance to go to Amsterdam that you will stop to see these paintings.