I use the words "fantasy pictures," I'm usually referring to all sorts of
imaginative realism--not only sci-fi art or wanting to know how to draw a
dragon. But bringing in a layer of fantasy to your paintings or drawings can be
daunting because you don't want it to be cheesy. If you want to look at a group
of fantasy images that balance these elements perfectly, look no further than
|Ophelia by John Everett Millais, 1851, oil on canvas.
Pre-Raphaelite "brotherhood" (grrrrr!) was all about studying nature, often
bringing in a spiritual or Romantic bent to their work, and avoiding muddy
colors and "classical" compositions that were, in these artists' opinions,
overused and uninspired. Instead, they used bold, undiluted colors on white
canvas for rich effects, added a lot of detail and ornamentation to their work,
and created incredibly complex compositions in their fantasy images.
subjects are inspired by stories--from Shakespeare, the bible, Romantic
poetry--that we may be familiar with, but they are presented in such a way that
the stories gain an otherworldly tinge. In the hands of John Everett Millais, Ophelia's
drowning becomes a fantasy artwork of a frozen water nymph. We still get the
reference to the Shakespeare play, but the painting takes on a life of its own
and sets the scene in a completely different way.
|Pia de' Tolomei by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1868-1880.
fantasy art elements in Dante Gabriel Rossetti's work come through his use of
objects that have layers of rich symbolism. La
Pia de' Tolomei is a reference to the discovery of Pia in Dante's Purgatorio, and in the painting,
Rossetti furthers his out-of-this-world narrative with images of birds, arrows,
jewelry, a rosary and prayer book, Gothic architectural motifs, and more. It's
a rich visual feast, and a painting that is steeped in fantasy art that
simultaneously seems quite real.
exactly how I would approach including fantasy images in my work, too. Make
them relevant to the story I want to tell but not overpowering. The
Pre-Raphaelites have taught me this, and I've also learned a lot from the American Artist fantasy-art issue, which
features so many works inspired by fantasy, just like the Pre-Raphaelites were.
now all of our digital art magazines and books are on sale, including the American Artist fantasy-art issue. It's
a great resource if you want to enhance your work with narratives that aren't
cut and dry "reality," and I for one love it. I hope you
do, too! Enjoy!