Time lapse of Mark Ryden's Incarnation painting

I'm interested in finding out the different ways people create art, and this four-minute time lapse of Mark Ryden painting Incarnation is fascinating.


  1. arrgh, its missing the most important part! the last 10% is what I wanted to see, how he does his glows and ethereal applications of light, that’s what really makes his waifs pop…

    1. Absolutely correct, kiint! The final and most arduous steps are not videoed.

      Also, Mr. Ryden works much larger than I expected and paints in the tradition of the fine illustrators: that is, he does not create an tonal under-painting (previously stated by Mr. Drew) to work the piece as a whole, but rather paints and probably completes separate parts independently of each other (I work in the same manner).

      If you were watching closely, you will see one of the great methods used by artists (and sign makers)to create a perfectly straight line with a pint brush: It’s called, “Bridging the Brush”.

  2. I used to like this guy after coming across some of art of his 10 years ago, since then hes slowly become more and more irelevant to me. He seems to be a one trick pony of sorts.

  3. Mark Ryden is such an amazing artist. I wish I got to go to “The Tree Show”, but at least I got to go to the “Wondertoonel” exhibit! Can’t wait to see more work from him. Love it!!!

  4. Next up, Bob Ross speed painting. I’m with kmoser and jujubeans – enough with the waifs, enough with the tricks. Just kind of boring to me.

  5. When I use the add link to Facebook button, why isn’t there a matching thumbnail available? Is it just me? Am I a bad person?

  6. Two thoughts, from a painting perspective:

    1. It’s really weird he didn’t do an underpainting. Pencil’s nice, but I’d think he’d be one of the pop surrealist artists out there using one.

    2. It’s weird how much he got done in the background before moving on to the main figure. It’s usually advisable to get at least colors down for everything to make sure you’ve picked the right ones.

    All painters (including myself) deviate somehow from taught/traditional practice, it’s just interesting to see where the quirks in each person’s process are.

    1. I too find the lack of tonal underpainting in the figure odd (in face I was expecting a more traditional earth tone underpainting> complementary skin tone> then dead layer, etc- as so much of his finished work resembles old school oil technique); however, as a painter I agree with blocking in the background tones first, as it helps with balancing the tones of the fg figure (if the initial bg tones are too bright, the fg tones could be skewed when seen in contrast, for example).

  7. It’s interesting, I agree with kiint, it’ missing the last 10%. I came across this the other day and like it better

  8. The chair, that is the best part. It looks worn and comfortable. I am willing to bet that he would cry if that chair were stolen.

  9. A part of the painting to the left of his head is clearly TALKING to him between 2:45 and 3:30. Anyone here who can make out what it’s saying? Dying to find out.

    PS. I wouldn’t mind never ever hearing another Michael-Nyman-Max-Richter-elevator-music piece again for as long as I live.

  10. I found this very moving. It’s like peeking over the shoulder on someone at a private moment creating. Like documentaries that showed where Dahl wrote his stories or looking at the piano that Stravinsky wrote ‘The Firebird’ on. We grow so accustomed to the final work from our favorite artists and it’s a treat to see the work that goes into them. It humanizes them.

  11. There’s been plenty of meat clothing done, but that prosciutto bodice is a nice touch.

  12. It’s amazing to see the similarities between watching someone paint and someone build a map in the source SDK in terms of work flow like blocking and detailing. It’s no wonder all of the good TF2 mappers have a background in art.

  13. I like how Mark Ryden, Marion Peck and Todd Schorr have the skill to paint like old masters, but choose to paint the quirky low-brow stuff instead.

    As far as the doe-eyed waifs, blame Margaret Keane for that one. She started it. There’s going to be backlash one day… large bodies, tiny, beady eyes and big toothy grins.

  14. Thanks to the artist for sharing the private moments of creating his works with us!

    Interesting artwork. The dead meat hanging was nasty, which I assume created the conflict and therefore interest? I vote he paints in a few flies zooming around the carcasses!

  15. Why no underpainting? That’s a good question. I would guess that perhaps Mark just doesn’t need it anymore. My underpaintings have gotten much ‘simpler’ than they used to be simply because… well… I get gradually more used to my methods in the later steps. I don’t know if this is the case for sure, but at least that’s what happened for me – and Ryden has decades of experience on me.

    RE: Later Arduous steps: I really really really wish they had been included. There is obviously some fun detail buildup that I would have loved to see some closeup on.

    RE: Blocking in the BG first – yeah, for the purpose of figuring out the figure tones, definitely.

    As far as the “Doe-eyed waifs bore me” crowd – In Ryden’s defense, countryside landscape painting bores me… Perhaps you are under the mistaken impression that artists work to serve the desires of everyone but themselves.

    Mark’s work obviously resonates with enough patrons to be reasonably profitable for him. If you’re bored with waifs, check out Dave Cooper!

    I would venture to say that if you are having difficulties seeing the progression in his work over the last decade perhaps you aren’t looking hard enough.

  16. While watching my artist friend Joey Waldon paint, I have always been fascinated by the process. A couple years ago I convinced him to do a very quick painting while I shot frames of it. Here’s the result.

  17. kmoser, jujubeans, deviceofmind, etc: You’re right. Ryden should completely throw out one of his central motifs simply because you don’t approve. Art is about pleasing everyone who complains, right?

  18. If art is a popularity contest, Kinkade has this guy beat by a mile. But Ryden will never suffer for money off these entirely expected and intellectually vapid girly-doll figures. They’re not challenging and comfortable to look at, and it’s sad that he’s one of the most well-known pop-surrealists.

  19. everyone’s a critic :)
    I thought this was a really cool glimpse into one person’s creative process. I agree with several other comments in that I would have loved to see how the finishing work was completed.

  20. Particularly creepy when video compression caused part of the painting (some ribs, I think) to talk for a while.

    @Jasonclock: I think it’s saying “gross gross gross gross gross …”

  21. the song isn’t opus 7 by Dustin O’Halloran. If anyone knows which song that actually is, please let me know!!

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