Tag Archives: art

Women and Men, and Cover Art

Take a moment to look through two posts by author Jim Hines and book blogger Anna. Both attempt to replicate poses from SF/F jacket art, with mixed success. I found the contrast between Jim attempting some of the women’s poses and Anna attempting some of the men’s poses to be particularly instructive. Jim looks painfully contorted, because anyone would look painfully contorted in this pose:

jacket and pose #1

And Anna looks confident and strong, because anyone would look confident and strong in this pose:

jacket #2pose #2

Anna also points out that this isn’t about her appearing masculine; it’s not buying into the idea that the only way for women to have or display strength is for them to do things associated with men. She just looks comfortable, which in no way diminishes her femaleness or femininity.

It’s easy to think that because men look absurd in “women’s poses”, women would look absurd in “men’s poses”. Instead, these comparisons make it clear that there are absurd poses and reasonable poses, and we need to ditch the absurd ones altogether and use the reasonable ones for everyone. As a bonus, I expect the chiropractic bills for those poor cover models will go way, way down.

Speaking of chiropractic bills, don’t miss this take on comic book poses and a follow-up post from a contortionist and black-belt martial artist.

Link Roundup

I get a cold, you get links:

In Search of Interstitial Art

The PW office is newly adorned with lovely wooden shelves. In places there are a few gaps between or beneath these shelves.

This one measures 10.5″ x 3.5″ x 1.5″:

shelf 1

And this one measures 14.5″ x 3″ x 3″:


Why am I telling you about the measurements? Because our fabulous managing editor came by just now, poked a finger into one of the gaps, and said, “You need some little sculptures in here or something.” And I said, “I know some people who do what they call interstitial art, and here is a literal interstice! I will go post about this right now.”

So tell me, O interstitial types, what should I put in my shelf-interstices? If you’re an artist and you have some art for sale that you think I might want to purchase for this purpose, please let me know! And I’m happy to take general suggestions and links to other people’s art and so on. I am a little nervous about anything that might go on the floor, so something that maybe hooks onto or curls down from the bottom shelf there would be nifty.

Spectrum Awards Winners Announced

Irene Gallo has posted the winners of the 18th annual Spectrum Awards for excellence in SF/F art:

Concept Art
Gold: Kekai Kotaki for Riven Earth
Silver: Tomaz Jedruszek for Legends of Norrath

Gold: David Meng
Silver: Akihito

Gold: Rebecca Guay for A Flight of Angels
Silver: David Palumbo for Sleep
Silver: Joao Ruass for Fables 96

Gold David Palumbo for God’s War
Silver: Dan Dos Santos for White Trash Zombie

Gold: Ryohei Hase for Narco Americano
Silver: Sam Weber for The Fisherman’s Wife

Gold: Andrew Jones for Share One Planet
Silver: Brom for Redd Wing

Gold: Richard Anderson for Knight March
Silver: Donato Giancola for Mind Machine

Gold: Rebecca Guay for Pandora
Silver: J. S. Rossbach for White Heat
Silver: Scott Brundage for Tigers Have Striped Skin

Congratulations to all the winners!

The categories are so different from the award categories for written SF/F. I love the idea of a Hugo-associated award for Best Unpublished Novel, like the RWA Golden Heart Awards. I don’t know whether an ad spot has ever been nominated for Best Related Work, but there’s certainly plenty of fantasy in advertising, so why not? Maybe we could learn something from these artsy types.

The History of SF, Sorta, But It’s Pretty

Perennial Genreville tipster Graham Sleight sent me a link to this gorgeous map of science fiction history, created by artist Ward Shelley for Places & Spaces: Mapping Science:

Click through for the full-sized version. Wow.

There’s a lot there… and a lot that’s not there. Fantasy and horror spin off and disappear through a hole in the space-time continuum, and as Graham points out, the rest is mostly “the history of science fiction as written by men”. Of the few women present, Margaret Atwood is listed as writing The Handmaiden’s Tale and Lois Bujold as writing Barrayer, and Connie Willis is inexplicably filed under cyberpunk. (I await the onslaught of comments explaining why Connie Willis writes cyberpunk.) I guess even artwork can use a copyeditor sometimes.

Congratulations to Oscar Winner Shaun Tan!

It’s not every day that a past Worldcon Guest of Honor receives an Academy Award! In fact, I’m not sure that’s ever happened before. Congratulations to Shaun Tan, whose wonderful short film The Lost Thing (based on his picture book by the same title), which was apparently a dozen years in the making, won a well-deserved Oscar last night. I highly recommend taking 15 minutes to watch the film; you’ll quickly see why Tan is regarded as a top-notch artist of the fantastic and surreal, as well as a poignant storyteller.

January’s Featured Artist: Janet Chui

It’s a new year and a new month, which means new art! Singapore artist Janet Chui, who co-owns Two Cranes Press with her husband, writer Jason Lundberg, has been a friend of ours for years. We loved her illustrations in A Field Guide to Surreal Botany and we were delighted when she declared that she wouldn’t let the joys and travails of being a new mom get in the way of being our featured artist for January. Here’s what she writes about her portraits of us:

It’s not often I get asked to paint "real" portraits for the fantasy genre, and I love painting portraits almost as much as illustrating. Several art fairs a year I paint watercolour portraits for people in 15 minutes–so having a little more time to paint Rose and Josh, and with a fantasy take, well, who could resist?

I was determined to approach their portraits as a pair of "equal opposites" and could think of no better way than trying to capture yin and yang with the colours used and the painting techniques. What was harder to come up with was how to incorporate fantasy into the portraits without (my personal challenge) putting Josh and Rose in costumes or attaching pointed ears! But I realised that much of my art, when I get time to paint for myself, is small in size, and is often the world of the small–small creatures, small scenes, quiet moments–that I could simply let my favourite small creatures "creep" into the portraits for Rose and Josh.

My style of painting can change depending on the results desired and the paper I use. Simple heavyweight sketch paper was used this time (I use the same for all my quick portraits) as I definitely wanted to keep to a quick, clean and spontaneous style. Rose’s portrait I planned as "yin", which in Taoism is the more feminine, receptive, darker and more subdued half; yang is the masculine, dominant and vibrant. Even so, you can tell the two portraits mix it up–while Rose’s painting has the cooler colours, the colours were applied (splashed!) with more vigour:

while Josh’s warm colours were laid in more slowly, and allowed to drip down in some areas as opposed to the splashing up in Rose’s half.

And while it’s hard to tell, both paintings also use pretty much the same palette–only different colours were emphasized in each. It was my little way of keeping the two portraits opposed, yet unified.

My thanks to Rose and Josh for inviting me to be January’s artist, and giving me the opportunity to paint them and explain (some of) my process!

Janet’s fabulous art will grace our site all month. We don’t currently have anyone lined up for February, so if you have suggestions (or are yourself an SF/F/H book illustrator), please let us know.

December’s Featured Artist: Charles Vess

Pardon me while I turn into a squealing fangirl for a moment. When agent Joe Monti emailed us and suggested that Charles Vess would be a great artist to feature on Genreville (thanks again, Joe!), Josh and I could barely work up the courage to approach Charles and ask him about it. Fortunately, Charles is one of the nicest and most approachable people I’ve ever met, and he was very gracious about considering our stammering proposal. His fantasy art is rightly renowned far and wide, and you can see plenty of reasons why in his book Drawing Down the Moon, coming out from Dark Horse Books this month. He describes it thus:

It’s a big, fat 200-page hardcover retrospective of the last 35 years of my illustration work, all the way from high school, through my years in NYC and continuing through to this last year. I even managed to slip in a few, just completed projects like Blueberry Girl and after, three years of heavy work, the completion of a 15 x 16 ft. bronze fountain, Midsummer Play.

The splendid introduction is by one of my favorite writers, Susanna Clarke (Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell) and there’s also plenty of commentary from me on specific art pieces throughout the book as well as a comprehensive description and step-by-step visuals of my painting process.

So there’s a lot to enjoy.

As for his amazing portrait of us, he writes:

When Rose and Josh asked me to draw a portrait of them for their blog two thoughts immediately ran through my brain: the first was I’m so hopeless at portraiture and the second: How can I make that deficiency interesting? So I looked deep, deep into their inner, twisted souls and saw them as they truly are. So revealed here, for the first time, is that truth. Yes, Rose really does hide her fairy wings beneath her sweaters and Josh, somehow, conceals those hairy legs under his trousers. Don’t tell anyone else, okay?

We can’t deny that it is completely true to life. Our inner life, anyway. As I wrote to Charles after he sent us the first sketch, Josh does indeed make magic for me every day; we also have a not-so-secret fondness for role reversal, perfectly captured in the unexpected and charming size differential between fae and satyr. We are absolutely thrilled to feature Charles and his wonderful artwork on Genreville throughout December.

November’s Featured Artist: Omar Rayyan

World Fantasy delayed this post a bit, but here it is at last: our artwork for November, provided by the marvelously talented Omar Rayyan. Omar and his wife, Sheila, run Studio Rayyan, where they create some really beautiful work for fantasy and gaming books. We saw one of Omar’s paintings at a reception for the Spectrum Award and were blown away. Josh immediately asked him to be one of our featured artists, and we’re thrilled that he said yes.

I’m really glad that our artists are having fun with our portraits and bringing in various speculative and historical elements. The point of these posts has always been to show off each artist’s imagination and skill, and Omar’s are clearly on display here. Check out these amazing pictures! I will have to work on the thumbnail versions the next time I have access to a computer with Photoshop; I resized them in Gimp and they really don’t do justice to the brushwork and detail.

I love the concept of a studious ogre in courtly garb. I’m also starting a petition for Josh to get nifty octagonal glasses.

When I saw this, I actually squealed. I look like a playing card! I grew up in a household where playing card games was a huge part of daily life; it would never have occurred to me to say "draw me like the queen of hearts" but here I am, wimple and lorgnette and all, ready to have my torso flipped 180 degrees and a big red Q printed next to my head. So awesome.

We’re hoping that Omar will write up a guest post for us mid-month. In the meantime, enjoy his fabulous artwork!

October’s Featured Artist: Carol Heyer

Apologies for the lateness of this post; first all of PW‘s blogs were down, and then I was busy watching a woman strap half of her bra to Paul Krugman’s face in the name of science.

Anyway! I’m delighted to introduce the art of Carol Heyer, our featured artist for October. Two-time Chesley nominee Carol specializes in illustrating children’s books; you’ve probably also seen her artwork on the cover of novels published by Baen and gaming books from TSR and WOTC, and one of her paintings will grace the cover of the December ’09 issue of Realms of Fantasy (don’t worry, that link is worksafe).

Carol was kind enough to take this gig with very little time to spare, and she produced some spectacular images for us. Here’s how she went about it:

The first thing I did when I got ready to start this assignment was to check with Josh and Rose and find out if they wanted a straightforward portrait, or, since we all love fantasy, maybe they’d want to be portrayed as their favorite character.  Once it was decided to go the fantasy route I did several thumbnail sketches, to determine the look, costumes etc. Out of those layouts I picked four and developed them into full sized drawings.  The favorites were selected, tweaks were asked for and made.  Then I got my canvas ready. 

I use Fredrix’s, Knickerbocker,  because it has a fine grain which allows me to achieve details in the hair, eyes etc.  I cut it to size and use archival spray glue to mount it onto foam core.   For my medium, I prefer acrylic paints.  They dry faster, and I can make changes quickly and easily if needed. I lay in my dark colors first, then gradually build up my highlights.

For this assignment, since the final product was going to be so small, I also had to keep in mind that some details would be lost, or detract from the final image once it was reduced.  I used a looser, fresher style, which I knew would translate into a livelier, more readable final image.

My last step was to glaze in the warmer colors on the face and hair, cooler colors into the background and shadows. 

The payoff is the thrill and excitement of seeing the final product on a book cover, collector card, or online at Genreville.

Thanks Rose and Josh for asking me to work on this project with you!  I had a great time!

Below are larger versions of the portraits, so you can see the fine detail. I love my "elfification", and my friends can attest that I really do wear elaborate ear jewelry much like the vine portrayed here. My garb has lovely fall colors, very suitable for October.

Carol gave each of us the choice of two costumes. Josh was thrilled by the idea of being portrayed in classic D&D-style leather armor. He could probably recite the encumbrance stats for you. (I’m sure our nerdiness shocks no one.) And check out the texture on that fur!

We’ve invited Carol to write up a guest post on any art-related topic she likes, so look for that mid-month. In the meantime, her art will be on display in our userpics here and on Twitter and YouTube.

Guest Post by Featured Artist James Owen

This month’s featured artist, James Owen, wrote up the details of the creation of his cover for The Shadow Dragon, the fourth book in his Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica:

When I first began The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica, I asked my publisher if I could do the covers myself (along with the chapter illustrations inside). They hemmed and hawed, and finally agreed  to let me take a shot. It not only worked out pretty well for that first book, Here,There Be Dragons, but the cover also took a Gold Medal at the New York Book awards, which thrilled my publisher to no end and locked in the  the “look” for the series: a detailed Dragon illustration, colored monochromatically (a brilliant choice by my art director at the time, Lizzy Bromley.)
Of course,  to get that first key design, we went through several lousy versions before hitting the golden one. With the second book, The Search For The Red Dragon, it went quickly: sketch, mockup, inks, final. On the third book, The Indigo King, we chose a great, serene cover image (now seen only on the back of the Red Dragon paperback), before we switched to a cover with a more prominent Dragon. And now for the fourth book in the series, The Shadow Dragons, I’m back in the same groove as with Book Two.

The first sketch was done in about an hour, a little larger than print size. I already knew which Dragon I wanted to draw (the Yellow Dragon, also known as The Nautilus – yes, THAT Nautilus), so that went quickly.

We scanned it and added colors and a mock logo. After that was approved, my apprentice Mary McCray enlarged the sketch and transferred it to a 16″ x 20″ artboard. I inked the drawing over a long Sunday afternoon, and the next day my brother Jeremy added the digital color.

We delivered the unflattened digital files to my art director, Laurent Linn, who created the final logo and book design, and added more tone and shadow to the color work.

There are a lot of different ways to create a cover, but this process seems to work pretty well for these covers on these books. And yes, we DO know what color book five will be! (Green.)