Picture of the Month

Well given the controversy over the new film AVATAR and the alleged wholesale ripping off of Roger Dean’s ideas I guess it is only appropriate to make Roger Dean’s ‘Floating Islands’ our Picture of the Month for December.  Here it is:

This image of it is from the Roger Dean Floating Islands poster published by Pomegranate

This image of it is from the Roger Dean Floating Islands poster published by Pomegranate

The thing to remember is that Roger Dean was painting fantasy landscapes before most of those watching the film AVATAR were even born!  If you are under 35 years old then while you were gurgling and attempting to spray the entire room with your latest meal he was out there making amazing art like this.  Roger Dean is thought of as one of the greatest fantasy artists but he thinks of himself much more as a landscape artist and designer.  As is often the case, the works that Roger Dean is so famous for are not necessarily what he considers to be the main areas of his interest or expertise.  Whatever, his influence is tremendous and his surreal floating islands along with his waterfalls under water have captured the imagination of many people including it would now seem a film director called Cameron.

Last Ed Org show dates for this year

Ed Org has these remaining dates for this year:
21/22   Wimpole Hall, Wimpole Estate, Royston, Cambs.
28/29   Ludlow Medieval Festival, Ludlow Castle, Shropshire.

5/6      Woodstock Craft Fair, Woodstock Town Hall, Oxon.
12/13   Xmas Arts and Crafts, Wood Green Animal Shelter, London Road, Godmanchester, Cambs.
19        Xmas Crafts, Langdale Hall, Witney, Oxon.

So if you want to catch Ed Org “in the flesh” then here’s your chance and you’ll see he actually is flesh coloured and not, as you might think, composed of wonderfully delicate shades of graphite :-)
To see Ed Org’s wonderful artwork click here.

The creating of Cinderella

Cinderella by Alexandra Dawe in initial stages

Cinderella by Alexandra Dawe in initial stages

It isn’t often you get a chance to see how a piece of artwork looked before it was finished unless you are the artist or live with the artist.  This was how Alexandra Dawe’s pencil sketch of Cinderella looked on 17th November 2008.  It took some weeks to complete due to other projects and looking after her young daughter.

In her usual self-deprecatory manner, which is rather refreshing for such a talented artist, Alexandra Dawe said the following about the creation of Cinderella: –

Cinderella took a few weeks, but I could only do half an hour or so a day as I’d not long had Megan. The pencils were 5B, 2B and 2H I think, regular lead pencils, from WH Smith I believe! I’ve had them forever. Some are very short now. I press down too hard to use mechanical pencils. I had to draw round a dinner plate to do the clock, which made me feel like I was doing a primary school project, I felt like such an amateur! No idea how “proper” grown-up artists do things like that! Doing the clockwork was fun, I might try and do clockwork on something again. I got about an inch into the floral border and then wished I hadn’t done it, that took the longest time! I loved doing the folds on her clothes, I get really into things like hair and drapery when I work in pencil. Faery tales are my favourite things to draw, I want to do many more faery tale paintings and drawings in the future. And British folk-lore, I love all the dark stories we have.

Here is what it looks like now:

Cinderella original sketch by Alexandra Dawe

Cinderella original sketch by Alexandra Dawe

I’m think you’ll agree it is a rather stunning and well-drawn piece of work.  The artist’s name has been watermarked into the image and does not, of course, appear on the original artwork.

Beowulf from John Howe

This latest just in from fantasy artist John Howe (of Tolkien films fame):-


Beowulf by artist John Howe

This illustration was done primarily for the FANTASY ART WORKSHOP,
though as usual with me, the circumstances leading up to it are a
little more involved. The original idea emerged for the Beowulf
Boardgame, but there was no room on the board for a full-size
illustration, so it changed and became a small vignette. After, with
the deadline running out for the Beowulf book, I decided to do it
anyway and include it in the Workshop book. (As it turns out, by a
miracle of deadline-bending, it also made it into Beowulf.)

Start the tour here

Draconian Times indeed

Cover art of Paradise Lost album Draconian Times

Every once in a while there comes along a really new style in art and rock, goth and metal bands have often been the first to pick up on the new art and commission an artist to produce a cover for their latest album in that style. Very often the art is so associated with the band that more than one cover ends up being done with a similar style or even by the same artist. This was the first cover commissioned by Paradise Lost from artist Holly Wurburton but has some similarities to the style of Dave McKeane who did the earlier ‘Shades of God’ and ‘As I Die’ covers. It was also the last one in this style as they changed their style musically and artistically quite radically after this album.

Probably the earliest artist-band symbiosis and also the most long-lived one was that between landscape surrealist Roger Dean and the progressive rock band YES (although Roger Dean did plenty of covers for many other bands too).

If you are looking at the cover for Draconian Times above and puzzling over the names of Holly Wurburton and Dave McKeane and particularly wondering why the latter seems so familiar (possibly because you have been living on the planet Pluto for the last ten years or ended up on this blog by mistake whilst looking for knitting patterns) then Dave McKeane was the artistic genius behind the covers for Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics and the designer for the incredible film Mirrormask. If you love McKeane’s art then you must see that film! It is to large extent Dave McKeane’s art come alive and it is wonderful to see his creatures come alive like that.  Holly Warburton has had perhaps less involvement in the fantasy horror comic genre than Dave McKeane but has produced a fabulous array of fantastic art that you can see on her website.

Returning to the Draconian Times cover, the music, providing it is a genre you are into, is excellent. The first track Enchantment has the most incredible melody that seems so familiar that you feel you must have heard it before. No-one here has managed to figure out where it comes from if it is not original though. Any guesses? There was a large poster of the artwork of the Draconian Tiomes cover produced by the record company but sadly they’d all disappeared before we could lay our hands on any of them. Oh well, you can’t win ’em all …

Holly Warburton art here and Dave McKeane art here

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