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Posts tagged “fantasy

Dilation Exercise 107

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires a story, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

Alister knew they were just plants, but he sensed a desperation about them.


As the days became shorter, the nights colder, they came up with a simple plan.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Weeds” copyright © 2006 Alan M. Clark.
Cover illustration for Weed Species by Jack Ketchum – Cemetery Dance Publications.

Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.


Dilation Exercise 106

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

Alister understood enough Morse code to know he was hearing only half a conversation.

Each time the old wisteria branch paused, he wondered who was responding to its tapping.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Branch in the Wind” copyright © 2000 Alan M. Clark. Interior illustration for Flaming Arrows by Bruce Holland Rogers – IFD Publishing.


Dilation Exercise #102

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

The operation was a simple ten minute procedure if the body occupying the slab was cold and disposable.

The staff had not had a “live one” to work on for some time, however, and they were determined to enjoy the warm flesh that had been offered.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: Detail from “Chuckling Beneath His Mask” copyright © 1984 Alan M. Clark. Interior for The Pain Doctors of Suture self General by the Bovine Smoke Society (Alan M. Clark, Randy Fox, Jim Goad, Peteso, Thalia Ragsdale, Stephen C. Merritt, Cynthia Grissette Merritt, and Beth Gwinn) with an introduction by F. Paul Wilson, published by Arts Nova Press. The painting also appears in black and white as an interior illustration for Pain and Other Petty Plots to Keep You In Stitches by Alan M. Clark, Randy Fox, Troy Guinn, Mark Edwards and Jeremy Robert Johnson (introduction by F. Paul Wilson), published by IFD Publishing.


Dilation Exercise 101

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

When the animals finally banded together and decided to take the world back, the celebration lasted for many days.

Since humans generally didn’t believe they were animals, most people merely stood on the periphery watching, having no inkling of what it all meant and how their lives had been irrevocably altered.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: Detail from “Animal Rite” copyright © 1980 Alan M. Clark. Unpublished.


New Novel – THE DOOR THAT FACED WEST


My latest novel, The Door That Faced West, is out now from Lazy Fascist Press.

Here’s what Brian Keene said about it:

“It is not hyperbole to say that Alan M. Clark’s The Door That Faced West left me absolutely stunned. A thoughtfully haunting blend of historical fiction and thriller, this is one of Clark’s best works to date, across any medium. Simply amazing, and undoubtedly one of the best books you’ll read this year.”

Brian Keene, bestselling author of The Rising and Ghoul


Dilation Exercise 98

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

Bill Toby Gerbil marries a can of fresh worms.


Bride was lost in a fishing accident only days later.

About the photo and caption:
In the 1980s, before digital photography was available, I used a polaroid camera to get instant pictures for reference photos for my illustrations. The photos were terrible, like the one in this post. My good friend, Jack Daves, who unfortunately passed away in 2004, liked my photos because they made him laugh. He was a very funny fellow, a great horror writer, and a wonderful musician who helped create the band, The Secret Commonwealth. Jack liked captioning my reference photos. The one I share today is my favorite – written by Jack Hunter Daves. He still makes me laugh.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

 


Dilation Exercise 97

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

He hated his older sister when she stole his candy bar, but then when she began to choke on it, he panicked for fear of losing one he truly loved.


Although he began beating her chest to clear her obstructed airway, it felt so good to punish her, he just kept at it.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Dead Little Girl” copyright © 2011 Alan M. Clark. Interior illustration for Flesh and Blood 13, appearing with the story, “Who Killed Little Betty,” by Brian Knight.

Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.


Dilation Exercise 96

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

In the midst of the great struggle for the soul of mankind, the revelation of the great wobbly breasts of Cartoon Pope was so startling for Evil Crabman that it nearly took the fight out of him.

Then, imagine his surprise when the pontiff asked for a hug.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Cartoon Pope” copyright © 2011 Alan M. Clark. A controlled accident painting created during a controlled accident workshop Mr. Clark taught at the Emerald Art Center in Springfield, Oregon.


Dilation Exercise 95

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

The boy had no close friends, his parents didn’t understand him, and he loved nothing in the world so much as monster movies; so, he fled reality, entering the television one afternoon during his favorite show, The Horror Feature.

He fought his way toward the light, dodging giant mutant bugs, deadly alien creatures, and ancient evils from the Dark Ages—not knowing what he’d find when he got to the source, believing it had to be better than what he’d had.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Holywood” copyright © 1991 Alan M. Clark. The image is inspired by a story concept b by David Conover.

Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.


Dilation Exercise 93

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

Alister had often wondered if the mechanics of his brain were responsible for making him like Harold or if the cruel man were indeed worthy of friendship.

But other than a best friend, Alister thought in the last moments of his life, who would do this for me?

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “The Long Walk” copyright © 1992 Alan M. Clark. Interior Illustration for Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, appearing with “The Walk” by Greg Egan.

Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon


Weird Art Month: Wayne Barlowe

By Sam Reeve

I’ve been a fan of Wayne Barlowe’s since I was a little kid. Besides painting and sketching some of the craziest creatures and beings you’ll ever see, he did some paleoart for a book I had called Alphabet of Dinosaurs. The picture below is the one I remember best. Those damn eyes…

wayne barlowe

Anyway, Barlowe has done concept art for some pretty major projects like Pacific Rim, John Carter and The Hobbit. His ability to thrust you into a totally alien world and make it all feel real is kind of trippy. After checking out the gallery below, visit his website here to see more work. You won’t regret it.


Dilation Exercise 92

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

In 1957, when televisions could hardly maintain horizontal control, she was a sex kitten and he was an obese man who could no longer get around on his own.

So why did the network believe a reality TV show about the couple would sell?

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Fat Man and Sex Kitten” copyright © 1985 Alan M. Clark.

Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.


Dilation Exercise 91

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

Although the teams and the fans kept to all the colorful traditions, the game wasn’t what it used to be.

But, then, neither was reality.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “The Campbell House” copyright © 1985 Alan M. Clark.
Interior illustration for Imagination Fully Dilated (inspired by the artwork, Peter Crowther wrote the story “The Space Between the Lines” for the anthology) edited by Elizabeth Engstrom and Alan M. Clark – Cemetery Dance Publications.

Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.


Dilation Exercise 88

In an effort to promote my new novel, The Door That Faced West, due for release in February 2014 from Lazy Fascist Press, I created the Dilation Exercise below based on the story. The novel is inspired by the earliest known American serial killers, the Harpe brothers, Wiley and Micajah, and the three wives they shared. Comments are welcome, but please do not expand on this storyline.

After what the Harpes had done to him, Sadie hadn’t expected to ever again see the man who tried to molest her.

But here Mose was, tangled in her drift line at the bottom of the river, turning slowly in the current as if dancing an ominous and wicked jig.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Wicked Jig” copyright © 2013 Alan M. Clark. Interior illustration for The Door that Faced West (The artwork will appear in black and white in the paperback book)


World Horror Cinema: Soviet Union

By Sam Reeve

viy posterTitle: Viy

Year: 1967

Language: Russian

My rating: 7/10

Today I bring you a Soviet classic that has been labeled as the first horror film to come out of Russia. This beautifully shot masterpiece is based on a folk tale written by Nikolai Gogol, the Ukrainian-born Russian writer known for his weird, fantastical stories. Viy is more a comedic fantasy than a true horror, but the last 30 minutes feature lots of witchy, demonic action that are definitely worth watching.

Khoma,  seminary student, and two of his friends end up in the country looking for a place to sleep. They happen upon an old lady’s farmhouse, but the baba is not quite what she seems. She grabs Khoma and flies off into the night, and he then figures out she’s a witch. After landing, he beats the snot out of her and before passing out she turns into a beautiful maiden. Later at the seminary, Khoma’s rector tells him he must spend three nights reading prayers over the dead body of a lord’s daughter, who was mysteriously beaten up one night.

Each night that Khoma reads, the witch awakens and taunts him. His only protection is a holy circle and his prayers, but will they save him in the end? You’ll just have to find out…

viy 4 viy 3I really loved this movie, and it surprised me. My personal experience with Soviet “comedies” is that they’re pretty dry and sometimes intensely depressing and lacking in jokes. Viy was truly funny, and also bizarre. The animation and special effects in the final scene when all the demons are conjured…it’s a work of art. If you liked Army of Darkness, you may like Viy too. I know I’ll definitely re-watch it in the future.

viy 1

Here is a clip with the demons that I just mentioned. It’s only in Russian, but nothing too crucial is said. It’s all about the visuals. Below that you’ll find the full movie with English subtitles.


Weekly Weird Art: Rafał Olbiński

By Sam Reeve

Rafal Olbinski is a Polish illustrator and painter. His work is not unlike that of the famed surrealist René Magritte, and Olbinski lists him, among many others, as an influence.

Olbinksi has lived in the USA since 1981, and now teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. You can find more of his work here.


Dilation Exercise 82

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

She was proud to be part of the perfume ad while it was elegant and glamorous, but with the decline of the neighborhood, the beautiful people who admired her moved away and the advertising space lost its value.

Now that her location was merely a convenient spot for the homeless to urinate, she wanted out.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Metathetical Widnow” copyright © 1985 Alan M. Clark. Cover art for SUSPICIONS by Elizabeth Engstrom – IFD Publishing.


Dilation Exercise 81

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

Again, the last man stood in the cold water staring at the alabaster woman, his loneliness pulling his rational mind apart.


Deciding she was more interested in the sea snakes than she’d ever be in him, he muttered, “Damn your abrasive silence,” but regretted his words and was grateful she was stone deaf.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Last Man” copyright © 1985 Alan M. Clark. Unpublished.


Dilation Exercise 80

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise (Okay, so sometimes weeks are longer than other times). Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

Since the split hadn’t left me with sufficient motor nerves to help out, and the sideshow didn’t want us back until we had a new act, my half brother, -Ert, had to take a job in the dirty room at the local meat mansion.

It seemed a deadend, and I was depressed, but the evening after his first day, beaming, he burst into the trailer and said, “With the appliances that come with the job, there’s nothing we could not do with a giant squid, some electrical tape, and a box of doughnut holes.”

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Right Where it Used to Be” copyright © 1994 Alan M. Clark. Interior illustration for The Pain Doctors of Suture Self General by the Bovine Smoke Society (Alan M. Clark, Randy Fox, Jim Goad, Peteso, Thalia Ragsdale, Stephen C. Merritt, Cynthia Grissette Merritt, and Beth Gwinn) – Arts Nova Press. Also appeared as an interior (appears in black & white) in Pain and Other Petty Plots to Keep You in Stitches by Alan M. Clark, Randy Fox, Troy Guinn, Mark Edwards and Jeremy Robert Johnson (introduction by F. Paul Wilson) – IFD Publishing.

Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.


Art from Pure Imagination—Inventing Light and Shadow

When inventing subject matter without the aid of reference images in drawing and painting, there are a few assumptions based on my observations of the real world that I find useful.

1) All light travels in a straight line until it reaches an object, at which point it is reflected, frequently in a radiating manner, the directions of the reflection being determined by the shape of the object.
2) Ambient light is that which comes from reflection.  All objects within an environment reflect light, including the particles of gas within the negative space.  These reflections bounce all over the place, further illuminating everything within an environment. The more the light bounces, however, the less powerful is its ability to illuminate as it becomes scattered and diffuse.
3) Direct light is that which is reflected off objects directly from a light source within an environment.
4) Shadows occur where light, both direct and ambient have a hard time reaching.  Shadows vary in darkness, depending on how close they are to that which casts them.  The darkest shadows occur where the influence of ambient light is diminished by how many times it must bounce to reach the area. The farther away shadows occur from the object which casts them, the subtler they are due to the influence of ambient light.

Artwork: “If You Have Any Worth at All” copyright © 1994 Alan M. Clark

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon


What They Didn’t Teach Me in Art School

by Alan M. Clark, Jill Bauman, Chad Savage, and Steven C. Gilberts

The names of the artist in this post are links to their websites.

Alan M. Clark—

I have a degree in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute, and while I got a lot out of that education, there’s much that I learned only after college, in the “real” world. Here’s some of what my professors didn’t teach me:

  • They didn’t teach me to be reliable, responsive, punctual, and easy to work with.
  • They didn’t teach me how to communicate and make my services as an artist salable.
  • They didn’t teach me that the world didn’t need me and my artwork and that I’d have to establish the value of my work before anyone would take me seriously.
  • They didn’t teach me that the value of artwork is based on “perceived value” and that it is up to me to raise the perceived value of my work.
  • They didn’t teach me that I needed to establish a good reputation for fulfilling the dreams of my clients if I expected to continue to get work (note that I did not say “the needs of my clients”).

Perhaps these things go without saying, but I think it would have been helpful if my professors had addressed them. Of course, I was young and full of myself and not paying attention to my teachers the way I might have. Perhaps they knew this and that practical experience was the best teacher of these basics.

When young artists ask me for advice, the first thing I say is, “Don’t be a flake.” Second thing I say is, “The business of getting work as an artist takes tenacity.” Third thing I say is, “Learn how to raise the perceived value of your work.”

Jill Bauman—

What they didn’t teach me in art school was how to deal with the emotional ups & downs of an art career. That was left to parents, siblings and friends who questioned the practical aspects of my life as an artist.

They didn’t teach me how to be original or to set myself apart from other artists. This I had to discover on my own. They taught basic skills, but not how to “think” as an artist.

Art school does not teach you how to present yourself and your art to galleries or art directors.

They didn’t teach me about money management or setting up funds for retirement or investment. Working as a free lance artist can be a rocky financial road.

They didn’t teach me anything about the business end of art. There were no courses in copyright protection, contracts, tax deductions or artists’ rights.

They didn’t teach me about the struggles to pay heath insurance.

As an artist I followed my dream. I was willing to pay the consequences when it came to artistic, financial, emotion and spiritual challenges. The end result is that I have had a long and fruitful career. I don’t have to retire. Now, I am respected for my experience.

If I were teaching now, I would advise young artists to develop their drawing skills. I would tell them to participate in life-drawing classes–it will be the basis of everything else that they do. Then I would encourage them to find their own way of seeing the world and expressing it visually.

Don’t try to be like someone else you think is successful.

Have your own vision!

Be original!

Dress neat!

Chad Savage—

1. Personality & Integrity

When a potential employer is first informed of your existence as an artist,
if s/he’s got Brain One, s/he’ll ask his/her contemporaries “What do you
think of this artist”? You’ll be judged and juried without ever even knowing
it, based on (a) your personality and (b) your integrity. That is to say,
based on how you deal with people, and how you deal with your work.

Are you a charismatic character who meets deadlines? You’re golden.
Are you a shy, withdrawn type who meets deadlines? You’re still good to go.
Are you a prima donna jackass who meets deadlines? You might still get
hired.
Are you a charismatic character who misses deadlines? Outlook not good.
Are you a shy, withdrawn type who misses deadlines? You’ll have plenty of
time to doodle.
Are you a prima donna jackass who misses deadlines? Have fun in the vacuum
that is your life.

Be easy to get along with. Don’t miss deadlines. I can’t state it any
simpler than that. Go to conventions and buy the first round. Be funny and
entertaining at industry events. Post to industry message boards and have
something intelligent to contribute. Tell jokes. Be fun.

And don’t miss deadlines.

2. Say NO.

Seriously. Nobody taught me how to say “NO” without feeling guilty. It took
10 years of every sob-story band, writer, starving artist, et al begging and
pleading for my artistic assistance before I was able to say, with 100%
conviction and 0% guilt: NO. You don’t walk into McDonald’s and expect a
hamburger just because you’re a broke musician; don’t walk into my studio
and expect free art. My time and talents are valuable. Period. If you can’t
see that, that’s your problem.

3. Be Professional.

Any industry, no matter what its focus, is rife with political crapola,
rampaging egotism and nepotism galore. Your job? Stay out of it. Rise above.
Don’t engage in stuff that is beneath you as a professional artist, no
matter how tempting it might be. I am certainly not without sin in this
department, but the older and more experienced I get, the more I’m able to
resist it, because I’ve seen how it NEVER works to your benefit. If you’re
known as the guy/gal that is impervious to industry shenanigans, well, go
back and read Rule #1 above.

Steve Gilberts—

During my freshman and sophomore years I attended the Louisville School of Art which offered a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) program. When the school closed due to financial problems, I transferred the applicable credits to the BA (Bachelor of Arts) program of a satellite campus of Indiana University. This was the only option financially available to me at that time.

While both programs taught an adequately balanced curriculum of artistic fundamentals, they considerably lacked in teaching even a basic understanding of marketing artwork or artistic skills. In fact, the prospect of creating “art for hire” was largely a forbidden topic. In general, both establishments frowned upon commercial and graphic art and viewed it as “selling out” or “prostituting one’s artwork.” The rule was “art was done for the purpose of creating art alone, not for deliberate monetary gain.” Within the later BA program, this bleak financial future was not helped by the large amount of non-art required (and expensive) courses the degree demanded. Additionally, I encountered what has been a common complaint among many of my professional peers. Particularly within the BFA program (but also present within the BA program) there was an outspoken majority of both upper class-men and faculty that were openly opposed to fantasy and science fiction illustration. Once, when I mentioned my interest in fantasy illustration to a senior, her reply to me was “Don’t worry Steve, we’ll burn that idea out of you.” Ironically she was not saying this to be mean. She actually meant this as a positive and inevitable outcome of the BFA program.

Now I don’t mean to undermine the value of a college education in the arts. My time spent in the classroom was invaluable in learning the basics of composition, design, and color theory. Indeed, I feel that it is my background in the fine arts that has given my work a distinctive edge that helps people to identify my work.

But for the amount of money and time that an art degree costs, there should always be at least the potential of financial opportunity in compensation. Art for art’s sake might be a philosophy worthy of those who are independently wealthy, a Sunday hobbyist, or a tenured professor. But for a large number of artists, illustrating for a living is how the bills are paid.

In regards to higher education, my advice to young artists is that a college degree is a worthy endeavor, provided you avoid some pitfalls.

If possible, attend a Bachelor of Fine Arts program rather than a Bachelor of Arts program so that you will be able to concentrate on art. While I understand that it does not hurt to have a well rounded education, courses not specific to a degree should be chosen by the student or at least the faculty teaching the degree, not the financial department of the university.

Make sure the program will provide you with the opportunity to grow in your skills, not stifle them.

Develop your own style. I can’t stress that enough. During my college years I saw fellow students emulate the styles of favored instructors. The instructors and their work are still around, but their imitators have vanished. Conversely, some instructors tried to churn out clones of themselves. Professors of this type are best avoided as they can cause damage to a developing artist.

Don’t buy into the philosophy that creating art for profit is demeaning and lessens the value of the piece. This philosophy doesn’t apply to the endeavors of teachers, lawyers, musicians or doctors, nor should it apply to artists.
Artwork: The quad of images above is formed of artwork done by the artists who wrote this article; top left—Alan M. Clark, top right—Jill Bauman, bottom left—Chad Savage, and bottom right—Steven C. Gilberts.


Alan M. Clark’s Advice for Aspiring Illustrators, Part 4



Working Freelance as an Illustrator

Many of us see the prospect of being a self-employed artist as a great adventure.  As young artists we often develop both a glowing, idealistic picture of what it is like to work freelance, and quite a lot of dread that in the pursuit we might become just another cog in someone else’s creative wheel.  These aren’t unreasonable ideas.  The reality is that working for oneself is as tough or tougher than any other job—and job it is, love it or not.  I had my share of unrealistic assumptions when I started out.  Much of those assumptions and quite a bit of concern on my part revolved around the issue of creative freedom.

If a client is paying me to be creative, they want to feel confident they’re making a good investment.  Therefore I must give my client a very good idea what they are paying for.  At the same time, I must do this before I actually produce and deliver the final product to protect myself from having done a lot of work that might not be right for the client.  At the very least, a client will want to see a sketch of what the finished artwork will look like.  Some will want more preliminary work, possibly several sketches to choose from and then a rough color rendering of the image chosen before the finished work is done.

This “pinning down” of the image can become somewhat mechanical and frustrating.  Making that part of the process interesting is entirely up to me, and sometimes that takes some effort if I’m not thrilled with the subject matter. If illustration is to be a creative pursuit, there needs to be sufficient spontaneity and discovery in my process to keep the work fresh and retain my interest in producing it. Many artists have difficulty reconciling the two.

I did too, once upon a time.

As young artists we often become interested in illustration because we see the imagination involved and are fascinated.  We too have powerful imaginations and want to express ourselves.  We develop our talents and become eager to display our wild imaginings.  Entering into the business of illustration, however, we find that the look of our work is subject to the whims of art directors or editors.  Sometimes, instead of feeling grateful that we are being paid to use our talents, we feel our artistic integrity is at risk.

I felt this way too, at first.

But just what are we talking about here? Could it be that once we produce a piece of work that is not entirely our own conception, we lose sight of our goals? Will our artistic vision be so compromised by the experience that we must wander the earth thereafter as broken imaginations, wasted talents, having become artists who have lost our grip on our own thoughts, feelings and convictions?

Hell no!

I discovered early on that illustration is just a job or rather a whole string of jobs. As a freelance artist, I can take what jobs I want. If I take a job I don’t like, I’ll complete the work to my client’s satisfaction, but I might not take another like it. It’s my choice. And in the meantime, I have plenty of time to create my own work, pieces of art that come exclusively from my own imagination, products of my own thoughts, feeling and convictions.

So when working with a publisher I show a willingness to work with them. It is not likely that my client would want me to do something completely outside my comfort zone, say, paint Elvis on black velvet or something—not that there’s anything wrong with that. The client is most likely familiar with my work, and once again, I have a choice of whether or not to take the job. Generally speaking I am chosen for a job by those who like my approach to illustration. This approach is demonstrated in my work—my choice of subject matter, medium and techniques. Therefore my rapport with a client has often begun through the body of my work even before we have met or spoken to one another.

The constraints that come with a job can be liberating, if I choose to see it that way. That is to say that they can liberate me from myself. Economy is not my first priority in creating a piece of artwork, but if a deadline is short, the job doesn’t pay well or I just don’t like the subject matter, I become very economical and deliberate in my approach to the work. I do not want to slight my client by turning in lightweight work, so the artwork must be simple but strong. This can result in pieces that are wonderful because of their simplicity. Working within constraints given by a publisher, I produce work that I would never have discovered any other way. This broadens my horizons, adds to my repertoire of techniques, helps me master new subject matter and hones my design skills.

If I find I really don’t like a job, I work twice as hard to create something I’m proud of so I don’t look back on the experience with bitterness. Most of the time I get jobs for which my work is well suited. A willingness to try new things has taken my work in exciting new directions.

I’ve learned not to fear reactions to my work—there will always be criticisms and rejections. To relinquish some control while working with another artist or art director is a chance worth taking. I have accepted that once my art is placed before an audience, it is no longer entirely my own.

Artwork: “Sideshow Surgery” copyright © 2005 Alan M. Clark. I threw painting in just to have a piece of artwork with this post. I chose it because it is a display of my wild imaginings. “Pin up” for Robert Steven Rhine’s graphic novel, Satan’s 3 Ring Circus of Hell, published by Asylum Press.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

Alan M. Clark grew up in Tennessee in a house full of bones and old medical books. He has created illustrations for hundreds of books, including works of fiction of various genre, non-fiction, textbooks, young adult fiction, and childrens books. Awards for his illustration work include the World Fantasy Award and four Chesley Awards. He is the author of 12 books, including six novels, a lavishly illustrated novella, four collections of fiction, and a nonfiction full-color book of his artwork. His latest novel A PARLIAMENT OF CROWS was published by Lazy Fascist Press in the fall of 2012. Mr. Clark’s company, IFD Publishing, has released six traditional books and seventeen ebooks by such authors as F. Paul Wilson, Elizabeth Engstrom, and Jeremy Robert Johnson. Alan M. Clark and his wife, Melody, live in Oregon. http://www.alanmclark.com


Weekly Weird Art: Bruce Pennington

By Sam Reeve

bruce penningtonBruce Pennington is a world-renowned artist of the fantastical and strange. He was born in England in 1944. From a very young age it was clear to him that art was what he wanted to pursue, and he attended a couple different art colleges. But eventually he got tired of the type of the traditional kind of art they had him producing and studying, so he traded ‘Fine Art boredom for Commercial Art whoredom’, and began creating film posters. After a while Bruce became a freelance artist and that’s when he started doing what he’s become famous for: painting the cover art for fantasy and sci-fi novels.

During his career, Bruce’s work has appeared on the covers of more than 200 sci-fi and fantasy books, including Frank Herbert’s Dune series and works by Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury.

Check out his website here for a more complete list, and to see more of his work.

bruce pennington horror horn bruce pennington alien hall of fame bruce pennington the green brain bruce pennington bruce hounds of tindalos bruce pennington cthulhu pennington-genius brucebruce pennington bird


Dilation Exercise 79

In an effort to promote my new novel, A PARLIAMENT OF CROWS, released by Lazy Fascist Press, I created the Dilation Exercise below to expand the story beyond the end of the novel. This week’s exercise works with last week’s. The novel is inspired by the three infamous Wardlaw sisters.

Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

By the time Vertiline had given up the search for Mary, Carolee had taken a terrible toll on the innocent, and by all signs, her deadly activity stretched far into the future.

Weary and reconciled to her existence ending in shame and failure, Vertiline tried to lie down and be still, but the wind gave her feathers life, picked her and sent her flying onward, ever doomed to witness the murderous career she had helped to shape.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Portents” copyright © 2008 Alan M. Clark. Cover art for Portents edited by Al Sarrantonio, published by Flying Fox Publishers.

Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.


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