Tricked ya! Sort of! On the one hand, fantasy art isn't that
new at all. But as I was sitting in a meeting flipping through American Artist magazine's May 2012
issue--while still paying close attention to what was being said, of course!--I
was struck by how much the lessons of imaginative realism play a part in the artwork
that is being done here and now.
|Marooned by Howard Pyle, oil on canvas, 1909.
When you think about it, fantasy art or sci-fi art is
usually steeped in the narratives and stories that make our cultures rich--from
mythology and mysticism to folk music and tall tales. The test is balancing
these colorful influences with good taste and making sure your art isn't just
illustrating the fantasy pictures that come into your head when you listen to
or read these stories.
|The Mermaid by Howard Pyle, oil on canvas, 1910.
Fantasy images created by the early American illustrator
Howard Pyle are particularly good at showing this kind of balance, mostly
because the artist edited the hell out of himself! Pyle was apparently
ruthlessly reductive and always driven to have a "supreme moment" in each of
He never hesitated to excise detail from his paintings, and
this principle made a great impression on many of Pyle's students, including
N.C. Wyeth, who must have taught his son Andrew much of the same. Andrew Wyeth
believed that even after removing an image or detail from a painting, a phantom
presence could remain, complicating the composition and still lending itself to
the story unfolding on the oil painting canvas. That is complicated idea to wrap my head
around, yet there's definitely truth to it.
If you want to check out the May 2012 issue of American Artist that I was looking at
and that started this whole ball about fantasy art rolling in my head, it is
just a click away. It is a complete guide to illustration and imaginative
realism that could ignite a whole new way of working for you--an incredibly
exciting prospect I'm sure! Enjoy!