Decidua / Arctis

A couple of months back I was assigned a regular slot on Every Day Original, a great site for finding new original art daily, for $500 or less. If you are new to collecting original art or have been thinking about getting into the game, it's a great site to dip your toe in.

My assigned day is the 28th of each month for now. Unfortunately, this falls right into the dead space following the two major end-of-year holidays! Ah well.

I've thought about trying to use my art for EDO as a way to advance personal projects through small originals, or maybe preliminary works on larger studio paintings.

When we last spoke in October, I was between a slew of events that devoured a couple of months. The last of them was a one-two punch of IlluXCon and the annual painting retreat I've mentioned here a few times before. As I've said before, my goal with those painting retreats has been to work on non-commissioned works there, and this year was no different. I was once again behind the ball heading in. Last year, I barely managed to get it together to begin working on "Glossai Pyros." This year was no different as the retreat began the very day following IlluXCon, which itself had begun just a few days after showing at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, where I had my Hearts for Hardware work on the road. Whew!

Working on "Decidua" at a retreat. Photo by  David Palumbo

Working on "Decidua" at a retreat. Photo by David Palumbo

What I thought I'd work on at the retreat wasn't to be as I ran into delays with the model I was working with. So very last minute I had to call an audible. And by last minute I mean one day before leaving to IlluXCon. I knew my EDO post would be going up the Wednesday of the retreat, but I'd have no time until I got there to work on it.

So I dug through my Artist Proof sketches and pulled out the scan of the one at left, which was done on the back of a "Dryad's Caress" card awhile ago. I had the reference photo for it still. I also had a 6x8" canvas prepped so I went about redrawing it in paint straight on the canvas with tweaks and corrections. I did an underpainting, put an isolation coat on it and packed it. I also did an underdrawing of a small Hearts for Hardware piece, then packed and left!

Arriving at the retreat Monday after the show, I immediately unpacked and got straight to work. I usually do anyway because it's plenty inspiring being there and I want to work a lot there. In the midst of so many talents, I can paint all day long with very little fatigue that might set in at home on my own.

Long story short, I burned the midnight oil and photographed the piece to post on time. Having chosen an autumnal theme to the color version, I brainstormed some titles with Daren Bader late one night and arrived at "Decidua."

"Decidua" 6x8" oil on canvas  Available through Every Day Original

"Decidua" 6x8" oil on canvas
Available through Every Day Original

As I enjoy working in series, I also chatted with Daren about doing so, and decided to go for it. Winter would match with my December offering, but as snow came early this year and I was plenty excited about continuing the series, I did the next one for November. Thankfully, "Arctis" brought snow in real life and we had to cancel primary Thanksgiving travel plans. On the one hand a snowy getaway would've been wonderful, but I was once again behind heading into Thanksgiving week and I didn't relish the thought of bringing my tiny setup with me. So I was able to stay home and work on this piece in warmth and comfort. I took a number of photos in-progress this time and made a little movie I posted around social media.

I'll naturally follow this with same-sized harbingers of Spring and Summer. The plan is to have them ready for late April and May, respectively, whether or not I'm still contributing to EDO.

"Arctis" 6x8" oils on canvas Sold

"Arctis" 6x8" oils on canvas

Level up All the Things

Greetings from California! A new show, a bigger home, a better studio, better pricing on signings. Truly, I've managed to level up a lot of things recently.

Solo Exhibition: "Randy Gallegos: Level Up"
Krab Jab Studio, Seattle WA
September 12th - October 3rd, 2015

Opening Reception: Saturday, Sept. 12th, 6-9pm
Artist Talk at 7:30pm

I am super excited to announce this Solo Exhibition. Krab Jab Studio is an exciting working studio and exhibit space, that I had the privilege of showing at a few years ago as part of a group show on role-playing game art. I visited Seattle for the opening and wrote about it here. With the help of the indefatigable and talented Julie Baroh, we are putting together a show I'm very excited about. I haven't hung a show this large in ever--the nearest was my Guest of Honor stint at LunaCon in 2014. In a sense, my recent show in NYC was a smaller dry run for how to manage and make sense of a show that hangs art of disparate subject matter in a cohesive way.

Krab Jab has been mounting increasingly impressive shows the past few years. With a lot of work, I hope to help them keep their momentum going.

There will be much more about this show in coming weeks, and I will also explain shortly why there is a Dual Shock Controller hanging there in between Glossai Pyros and Embryonic, incongruously.

The point for now is this: put it on your calendar. Tell your friends. Save your money.

Card Signing Price Reduction

Cheap Ass approves of this offer.

Cheap Ass approves of this offer.

When I started signing cards again, I started charging. Part of the cost wasn't necessarily the time to sign them, but the time to send them back. Heading to the Post Office back in Manhattan was not fun and, on foot, not that close either. It punched a hole in my day, and depending on the size of the line, that hole could be significant. So I charged enough to cover that particular issue.

But, now that I have moved back to California, it turns out that the rural post office is not terribly far and is usually very quiet. So, that translates into reduced prices for signing going forward because I am not smart enough to enjoy the extra margin at your expense. Everything about how to get it done and how to get me to cover shipping is the same, but you can now get twice as many cards signed as before for the same price. So, go do it!

Artist Proofs Update

I finally sat with my Big Box of artist proofs and cataloged them anew. That means prices have changed on quite a number of them as there are fewer of many than I thought. That means the prices have gone up, in case you were wondering. 

A few I discovered I had never added (6th Ed., M2014, Grimoire Thief). A few I had four or less of: I pulled those off the site. I'll do 2x2 or whatever size drawings on the backs and auction them off at some point. Also, I am officially caught up on my backlog of sketches as of this post.

(L: New whiteback sketch, fresh from CA)

Due to the aforementioned solo show and the referenced move, I am however upping the turnaround time for the summer to 60 days for sketches on whitebacks. I hope to go back to 30 days in the fall once I am past IlluXCon.

UPDATE 8/2016: I am not currently doing whiteback sketches.

I Moved

It was ambitious to mount that smaller solo show in NYC right before taking a few days off with some friends, and then tearing down seven years of life in the Big Apple and moving back to my native California. When we left CA ten years ago in total, we got rid of most of our furniture and things and stored just one pod's worth of stuff, which included lots of art books and art supplies along with other household items we wanted to save. That means that moving back, we've been starting with very little again as we didn't ship back most of our furniture from our NYC apartment.

(L: The new studio before beginning work in it. And kitteh.)

This has resulted in a very significant logjam, time-wise, trying to get outfitted again to produce art. I'm just at the point where I can, and I still have a lot to do to get my studio where I want it, but I am back to having a sufficiently large and efficient studio after a decade. I'm very, very happy about that. I'm going to art so hard in this space. I'll write more about that as I get the space set up. But I already caught up on my sketch backlog, so that's a good start.

"Of Three Minds" In Review

I thought I would take a post to review the solo show from May. I counted it a success--thank you to those of you who purchased original art from the show. By the time I get to this review now it might be August. Hopefully you'll still find it interesting then.

One Fantastic Week, Ep. 76

I didn't get a chance to mention it here before, but I spent an hour with Pete and Sam on this video podcast chatting illustration and art and hotdogs at the end of May. If you haven't seen it, you can totally do that right now, right here, if you can get past the goofy cover frame:

Ok people, that's all for today. Though the last blog post, which was the catalog for "Of Three Minds" was intended to last a month while a lot of this stuff went on, it was dated May 9th. Hopefully this summary post makes it clear that I have not been sitting around sipping the vino out here in wine country. Well, I did sip some vino, but you know what I mean. I'll expand on this stuff soon! It's nice to see you again.

My Favorite Week

For my fifth year now, I have the pleasure of spending a week in October working. Well, more than that--I work the rest of the weeks of October, as well. But one week a year I've ended up tucked away in a barn somewhere with a few other (well, mostly that is) illustrators. We all sit around and do what we always do. But it's a lot more fun than usual.

I came in and set up this year, at a new location but just as beautiful. I then just sat back in my chair and stared out the window for a few minutes. My actual working space is no larger or smaller than back home: a table, my easel, a chair. But the view out the window, and the nice clean air coming in...well, it promises to be another great week.

As work-weeks go, this has turned into my favorite week of the year. As I sat there staring off (something I don't do really), it occurred to me that though I live in my head most of the time, there is something very unnatural about living in a cramped studio apartment, my only windows facing into the entry courtyard, the neighbor's windows about 20 feet across the entry walkway. The window in my living room / studio never receives any direct light, and the air certainly isn't clean.

That I spend most of my time living in my head makes this more bearable than it might for others, I suppose. New York does have its share of cuckoos, after all. But really, faced with a nicer option, it was quite a relief to just sit and enjoy.

But even as I type, others are arriving. It's a genuinely fun and talented group of people, among whom I'm just another guy. We're all going to set up, and then get to work. And it's usually a pretty productive week, apart from the laughing, talking, eating and (for most) drinking. The cast of characters varies a bit year by year, but those here this year are pretty much part of the core of regulars.

Four out of five years, I've worked on uncommissioned work while here. It's nice to not do assignments (while some folks do or need to). The level of inspiration is so high that I find it very conducive to doing my own thing. Last year I did about half of "A Fractured Mind." The year before, "Exit Within 5." This year is a little unknown: I came with a mental map but not even a sketch. I have a model coming in tonight and we'll play with photos and I'll commence tomorrow. Seat of my pants. On a week like this, it's just how I like it.

An Open Letter to Myself 20 Years Ago, As I Began Freelancing

Dear Me,

You've often daydreamed about the future, where you'd be, what would happen in your life. You've often picked 20 years as a forward-marker for some reason. So I decided to write to you, from the year 2014, as you are beginning your freelance career. If I did my math right, you right about now just got your first paying gig, working for Wizards of the Coast. Your career therefore is beginning on one of those rare second-chances, because you passed up showing them your work back in September at WorldCon in San Francisco, when they were burgeoning but looked a whole lot like some shady fly-by-night that would probably never pay you and/or offer very little money. Even now, just a few months later, you recognize that they are on to something. So congrats on the second chance. You don't get many of those in life, so enjoy the fact that you burned through a good one early.

So what should I tell you about your next 20 years? The first thing you should know is that you are alive in 2014. You reach 39. Congratulations. Your horrible diet hasn't killed you yet, and it hasn't changed. The coffee habit you picked up at art school remains a great comfort to you. But you're alive, and though most Americans live that long, some don't so don't take that for granted. I know you don't, already.

Of course we wonder about the whole time paradox thing, so as I consider what to advise or reassure you about, there is the thought that I might derail the train of time by telling you too much. There is also the very strong temptation to try to do that very thing, strategically. I could pinpoint 100 things that might have gone differently, and which might make a huge difference to us. No-brainers, in retrospect. I know you're salivating for a taste of those.

That's you, in just a few weeks, working on that first job. Weird, huh?

That's you, in just a few weeks, working on that first job. Weird, huh?

So here's the truth of it. You're going to make a ton of mistakes: poor decisions, foolish uses of your time; you'll put your energy into things that won't matter, and slack on things that do sometimes. You'll create far more crappy art in the next few years than you imagine possible. Ah, the first real hint! You do in fact work as an illustrator for a few years. In fact, I'll go ahead and tell you that you will still be freelancing in 2014. One of those years will be spent at a staff job along the way because you'll go crazy if you don't. You'll know when to start looking, I don't think I'm ruining anything for you there, and you'll learn a ton anyway. I also don't think it'll mess with your head to know you are an illustrator for 20 years, because you have no intent of being other than that. Somehow, you manage it. Congrats.

But these bad decisions. Thinking back, there are so many that I could tell you that even on this first gig of yours I could list some of the very stupid things you're about to do. Right out of the gate. Things evident in this photo if you'd but pay attention.

I'm not going to. It's very tempting to try to resculpt my present from the fixing of my own past. I think some of the things I could tell you to do would improve my present position significantly. But I'm not going to do that.

Here's what I will tell you instead: your next 20 years are going to be wholly different than you're currently dreaming about. You don't realize it yet but in 1994 the world is about to change. Not through calamity, don't worry. Though I had to fax this note to you back in time, before the end of the year you're going to sign up for an email address. Even in late '94 that makes you a fairly early adopter on that front. You've heard about them. Between the technological changes coming, the industry changes that are happening even now in '94, and your choices, your career is going to look very different than you think. Yes, you'll still be primarily painting and drawing at the end of this period. So what I'm suggesting is that you let go a little of your current aspirations and assumptions about the future, and embrace fully the moment that presents itself to you, even now. Because you haven't done that very well these past 20 years. You've enjoyed the ride, but it has always been with your eyes looking for the path you intended to be on as a teenager. From the standpoint of one pushing 40, typing that sounds as stupid as it was. The path you do walk will be interesting enough. Enjoy it fully.

"All his life has he looked away... to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was....What he was doing. "

"All his life has he looked away... to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was....What he was doing."

Maybe that makes you a little sad, but you've only been harboring your current goals since, what, 1987? Ok, 7 years is not nothing, but the sooner you take this advise the better. Enjoy where your career goes.

The second thing I'll tell you is that living as a freelancer is going to be the most challenging thing you have set out to do, to this day. And you're going to run a marathon someday, you lazy ass, so yeah, harder than that. It is going to take a significant emotional and psychological toll on you. The difficulty of the art itself, of your striving to create is the part you've already experienced a little. It gets worse as you really get out there and find that you are now trying to support yourself by it in a world that is about to become more competitive than you can imagine. And there's that, too: supporting yourself as a freelancer in these first 20 years is going to be regularly difficult. That's the part that you haven't learned the reality of, very much. You don't know any freelance illustrators. The internet isn't useful yet. You don't have access to much information about your actual career prospects. Supporting yourself as a freelancer is going to be a PITA. And in 2014, everyone talks in weird acronyms.

You participate in a live art-jam at some point with a few other artists. When this day comes, know you are at your lowest point in all these 20 years. Everything changes from this day on, for the better, slowly. So, chin up.

You participate in a live art-jam at some point with a few other artists. When this day comes, know you are at your lowest point in all these 20 years. Everything changes from this day on, for the better, slowly. So, chin up.

Does this different path you'll take mean you've failed in some sense? Settled for some other kind of illustration life outside of what you wanted? No, you're doing what you wanted, but the industry's path ahead takes some sharp unavoidable turns that you can't see yet. In fact, in some senses you do wildly better than you think is possible currently. You will see the world because of your art. Like, seriously, you will visit 14-15 countries, some of them multiple times. You'll really enjoy this part. It also means your art will be known internationally. I don't think you expect currently that your art might be enjoyed from Brazil to Finland to Singapore and beyond. It happens. But the financial realities will still be tough. How is that? Like I said, things are changing, and you make some errors.

But the reason I'm not telling you specifics you could use is this: looking back, I don't think I would want to change them, finally. As big as some of those mistakes have been, the person you are in 2014 is exactly the person who was formed through being so foolish at times, as well as the person who was as tenacious and even at times, smart. I mean, you haven't been an idiot the whole time. I don't want to give that impression. Part of who you become, the wiser you, comes from learning these difficult lessons. I think rather than try to shortcut my own path, or make my life easier in 2014, I would rather--with a little hesitation--say that you really need to do these things on your own. Why? Because you end up fine in 2014, and the knowledge you gain through it all is priceless, the memories you gain are worth having. I am satisfied with who we become, in part through this process.

No, I'd rather talk to you about decisions you should make or change simply as a young man over the next number of years, instead. You're thinking, "But if I'm doing ok in 2014 as an artist such that you won't correct specifics, shouldn't I just muddle through those life mistakes, too? You said you're satisfied with who I become in 2014 after all. Be consistent, future-Randy!"

So argumentative. That doesn't change about you. I'm ok with that. But let me answer. The poor decisions you'll make as an artist are largely morally neutral. If you take a job you shouldn't have, it's no moral failing. You'll hurt neither yourself nor others by taking it. Ok, maybe your bank account, but that's not terribly important in the Grand Scheme. But some of your behaviors, your words, your personality--those will at times hurt yourself and others, too. I do think it would be better to stop you from causing harm, even if it changed your future, than to hurt others and consider them collateral damage towards improving. If you could not be a jerk at those times, that is the improvement.

I'll probably have to make that a separate letter because I would want to be tough and honest with you and even as you're reading this, this letter is also being made public in 2014. I'm not going to air your dirty laundry here. But I'm going to have a number of Stern Words to say to you.

That's going to be the important letter. Because for the next 20 years and beyond, your art is going to have to be secondary. It's not the most important thing in life. Others are. And your error is not even that you made art the most important thing at all costs, but...oh, just wait for that other letter.

You always wonder about this, so: you do marry Monica and your marriage is wonderful this many years in. That's no surprise because you can't imagine life otherwise. But I'm going to have some Tough Words for you about being a husband, too. So be ready for that.

Congratulations on your first professional job. Enjoy the work as it comes. Embrace the changes in your career path that are in-line with your vision anyway. Stop and really soak in your situation at many points along the way. Life is simultaneously long and short, but you're going to build a vault of memories that are truly wonderful, despite you being occasionally insufferable along the way. It really will be a great adventure.

Your self,

Randy R. Gallegos

April, 2014

(location undisclosed)

P.S.:  When you start looking for a place to buy with Monica, they say you shouldn't fall in love with the first place you see. But, do us a favor and add another 20-30k to the asking price on that one, will you? You cheapass. "They" were wrong. There's a useful lesson, there.