Friday, February 22, 2013

Death Dealer: Homage to Frazetta

Death Dealer: Homage to Frazetta, Oil on board, 55 X 72 cm (21 1/2 X 28 1/4 inch), 2012/2013
My homage to Frazetta is finally finished and although it has often been said that a good painting does not need the explanation, I do feel compelled to say something about one particular aspect of this piece. My intention was not to make a copy of Frazetta’s character. My intention was to do a homage to the master by projecting his famous character onto my world and let it go through the prism of my own vision. The essence of my interpretation has been most correctly expressed by a good friend of mine and a fellow artist who, upon seeing the painting, commented:  “ Ah, you are on their side as well…!” Another spot-on remark I heard from another person was: “This is perhaps the lightest Death Dealer painting I have ever seen, but  still the darkest Death Dealer, for it appears to me that HE is the bad guy!”
The Death Dealer series, as it is the case with much of Frazetta’s art, reflect a typical black-and-white approach to the relationship between good and evil, and it is presented in a simplified and rather straightforward manner. Death Dealer’s foes are evil savages who are here to be slain (punished for whatever they stand for), while Death Dealer’s job is to make sure it is properly and thoroughly done. Generally speaking, I think this aspect of Frazetta’s art is not only connected to the certain archetypes and the stereotypes of his time, but it also reflects something of the preconceptions,  general aspirations, prevailing ideologies, the impact of major conflicts, etc. of the 20st century.
The times have changed, as we know . We don’t live anymore in a black-and-white world (we never did, by the way, this is one of many misconceptions man has to deal with). We now live in a Grey, more complex  world, a global village, where the division line between the good guys and the bad guys seem to be fairly blurred. In a way we have become more realistic (I still avoid to use the word “wise” because of the obvious reasons). It has been said that the most popular character from Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy The Lord of the Rings is not Frodo, or Sam, or Gandalf, or Aragorn but Gollum! I think this is a very interesting indication, although a tiny one, and I guess relatively insignificant, for there are much better and more relevant examples. Never the less, this testifies to the shift in the approach of the general public (popular culture) to the concept of good and bad, which apparently has become more flexible.
The underlying notion of my Death Dealer interpretation is supposed to reflect this “new” point of view. The rest of the elements, mostly technical in nature, are derived from this concept.



  1. Simply magnificent Petar. I could eat your sky. Your love of paint is so very evident in a story well told. I will be at Spectrum Live this year but I imagine you will not be able to make it. We are destined to meet. It's jus a matter of time.

    1. Unfortunately I will not be attending Spectrum Live this year, Bill! But if we are destined to meet (which I honestly hope we are) we will meet soon! Thank you, friend!

  2. If I understood you correctly, you believe that Frazetta's approach was too simplistic and that your work possesses more depth and insight (even if you "avoided" the word "wise").

    I think that Frazetta was able to bring out the essence of the subject he was depicting and to make a very powerful first impression which is what an illustrator should do. I wouldn't call his approach "stereotypical" or "too black-and-white".

    I think that, although you produce high-quality work, you tend to attribute too much meaning to it. It's just a guy slaying a bunch of evil looking creatures, not a great statement about the contemporary world view.

    1. Vladimir,
      I am afraid you totally misinterpreted my words. And, as far as I remember, this is not the first time that you did that.

  3. I can only believe that misunderstanding is the reason someone could make a comment like that Petar. The only feeling I get from what you said is respect for Frazetta and his understanding, conscious or not, of his times. Maybe this and other criticisms come from a language barrier. Simplistic can be thought a pejorative in English. Simplified might be a better word. Even so, anyone with any sensitivity can understand the tone and meaning of what you say.

    I think your painting says all that needs to be said about your feelings for Frazetta.

    1. Yes, Bill, a language barrier is the thing I mostly wrestle with while writing my blog posts. It is hard for me not-to-make a mistake when expressing my thoughts in English. Apart from that, and as you have pointed out in your comment, my appreciation of Frazetta’s art is very high, otherwise my homage wouldn’t have any sense, unless it is perceived as an act of hypocrisy. Frazetta’s art meant a lot to me while I was starting my art career. I loved it from the first gaze I laid upon his illustrations. As my artistic skills, knowledge and insights grew, so grew my appreciation for his art. He indeed reflected the sprite of the genre, as well as the certain aspects of the popular culture of his time, like nobody before him. The fact that the approaches, insights and concepts change, and in some cases deepen, through time, does not necessarily mean that art from the preceding periods has to be degraded. And I certainly did not want to suggest that my Death Dealer interpretation is better, smarter or whatever, than the Frazetta’s original, as it has been suggested above. People who really know me, or understand my work more thoroughly, know about my feeling of incompetence and inferiority when comparing my own fantasy work with Frazetta’s

      I changed “simplistic” into “simplified” :) Thank you Bill! These kind of mistakes are annoying but unfortunately I will keep on making them, I am afraid. I simply don’t have time to go back to school and learn English language properly. So, I hope that there are more people like you who know how to read in-between the lines.

  4. Hi Petar,
    I just wanted to write to say that I'm sorry for the explosion of off-topic, and often times rude comments that were left on your muddy colors post after this painting. I appreciate your posts so much that sometimes I worry that the harsh and unfounded criticisms that are sometimes left will discourage you, and the other artists of MC from sharing your work in the future. I don't believe it is necessary to always agree, however there are much more tactful ways of expressing a different view point than by anonymously posting rude comments.

    Although, I believe there is some good in this. If I may, I believe that art should provoke strong reactions in every direction and your work never fails to accomplish this.

    As for your writing, I find your posts to be thought provoking and insightful, even if others feel that you "attribute too much meaning." I feel that by expressing your thoughts on your work, it provides me with a look into the artist's mind and helps me connect more with the piece.

    In any case, the primary reason for this comment was to say that from the moment I discovered your art, one of the very first things that came to mind was how amazing it would be to see you create a Death Dealer painting. You've taken a beloved character created by a revered artist, and truly made it your own. I have read that Frazetta stressed that others should not copy his style, but to find their own way. I think he would have been very proud of this painting. As always, it is truly a joy to see your work.


    1. Hi Phil,
      This kind of situation is never pleasant, at least not for me. It appears as if some people don’t realize, or do realize but absolutely don’t care, that especially on Muddy Colors blog they get loads of precious knowledge, insights and inspiration for free. In this way they have a chance to greatly accelerate in their learning and development, a privilege I could only dream about when I was a young artist. At least what they could do is to show some respect by not being rude and unpleasant, and try to keep their personal issues within themselves. We don’t have to agree , of course, but the differences should be expressed in a decent manner. This is, indeed, discouraging and disappointing.

      Fortunately there are enough nice and grateful people who make posting rewarding and worthwhile.
      Thank you for your support, Phil! Much appreciated!

  5. Congrats Petar, another gem. To me, it's a tribute (to show your respect) and an appropriation , all at once. English is not my mother tongue neither so what i mean is : I love your Death Dealer, period!


  6. Hi Petar,

    Your work is really fantastic. Ignore the haters and keep doing what you're doing.

    There are enough of us here supporting you to make these unfortunate encounters less painful, I hope.

    I was hoping to ask you a question about your process:

    When you finish your underpainting and move to your next step (overpainting- I think is the term) do you glaze over your underpainting - thereby keeping some of the information you've already put down - or do you paint opaquely over everything?

    Thank you for the work you do and all the honest words you've put up on Muddy Colors.

    1. Hi Mark,
      Thank you for your friendly words! Much appreciated!

      I do not glaze my underpainting before moving to the next stage (I even don’t cover the traces of drawing because I like when the graphite mixes with the oil paint and makes it cool and a little dirty.

      I wait until the underpainting is sufficiently dry, so that I can proceed with the application of the next layer of partly transparent, and partly opaque paint (my shadows are mostly transparent, while the light parts are opaque). During this part of the process, I pay attention not to cover the entire underpainting. Instead I often let the underpainting shine through the top layer. This enhances the vibrancy of the color and produces a complex and rich top layer. The biggest part of my paintings is finished in one layer, not counting the monochrome underpainting. After this layer is dry, I then move to the finishing touch, which can sometimes take much time because of the subtle adjustments in color, shape and tonal arrangements.

      During the entire process of creating a painting, throughout all stages, a part of my brains is constantly and exclusively busy with one of the most important elements of my painting technique – the brushstroke; or the way paint is being applied.

    2. I really appreciate you taking the time to get back to me, Petar. Thank you.

      Could I be presumptuous and ask you a follow up question?

      I've been researching this subject but have found sources that disagree and come to different conclusions. I was hoping you could give me a definitive answer.

      What are your reasons for keeping your shadows transparent and what are the disadvantages to painting them opaquely?

    3. Mark, perhaps you can find the answer to your question here

    4. Absolutely! Thanks Petar. That was incredibly helpful.

  7. This is just awesome! I can't believe anyone has anything negative to say about this. Usually just a bunch of over-sensitive and opinionated fanboys, I think. Your work is STELLAR! I wish I could paint like this. FANTASTIC!