artists, comics, nudes, obituaries, paintings

RIP Fantasy Legend Frank Frazetta

Frank Frazetta died on the 10th May 2010 from a stroke, and I for one am one of the millions who were saddened to hear this news. Like many, my childhood was heavily influenced by his art… on fantasy-genre book and comic covers, his artwork provided inspiration (and for some: titillation) to many my age. Whether you liked his work or not, it was always memorable… and often promised much more than the book content oft delivered.

For someone of my age, it is impossible not to think of Frank Frazetta when we think of fantasy. Frazetta was ubiquitous and his paintings adorned the bookshelves with their unique blend of realistic painting, with wholly unrealistic idealised men and women with ne-er so much as a chain to hide their nudity. Un-PC it might have been, but it was probably thanks to his art that we still remember Conan the Barbarian, and the rise of Arnold Schwarzenegger. And are able to continue to enjoy the likes of 300, Game of Thrones, Thor, Tarzan, John Carter of Mars etc. on TV and film.

Aged 16, he started drawing for comic books that varied in themes: westerns, fantasy, mysteries, and histories. Some of his earliest work was in funny animal comics, which he signed as “Fritz”. During this period he turned down job offers from comic giants such as Walt Disney. But in the early 1950s, he worked for EC Comics and several other comic book companies. Through the work on the Buck Rogers covers for Famous Funnies, Frazetta started working with Al Capp on his Li’l Abner comic strip.

Frazetta was also producing his own strip, Johnny Comet at this time, as well as working on the Flash Gordon daily strip. In 1961, after nine years with Capp, Frazetta returned to regular comics. Work in comics for him was hard to find, as comics had changed during his period with Capp and his style was deemed antiquated. Eventually he joined Harvey Kurtzman doing the parody strip Little Annie Fanny in Playboy magazine. But it wasn’t until 1964 that one of his magazine ads caught the eye of United Artists studios. He was approached to do the movie poster for What’s New Pussycat and earned his yearly salary in one afternoon.

He did several other movie posters and started producing paintings for paperback editions of adventure books. His cover for the sword-and-sorcery collection Conan the Adventurer by Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague de Camp caused a sensation. Numerous people bought the book for its cover alone. From this point on, Frazetta’s work was in great demand and became the standard for the fantasy genre. During this period he also did covers for other paperback editions of classic Edgar Rice Burroughs books, such as Tarzan and John Carter of Mars. He also did several pen and ink illustrations for many of these books.

If you want to find out more about the man and his art, here are some links to sites where you can start:

And just to illustrate how popular his work is, here’s a piece of his that sold for $1million:

RIP Frank… you’ll be sadly missed but not forgotten

nudes, paintings, pink

So, what’s with all the pink?

Some of the more observant among you will have noticed that I’ve re-designed my blog, and it’s predominately pink in hue. Now if the phrase “but you’re a dude… why have pink?” springs to mind… then shame on you. Pink is an excellent colour (or to be correct… tone) and needs to be freed from the chains of prejudice and bigotry. I personally like this colour, and am currently working with it to create a series of body abstract paintings (the first of which: ‘Pink is the colour of intamacy’ is above).

These paintings (2 more in the pipeline) not only try to capture the innocence and gentleness of the colour, they also incorporate some of the colour’s more popular connotations: love and sexual preference. Yes, pink is the colour of love… although hearts are red, and is also the colour used to identify all things gay. The latter reference probably dates back to Hitler and his camps where homosexual men were badged with pink triangles (along with yellow stars for Jews, and Roma gypsies with black triangles) rather than the gender stereotyping we know today.

Speaking of stereotyping… colour has for a long time been used to symbolise things. From the yellow of fear, to the red of rage, colours create an immediate unconscious response in people. For example, very little food we eat is coloured blue (Smarties just prove the rule), as edible vegitation tends not to come in that colour. And art has used colour as a code to help the viewer understand hidden meaning. I am refering to the trend for Renaissance (and pre-Renaissance) artists to ‘colour code’ religious figures.

You may not be consciously aware of it, but we all associate colour with the figures from the Bible. If I were to ask you to describe Mary, although there is no description of her in the texts, I am sure that everyone will know that she wears sky blue (and white) robes. Am I right? What of Jesus? I bet red is in there somewhere. What you may be less aware of is that each apostle is awarded his own colour, which in turn has a connotational meaning to further describe his character. I won’t go into any more detail (as that’s what Google is for) except to say that Judas wearing yellow is no coincidence.

But surely everyone knows that pink is the colour of girls, and that blue is for boys?

Again, not true… I’m a boy (albeit now old and wrinkly) and I have no problem wearing pink. In fact, the notion that ‘pink is for girls’ is a relatively modern notion that was artifically introduced in the 1940s. Uptil then, the colour for girls was blue… just as the Virgin Mary, and for boys it was a toned-down red: ie pink, clearly seen as a masculine colour.

So pink had always been the male colour, and blue for girls. So what happened? Well, in the neverending noble quest to get women on an equal footing with men, the ‘girly’ colour blue was abandoned for the more masculine colour pink. And then some decades later (in the late ’60s, early ’70s I think) there was another push, this time to market goods specifically to girls, and pink was decided to become the branding colour for girls… and since then we boys have been denied it’s elegant beauty.

I’m here to redress that imbalance. Long live pink (and now I’m off to watch ‘Doctor Who’)

———- A quick addition

Another titbit of pink info… did you know that during WWII the British Spitfires were painted pink as this made them invisible to the eye while they surveilled France? Wish I had a photo. Also, I’ve just found a neat graphic charting the history of the colour pink. Check it out at http://bit.ly/bJ6pmE

nudes, paintings, pink

When 2 become 1 – Embrace: Pink is the colour of Intimacy

While photographing 2 beautiful models (Kath & Mia) in various positions I was suddenly struck by the sheer beauty created by the way their bodies seemed to merge into one. I’ve tried to capture that moment in an almost abstract body landscape.I hope you like it.

Painted with digital gouache in ArtRage

Facebook, nudes, paintings

Have I just made a huge mistake ?

It’s getting pretty late (for me anyway) and my eyes and head are fuzzy. I’ve just finished one of the paintings I’ve been working on and started uploading it to my various online presences on auto-pilot. Now the painting in question is a new watercolour nude that I was trying to make more painterly and less realistic. I thought I had achieved it so up I sent it to Facebook. When looking back at the link FB provided, along with a thumbnail, it struck me that my non-realistic nude was in fact (in the thumbnail) pretty realistic and probably not for consumption on a family social website. I now expect many cusses and removal from FB for this error, complaints from family and friends, etc.
Anyhow, here is the (offending?) painting for you to make up your own minds. All that remains is to see how long it takes FB to remove the work, or for me to be accused of peddling porn.
MND, nudes, obituaries, paintings

Walking thru Fire

Nude study in digital paint

Finally got round to finishing a nude I’d been planning to paint for a very long time, although by the time I’d finished I had diverged from what I had originally intended… but I think it still works. This piece was a long time coming… I’ve been having serious problems with my computer… then my health… then back to the PC…  and then my brother died.

Rysz’s death was not unexpected (he did have MND after all) but it still came suddenly and as a shock. I had wanted him to see the painting and I was getting frustrated at not being able to finish it. Just as things started coming together (better health, new OS, new software) and I was finally able to start the work… I got the phone call that Rysz’s health was declining fast.

A day earlier, Rysz had gone to hospital for a chest infection. The next day I was told that he was responding well and would be home the following day… but that the infection had taken its toll and shortened Rysz’s life expectancy to just a few months. I thought I’d create the painting to cheer him up.

Just as I was about to begin, I got a second call… this time saying that Rysz had deteriorated and might not last the night. I stopped the painting and set off ‘up North’ to be with him.

It was late and the motorways were pretty clear. I was fretting that I might be late but my other half had her foot pressed firmly against the metal. We were doing well… until…

Ahead of us was a huge tarmac lorry heading up to the M6 roadworks when suddenly he lost control and went into the central partition, spilling its load across both sides of the motorway. This new ‘wall’ immediately began to harden (a very cold night) sticking the lorry and us on an impassible road.

We were stuck there for hours.

Tragically, by the time I got up to the hospital (3:30am), charging through the door, my brother had died just a few seconds earlier. I can’t begin to tell you how I felt.

Anyway, this was 2 weeks ago and we buried Rysz on Wednesday (strangely, to the tune of ‘Popeye the Sailor Man’ from a phantom icecream van), and were re-united with his estranged son.

It’s several days later, and I am back with the painting. Finally got it finished, and I’m sure that Rysz would’ve liked it. I hope so.

If you’d like to more about Rysz, check out his memorial website (rysz.muchloved.com) wher you can also contribute to the MND Association.

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paintings, portrait

Ready to expose myself…


… or rather, I decided it was about time to paint a self portrait (long past due). So for anyone curious as my countenance, I hereby present for your pleasure: a portrait of myself – tho’ looking a tad too serious (not deliberate… I was just concentrating very hard)

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