Michael Whelan was born June 29, 1950 to William and Nancy Sloet Whelan in Culver City, California.  He has two sisters:  Lorie is a nurse practitioner and Wendy is a research biochemist.  On his mother’s side, Michael is related to the classic painter Peter Paul Rubens and to Samuel F.B. Morse.  Morse is best known as the inventor of the Morse Code, but he was also a talented and prominent portrait painter and was a founder of the National Academy of Design.  The Von Sloet family is listed in the Dutch Book of Peerage.

Michael lives in Connecticut with his wife Audrey Price, who manages MichaelWhelan.com.  They have two children: daughter Alexa has a PhD from CalTech and is a research Biologist in New York City and son Adrian is working on a PhD in Astrophysics.

EARLY YEARS

Both of Michael Whelan’s parents grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. His father Bill was the son of an Irish-born Boston police officer and of a tough “stage mother” who pushed her children to work in vaudeville.  Bill managed to escape the stage, but he was a restless soul who at 16 ran away from home with a plan to join the Canadian Tank Corps at the start of WWII.  Refused because of his age, he went back to school and later enlisted in the US Marines.  During his tour of duty in the Pacific he contracted malaria and while recuperating in San Diego, he fell in love with California.

He returned home to Newton to marry Michael’s stunning mother Nancy, the daughter of a prominent Dutch landscape architect. Nancy was an occasional model who at one time posed for comic artist Al Capp.  The couple lived in New Jersey while Bill attended Princeton on the GI Bill, but after graduation they relocated to Los Angeles where Michael was born.

Bill worked as a taxi driver and even an Arthur Murray dance instructor before securing a top-secret position with Lockheed-Martin.  The family moved a lot, sometimes living in towns just for the summer.  Michael went to 5 elementary schools, 3 junior highs and 4 high schools in California and Colorado.  One of the Whelans’ most memorable homes was near Vandenberg Air Force Base.  There Michael was often awakened in the middle of the night with his bed rolling across his bedroom floor from the vibrations of missile launches.  He saw many rockets lift off and some spectacular explosions – things that would inspire his work in the future.

The Whelan family wasn’t close, but his father was an avid reader and an amateur cartoonist who decorated letters to his mother and the family scrapbooks with his art.  They went to the popular science fiction movies of the day, and even at the age of 5 Michael can remember drawing aliens and spaceships that he had seen on film.  Since they moved so frequently Michael was often without ready friends, so he passed the time by reading comic books and exploring his father’s collection of science fiction books and magazines.  These inspired more drawings.

It was the early 1960′s and along with science fiction movies and TV shows, he was particularly fascinated by UFOs. Every time they would move, he would go right to the local library to see if they had any flying saucer books he hadn’t read yet.  He still remembers the Dewey Decimal Number then assigned to UFO books – 629.1388.  He drew monsters, UFOs, and heroes so well that other kids were impressed with his artwork, and this became a way for him to make new friends.  In high school he was part of a rock band and did psychedelic posters for school dances, illustrations for the year book, and other school publications.

EDUCATION

1965 Rocky Mountain School of Art, Denver, CO

For 2 years the Whelans lived in Colorado and as a teen, Michael often took the bus into Denver to peruse art stores.  His father often chided him for spending all of his paper route money on brushes and paints, but he allowed Michael to take a summer figure-drawing class that changed his life forever.

He was well below the required age of 18 (there were nude models), but he was admitted by the school’s founder, artist Philip J. Steele.  It was his first experience with a real atelier environment.  He says, “I instantly fell in love with the whole thing:  the smell of the turpentine, the dedication to improvement, and the devotion to the visual arts.  It is a romance that has continued to this day.  Phil Steele was a fine artist and a great teacher, and ultimately a great influence on me.”

1968-1973 San Jose State University

Back in California, Michael graduated from Oak Grove High School in San Jose and enrolled in the closest university, San Jose State, to study biology, physiology, and anatomy in preparation for a pre-med major.  To finance his education he worked at a gas station and a health food store.  He also got help from the university work study program where he prepared cadavers for dissection and did medical drawings for Dr. Marvin Shrewsbury.  This formal training in anatomy has served him well throughout his career.

He continued his art studies and took drawing and painting classes with the esteemed art professors Maynard Dixon Stewart and Dr. Ray Brose.  By his junior year, he changed his major to art and he graduated as a President’s Scholar with Honors in Painting.  What had started as a choice of college based on convenience turned out to be an excellent foundation.

1973-1974 Art Center College of Design

Wanting to learn how to create a professional portfolio led Michael to enroll at the famed Art Center, then in Los Angeles.  It is one of the leading graphic and industrial design colleges in the world, specializing in commercial art instruction by professional working artists.  Michael was accepted as a second semester sophomore, and he moved south to Burbank.

Art Center’s rigorous and accelerated program is meant to mimic “real world” schedules and work (there are no summer vacations).  He was able to hold down several full time jobs while going to San Jose State, but he found that at Art Center he couldn’t have another job.  He needed loans to cover the tuition and food stamps to survive, so when he received an offer for a book cover assignment in New York, he left after nine months to pursue a full time career.

FIRST JOBS

In college Michael had done medical illustration, particularly for “The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery;” he illustrated a manual for barbers, and he painted signs.  These jobs served to teach him that he did not want to do any of those things for his life’s work!

One day on his way to a class at Art Center, he saw a flyer for the 1974 San Diego Comic Con advertising guests Charles Schultz, Ray Bradbury, Chuck Jones, Gene Roddenberry, and others.  Until that time, Michael had no idea that such comic and fantasy fan-gatherings existed.  In small print in the corner of the flyer it said:  “Artists – Enter work in the Art Show.” He hastily assembled a selection of paintings and drawings, and on July 31 he drove to San Diego to hang the work.  He couldn’t afford to attend the convention, so he drove back to LA; when he returned at the end of the weekend, he found that all of his work had sold. This gave Michael enough confidence to send slides of his work to Donald A. Wollheim at DAW Books in New York. On August 14, 1974, Mr. Wollheim replied with an enthusiastic offer for cover work.

OUTBOUND Michael also met a fan there who promised to take his work to the World Science Fiction Convention in Washington D.C. a few weeks later. Wishing to get an accurate appraisal of his chances, Michael sent some paintings with her to Washington.  He entered the art show as a “Professional,” not a “Fan” artist and won first place for his science fiction painting OUTBOUND. His work was seen by a young German literary agent who was expanding into representing artists too.  Thomas Schlück contacted Michael with an offer to buy foreign rights for the work he had seen there, so probably the first published Whelan cover art was on European books.  (The Schlück Agency still handles Whelan art in Europe.)

All of these exciting events occurred within 4 weeks, and the opportunities for him in New York prompted Michael to pack everything into his VW Beetle and a trailer and move east. His parents may not have been happy about his career choice, but by that time they lived in New Jersey, and he was able to stay with them for a short time while he scoured the bookstores, studying science fiction and fantasy book covers. He then spent 18 hours a day polishing a portfolio that he thought favorably compared to most of what he saw on the shelves.

His first professional sale was to Marvel Comics, who bought some pieces right out of his portfolio and hired him for other cover work.  Donald Wollheim came through on his offer and gave Michael his first book cover assignment for THE ENCHANTRESS OF WORLD’S END by Lin Carter.

Like many young New York area artists, he visited comic artist Neal Adams’ studio and did some inking and painting with him.  Neal kindly arranged an interview for Michael with Ace books, who also hired him to do cover work.  Michael sold some work at LunaCon, the New York science fiction convention, and one of the buyers was author Harlan Ellison who later used the image to accompany one of his stories in Gallery Magazine.

1975-1985 ESTABLISHING A CAREER

VISIONS OF CASSANDRA From that time on Michael Whelan was never without an assignment. His early covers for DAW and Ace were for books as diverse as THE YEAR’S BEST HORROR STORIES, Michael Moorcock’s Elric series, and the Fuzzy books by H. Beam Piper, and he enjoyed working in all the genres.

He moved to Connecticut and later that year he answered a newspaper ad about a small house for rent, owned by Audrey Price.  Arriving at the main house, he heard the Kraftwerk album AUTOBAHN coming through the open front door.  Michael says, “It almost didn’t matter what the house in the back looked like – once I heard Kraftwerk, I knew she must be cool.”

When they met, Audrey didn’t know anything about illustration or book publishing, but she read science fiction and enjoyed learning about his work.  By that time, Michael had agents who took his original cover paintings to be sold at science fiction conventions, and when Audrey went with him to the Boston area SF convention in February 1976, she was quite dismayed at their ill-treatment of his paintings.  Whelan cover art was already attracting collectors, so how his original work was presented was important.

ARMAGEDDON

That summer Michael participated in his first gallery show in New York City.  With advice from Audrey’s CPA father on how to approach being an artist in a more businesslike fashion, she encouraged Michael to handle the sale of his original art himself.  They had his paintings and preliminary works professionally framed for the World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City over Labor Day weekend. The Connecticut frame shop/gallery invited him to produce a painting for their upcoming group show “Machines on Wheels,” and Michael did his first non-illustration work for a gallery. His painting ARMAGEDDON depicted large robot-like monsters on wheels and airborne space vehicles.  In a New England gallery, it definitely stood out among paintings of tractors and other farm machinery!

THE WELL OF SHIUAN Michael and Audrey drove out to Kansas City, but after spending all their money on the framing, convention memberships, and hotels along the way, they arrived with $55 in their pockets.  They hung the work in the art show alongside the legendary Frank Kelly Freas and Tim Kirk, but each day they checked the art show and there were no bids.  Luckily on the last day, Michael was awarded Best in Show, and he sold his originals for prices usually only achieved by the stars of the field.  His work and its professional presentation left a huge impression, and they even got to shake hands with guest of honor Robert Heinlein.

The late 1970′s were busy years for Michael Whelan. He painted covers for classic science fiction authors like Poul Anderson and Clifford Simak and newcomers like C.J. Cherryh, all the while establishing a stellar reputation with both the publishers and fans alike.  He painted aliens and spaceships, horror, sword and sorcery, dragons and far away planets – like Kelly Freas before him, here was an artist who actually read and loved the genre!

THE WHITE DRAGON

In 1977 he received his first major award nomination from the World Fantasy Awards and Locus magazine, for Best Professional Artist. He continued to work for DAW and Ace and began a remarkable association with Judy Lynn Del Rey of Del Rey Books.  The following year she assigned him the cover of THE WHITE DRAGON by Anne McCaffrey, which made publishing history by becoming the first science fiction book to reach the hardcover bestseller list. Michael also created 11 memorable covers for the JOHN CARTER OF MARS series by Edgar Rice Burroughs for Del Rey.

A PRINCESS OF MARS In 1978 he was nominated for his first Hugo (the World Science Fiction Award), a Locus Award, and a World Fantasy Award, and on Christmas Eve Michael and Audrey got married.  Audrey was running her own large day care center so they were only able to attend a few conventions each year, but Michael usually won Best Artist or Best of Show.  He received more major award nominations and in 1979 his first art book WONDERWORKS was published, also receiving a Hugo nomination.

He and Stephen King met for the first time when they were both guests of honor at the World Fantasy Convention in Providence.  After a few forays into prints with other publishers, Michael and Audrey started Glass Onion Graphics and published their first limited edition print:  the cover art for STORMBRINGER by Michael Moorcock.  Audrey sold her school and she was able to work from home selling Whelan prints, books, and other items via mail order catalogs she produced.

STORMBRINGER At the start of the new decade, the interest in original art at science fiction and fantasy conventions spurred the creation of Earthlight Gallery on Boston’s fashionable Newbury Street. Michael sold many works there and the prices for his originals were climbing.  Even art museums were intrigued, and there were group shows of science fiction art at the New Britain Museum of Art in Connecticut, the Bronx Museum, and science museums around the country.

1980 was an unforgettable year for Michael Whelan:  he won the Locus Magazine Poll and his first Hugo Award at the World SF Con in Boston; he did his first work for Stephen King on the limited edition FIRESTARTER; and, he was honored to work on a book for National Geographic called OUR UNIVERSE.  On the personal side, his favorite model was born – daughter Alexa.

Another fantasy art gallery opened in Annapolis, MD and the Whelan shows there brought more serious collectors.  He had a one-man show at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio and he continued to win the Hugo and World Fantasy Award for Best Professional Artist each year.

THE GUNSLINGER: THE SLOW MUTANTS While still maintaining his warm relationship with DAW and Del Rey, he fully illustrated the first DARK TOWER book by Stephen King for small-press publisher Donald M. Grant.  His covers for Isaac Asimov, the Lovecraft books, and Arthur S. Clarke’s 2010 gained him an even wider audience of fans.  His original painting for FRIDAY by Robert Heinlein sold for $15,000.00 at the Pendragon Gallery in 1984, setting a new record.

That same year Michael was hired by Michael Jackson to do the cover for the VICTORY album, the first album to feature all 6 Jackson brothers.  After THRILLER became the bestselling album of all time, Jackson was the biggest star in the world, and was quoted in People Magazine saying that he chose Michael Whelan because he “reminded him of a modern-day Maxfield Parrish”. Michael W. flew out to L.A. to meet with the Jacksons and actually worked on the painting propped up on a stove in his hotel room. Working with the Jacksons was a pleasure, but dealing with the competing lawyers, agents, and art directors was agonizing, so it was almost a decade before Michael Whelan wanted to work with a major music star again.

1986-2000 CONTINUED SUCCESS AND PERSONAL WORK

HARI (FOUNDATION) By the mid 1980′s, beyond all his expectations, Michael Whelan was truly living his dream.  He was one of the most awarded and successful science fiction and fantasy artists ever, he had a wonderful family, and an ever-increasing demand for his services.  And even though he had lost his mother to cancer and was estranged from his father, Audrey’s parents were close and supportive.

Michael and Audrey continued to attend conventions when they could, the mail-order business was thriving, and he still enjoyed book cover work, but there was just a slight rumbling inside the artist to do something more.  He had been steadily working his own ideas and symbols into his cover art, but in 1986 he took some time away from illustration and created SENTINELS.  It was the first painting in more than a dozen years that was not linked to a written story, and he submitted it for a group show at the Delaware Art Museum.  He had painted it about the same size as most of his illustration works, even a little larger, but in the grand scale of the art museum he saw that it got lost in the profusion of other works.  In that world, he realized, size mattered.

THE SNOW QUEEN Michael silently vowed to paint his next personal work no less than 4′ x 4,’ but he dove back into his commercial assignments with renewed vigor and created the extraordinary FOUNDATION covers.  He won more Hugos; published his second art book, MICHAEL WHELAN’S WORKS OF WONDER (which also won a Hugo), and in 1988 he finally found time to do that large painting, PASSAGE: THE AVATAR.  Contrast its majestic simplicity with the breathtaking detail of THE SNOW QUEEN, also done that year.  He certainly seemed to be at the height of his career and at home too when Michael and Audrey welcomed son Adrian.

But also during ’88 he had suffered his first creative block.  He found that only his own work could pull him out of the depression and he produced the singular PASSAGE: THE RED STEP.  Michael continued to do great covers for books like THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES and for authors such as Melanie Rawn and Tad Williams.  He found a new audience of fans when he began working with the Franklin Mint to produce sculptures based on his dragon drawings and when he started doing album covers for the heavy metal band Sepultura.  He had worked with every major SF book publisher, he had continued to win Hugo Awards and Locus Polls and more, but as the nineties began, Michael felt it was time to devote himself in earnest to his own ideas.

PASSAGE: THE AVATAR After securing the advance for a new deluxe coffee table book simply titled THE ART OF MICHAEL WHELAN, he took off almost a year and did the paintings, writing, and design.  Published in 1993, it soon became the fantasy art book by which all others of that time were judged.  The first part, SCENES, featured 80+ of his best illustrations, while the second part, VISIONS, was comprised entirely of his personal work.  The prestigious Mill Pond Press produced several limited edition art prints of works from the book.

Also that year he did the cover for MeatLoaf’s astonishing comeback album BAT OUT OF HELL II, which became the bestselling album of 1993 and won Michael “Best Cover of the Year” by CD Review magazine.  THE ART OF MICHAEL WHELAN, attracted a new group of Whelan fans – those who preferred his personal work.  Some grew up loving his illustration and appreciated the opportunity to experience his own imaginative visions, and some had only recently discovered him because of this new work.

BACK INTO HELL In 1996 the first iteration of MichaelWhelan.com was launched and Michael won a gold medal from the Society of Illustrators.  He kept up with his commercial assignments, but as time went on, Michael devoted a greater portion of each year to his personal work.  It was time to seek permanent representation in the fine art gallery scene at last.  In 1997 he had his first one-man show of his non-commissioned work at Tree’s Place Gallery in Cape Cod, MA.  It was an unprecedented success.  The opening reception overflowed with fans and fine art collectors alike from all over the country, and the gallery sold the most work in one day and got the highest price for a painting ever sold there.

In 1998, Michael was the Artist Guest of Honor for the World Science Fiction Convention in Baltimore, MD and he decided to mount a show of one piece from each of the years he had been an illustrator.  In the process of assembling the more than 25 originals for the show and keeping up with his usual commissions and new works for the gallery, he contracted Lyme disease.  Fortunately the antibiotics caught it in time, so the convention went well and their daughter went off to college that fall.

The following year, Michael had another successful show at Tree’s Place and won a gold medal from the Society of Illustrators, but he ended 1999 mentally and physically exhausted.  He was not well and was hardly getting any sleep, but the doctors blamed it on stress.  Audrey and Michael still had their adolescent son at home, and Audrey was struggling to manage the website, mail order business, and her retail shop when they lost her father to Alzheimer’s disease.  This was a very difficult time for the small, close-knit family, but they were entering the new millennium with hope that their troubles and health problems were behind them. Unfortunately, they couldn’t have been more wrong.

2000-2007

OTHERLAND: CITY OF GOLDEN SHADOWS In early 2000, Michael sought a second opinion regarding his symptoms and was diagnosed with prostate cancer.  No wonder he had been tired for so long!  After successful surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in May, and a month of recuperation, he was back to painting.  The family was dealt another blow when Audrey’s mother Pat, was diagnosed with breast cancer that same year, but she also had surgery and recovered.  As of today both Michael and Pat (at 91!) are doing fine and are cancer-free.

In 2001 a new version of MichaelWhelan.com with a better online shop arrived and Michael was still doing interesting cover art for books like Tad Williams’ OTHERLAND series. But, it was becoming more and more difficult for him to take time away from his personal work and this created quite a conflict for a man who had always wanted to be a book cover artist.  He felt disloyal toward the publishers, authors, and fans who had given him such wonderful opportunities and awards, but he spent most of  2002 preparing works for a two-man show at Tree’s Place with the esteemed artist Robert Vickrey.  He struggled to keep working at both careers and was surprised and thrilled to win his fifteenth Hugo Award.

The following year, he was asked to join the first Advisory Board for the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame being built by Paul Allen in Seattle.  The museum opened with much fanfare in 2004.  He also became an adviser to the new Masters in Fine Arts program at Western Connecticut State University near his home in Connecticut.

Throughout his career, Michael Whelan has turned down many illustration jobs, even for his favorite books of all time, THE LORD OF THE RINGS; but when Robert Wiener from Donald M. Grant Publisher called to tell him about Stephen King’s plans to finish off the DARK TOWER series with 3 new books, Michael listened.  It had been more than 20 years since he had illustrated the first DARK TOWER book and Robert said that Steve was writing the last three books so they could be published over the course of only 18 months.

THE DARK TOWER

Keeping up with the tradition of a different artist illustrating each book in the series, two other artists would do Books 5 and 6, but he asked Michael to do the final book. A dedicated fan of the series, the artist who kept trying to give up illustration, couldn’t resist.  It was an honor to be the only artist to do more than one book – especially the first and the last. Michael spent a year on the project, completing almost 60 pieces.  It was published in 2004 and became a #1 Bestseller. Also that year, Michael was named a Grand Master by the Spectrum Annual of the Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art.

As the decade progressed Michael Whelan concentrated on his fine art paintings and sold several large works, but he didn’t forget the SF world. In August, 2007 he was the American Artist Guest of Honor of the first World Science Fiction Convention held in Japan. Michael, Audrey, and Adrian had a wonderful welcome there and spent 2 weeks touring the country. Upon returning to his studio, he finished up work on a new Donald M. Grant book LITTLE SISTERS OF ELURIA by Stephen King, which featured the original DARK TOWER: THE GUNSLINGER and all his artwork plus the LITTLE SISTERS story – adding new paintings and drawings to the work he did 25 years before. He and Audrey ended the year by launching an expansive new version of his website.

2008-THE PRESENT

An important publisher once told Michael that he was impossible to advertise properly. There wasn’t one recognizable image to represent all of his work in the same way as Kinkade’s stone cottage or Wyland’s whale. Michael regards it as a good thing that his work can’t easily be commodified into a brand. Given his active mind and diverse interests he has much to express in both his illustration and his fine art works.

Michael has always enjoyed interacting with authors and artists in many fields. In 2008, he was able to expand that circle by participating in the extraordinary “lowbrow” art event Baby Tattooville. Over 3 days in October at the historic Mission Inn in Riverside, CA, a small group of artists and collectors gathered to paint, draw, and party. Conceived by Bob Self of Baby Tattoo Books, the weekend included a show at the nearby Riverside Art Museum.

BABY TATTOOVILLE In addition to creating a painting especially for the show, Michael also joined others in an “art jam” working on a communal canvas that would be reprinted as a limited edition exclusively for the participants. He also brought 50 small canvases along and asked each attendee to doodle on one. Throughout the weekend, in full view of the guests, Michael transformed the doodles into 50 small acrylic paintings. He didn’t get much sleep, but he had a ball getting to know that side of the art world.

A month later, he was back to more familiar ground at IlluXcon, the now annual fantastic art symposium in Pennsylvania. Pat and Jeannie Wilshire, small press publishers and noteworthy collectors of imaginative realism, are the creative force behind this event which began as a way for the Wilshires to exhibit their amazing personal collection, but they invited fantasy artists of all levels and from all corners of the field to join them. Only 200 fans, collectors, art directors, agents, and students spent the weekend enjoying demos, lectures, sales, and portfolio reviews. It was a fun, close-knit group, so Michael and Audrey try to attend each year.

In 2009, Michael received the exciting news that he would be inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in Seattle, WA. Family and friends flew out for the ceremony in June when he became the first living artist to join an elite list that includes HG Wells, Mary Shelley, Ray Bradbury, and Steven Spielberg.

In the fall, he was a guest of a fantasy arts festival in Holland. He and Audrey had a remarkable trip catching up with Michael’s cousins (15th generation!) and taking in the fabulous art.

THE WAY OF KINGS

Soon after, he began work on the cover for THE WAY OF KINGS, a new fantasy novel by Brandon Sanderson. Away from illustration for several years, he approached the job with trepidation; but the bold and exciting tale grabbed him, and Michael Whelan’s first mass-market book cover in 6 years was a big hit.

In 2010, the Price-Whelan family celebrated daughter Alexa’s wedding to Dr. Lars Dietrich in Lars’ family’s village in Germany. Later followed a memorable party at the Bronx Zoo in New York. Michael finished off the year with his first trip to Paris. The art and architecture—even the skulls and bones in the Catacombs—fully recharged his “art battery.” He returned home with mind whirling, but ideas for personal works would have to wait. That winter he had a major project to do.

At a recent IlluXcon Michael met Jeremy Cranford, the art director of Blizzard Entertainment, and they discussed Michael doing a large painting for their corporate offices. He was asked to depict Deathwing, a huge creature from World of Warcraft™.

DEATHWING

With a daunting assignment to begin 2011, especially during a particularly nasty New England winter, Michael buried himself in the studio using the dark days to his advantage. He hadn’t worked on a video game character before, but this version of Deathwing certainly has the Whelan stamp.

In May 2011, the Science Fiction Writers of America awarded him with their Solstice Award for “his significant impact on the science fiction and fantasy landscape.”  Michael has received many awards from the genre, but this was an especially great honor coming from the authors themselves.

GIFT FROM THE SEA That summer in the middle of a storm and power blackout, Michael and Audrey packed 12 originals and hundreds of prints for DragonCon in Atlanta at the end of August. The annual convention has grown to be one of the largest of its kind. Michael had not been a guest since 1994, so he was thrilled to be Artist Guest of Honor again. There Michael enjoyed festivities with celebrities like William Shatner and the Jefferson Starship, but most exciting were the thousands of fans. His cover art for the program book was made into a special print.

For 20 years, Michael has been seeking a balance between his two great loves: illustration and fine art.  In 2012 he achieved a measure of success in that, beginning the year by taking on a significant illustration assignment, and ending with several of his personal paintings joining a large art collection in a unique museum.

Robert Jordan published the first book of The Wheel of Time series more than 20 years ago and it has become one of the best-selling fantasy epics of all time. When the author died in 2007, Brandon Sanderson took on the task of finishing the series in 3 books based on Jordan’s extensive notes. All of the covers have featured the distinctive art of Darrell K Sweet, but the artist died unexpectedly in 2011. Tor Books asked Michael if he would do the cover for A MEMORY OF LIGHT, the fourteenth and final book. He strove to faithfully capture the hero’s likeness and the mood of the series in the Whelan style, while remaining true to Sweet’s vision. The stunning result is due out in January 2013.

A MEMORY OF LIGHT

In May, Michael attended the first Spectrum Fantastic Art Live in Kansas City, a 3-day showcase of fantastic art sponsored by the Spectrum AnnualThe Spectrum Annual arose from a conversation between Michael Whelan and publisher Arnie Fenner and it has grown to become the preeminent juried book collection of the best in contemporary fantastic art. SFAL dazzlingly combined a large trade show, killer art show, music, dance and digital visual effects. It was a great hit with the artists.

Michael will be a guest of honor at SFAL 2, and it’s sure to be another amazing event.

This year Michael again sold several personal works at Tree’s Place. Through his long association with this superior gallery, he is finishing out 2012 with a sale to a private foundation whose mission is to preserve and showcase 20th century masters and emerging artists. His work will join a collection that includes Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Rodin, and Normal Rockwell, as well as many contemporary fine artists and sculptors. Balance indeed.

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