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

Demonstration Video: Painting Alieis

(Part 1 of this series can be found here. Part 2 is here)


When I began painting Alieis, I decided to document it. I setup a video camera with a large SD card and just left it running at various times when I was doing anything of interest. If the resulting painting ended up being worthwhile, I would review the video and consider putting together a making-of.

I was happy with the painting, so that's what I did.

I made a video that you can find here.

I've benefited a lot from watching artists work, whether it was Bill Alexander or Bob Ross as a kid, or master painters at a live event, like the Art Out Loud series at the Society of Illustrators. Watching someone paint, and hearing some of their thoughts along the way, is highly educational for a painter. It's also very illuminating for those who love artwork and want to learn a little more about how paintings are made.

So here is my contribution. If you've enjoyed "Alieis", I hope you'll enjoy a peek at its making. If you are a painter, come have a look at 4 weeks of work compressed to just under 2.5 hours. If you just love art, the odds are you may not have spent much time seeing paintings be created. Come on in. The discussion that accompanies it is not overly technical in many places. I'm not going to teach you how to mix all the colors, how to draw a head. I'm not going to discuss hand anatomy. There is a little assumption built-in, and that is that you know a little something about drawing or painting already (if you're an artist), or that you don't paint and so don't need to know some of those technical points. You'll learn by just watching--the discussion is largely more topical.

The video covers priming and then all the way through to finish, and shows a little of every portion of the painting being done in time-compressed format. For the portrait-painting, there is an extended portion of real-time video. The best way to watch is just to leave it running while you work, maybe in sections, maybe a few times at different times. This isn't a strict narrative, it's not an action-packed film. It's a little like watching paint dry. But sped up.

Video details: 720p HD, runtime: 147 minutes, file size: 3.4GB    file format: h.264-encoded mp4 wrapped in a zip file

Thanks for your support. Spread the word.

You can find the video here!

The Professional Artist / Client Toolkit


The following crowd-funding project was FUNDED successfully. There were some update blog posts which were time-specific, and have been deleted. I'll leave this one here for the overall message and historical purposes. Thank you to everyone who contributed!

Back in November, I participated in a panel discussion regarding working in the fantasy illustration market. Boring, right?

Not so! Joined by some esteemed illustrator colleagues including the master Todd Lockwood, and with over 60 years of combined illustration experience between us (and not all of them Todd's!), there was a lot to talk about. Add to it an audience that had a number of notable veterans adding their thoughts and there was a lot to learn. It wasn't the rosiest of talks, but it was candid and it was deeply appreciated by most of those who attended, primarily the younger and aspiring illustrators. From that panel discussion was born PACT: the Professional Artist / Client Toolkit.

The first half of the talk is a state-of-the-industry discussion. The second half was a proposed solution to the problems mentioned. That solution was to be a website that would serve as an information aggregator for illustrators. There's quite a bit to it. Probably you should listen to the conversation.

Why spend an hour of your time doing so? I am going to make an appeal based on who you are.

You are an illustrator or an aspiring illustrator

(If you are a fan of this kind of art and concerned that it continue to thrive, skip ahead to the next section)

If you are an illustrator you know this industry is incredibly difficult to survive in, financially. Wage stagnation or deflation, aggressive copyright buyouts for decreasing pay, late or never-paying clients. This is a lot of what's happening. Learn more about why and what can be done via PACT

If you are an aspiring illustrator you MUST know what you're about to face--if you are studying or intend to study in a general illustration program and then hope to work in the related fields of fantasy gaming, publishing, comics and the like, much of what you learn there will not prepare you for the business side of things out in this corner of the field.

Spearheaded by Jim Pavelec, PACT has moved forward in a few ways. Firstly, through a Facebook Page where the PACT team has been sharing news about nefarious business practices, industry trends and so on. We've educated, and had conversations to help clarify why we illustrators are in the plight we're in. Minimally you should be paying attention to this page, though it is not the end-game by any stretch.

During that time, Jim has been consulting with lawyers and web developers to get the website built as an official thing. That thing is ready to be built. Paying lawyers and web developers costs money--they haven't deflated their industries the way we have. So, it's time to raise money. PACT is attempting to fund development via Indiegogo. This is an all-or-nothing venture. At the end of it PACT will either get built, or it won't and we'll move on.

Once you've listened, if you think this is the sort of thing the industry needs then you owe it to yourself to at least snag a discounted pre-order membership. If you'd like to skip time you can jump ahead to the appeal.

You are a fan who loves this kind of art and wants it to thrive

If you are a fan, and have ever appreciated the art of any artist who over time kinda disappeared or shifted industries, it might be interesting learning why that happened. I can name dozens of illustrators who were working about the time I started who just disappeared--many of them quite good. Every year illustrators abandon the field.

It's all fun and games to the end-user (literally), but back here in our studios there are lives to lead, rents to pay (not many will ever afford mortgages), and heaven forbid children to raise. You probably don't realize it, but many of the illustrators you've known and loved, even on big name games like Magic, don't earn a living wage--it takes more than Magic work to earn a living, and most clients don't pay even what Magic does. Think of all that amazing art they create, the years of training and practice to be able to do it, and how it adds to the media you consume. Yeah. That's not your fault, largely it's our own fault. We're all lone wolves, many uneducated as to what's possible, and we race to the bottom because we think that's the only strategy to get work at all.

PACT is potentially a great tool to "teach artists how to fish." You like fish right? So:

The Ask

We're not asking for charity here.

If you're in the industry, buy a discounted pre-order membership at the least. It's $29, but there are cool art goodies you can get by pledging again. If this thing works half as well as we hope, you will earn it back by just avoiding one client who would've stiffed you, or by working for a better client than you might have because you learned about them and their good reputation. If PACT can't give you $15 of benefit a year for two years, then it failed and you should not renew. But seriously, you probably spend more than $29 on any number of frivolous things all the time which will never advance your career--put some towards this.

If you love this art, and would like to see the talent in it thrive and create for years to come, I ask you to help us organize these brilliant talents into a knowledgeable and savvy industry of self-respecting professionals. We value each other so much as artists, but we rarely value ourselves as much. Obviously you don't need a membership. So we've stocked the fundraiser with all sorts of art-related goodies. Go get some, knowing that most of the product being offered is either being donated outright or wholesaled so that PACT gets development funds from it.

Most of you who come here are in the latter camp--you appreciate my art and art in general. Thank you. Over the coming weeks I'll be posting more about PACT. In particular I'll be highlighting some of the offers and talking about them.

Thanks as always for your time, interest and support.

If you can't spare us anything, then share it on social media (there are even goodies for those who do so)

Sketchbook Peek

Now that I've wrapped up this last Figure Drawing project, I have a dilemma. Because I've never been able to keep a sketchbook, I intended from the beginning to fill this one up; I bought it for that purpose. That was part of the project--to stick to filling a sketchbook. Some folks fill tons and tons of sketchbooks, but I've never been able to. I abandon them. You can tell I was not entirely optimistic because I just chose a store-bought basic one, not a fancy bound one. Looking back, I would have of course bought a nicely bound moleskine or something. After being tossed in my backpack many times as I biked (NC) or rode the subway (NY) to and from class, it's gotten a little beat-up, at least along the spiral binding. Each page is perforated for easy removal. It would be easy to remove the pages and break the book up. Most pages have multiple drawings, a lot of which weren't put on this series of blog-posts.

As an artist who draws and paints to earn his living, I would have an interest in selling these. I'm kinda wedded to the book as a complete whole. Ideally, I'd find a way to sell the entire thing. It'd be nice knowing the whole thing went to one person. Otherwise, I'd be parting it out. But parting it out means that each sheet has multiple drawings, and the whole sheet isn't always tidily arranged. A few of the drawings weren't so hot, or weren't finished sufficiently (ran out of time). Sometimes those drawings are on the same page as a better drawing, sometimes so close that I couldn't even cut out the nicer drawing in a rectangle without including part of another. The best way to sell the best stuff would be to tear each page out and then cut each nice drawing out in isolation. But then I'd have a butchered collection. What to do?

Well, this is the book in question. I thought it'd be fun to let you all have a peek at the entire thing, since a lot of it hasn't been posted in this series. So, here's a video of that. What would you do--leave it whole, cut out pages, or cut out individual drawings? Somehow, I have to maintain my Ramen and PB&J diet.

Edit 9/2016: There had been a YouTube video here that had me flipping through the whole book in question; as it had unlicensed music and they tagged it, I pulled it. The conversation about it remains.