Friday, November 30, 2012

Masters of Contemporary Illustration:

Pavel Tatarnikov
Pavel Tatarnikov was born in 1971 into a family of artists. He has loved drawing since childhood, and his talent was recognized early on: at the age of eleven, he was selected to train at the State School of Music and Fine Arts in Minsk, Belarus. He graduated in 1989 and joined the Graphic Department of the Belarusian Academy of Arts, working as an illustrator. The recipient of many awards, Pavel particularly enjoys  projects that combine his love of myths and legends, literature and history. He currently lives in Belarus.

To see more of Pavel’s work visit his website at

Monday, November 19, 2012

Giants and girls

Here is another one…
I don’t know why, but these silly Giants just keep on coming; this time one with a girl on his shoulders. Feels like the beginning of a new series of drawings about Giants… and girls.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Back from IlluXcon 5

IlluXcon 5, photo by Kiri Østergaard Leonard

Yesterday, I came back home from my last U.S. journey. Today is Friday, my day for posting here on Muddy Colors. Although still wrestling with the “ temporary disruption of bodily rhythms caused by high-speed travel across several time zones”, or simply with jet-lag, I decided to share some of my thoughts and impressions about this year’s IlluXcon show, risking to “enrich” my post with even more grammar mistakes, wrongly chosen words and poorly constructed sentences, than I usually do, all because of the mentioned “ high-speed travel …”
Well, after attending this unique art convention for the third time, I came to the conclusion that IlluXcon is not a usual convention. No, it is more an extended meet-and-greet event that was brilliantly organized, for the fifth time, by Pat and Jeannie Wilshire, the founders of the convention. Although I consider myself somewhat inexperienced when it comes to the art conventions, I dare say that this show feels almost too warm and too intimate to be called a usual convention, in other words an event where people come to do business; to show, promote, sell and buy new products and ideas. Of course there is much going on at that level as well (fortunately!!). But there is also another aspect to this show, that could easily be sensed when you are there, especially during the last two days of the convention. The camaraderie,  mutual respect and support, friendliness and kindness are some of the qualities that characterize IlluXcon. It is a place where fellow artists and their entourage, clients and art collectors, art students and fans, get together and have wonderful time talking, exchanging ideas, supporting and inspiring each other, learning, buying-selling-commissioning art, having fun and even playing music and singing together.

IlluXcon music band under the leadership of Mark Zug
I think there are several factors that set this convention apart from the most of other shows I have been at.

First of all, the place where the convention is held is not too big and the architecture is friendly.  The space does not feel cold or impersonal. It reminds me of a cozy foyer of a theater, a place where people gather before going to see a good movie, a theatre piece or a concert. Inevitably, the space influences the setup of the show and the mood of the attending artists and the public. 
Second, there is art all over the place; colorful, inspiring, sometimes funny, sometimes serious, amazing, brilliant, mesmerizing art.  Here you can see the paintings “in person”, that are, more or less, reflecting the personality which created them, in the most direct manner; through the marks left by  hand that holds a real brush and  directs the movement of the physical paint upon the canvas, or board, and forces it into a shape…into becoming something out of nothing… directly, without anything between the artist and his creation, except for the thin air that separates his mental universe from the mostly two-dimensional physical world that is being created in front of him. This convention is dedicated exclusively to good-old hand-made fantasy art. 
Last but not least, the artists who make this art, and the visitors, all seem to be very passionate and most friendly people.

Therefore, the photos I want to show you this time will not focus on wonderful art, but rather on wonderful people; my fellow artists and visitors with whom I had the most inspiring and pleasant conversations. Needless to say, not all of my encounters with them were recorded with a camera. There were many, many more memorable moments that made this year’s IlluXcon very special for me.
So, thank you all for your time, your inspiring and supportive words, your kindness and your beautiful art!

Filip Burburan and Milivoj Ćeran in front of their booth

The Balkan Crew

With Jim Burns

In conversation with Thomas Kuebler

Thomas Kuebler’s  charming troll-lady

With Ralph Horsley

With the art students from Ohio

Omar Rayyan, Illy award winner, with “his” head (Photo by Mike Sass)

With John Jude Palenkar and Donato Giancola

Justin Gerard

Talking with Gregg Spatz

With Mark Nelson

With Mark Zug 

Petar Meseldzija Art crew, with Jean, Morgan and Anita.
Talking about kindness and generosity; I got  these beautiful drawings as presents from a few fellow artists!!

By Filip Burburan

By Mark Nelson

By Justin Gerard

By Raoul Vitale

By Zach Wojnar


Friday, November 2, 2012

Convention sketches

Recently, I went to Ghent in Belgium to attend a convention. I have been signing my Tarzan book at the Dark Dragon Books booth. Attending comic conventions is a relatively new thing for me, because I haven’t been doing that for more than 20 years. During such a convention I spend most of my time drawing. In every sold copy of the Tarzan book I did a little sketch. Most of these sketches were simple and relatively quickly done; therefore they were for free. The copies of the book that contained a more detailed and complex drawing were sold for an additional price, which depended on how detailed the drawing was.
At the convention I am usually surrounded by comic artists, which is quite normal, it’s comic convention after all. For some reason there are not many Dutch illustrators attending these conventions. I have to say that illustration, as an art form, is generally speaking a little undervalued in the Netherlands, in spite the fact that Rien Poortvliet, a creator of the world famous book “Gnomes”, and Anton Pieck, a wonderfully unique artist, hugely popular within a certain segment of the Dutch population, but not very known outside the country, are both Dutch. I think I should do  a post on their art in the near future.  

Contrary to that, the comic market is quite developed here, and it seems that these days new comic conventions pop up all over the place like mushrooms after the rain. I guess that the situation in neighboring Belgium is pretty much the same. Anyway, all of these comic artists from different countries who attend the comic conventions, apparently spend their days drawing. They are always in good shape, as far as drawing is concerned; they are highly skillful, imaginative, and many of them are extremely good.
I am a painter and an illustrator. I don’t draw every day, I paint every day! Painting is my cup-of-tea. And to be honest, it’s quite intimidating to sit for a couple of days next to these gifted and hardworking  guys,  who can draw with such a great ease and speed. I get frustrated every time I watch them draw.

Why I am frustrated, you might ask…? Well, for the past 15 years I didn’t spend enough time on drawing. Sometimes I did not draw for months. Therefore I lost the touch and routine, and I developed a kind of fear of drawing. Until recently, I got nervous every time I saw a blank sheet of paper in front of me. Perhaps you don’t believe me…but it’s true!

Therefore  the first convention day is always quite frustrating for me because during that day I try to regain my drawing skills and self-confidence. Usually it gets better the next day. After I have made a number of bad drawings, I finally make one or two good ones, which helps me feel more relaxed. I even start to have fun, for my convention drawings are all silly. For some reason I enjoy drawing silly things.  In spite of all the troubles I somehow manage to remember how to draw by the end of the convention, and I often go home sufficiently satisfied with my achievements. But at the same time I realize that I need to spend more time on drawing. I have to practice more. I tell myself that I must draw every day, at least for half an hour, perhaps at the beginning of every working day…I just need to draw more, I need to get better. Long time ago, when I was a comic artist, drawing was my second nature. It would be great to awaken that state of mind again, and to regain that level of skill. Well, I guess I just need to practice more...
In the meantime, here is a selection of my recent convention sketches, and post-convention drawings (more detailed ones, most of these were done at home). I apologize for the blurry images. They were made with a cellphone.

Drawing in progress