“I specialize in painting realistic images of things that can’t be photographed. My imagination only takes me so far, so I sculpt 3D reference maquettes. In the foreground is a butterfly ornithopter, an elf alien, a BoarCroc, and a satyr.James Gurney Studio Shot in ImagineFX
The day starts with a few cups of strong coffee, or sometimes tea from the pot I found on a research sketching trip to North Africa in 2008. Not all of my sketching junkets are so exotic. I also sketch in fast-food parking lots and farmyards. Some of the oil sketches on the back wall are from observation. The cloud study was painted on a July day. The two head studies come from a figure drawing class.
Beyond the Aladdin’s lamp is a set of dip pens. I began my art life as a calligrapher, and I still love to write letters in the Copperplate style. Maybe it’s a reaction to the blandness and transience of email.
The human skull on the counter is a drawing aid and a memento mori. Behind it are architectural maquettes made of cardboard and Styrofoam. The hand-painted color wheels and optical illusions are for my upcoming book called Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter, a companion volume to Imaginative Realism.
The dinosaur painting is surrounded by skull photos, sketches, and a reference maquette. The premixed strings of oil colors on the freezer paper palette help me control the mixing gamut of the color scheme I want.”
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.
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