He who knows how to appreciate colour relationships, the influence of one colour on another, their contrasts and dissonances, is promised an infinitely diverse imagery.
- Sonia Delaunay
Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.
- Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Michael Whelan

Posted by Charley Parker at 3:56 pm

Michael Whelan
For many years, Michael Whelan was one of the best known, most popular and well respected artists in the field of fantasy illustration. His work set new standards for the field and continues to inspire new generations of artists.

In the mid 90′s, Whelan transitioned from illustration into gallery art, bringing his refined draftsmanship, dramatic color and wide ranging imagination into the service of imaginative realism. The galleries on his website include extensive selections of both his illustration work, familiar to many as iconic book and record covers, and his newer gallery paintings.

In the latter, I see possible influence of 19th century painters like Arnold Böcklin and Caspar David Fredrich, as well as other symbolists and perhaps some of the other Victorian painters.

Whelan has a deft touch to blending the classical and modern, both in his subject matter and his approach to painting.

Some of his gallery paintings appear to be parts of series, though they are not arranged that way, in which Whelan returns to visual themes. Many of them have a narrative feel, with an implied rather than implicit story waiting for the viewer’s imagination to take up thread and fly.

In addition to the galleries on his website, there is a shop where you can find original art, prints and books; and under “About the Artist”, a series of FAQs that include information on materials and techniques. Though he occasionally works in oil, Whelan’s preferred medium is acrylic, usually on gessoed panel or watercolor board.

13 comments for Michael Whelan »

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  1. Comment by Cully
    Tuesday, July 16, 2013 @ 8:40 pm

    How very strange… I have that Whelan piece with the staircase that goes to nowhere hanging on the bulletin board behind my computer right now… it is exactly the same piece, down to the leaf… except there’s a different figure on the stairs. A standing man. I love that piece and it’s very odd to find that there is a variation on it out there.

  2. Comment by Charley Parker
    Tuesday, July 16, 2013 @ 9:04 pm

    Interesting. Maybe, instead of “imaginative realism”, I should have said “magic realism”.

  3. Comment by Cully
    Tuesday, July 16, 2013 @ 9:52 pm

    Curiouser and curiouser… your version must be the “official” version, as that is what is on his personal website. I can find my variation online… except the postcard I have tacked up has a second figure on the path, and none of the versions I can find online have that. Now I want to know why he changed it!

  4. Comment by Charley Parker
    Tuesday, July 16, 2013 @ 10:56 pm

    He may have brought the original into the computer and done a digital variation. He works primarily in acrylic, but he does work digitally as well.

  5. Comment by Sherrill
    Wednesday, July 17, 2013 @ 1:46 am

    Another artist whose work I adore! Love the stories these works promise and the colors are so rich and vibrant, I feel like I am looking at paintings made with liquid jewels.

  6. Comment by Gavin Mann
    Wednesday, July 17, 2013 @ 6:01 am

    What great illustrations. Very imaginative

  7. Comment by Charley Parker
    Wednesday, July 17, 2013 @ 8:28 am

    Gavin, As long as your comment is relevant to the topic, you’re welcome to include a link to your site, but to save you time and energy, you should understand that links in comments on WordPress blogs like this one are automatically ignored by Google. So posting your link here will not increase your search engine rankings one iota.

  8. Comment by Linda Laforge
    Wednesday, July 17, 2013 @ 11:47 am

    I so love the detail in his work. I lose patience with mine and always try to simplify or lose the background all together. The stories in each of his images are so rich. I much admire his composition and, well, everything. Thanks for sharing. Made my morning!

  9. Comment by Bill Carman
    Wednesday, July 17, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

    I met him as a student in college. Very generous man and he still is. He has influenced so many in the fantasy/sci fi genre. A giant.

  10. Comment by Mike
    Wednesday, July 17, 2013 @ 8:23 pm

    Long time ago… the former Words and Pictures Museum in Northampton, MA [where to this day Teenage Ninja Turtles still look down upon Main Street] Michael Whelan was invited to talk about his art. I reviewed, looked, soaked in, read and perused his “Art of Michael Whelan” from cover to cover, listened to his talk intently, and eagerly stood in line to get his signature… [hold on second I'm going to get the book now...] and had him sign on page 78 Destiny’s Road, a favorite painting as I am always looking across the world ahead of me…day dreaming or visualizing something… So Mike signed the book and looked at me as I stood there trying to to come up with a question or a statement -and after weeks of anticipating his talk, to meet him, and ask him all sorts of wonderful, intuitive questions- for the life of me I didn’t know what to say…

    Thanks Charlie, Thanks Michael …cheers. Mike P.

  11. Comment by Todd
    Wednesday, July 17, 2013 @ 9:07 pm

    I love his work. I personally would describe it as “metaphysical realism.”

  12. Comment by Charley Parker
    Thursday, July 18, 2013 @ 10:36 am

    Thanks for the personal account, Mike. That’s happened to me on occasion as well! Of course, you thought of 5 brilliant questions when you got home!

  13. Comment by Charley Parker
    Thursday, July 18, 2013 @ 12:21 pm

    Interesting thought, Todd. Thanks.

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