Archive for the Exhibits Category

Michael Whelan lecture

Posted in Exhibits on January 20, 2008 by sweed

Well, I just got back from a lecture in Danbury, CT by fantasy/science fiction illustrator Michael Whelan. I’m afraid I really didn’t get to introduce myself or anything thanks to being in a line of people impatiently waiting to get their books signed, but I did get to say hi and listen in on a great talk.

His slide lecture focused pretty much on his career and his thought processes behind a lot of his paintings. What struck me was that in every painting he does he seems to add some secret personal meaning to it to keep himself invested in it. For instance, he came to a slide of a horror story cover he’d done in 1980 and explained how, even though on the surface it’s just a horror story cover, to him it represented a rough time in his life, and there were little vignettes and personal messages seeded throughout the image that meant things to him, even though to everyone else, it was essentially a skull with some smoke pouring out of it. Maybe it’s little obvious to some people, but I thought this idea of “secret meanings” was pretty interesting.

Anyways, if you haven’t checked out Michael Whelan, he’s an awesome painter and in all respects seems to be a genuinely nice guy, so here’s his website link: I meant to ask him a bit about his technique, but I’m pretty sure one of the sci-fi fans behind me was going to beat me with her copy of The Dark Tower that she wanted autographed, so I thought better of it.

In other news, I’m currently working on some more illustrations for Mongoose Publishing’s RuneQuest, so stay tuned for those later this week.

Enjoying: How hilarious the internet is. Especially the three comments and the corresponding three 5-star ratings.
Anticipating: Some RPGin’ next month!
Studying: some books on Pre-Raphaelite painters I got from my local public library

The universe is flux. Life is opinion.


David Macaulay at the Florence Griswold Museum

Posted in Exhibits with tags , , , , on September 28, 2007 by sweed

I recently went to the Florence Griswold Museum here in Connecticut. Currently, they have an exhibit of Norman Rockwell and an assortment of contemporary American illustrators, and an exhibit of illustrator David Macaulay. The overarching theme of the two exhibits seemed to be health and the human body.
Norman Rockwell, of course, is an American legend, and most of the pictures at the show were instantly recognizable. The most notable was, perhaps, Doctor and Boy looking at Thermometer, characteristic of Rockwell for its gentle prodding at a flawed but mostly innocent American everyman – in this case, a would-be truant schoolboy. Rockwell has been derided and criticized for his rose-colored view of American life, but luckily his work is popular independent of this criticism. I think that in the time period in which Rockwell lived, given all that was happening in the world, taking a gloomy, sardonic view of the world was understandable, but terribly easy. Rockwell’s pictures, in contrast, keep their chins up, with a nostalgia for an America that perhaps never was, but for which we can nonetheless still hope. If Post-modern artists painted, hung, and critiqued their work under the dark cloud of World War II, Rockwell did so at its silver lining. Anyways, the exhibit was about health advertisements, not war. Consider that a side-rant.

In the contemporary exhibit, I got to see a really cool painting by Peter DeSeve. I can’t find the actual painting on the internet to link to it, but if you haven’t seen DeSeve’s website you should check it out.

And lastly I saw David Macaulay’s exhibit. I was excited about seeing it because he was one of my teachers back at RISD, but I didn’t realize until getting there that the work being displayed was for The Way We Work, an upcoming book which gives an illustrated journey through the human body – explaining the body’s basic components from cells, to organs, to organ systems. It was really cool to look from the Norman Rockwell exhibit into the next room and instantly recognize the work. David does all his thinking on tracing paper (or at least of his work that I’ve seen,) working up from past drawings, adding in torn bits from other drawings, and laying diagrams over existing pages. For the semester that I took his class (called “Explain It”), we worked and thought using this process as a tool, which was sort of new to me at the time but seemed natural. Looking into his part of the exhibit, the room looked like a giant version of one of our critiques, with tracing paper pinned up everywhere with delicate, detailed drawings that suggested the interior of the body as a vast architecture of interrelating systems. Some of the drawings were even descendants of ideas he’d shown us in class when talking about his project. All in all, the exhibit was a testament to a prodigious amount of work, and it’s worth going and taking a look at it.

Enjoying: The Once and Future King by T.H. White
Anticipating: a lot of work tomorrow
Studying: still Franklin Booth

when whippoorwills call and evening is nigh