Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Help Us Grow!

For the past 6 years, Muddy Colors has been dedicated to providing a free online resource for aspiring artists interested in the Fantasy Art field. In that time, we have never accepted single dollar in revenue from advertising nor have we ever charged our readers for content. In fact, all of our contributors donate their time each and every day completely free of charge for the benefit of our readers. Instead of getting paid, our members have actually spent their own money to help grow this blog into what it is today.

None of that will change.

But Muddy Colors is looking to grow our community even further, and we are asking for you to help us do it. As of today, we are launching a Patreon page.

We are using this Patreon as an opportunity to ask our readers for support in our endeavors. We will use these funds to provide better content for our readers, maintain website fees, and support aspiring artists through Muddy Colors programs and scholarships.

The money we raise will not go into our pockets. We promise to use your donations with care and consideration, and will put those funds right back into this blog.

We receive over a quarter of a million views ever month. If each reader donated just a single dollar per month we could do some absolutely amazing things! We could produce better quality articles, put on workshops, purchase equipment for live video streams, pay special guests to write tutorials for us, and provide even more scholarships and exhibition space at conventions for our readers.

Unlike the typical Patreon format, we will not be taking content away from non-contributors simply because they can not afford to support the blog. The blog will remain exactly as it is, with informative daily articles, subscription-free. Instead, we are asking that those who can contribute, do so, so that we can bring the very best content to every artist that wants it, regardless of location or wealth.

As an incentive for your donations, we are offering a some unique rewards for our patrons. These rewards include access to a monthly livestream, where you can watch one of our members paint live in their studio, as well as a monthly raffle where will be giving away prints, books, and even original art!

We are also offering a very special reward for our highest tier of patrons... A personalized, monthly critique from one of our members, complete with a paintover.

This is a fantastic opportunity for aspiring professionals looking to expand their skills by receiving professional feedback on a piece of art they are currently working on.

This reward, however, is quite time-consuming for our members to provide, so we only offering 10 critiques a month. Those who are interested should not delay.

So please, take a look at our Patreon page HERE, and do what you can to help. Even if that help is simply spreading the word, we sincerely appreciate it.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Politically Speaking

"There were dragons to slay in the old days. Nixon was a good dragon."
—Pat Oliphant

by Arnie Fenner

"Man at the Crossroads," "Guernica," Liberty Leading the People," "The Problem We All Live With": politically-themed art used as social commentary is nothing new. Neither are political cartoons: artists have been lambasting, ridiculing, and generally making fun of elected officials (and the public's foibles, failings, and predilections) since, most likely, the days of the Pharaoh. The British weekly satirical magazine Punch is credited with coining the modern term "cartoon" in the mid-1800s; until that time "cartone" was used to describe a finished preliminary sketch of a mural on a large piece of cardboardPunch humorously appropriated the term to refer to its political cartoons, and the popularity of the Punch cartoons led to the term's widespread use.

Since that time cartoonists around the globe have acted as the public conscience and attempted to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." Sometimes mean-spirited, sometimes blindly partisan, sometimes damn funny, but always with a definite point of view intended to make the viewer think, they also just as often piss people off who tend to blame the messenger for the message. Cartoonists have been harassed and insulted and jailed and threatened and (as we saw in the 2015 shooting at the Charlie Hebdo office in France) murdered.

The power of the mind behind the pen. The power of art.

So since this is the Perpetually Silly Season and we've been getting hammered nonstop with political yattering for the past year, I thought I'd do a call-out to some thoughtful, biting, and, yes, funny artist commentators (past and present).

Above: Professor of Art History Albert Boime wrote of Thomas Nast [1840-1902], "As a political cartoonist, Thomas Nast wielded more influence than any other artist of the 19th century. He not only enthralled a vast audience with boldness and wit, but swayed it time and again to his personal position on the strength of his visual imagination. Both Lincoln and Grant acknowledged his effectiveness in their behalf, and as a crusading civil reformer he helped destroy the corrupt Tweed Ring that swindled New York City of millions of dollars. Indeed, his impact on American public life was formidable enough to profoundly affect the outcome of every presidential election during the period 1864 to 1884." When William "Boss" Tweed attempted to escape justice in December 1875 by fleeing the country, officials in Spain were able to identify the fugitive by using one of Nast's cartoons. Thomas Nast is widely considered to be the "Father of the American Cartoon."

Above: During World War II Arthur Szyk [1894-1951] skewered the Axis dictators; the painting above is entitled "Satan Leads the Ball." First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt wrote in 1943, "...I had a few minutes to stop in to see an exhibition of war satires and miniatures by Arthur Szyk at the Seligman Galleries on East 57th Street. This exhibition is sponsored by the Writers' War Board. I know of no other miniaturist doing quite this kind of work. In its way it fights the war against Hitlerism as truly as any of us who cannot actually be on the fighting fronts today."

Above: As has been mentioned in a previous post, Jack Davis [1924-2016] transitioned 
from EC comics to editorial illustration. He produced many politically-themed covers
and illustrations for Time among others

Above: Grand Master Don Ivan Punchatz's [1936-2009] portrait of the accident-prone
successor to Richard Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, for the cover of the National Lampoon.

Above: A pair by C.F. Payne. On the left is Nancy Reagan and the head of White House Chief of Staff, Don Regan. Nancy reportedly orchestrated Regan's "resignation" when he was unable to contain the political damage from the Iran/Contra revelations. On the right, of course, is Saxy Bill Clinton. 

Above: Two by the legendary David Levine [1926-2009]. Ronald Reagan (left), of course, and his extremely controversial drawing of Henry Kissinger for The Nation. Publisher & Editor Victor Navasky said, "...only once (in the spring of 1984) did the staff march on my office with a petition (signed by 25 people in an office that I had thought employed only 23), demanding in advance that we not publish something — and that something was a caricature of Henry Kissinger, in David Levine's words, 'Screwing the World.' "

Above: Robert Grossman's take on Ronald Reagan.

Above: Thomas Fluharty delivers political satire with a painter's panache. His painting of Hilary
(top right) received a Gold Award in the Editorial Category of Spectrum 12 in 2005 after a very lengthy jury deliberation about what was and wasn't fantastic art.  Since, at the time, the likelihood of a woman President looked to be some years in the future (SF, you know), "was" won.

Above: "Where were you when the Blitt hit the fan?" wryly asked artist Mark Summers
about Barry Blitt's controversial cover for The New Yorker. As you might imagine the piece
got a whole lot of internet attention in 2008.

Above: Steve Brodner is unquestionably one of the most fearless of today's political cartoonists. If you can track down a copy of his book Freedom Fries...do. Steve also edited a book Cathy and I worked on a few years ago, Artists Against the War.

Above: Ann Telanaes (whose animation-influenced style I find absolutely wonderful)
was present to sketch the Benghazi hearings for The Washington Post.
Of the last drawing she wrote, "Okay, Clinton really didn't take a drink from a cocktail glass
but if I were sitting in her place, that's what I would have wanted to do."

Above: Over the last few years Jason Heuser has been doing a series of
ridiculously funny Badass President paintings that he offers as prints. Rumor has it that
there are some folks out there that take them seriously...which might explain a lot these days.

Above: There's nobody like Pat Oliphant. I've had the opportunity to meet him several times over the years and, let me just say...you have to be at the top of your game to keep up. Oh...and his bronze sculptures of presidents are just as pointed and memorable as his cartoons.

These are all Americans, of course, and there are naturally many, many other artists, both here and abroad, with a full spectrum of outlooks and sensibilities that have prodded and keep prodding and pricking the public's consciousness with their observations and cartoons. How many and where are they? Well, for starters you can hit this link to start your research.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Jack Kirby: Story Teller

Jack Kirby is widely regarded as one of comic art's most prolific and influential creators. He is responsible for helping create and establish the look of many notable characters, including The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, and the X-Men, amongst many others.

Watch the complete documentary below to enjoy some artwork, and learn more about the man behind some of our generations most important mythological heroes.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Heritage Auction - October 2016 - Illustration Art

by Howard Lyon

Heritage Auctions is a great site for artists.  They post large images of the lots up for auction and they often get some stellar works.

The 2016 October Illustration Art Signature Auction has some wonderful illustrations for sale.

Here are some of my highlights but be sure to browse through.  There are some hilariously bad images there too (I am looking you Hunting a Dangerous Animal, Manhood Magazine cover).

** There are some NSFW images among the auctions lots.  Heritage hides lot previews that might be considered obscene, but there are also some pinup paintings and drawings that might not be welcomed in all work environments.

Be sure to click on the images to see the full size images.  Most are 3000 px in the larger dimension.

 Let's start with Tom Lovell.  BTW, if you haven't purchased a copy of the upcoming book from Illustration Magazine you better hurry and pick on up.  This one has to be close to selling out!

Tom Lovell - Christmas Morning
What a beautifully painted profile!  Her hair is wonderful too.  It has strong shapes, beautiful simplicity and texture.

Tom Lovell - Christmas Morning - detail 
Tom Lovell - The Quiet Wife
Strong dramatic colors. I love the subtle but powerful falloff of light from the woman's face to the corners of the painting.  Wonderful value control on top of everything else.
Tom Lovell - The Occupation of Paris 1943
I don't know what is up with this soldiers face/expression.  It almost looks like he is sneaking a look at the two women.  Maybe he is sympathetic to the downcast Parisians?  Whatever it is, I really like the simplicity of the way he was painted.  You can see the texture of the tinted ground coming through and a quick application of well placed brushstrokes to give him form and character.  Check out the single stroke of grey on his helmet to give it a dull sheen.

Tom Lovell - The Occupation of Paris 1943 - detail
Tom Lovell - The Man Across the Hall 

Tom Lovell - Son of the Coach
 Lumberjacks can always be counted on to save your bacon.  Though once you get to shore, they will tear you to pieces with hooks on sticks.  I think this is what is happening here.  I didn't read the story so I might be wrong.

Tom Lovell - Lumberjack Rescue
It is always a pleasure to see a large scan of an Arthur Rackham!

Arhtur Rackham - A Terrible Fellow, Little Brother and Little Sister

Robert Peak - I love the dynamic compositions and paint of Peak's work.

Robert Peak - Thrust and Parry
 Look at the wavy motion lines, sans Photoshop, coming off the hurdler's arm.

Robert Peak - One Step Ahead

Bernie Fuchs - Earl Campbell Houston Oilers
 Mead Schaeffer always makes me happy.  + shapes and values paired with great paint.  Reminds me of Cornwell!

Mead Schaeffer  - Couple in the Garden

Mead Schaeffer  - Couple in the Garden - detail
Haddon Sundblom

Haddon Hubbard Sundblom - A Talk in the Park
 What a great face!

Haddon Hubbard Sundblom - A Talk in the Park - detail
George Giguere - An artist I was not familiar with, but the great shapes and colors on this really pulled me in.

George Giguere - Anthony Visiting Celopatra
 Chesley Bonestall - Another new artist for me.  The starkness of the edges and shapes are very striking.  It feels almost like the wonderful litho pulled travel posters of the early 20th century but with more rendering.  It is quite beautiful, I would love to hang this one on my wall.

Chesley Bonestall - Taj Mahal
Thanks for giving the post a read.  I hope you enjoyed the images!

Howard Lyon