Tuesday, October 25, 2011


This is a private commission I just finished. It’s a variation on the same theme as a previous piece, Waterfall Dragons. The painting had to have three women, a dog, and a dragon. The client wanted a dwarvish version, though. There is also a hint of a story going on here. The female dwarf at the top of the stairs is holding an multicolored dragon egg. Maybe the eggs are being transported, and the females are the only ones who are allowed to handle the eggs. Hence the dragon rider is also female. The dogs stand near the rest of the eggs in a golden dragon shaped nest. At least that’s how I understand it, and the story hasn’t actually been written fully as far as I know, but its fun to think that I could be molding the story with a picture, instead of the other way around.
I also drew inspiration from Tolkien’s dwarves in The Lord of the Rings. In particular, what we learn about their relation to the natural world in the the dialogue between Gimli and Legolas in the Glittering Caves. In this part of the story, Gimli is overcome by the natural beauty of the caves, and fantasizes about making them a realm like Moria or The Lonely Mountain. Legolas’ response is first that he would rather be in a forest, and that it’s a probably a good thing that dwarves are unaware of the place because they would destroy its natural beauty by mining it in their greed for precious metals and gems. Gimli’s corrects the elf, explaining that dwarves look on the rocks and the caves of the earth in the same way elves appreciate forests and things that grow. The appreciate the value of nature in itself, and not from the wealth and resources that can be extracted from it. The dwarves would no more spoil the natural beauty of the cave than the elves would cut down an entire forest for its wood.
I wanted to show this by making the the cavern a place where glittering gems and veins of gold are undisturbed while the dwarves go about their task of forging armor for the dragon. I couldn’t resist painting a forge if I was going to do a piece about dwarves either.
It’s oils on panel, 28” x 44”. It’ll be on display at my booth at Illuxcon in Altoona, Pa next week.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gruesome Deformity

This one is called Gruesome Deformity. As you might guess, my wife was of course extremely pleased to pose for this one. It shows a woman looking at her reflection in the water of her washing basin. She’s horrified to find that her once beautiful face has deformed buy some spell or curse. The challenge was that viewer would see her face as she does, in a reflection in water, rather than straight away or in a mirror.

Not all the light that hits the surface of the water is going to be reflected back at the viewer, especially at such a steep angle. Reflections are stronger at shallow angles. This means there would be a limited range of values to work with in rendering the face. Also, only the highly lit areas of the face are going to reflect clearly. Dark areas would have very faint at best. Therefore, the light illuminating her face had to be a strong edge light that would show the form of her face, as well as bring out the texture of her diseased skin.

The sketch still doesn’t look quite right. It’s not reading as water. Maybe used motor oil, but not water. When shooting the photo reference, we used a dark metal pot because it gave us a stronger reflection. It's not looking like the white porcelain washing basin appropriate for her decor. I still needed a dark background for contrast because, again, only the strongly lit areas are being reflected. So I put the washing basin in shadow in the finish. It took a little more fudging of the values it a little bit, but I think its convincing enough in the end.

It’s oils on paper on MDF. 9” x 12”