Concept art has become essential to the entertainment industry. Conceptually envisioning scenes before they’re created has evolved as a key part of a production process that often involves computer generated imagery or compositing.
For those of us who love the genre — which can combine some of the best aspects of painted sketches, finished illustration, fantasy art, landscape painting, character sketches and vehicle rendering — concept art has become increasingly available on the web.
You will find it on the websites and blogs of many artists in the field and in “portals” or group galleries devoted to computer art, as well as associated with promotional material for some films and games. You may also encounter concept art as part of the “special features” included with some DVDs and game modules.
It’s rare, however, to find concept art for movies or film as the subject of museum exhibitions.
For one thing, the genre is not one in which the image is intended for finished display as an art piece, but is instead a means to an end, providing a foundation for the final game or movie in somewhat the way preliminary drawings are created for paintings.
For another thing, a large percentage of concept art is created digitally, taking advantage of the extreme plasticity of the digital painting medium to accommodate changes, revisions and alternate versions in the planning stage of a feature. Digital painting must printed out in a form suitable for gallery or museum display (usually as Giclée prints).
It’s a rare treat, then, that the Riverside Art Museum in Riverside, California has opened a new exhibition, Painting in Pixels, An Exhibition of Concept Art, that features work from some of the top names in the field.
The museum has a modest selection of some of the pieces in the exhibit on their website, but like most museum previews misses the chance to use a more extensive display of larger images to generate interest in the show.
In lieu of a better online preview, I’ll point you to some of my previous Lines and Colors posts on a number of the artists in the exhibition (listed below). These include links to the artist’s websites and blogs as well as online group galleries and other resources. (This is not a complete list of artists in the exhibition, just some of those about whom I’ve previously written.)
You could also, of course, refer to the list of artists on the museum’s page for the exhibit and search for their sites and blogs.
Painting in Pixels, An Exhibition of Concept Art is on display until January 10, 2013.
(Images above: Jaime Jones, Tyler West, Thierry Doizon (aka barontieri), Scott Robertson, Mike Yamada, Cecil Kim, Thom Tenery)
[Addendum: One of the exhibitions co-curators, Thomas Brillante, has been kind enough to supply me with a list of websites and blogs for the artists in the show. The list in itself is a cornucopia of concept art resources. I've added it below.]