Bror Anders Wikstrom

Bror Anders Wikstrom, imaginative float designs of dragons and other, in watercolor
With the exception of the more straightforward watercolor (images above, bottom), the rest of these wild and wonderfully realized watercolor illustrations are designs for New Orleans carnival parade floats from the early part of the 20th century by Swedish/American artist Bror Anders Wikstrom.

Wikstrom originally went to sea as a young man, but his career as a sailor was curtailed by changes in his eyesight. Nearsightedness did not prevent him from pursuing studies in art in Stockholm and Paris, and he applied his artistic learning to magazine illustrations, advertising design, prints, cartoons, murals and portraits.

Coming to the U.S., he settled in New Orleans and became noted for his designs for carnival floats for two of the prominent krews, Rex and Proteus.

A number of his float designs are maritime in nature, others are wilder fantasy, often featuring dragons and other fantastical creatures.

He also painted landscapes and marine paintings, though I can’t find as many examples of those; you can find some on Artnet and Invaluable (and here).


Eye Candy for Today: Leighton’s Perseus and Andromeda

Perseus and Andromeda, Frederic Leighton, oil on canvas, in the collection of the Walker Art Gallery
Perseus and Andromeda, Frederic Leighton

Link is to a zoomable version on the Google Art Project; there is a downloadable version on Wikipedia, which also has a descriptive page for the painting; the original is in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.

There is a tendency to think of heroes and dragons fantasy as a recent storytelling form because of the contemporary association of those kinds of stories with science fiction, but we’ve probably been telling each other stories like that as long as there have been stories.

The highly developed intertwined stories of Greek and Roman mythology provide a deep well of material for tales of gods, heroes and monsters (from which we draw our names for planets, stars and galaxies), and were a fertile source for the subjects of Victorian paintings.

Here, Frederic Leighton portrays Princess Andromeda, daughter of Cassiope, Queen of Ethiopia, who has been offered up as a sacrifice to Neptune, God of the Sea. Long story short, Neptune has been attacking the coasts of Cassiope’s realm in revenge for an insult to his daughters.

Andromeda, chained to a rock and in the clutches of the sea dragon, is being rescued by Perseus, riding the famed winged horse Pegasus, and fresh off his previous challenge of defeating the snake-haired Gorgon, Medusa. Perseus’s arrow has pierced the monster’s wing, and the creature twists its flaming jaws up in defiance and/or pain.

Leighton’s painting is large, almost 8 ft x 4 ft (230 x 130 cm) and the vertical format accentuates the drama. Perseus descends out of the sky in a sphere of light, which Leighton has suggested and also pushed into the distance with heightened value and lowered chroma.

The lightness and atmospheric effect of the representation of Perseus and his mount is in marked contrast to the intense darks of the foreground shadowed areas of the dragon’s wing and tail. Even the middle ground rocks are given an exaggerated sense of atmospheric distance, contributing to the perceived intensity of the foreground.

The dragon and the figure of Andromeda are even more overt studies in contrast, both in terms of light against dark and in the softness of the figure and her garments against the leathery texture of the dragon’s skin.

I love the way Andromeda’s hair blends with the red of the rocks and is balanced by them on the left. In much the same way, the white of the garment is echoed in the halo and highlight on Pegasus.

The rocks themselves look hard and unforgiving and the cliffs drop sharply into the sea. And for just that extra touch of drama, the current sweeps past the thin jetty of rock on which Andromeda has been chained, as if a danger in itself.

The dragon’s fiery mouth has the kind of smoke and floating sparks one might see in an actual flame, and its eyes look as if lit by their own kind of fire.



Emily Hare

Emily Hare, illustrations, beasties and creatures
Emily Hare is a freelance illustrator based in the UK who has a wonderful knack for creating beasties and creatures.

These have a nicely strange charm, or a charming strangeness, or, well.. you get the idea.

Though she used to work digitally, she is now working in traditional media, primarily watercolor.

Among the items in her online shop, is the option to preorder her book, Strangehollow.

[Addendum: Creative Bloq has just added an article on Emily Hare’s creature design: How to design believable fantasy beasts.]

[Via Eric Orchard]


Raoul Vitale

Raoul Vitale, fantasy art, concept art, gaming illustration
Raoul Vitale is a fantasy artist, illustrator and concept artist who appears to work primarily in oil.

His illustration clients include “Magic the Gathering” art for Wizards of the Coast, and his private commissions often focus on scenes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Vitale frequently works with a controlled palette, allowing the wonderful textural qualities of his work come to the fore. This is particularly effective in hie portrayal of dragons, rocky landscapes and gnarled, ancient trees (or Ents, for that matter).

He also takes on subjects from literature, such as his interpretation of “The Lady of Shalott” (above, second from bottom).


Gurney Journey at 10

James Gurney's Gurney Journey art blog at 10
Congratulations to James Gurney for 10 years of authoring his superb blog, Gurney Journey.

What started as a modest intention to chronicle his travels on a book tour — in a way mirroring the journaled adventures of the character Authur Denison in Gurney’s popular illustrated adventure series, Dinotopia — has grown over time into not only a superb blog among art blogs, but one of the most in-depth and useful sources of art information and instruction on the web.

Gurney has been unstintingly generous in sharing his experience as an illustrator, author, plein air painter, instructor, model maker, videographer, and restless experimenter and investigator of artistic topics.

Over the course of time his posts on painting techniques, equipment, paints, color theory, drawing, and related topics have been turned into instructional books, YouTube videos, and most recently, a series of full-length instruction art videos.

Gurney has been a proponent of misunderstood and often overlooked painting mediums like gouache and casein, and Gurney Journey remains one of the definitive sources on the web for information and instruction in their use.

Long time readers of Lines and Colors will know I’ve long enjoyed Gurney Journey and recommended it often, along with Gurney’s other projects.

For those who may be new to Gurney Journey, I will recommend that you take a look at the post he did in 2016 on the landmark of 4,000 posts. In it he links to a quick overview of some of the most prominent topics. You can also explore using the list of topics in the blog’s left column, or the search feature at the upper left of all pages.

If you take the plunge, I will issue my Timesink Warning, and point out that I fell down that rabbit hole myself for a couple of hours while preparing this post, bookmarking along the way numerous articles I had forgotten about for future reference.


Pablo Carpio

Pablo Carpio, concept art and illustration
Pablo Carpio is a freelance concept artist and illustrator based in Madrid, Spain. He has worked for Ubisoft Montreal and MPC and his work has been featured in publications like ImagineFX and 2DArtist.

A number of the pieces on his online portfolio are Star Wars themed and were apparently done as part of an ILM Art Department challenge.

I like his sense of scale and the way he utilizes texture and atmosphere to give his work a tactile feeling.