Thanks Everyone for following my numbers adventure on Facebook all last year. It was a challenge – and a blast – for me to come up with a number each day!
For 2016, I’m presenting a once a week look at my “Leftovers” and “Palette Gremlins,” which you’ll see in the gallery below.
Leftovers are little spur-of-the-moment doodles or sketches created from paint left over from a work in progress. Most of these quickies end up in the trash, but some are kind of cool on their own and others have lead to full scale paintings.
I’ve been doing this since my art school days: THE PEEPER came from the paint left over from a piece done for my first professional portfolio.
Palette Gremlins are small creations found in random shapes, usually paint on a palette or the mat board I use to protect my drawing table. Often what I see is an alien or a face, but PASSAGE: THE RED STEP was suggested by shapes in the over-spray left from a complex airbrushing session.
In either case, when they spark an idea that leads to a larger work, it feels like a gift from my Muse! The point of it all, however, is to play with some paint — and see what happens.
While I had some set aside, this will be an ongoing process: there will be new ones too. I’ll be adding an image to this gallery every Wednesday – I hope you’ll check back regularly throughout the year. You may see a few of these oddities for sale in the Original Art section of our shop.
Even though I refer to them as “palette gremlins”, the little accidental images appear just as often on sheets of paper or matboard used to protect the surface of my drawing table when I’m splashing paint around.
These sheets start out unblemished but after some weeks they look like this the ones in the accompanying photographs. Occasionally the random patterns of paint will suggest something to me and soon I’ll find myself nudging it a bit closer to what it appears to be in my imagination.
The other source of suggestive shapes are, as the name implies, the palettes I work with. I use all kinds of palettes, from disposable paper palettes to regular wooden palettes in traditional shapes. Often I’ll simply use a section of masonite or illustration board small enough to fit in one hand but large enough to allow me room to mix paint colors.
Whatever I’m using, the result is a random mass of blobs, strokes, puddles or drips of whatever colors I’m working with, on some sort of surface. When I return to my studio after an absence the palette is one of the first things I see––and that is when I notice that there’s a face in there, or a ship, or whatever. I make a mental note of it and while I’m working on other stuff I’ll dab in a highlight here or refine a shadow there, until I can see the thing my imagination tells me is in there.
About the author
Michael Whelan (Michael Whelan)
Since 1980, Michael Whelan has been one of the world’s premier fantasy and science fiction artists. He is currently working full time on his fine art paintings, but in the past three decades he has created more than 350 book and album covers for authors and artists like Isaac Asimov, Anne McCaffrey, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Stephen King, the Jacksons, Sepultura, and MeatLoaf. Read more on Michael's Biography page.