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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

MORZOG! Lord of Destruction

After a week of shameless self-promotion, I am now offering a post with what is hopefully something more artistically useful...

For those of you who missed it, I had an artist's booth at DragonCon in Atlanta.
For the show this year, I decided I would do a dragon mini-portrait painting.  (Do you get it? A dragon for...Dragon... ?  I know, I know, highly original. I am living right out there on the very edge of the fantasy art world.)

Anyway, so I started sketching. I was thinking, "This guy, he's a huge dragon, and he's really ripping this castle up; just trashing the place. And he is loving it. Yeah, yeah this'll be great."

As I went along I added a lot of smoke and more of the castle falling down around him. It was a lot of fun.

Then I finished the painting.  (It was watercolor and gouache on bristol, by the way.)

But it was missing something.  It was so...


I mean, I should have known right?  There is literally no story here.  And I felt like, surely I can do better than this. I'm a high school graduate after all.

There was just nothing of any substance here.  Sure he was real mad.  And that castle was getting real trashed. But there was no context for any of it.  I mean, who cares right?  I don't even know or care whose castle this is. And the audience certainly doesn't know or care.

I got kind of depressed about it.  How am I going to sell this at the show?  Everyone would be whispering at the booth when they didn't know I was spying on them.
"That Gerard is an over-rated hack."
"Yeah he is. I hear he doesn't even really paint anymore. Just talks about how great a painter he is on blogs mostly nowadays."
"Isn't he running some kind of pyramid scheme?"
"I don't know what you are talking about. But say, have you heard of Amway? You look like a smart guy and who would like to make a lot of money working from the comfort of his or her own home..."

Anyway, so I light the curtains on fire, crash my car, stumble off into the night and wake up the next day wearing a pancho, several garbage bags, a tear-stained face and a stray cat.  But with a resolution to not do such a boring painting.

On the flight back home I drew this guy. (Cory Godbey was there. Thanks Cory.) I had realized what I needed. I needed some kind of further context; some kind of irony.

Like most people I read books, and when I do, I find myself imagining myself as the hero, the dude, the gunslinger, the knight. Who is it who is imagining himself as this giant, fire-breathing dragon?  And that is where this little chameleon comes in.

Now the piece makes more sense. It has a story to it.  It wasn't much of an addition, but it works better now.

All in all I was much happier with the final piece and I think it did better at the convention for it. (We sold out the first run!) So I guess the lesson here is don't be afraid to stop and think about the message in your piece before finishing it. Even if you have to do some reworking. Make it tell something good that touches us in some way.

We need more than just a picture of someone who is real angry.


ALSO: More shameless self-promotion: I am selling the second run of prints on etsy at www.etsy.com/shop/JustinGerard.  


  1. sometimes imagination is everything.

  2. Have you considered going to GenCon in Indianapolis? I was there this August, walking around the artists' area, and I thought, "Justin's artwork would sell like hotcakes around here." There is a lot of fantasy and comic art there, but nothing with the style or whimsy that your art often has.

    1. I have actually. I've been hearing a lot of good about it lately and am considering doing next year's show.

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  4. Lol Justin this is perfect. you totally inspired a painting that I'm having similar issues with. I love it.

  5. Its funny you saying that "We need more than just a picture of someone who is real angry" its taken a great amount of my brain space trying to understand why its important to have something to connect with in an image. But honestly as I scrolled down and saw your final it made a connection and understand what you're saying.

    And yeah dude you calling yourself a hack is pretty priceless haha great stuff!

  6. Its very reassuring to see someone else tackle this problem! Theres nothing worse than staring at a finally finished painting, and thinking "meh". Thanks for the great blog

  7. Great post–one of the reasons I personally am drawn to so much of your art is the fantastic sense of story it captures. Being able to see your thought processes behind infusing an image with story is just a neat thing, plus the final piece is wonderful. Many thanks for the post!

  8. You, sir, are a boss. Great imagination and creativity on display here. I love it!

  9. This is the most amazing blog post I have ever read. It's about art and humanity and I love it and LOVE this picture!! "We need more than just a picture of someone who is real angry." I think that's my new life motto.

  10. Wow just when I thought it was impossible for your art to get any better, it does! Your water colors look amazing!!!!