I took a trip to my home town of Superior, Arizona to visit my parents for Christmas in 2016. On the way, I took a snapshot of Pickett Post Mountain as we were driving into town on US Highway 60. I’ve always enjoyed the geography of the town in which I grew up. There is amazing desert scenery surrounding the little former mining town. It is surrounded by mountains on all sides. Later on, looking at the photo, I thought it’d make a great subject for a painting.
Here is the beginning sketch of the what I wanted to develop. I have been using old canvases I’m no longer happy with to paint on rather than using a fresh new canvas, so you can see part of the previous image under the drawing.
Below you’ll see the beginnings of paint on the canvas. I painted in the sky area pretty quickly. Then I painted some of the major areas to help define boundaries. I wanted to quickly get a feel of the cracks in the mountain, so put those down. This is the “ugly” stage. Other artists will know this. At this stage, I sometimes feel that I’ve made a mistake and wonder where this will lead. Is it worth pursuing, or should I start over? But then I realize, it’s still early and move on to see where it goes. Then it becomes fun again.
The next step involved putting most of the base color throughout the canvas. This gave me a better idea of what the finished piece might look like. With this I could see the possibilities more clearly. I also get a better idea of what needs to happen with shadows and highlights.
At this stage, the painting has the defining colors and just needs to have the shadows and highlights enhanced. Small details start to take shape. I’ve worked on the mountain, identifying shadows, working on the peaks and crevices. The foreground is still in a rough stage, and will be detailed in the next phase.
I’ve worked on the foreground and the whole piece looks finished. I’ve enhanced the small hills and made the highway more obvious. At this stage, I think it’s done.
Science fiction convention art shows are a great venue for a number of reasons. You can find anything even tangentially related to the genre, whatever your proclivities are – literature, art, comics, movies, TV shows, games, cosplay and many more. The art show is always fun. Lots of stuff to look at, and anyone can show their art, regardless of skill level.
I’ve attended many SFF conventions over the last 30 years or so, and one of the themes I’ve noticed throughout are: Cats With Wings. Most of the time, they are depicted as cute, cuddly animals, prancing around chasing butterflies or fairies. The World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon) for 2016 was held in Kansas City, MO. in mid-August, so this post is a little late. I showed a few art pieces at the art show. I created a couple of versions of Cats With Wings for this show, to show along with some other related art. I wanted mine to be a little more menacing than cute, so I gave them bat wings instead of the feathered bird wings I usually see. Also, they are totally-black cats. Bat wings. Cats. Batcats. There are larger images in the SFF gallery.
Batcat 2. Prismacolor pencil on black matboard. 5×7 inches. 2016.
Batcat 1. Prismacolor pencil on black matboard. 5×7 inches. 2016.
The Sculpture Resource Center is presenting an art show at Thunder Canyon Brewery in Downtown Tucson. The theme is Nostalgia. The reception is scheduled for Saturday, August 13. For this show artists were invited to create something that had a longing for times past. I had a hard time brainstorming for a concept that would fit this theme. I wanted to find something personal that would reflect nostalgia for me.
I felt nostalgic for my childhood in the 60s. I watched a lot of television back then. I could tell what time it was based on what was on TV. Much of what I liked were movies, of all kinds. I especially loved horror, science fiction and fantasy, which are still my favorite genres in many media. I was fascinated by many actresses of those times. Even at the young age of 10, I could see it was a male-dominated world, so I noticed women who stood out in movies, especially in the genres I mentioned. For this show I thought of making art depicting women that I really felt were powerful in roles that attracted my attention. I created two pieces for this show, and I may continue with this series with other actresses.
This piece I call Ubiquitous Raquel, and it’s a tribute to Raquel Welch in the film, One Million Years B.C. This movie was released in 1966 and it propelled her to international stardom. It was a remake of a 1940s movie, One Million B.C. with Carole Lombard and Victor Mature. It depicted humans existing with dinosaurs and a number of other large creatures (Historical accuracy for some people). Ray Harryhausen did the animation for the dinosaurs. The poster of her in her fur bikini was everywhere when I was an adolescent. I created this homage from a few images I found online. I wanted a different image than what was used in the poster, but still wanted to display her famous outfit.
Ubiquitous Raquel. Oil on canvas. 30 x 40 inches. 2016
Barbara Steele is a British actress who appeared in a number of Italian movies in the 60s. She appeared in an iconic dance scene in Fellini’s 8 1/2, which Quentin Tarantino paid homage to in Pulp Fiction. She made a number of TV appearances, as well. But for me, and many others, her best roles were in the horror films. Her dark hair and pale complexion was perfect for the black and white movies which featured eerie lighting to accent the gloomy mood many of these movies depicted. I created this piece in gray tones as a tribute to her haunting beauty and titled it Dark Beautiful Steele.
Dark Beautiful Steele. Oil on canvas. 18×24 inches. 2016.
The vignettes to the right of her image, symbolize scenes from three of her movies. The top symbol is from a movie known as Black Sunday to American audiences. It’s called La Maschera del Demonio (Mask of the Demon) in Italian. The middle image symbolizes Castle of Blood or Danza Macabra. Finally, the bottom symbol shows the the blade from The Pit and the Pendulum, a Roger Corman movie in which Steele appeared with Vincent Price.