Sunday, July 31, 2011


Croquis drawing is quick and sketchy drawing of a live model. Croquis drawings are usually made in a few minutes, after which the model changes pose and another croquis is drawn.
The short duration of the pose benefits the model because they don't need to keep their poses for a long period. This also benefits the artists because it helps them concentrate on the essential elements of the pose. With this type of drawing and posing, an artist simply does not have time to draw all the details, so they learn to ignore them and concentrate instead on the important elements…
The word croquis comes from French and means simply "sketch".
Perhaps you are familiar with this explanation of the word croquis , not only because it comes from Wikipedia, but also because you already practice this kind of drawing (or have been practicing it in the past) and therefore know the meaning and the benefits of it.  Making croquis is a very important way of developing and maintaining your drawing skills.
I took it very seriously several years ago when I joined a sketching club. We meet every Monday evening to do the quick sketches of a live model. This practice has helped me to regain my drawing skills, which, by the way, have declined dramatically due to a shock that I have experienced twenty years ago. Years later I found the cure to this particular problem  in the mentioned sketching club. 
The croquis and sketches from below were done during the Monday evening drawing sessions. Some of them were done in five to seven  minutes,  and some of them in ten to fifteen minutes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Rescuer

The Rescuer, Oil on Masonite, 60 x 43 cm / 23,6  x 16,9 inch, 2011

This painting, titled The Rescuer, has been commissioned by Pat and Jeannie Wilshire, who are the driving force behind the IlluXCon show. The painting will be used on the IlluXCon 4 promotion materials. The other two commissioned artists are Eric Fortune and Mark Zug. The original painting will be on display during the IlluXCon 4 show in Altoona in November.
Apart from being extremely kind people, Pat and Jeannie are internationally recognized collectors and historians within the genre of fantastic art. They are responsible for the creation and administration of the IlluXCon symposium of fantastic art.
“ IlluXCon is dedicated to the validation of the original painting as more than a means to an end and, through that validation, the recognition that the art of the fantastic deserves to be brought out from the shadow of literature and publication, its creators permitted to stand beside their peers in other artistic schools, and their works accepted to hang side by side with the best of all the past generations of artists…”. I love this statement! If you are not familiar with this extraordinary event, you can learn more about it on their website
As for The Rescuer, I have decided not to include any explanation of the process this time, but rather to let the picture(s) tell the whole story.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Giant in front of the gate!

TUUUUUUUUUU….!!! The sound of the gatekeeper’s horn was desperately piercing through the air above the roofs of tightly packed houses inside the city walls. 
“Giant at the gate! Giant at the gate! - a few boys where shouting while running through the narrow streets toward the little town’s central square. It was Saturday, the market day, and the square  was packed with farmers, market vendors and all sorts of people who came to the town  to sell, or to buy, the local products. Upon hearing the word “giant” the crowd froze, and for a long moment they stood motionlessly looking towards the city ramparts and the gate.
Through the morning fog and the settling dust, they just could discern a massive shape that resembled a tower. At first they thought that it was one of the city’s  towers near the gate, but soon they realized that if this was a tower, it was unknown to them and a quite strange one as well, for it was covered with a long white hair, and it was moving.
Finally realizing that the tower is in fact a huge giant, they suddenly, all at the same time, started to run in all directions. Men shouted, women screamed, children started to cry. The market booths were thrown upside down. Vegetables , fruit, eggs and chees, all were scattered all over the marketplace. Dogs bluffed, horses neighed and hens flew over the heads of the panicking market vendors. Not being able to decide who to safe first, their goods or themselves, they run in circles mostly with the hands stuck in their hair….
This is a passage (not yet corrected and polished by a native speaker) from one of my new book projects about Giants, titled The Giants are Coming. It is a kind of a side project (one of many side projects that I tend to complicate my life with), that I work on from time to time, especially when I get tired from the more "serious" stuff. I found out that, for me, the best way to deal with that kind of tiredness is the combination of three things: a good stroll through the nature, a good glass of cold Belgian beer (after a day of hard work, of course) and a piece of paper on which I can scribble another silly giant.
About the drawing – It started as a homage to John Bauer, a brilliant Swedish illustrator and painter, who has died much too young. Than the drawing got out of hand and I found myself writing a story inspired by this funny and unpretentious composition. Later on I decided to offer it as one of the proposals for a watercolor commission that I am about to start with. In any case, it will be also a part of the book on giants, as I just have mentioned.   

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dragon Chase

Dragon Chase, Oil on MDF board, 56 X 100 cm / 22 X 39,4 inch, 2011

The commission was clear – three women + one or more dragons + one or more dogs. They are all companions, and traveling to a central gathering. When the client asked me to do this painting, there was a number of artists who were already taking part in this project: Donato Giancola, Raoul Vitale, Todd Lockwood, Steven Hickman, Julie Bell, Bob Eggleton, Boris Vallejo, Scott Gustafson, Matt Stewart, Heather Theurer and Ruth Sanderson. All of them were doing a variation of the main theme, therefore the different environments, different dragons, different nationalities, and different types of dogs were required.
I was given the opportunity to choose between the two scenes: an icy polar scene at night with the Aurora Borealis, or a scene where the travelers camp near or in a graveyard. However, the client was open to my suggestions for the environment and the types of women and dogs.
When I started to think about both the icy and the graveyard scene, I felt that nothing moved inside of me, which is often a bad sign, for it meant that I was not inspired, in spite of the fact that I found the general concept of the project very appealing. So, I tried to come up with an idea that would be inspiring to me, an idea that will create the feeling of excitement which would stay with me for the biggest part of the work on the painting. I then closed my eyes and started to envision a forest scene, letting all sorts of images to ascend from the depths of my mind to its surface. When in this kind of meditative state, I often see vivid pictures in front of my mind’s eyes, pictures that are so much more vivid than any painting I have produced until now or will ever create, I am afraid. As soon as I open my eyes and start sketching them, they are gone. Therefore I am often forced to sketch these images with my eyes closed. Anyway, while doing this “pictorial meditation” of a forest scene, the image of a dragon flying low through a dense forest just popped up in my mind.

This is a very poor depiction of what I have seen in my mind. However it was sufficient to “catch” the idea and to “freeze” the emotion that went with it. The idea of a chase followed quickly after. I then did a drawing of the scene (this time with my eyes widely open, of course), by using some photo reference, as well as drawing from imagination, looking at the sketch and remembering the image I saw in my mind.

In order to be more precise about what this scene is all about, I will have to explain the genesis of the painting’s title. The initial, working title was Dragon Chase, for I envisioned the scene as a dragon hunt scene. But then I remembered that they are all companions and therefore do not kill or eat each other. “Damn it”, I thought…
However because this is all about friends having a pleasant time with each other during the long trip, and in order to keep all the composition elements in place, I turned the basic idea of a hunt into the concept of a friendly race, and renamed it Dragon Race. Later on I finally chose to call it Dragon Chase anyway, purely because of the sound of the words, in spite of the fact that the word “chase” often implies a hunt situation.
I than started to realized that this new concept offered me a new set of challenges. The question that presented itself was: what do I actually want to say with this new concept, what do I want to show?
Gradually it became clear to me that my main goal with this painting was to depict a situation wherein the requested elements/characters from the composition interact with each other in a specific way and are connected by one common thing, or a feeling. That feeling, I thought, should be a feeling of joy of freedom, movement and speed.
Although it seemed at first a little strange, even a bit ridiculous, I in fact intended to depict a universal aspect of the mental state of the human being, as well as these two animals in question, regardless of the nature of the surrounding environment, something that, one could say, belongs to the domain of psychology rather than the fantasy. In other words, I wanted to depict the feeling of joie de vivre, or cheerful enjoyment of life.  I guess I needed to infuse the painting with that kind of content, to add an extra layer to the painting’s story, in order to inspire and amuse myself during the process of its creation, and to give myself the feeling that this is not just a superficial depiction of a scene from the story, but rather something….well, more!
 As for the technical side of this painting, the low horizontal composition was chosen to emphasize the dynamic movement and to imply a claustrophobic feel of the forest, suggesting that, although it seems obvious that the flying dragon is quicker than the rest of the company, however the complex pattern of the tree brunches, roots and boulders prevent him to fly full speed, giving his slower friends, his “opponents”, more chance to ketch him, or to win, whatever the point of their game is. By introducing a situation of confronting horizontal and vertical lines / forms (tree brunches, position and the movement of the characters) I tried to emphasize the general movement in the painting, and by doing so to accentuate the feeling of speed and joy. In other words I first of all tried to present the spectator with a certain feeling. This was my primary objective. The other elements and layers of the picture’s story were of the secondary importance, although some of you might see it as to be the other way around, which is perfectly ok with me, for if the painting is good, it must offer more than one door for entering it.

Have a creative day!