ARTIST STATEMENT

“The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world.”
G.K. Chesterton

I have been interested in the imagery of fantasy since early childhood and all my artwork is, at its most fundamental level, about creating a “sense of wonder”.  In my illustration, my primary concern has been to create a window into the themes and story elements of a particular book.  My non-commissioned work is concerned with more personal themes.

Stylistically my art is best described as “Imaginative Realism”.  Most closely allied to the scope and feeling of what is referred to as contemporary “Visionary Art”, my gallery art is intentionally imbued with a strong sense of the mystical or dreamlike, and is suffused with symbolic content.  There is a deliberate attempt to invest the image with layers of meaning while having an immediate  subjective or emotional impression.

The majority of my work falls into one or another series of related paintings, which share common themes and symbols.  In general terms, my Faded Star series deal with the struggle against despair and hopelessness, humanity’s instinctive striving against what Barbara Tuchman calls the “burdens of modern man”:  loss of faith in religion, progress and the perfectibility of the human species.  My Passage series is concerned with a personal investigation into metaphysics, religion, and near death experiences.  My Lumen paintings are about the quest for inner revelation and meaning, of finding one’s true self, among other concerns.  Other series of works in progress (e.g., Virtues, Meditations, or End of Nature series) are about various other issues both subjective and objective.

ARTIST STATEMENT

“The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world.”
G.K. Chesterton

I have been interested in the imagery of fantasy since early childhood and all my artwork is, at its most fundamental level, about creating a “sense of wonder”.  In my illustration, my primary concern has been to create a window into the themes and story elements of a particular book.  My non-commissioned work is concerned with more personal themes.

Stylistically my art is best described as “Imaginative Realism”.  Most closely allied to the scope and feeling of what is referred to as contemporary “Visionary Art”, my gallery art is intentionally imbued with a strong sense of the mystical or dreamlike, and is suffused with symbolic content.  There is a deliberate attempt to invest the image with layers of meaning while having an immediate  subjective or emotional impression.

The majority of my work falls into one or another series of related paintings, which share common themes and symbols.  In general terms, my Faded Star series deal with the struggle against despair and hopelessness, humanity’s instinctive striving against what Barbara Tuchman calls the “burdens of modern man”:  loss of faith in religion, progress and the perfectibility of the human species.  My Passage series is concerned with a personal investigation into metaphysics, religion, and near death experiences.  My Lumen paintings are about the quest for inner revelation and meaning, of finding one’s true self, among other concerns.  Other series of works in progress (e.g., Virtues, Meditations, or End of Nature series) are about various other issues both subjective and objective.

PAST EXHIBITIONS

KNIGHT RADIANT: THE MAKING OF OATHBRINGER

KNIGHT RADIANT: THE MAKING OF OATHBRINGER

The anticipation that builds up to the release of a new Sanderson novel is enough to give me the collywobbles if I pay much attention to it.  Expectations run higher with each of these long awaited events.

Fortunately TOR and Brandon have bent over backwards to make my job as manageable as possible. I usually defer to their sense of what’s appropriate for the book, for example, in selecting potential scenes for the cover, which still leaves room for interpretation and expression while simplifying my work quite a bit.

For the cover of Oathbringer, we centered on a scene where Jasnah confronts the invading army. A giant has smashed a breach in the city wall, and Jasnah is called upon to restore it. After dispatching several invaders with her Shardblade, she covers the gap with a brassy wall of magical metal. It’s a visual scene in which I saw a lot of possibilities for good images.

LIGHTWEAVER: THE MAKING OF SHALLAN

LIGHTWEAVER: THE MAKING OF SHALLAN

When Irene Gallo proposed a second painting for Words of Radiance, I immediately knew it was Shallan we were talking about. Like many fans, I felt the story was becoming as much hers as Kaladin’s; she merited equal representation in the book’s design, as far as it was possible to do so.

At the time I started the cover painting, I did not have a scene available that would allow me to portray her and Kaladin faithfully, so I resigned myself to focus on her in another edition later in the series. I was glad to hear that TOR wanted to go the extra mile in order to give Shallan space in this book.

STORMLIGHT SHOWDOWN: THE MAKING OF WORDS OF RADIANCE

STORMLIGHT SHOWDOWN: THE MAKING OF WORDS OF RADIANCE

As with any Brandon Sanderson book, there’s just too much content to distill such a complex tapestry into one image. Having such a rich world of possibilities is overwhelming: a well delineated but diverse cast of characters, strange yet compellingly natural flora and fauna, multiple story threads weaving from page to page…how does one choose what to present? It seems as if any choice will be wrong, for having to leave something else out that calls to be presented to a potential reader. Nonetheless, a choice must be made.

SHAPING ROSHAR: THE MAKING OF THE WAY OF KINGS

SHAPING ROSHAR: THE MAKING OF THE WAY OF KINGS

When I received the manuscript from TOR, I was somewhat dismayed that it was 1400 pages. Given the mood I was in, I felt that it would be tough sledding to work my way through a such massive fantasy epic.

As it turned out, I was soon hooked and lost in the world Mr. Sanderson so skillfully realized. It helped that the writing had a rich cinematic quality that brought images of scenes, characters and creatures to my mind as if I were watching a movie or immersed in a Myst-style virtual reality adventure.

LEFTOVERS & PALETTE GREMLINS 2019

LEFTOVERS & PALETTE GREMLINS 2019

hen I started posting to this gallery project—now going on its fourth year—I never imagined the staying power of these accidental creations and warm up paintings executed with leftover paints. Fans seem to love the casual drop-ins to the studio...

LEFTOVERS & PALETTE GREMLINS 2018

LEFTOVERS & PALETTE GREMLINS 2018

ver the past two years, I've been documenting an ongoing gallery project made up of accidental creations and warm up paintings executed with leftover paints. These exercises not only offer fans a peek into the studio, they also help me build...

LEFTOVERS & PALETTE GREMLINS 2017

LEFTOVERS & PALETTE GREMLINS 2017

reative exercises can help keep an artist focused and productive. That was the thought going into 2016 with the Leftovers & Palette Gremlins project...and boy did the project prove essential in a year teeming with distraction. Looking back it’s...

2016 GALLERY PROJECT

2016 GALLERY PROJECT

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.

ANNE MCCAFFREY

ANNE MCCAFFREY

Anne McCaffrey loved Michael Whelan’s covers—and so did the fans.

One of the things that sets Michael Whelan above some other cover artists is that he reads the books before he illustrates them, and that brings a level of detail to his covers that really makes them shine.

PAINTING LUMEN 9

PAINTING LUMEN 9

UMEN 9 originated from an idea that I brought home with me from the hospital in May of the year 2000. When the idea came to me, the only thing I had to draw on was an advisory pamphlet for patients, so I used the back of it for a rough sketch of...

HALLOWEEN 2013

HALLOWEEN 2013

ssembled here for your delectation is a hodgepodge of images selected to fit the Halloween season. They come from a wide variety of sources, including concept renderings for book cover assignments, studio sketches, a digital experiment and a couple...

INTO SHAYOL GHUL – THE MAKING OF A MEMORY OF LIGHT

INTO SHAYOL GHUL – THE MAKING OF A MEMORY OF LIGHT

My approach to A MEMORY OF LIGHT was dictated by unfamiliarity with the series. Not having read The Wheel of Time books, I focused on the scene provided and the characters therein while also keeping in mind that this book was the culmination of many years of reading for devoted fans.

It seemed best to start with the focus of the painting: Rand himself.

My initial sketches explored the pose he might adopt as he entered the dark confines of the cave. I attached light sticks to a wooden bokken and descended a flight of stairs with the lights off, trying to get a feel for how he would be holding the sword to light his way into darkness. (Since early in my career, I’ve found a kinesthetic sense of the figure’s pose is helpful before attempting to recreate it in it’s variations.)

FORGING DEATHWING

FORGING DEATHWING

The general concept for this work was spelled out to me by my art director and contact at Blizzard, Jeremy Cranford. We had met the previous Fall at IlluxCon, and despite being in an annoying loud bar lounge we were able to outline the basic assignment and agree to move it forward.

Before starting, the smart thing to do would have been to examine the actual game to become familiar with the feel of it, but instead I just jumped into exploring dramatic dragon poses and having fun with that. Being told from the onset that the image would depict a raging dragon emerging from a giant ocean maelstrom, I felt I had enough to go on.

HALLOWEEN 2012

HALLOWEEN 2012

We missed out on the actual Halloween day this year due to Frankenstorm, but my mind had been in Halloween for the month leading up to it anyway! After the autumnal equinox each year, night starts to overcome day and my artwork seems to get darker as well. [ess_grid...

PRELIMINARY CONCEPTS 2

PRELIMINARY CONCEPTS 2

The artistic process remains mystery to me even after painting for over 35 years as a professional. As Norman Rockwell wrote, "Some come easy, some come hard." And so it has proven for me. Whether in the form of an illustration done as a commission or a personal work...

HOLIDAY SCENES

HOLIDAY SCENES

A selection of images from the Whelan family cards. "The change of seasons, each with its own palette of colors and endlessly varying skies, is a joy to experience here in the Northeast. While taking my daily walks this time of year, my thoughts seem to drift away...

HALLOWEEN 2009

HALLOWEEN 2009

"It's time for Halloween Dreams — "I admit to harboring a special fondness for my excursions to the darker side of things. The cathartic joy of giving vent to the things lurking in the shadows and the viewer's visceral reaction are a big part of the payoff. "Come,...

PRELIMINARY CONCEPTS I

PRELIMINARY CONCEPTS I

"Much has been written by artists on the 'fear of the blank canvas,' but I have the opposite problem - I have too many ideas. Working out the details in sketches and studies helps me focus my mental picture, so that I can refine it into a finished work." [gallery...

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